Socializing again post birth

Last Saturday, I went to the first social event since giving birth to my baby. It was also the first party that I had attended since pre-pandemic, so almost 2 years. It’s kind of crazy to think that once upon a time, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday gatherings, and family gatherings were just a normal part of life. And now, it feels like it’s all new and something that we are getting adapted to attending again.

My neighbor, who I had been friended while spending a lot of time at the gym over the last two years, is having a baby in May, and so her friends threw her a bridal shower in our building’s lounge room. She is 40 years old expecting her first child, and we have IVF in common. She and her husband were trying for over eight years to conceive and did not resort to IVF until the last year. She was so excited for me when she found out that I was pregnant, and I found it peculiar at the time when she knew so much about pregnancy as well as baby stores that were in the neighborhood. At the time, she had said she knew about all of this because she had so many friends and family who had recently given birth, and so that’s why she was so knowledgeable. When she told me right away that she had conceived via IVF, I had also told her that we had the same journey. I generally don’t tell people that I went through IVF unless they are close friends or I know they have gone through it themselves. It’s one of those things that I’m happy and comfortable to discuss, but only if I think that the people who are there want to hear about it.

Anyway, the baby shower was really beautiful: her friends clearly went all out for her. She is expecting a little girl, so there was a lot of pink all over the lounge room. There was even a drink station with water with strawberries sliced in it, all pink drinks, and even pink books decorating it. Because she works in child literacy and as a literacy professor, she asked for only children’s books as gifts. And given the book theme, the entire lounge room was decked out with the most extensive collection of children’s books I had ever seen, strategically placed at all of the food and drink stations as well as at the sitting areas. A bunch of her friends had pitched in to make a variety of beautiful salads and put together some meat, cheese, and cracker trays. There were also gorgeous spreads of fruit and veggies. I especially loved the cookie and cupcake station, where they set up little boxes for you to take these home as party favors.

As for me, I was excited to finally wear something that was different than just my nursing tops, pumping bras, and sweat pants. I actually wore jewelry and makeup, put on a dress, and shaved my legs. When I looked at myself in the mirror before leaving, I smiled: I actually remember this person… This person who had a life before pregnancy and birth and outside of just being a mother. I no longer saw just the dark circles under my eyes or the split ends in my greasy hair or the post-birth belly I still hadn’t lost. I wasn’t focused on all the bruises on the tops of my breasts. But given that it was a baby shower, I still talked a lot about my baby as well as my birth experience and pumping, since there were a lot of other moms there who asked me about these details and wanted to know about my experience. But it just felt nice to be socializing again and in the midst of a lot of people who were just gathering to have some fun. Gatherings in general were missing obviously during the pandemic, and it felt really good to be in a group setting once again.

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