They’d been bugging to have a baby shower. “You need boy stuff!” they insisted. But I just couldn’t. For one, no matter how I spin it, babies #3 and #4 just don’t get showers. Chock it up to birth order, but that’s the way it goes. Secondly (and perhaps more significantly), the thought of a “shower” sends my mind reeling back to my bridal shower where 130+ guests watched in agony as I opened hours worth of gifts from people I hardly knew and to my wedding where 280 guests were unrecognizable as we took to the floor for our first dance. Oyoyoyoyoy. Thinking about it still gives me hives. But these friends were persistent and after much prodding I finally discovered and admitted that what I really wanted was to have my belly painted with henna. Our local Organizational Goddess (O.G.) snapped to and was surprised by the response. As I understand it, not only did these friends oblige, but they did so at lightening speed in a rapid succession of emails. The O.G. assured me there was nothing to fear, it would be very low key. (I trust the O.G. probably more than I trust anyone. Speaking with her always puts me at ease, because I know that she really hears me. And this is special, because in life, we often find very few people who really get us.) I expected nothing more than a henna artist and bit of lady-kibitzing. But if I ever dared let myself dream about celebrating my very own pregnancy, this would have been the day that dream came true. What I got was the most intimate, warm, loving, spirited gathering ever. They brought wonderful food, drink, spectacular desserts, peanut butter cups, flowers, candles of all kind, words, poems, even song, some tears and a few choice gifts, all incredibly thoughtful. My two oldest Portland friends took the lead and my newest friends joined right in. Everyone came together in a unique blend of perfect harmony. I was humbled although it probably didn’t show because I was too busy being elated. With all my heart, I thank you.
Being in the company of these wise women was a very big deal for me. Each one of them had their own pregnancy and birth experiences to draw from. I felt blessed to finally be counted among them. My experience is that being pregnant does not make one a mother. Some choose to terminate their pregnancies. Others birth and choose not to mother, similar to my belief that impregnating a woman does not make a man a father. It is purely circumstantial until behavior dictates otherwise. But being pregnant, no matter what the circumstance, is uniquely woman. Giving birth is something only we, the stronger sex, can do. The journey from microscopic multi-celled organism to human baby is mind-bending. And I feel so very fortunate to finally be part of it.