Chris just turned 30. He’s not much of a party person (that’s more my style) and he shares a birthday with my cousin who lives nearby. That’s one reason I knew I might marry him. One month into dating, we discovered this shared birthday (my cousin was my roommate at the time, making this fun fact stand out even more). In my family we have many shared birthdays- me and my cousin, both my sisters and two other cousins, my mom and my aunt, my roommate cousin and another cousin. It’s a thing. Chris joining the family made the first triple birthday. But birthdays aren’t as big a deal for him, so we usually ride on the coattails of my cousin, jumping in on whatever party she throws. His birthday this year is a little bittersweet for me. Mabel was due March 14 and I joked early on in pregnancy that I would be giving him a baby for his birthday.
This year I decided to try and do something for Chris alone- we have the Chicago food (a gift sent from his family) that was too much for just the two of us. So I invited a few friends over for Chicago food- Italian beef and Chicago style hot dogs. Deciding on who to invite was tricky, because of me. Sometimes I get emotional, even when we have friends over. I usually retreat upstairs and cry it out, but Chris comes to check on me. We have some friends who are pregnant or have babies and he was worried how I would be. At first I told him I would be fine, but after more probing from him, I was honest- I didn’t know how I would be. I thought I’d be fine at the bridal shower but I wasn’t. I thought I wouldn’t be fine the first time some unknowing person asked, but I was. I’m unpredictable. So we limited the group to a few friends. Of the few we invited over, two other couples could make it. It was smaller than I had hoped for him, but Chris was unfazed. Again, birthdays aren’t as a big deal for him as they are for me.
The day of his celebratory dinner we defrosted all the Italian beef and fixings and bought supplies for the hot dogs. We prepped, laid it all out and I baked a cake. As we neared dinner time, one of the couples cancelled- they were moving and it took longer than expected. I was disappointed but Chris wasn’t; the two that were still coming are good friends so we’d enjoy that. And not long after the final couple cancelled- they were caught up in some guests from earlier that day and couldn’t get away. So Chris and I were left with all this defrosted food and just the two of us. We had a nice night, binging on Game of Thrones and stuffing our faces. But I was sad. I tried to do something nice for Chris- the first time since childbirth that I organized anything- and it failed. We could have invited more people- some of the ones I hesitated to- and then we would have actually had some guests. I felt so vulnerable because I had put myself out there and got this. It reminded me of the baby shower in the bar. Universe was trying to tell me something- you shouldn’t be going to happy hour; it’s too soon. You shouldn’t be organizing anything; it’s too soon. And I felt bad because it was my fault, being so unpredictable emotionally and thus limiting our guest list. And ultimately I was looking forward to something (doesn’t happen that often right now for me) and I was disappointed. Chris is adamant that he was perfectly happy with how the night turned out, so I’ll try to feel good about that.
I was described as a sensitive child- I cried easily and frequently. This sensitivity grew with me into adulthood, though much more tempered. Lately, I’m like that small child who cries over the smallest things. Or ruminates and overthinks them. I worry that my friends don’t want to spend time with me because I’m not fun, I’m sad and I don’t know what to talk about except my baby. I worry that this whole “sadness” thing will get old. I worry that Chris will get tired of being what holds me up everyday.
I know my disappointment around Chris’s dinner was me just being sensitive or projecting fears that probably aren’t true. But I think I’m especially sensitive now that we are in a new timeframe when I am reminded of all the things we were supposed to be doing, or not doing, because we had a baby. The day of my failed Chicago-theme dinner, there was a local Bourbon, Bacon, BBQ and Beer festival. Tickets went on sale in December. Considering those were all things Chris really enjoys I thought about getting him a ticket. I didn’t because I figured we’d have a newborn at home, since it was scheduled for 10 days after my due date. And so we were ticketless and didn’t attend the event while our friends did. Even though the event was a disaster, as our friends reported, we missed out on the shared experience of a terrible festival. We have an upcoming wedding, that I envisioned having the baby at my side as we got our hair and makeup done. All these things that are supposed to be happy- birthdays, festivals, weddings- and they are, but for me they also come with a sharp pain in my side reminding me what is missing. I am entering a new phase, transitioning from the “My baby died” phase to the “My baby died and here are the reminders that you are empty handed” phase.