Curbside Baby Shower

So this blog post is mostly for posterity … I want to commit every detail of this to memory, and writing things down is a way to do it. I also want a way to look back on this easily. Memories are fickle, and it’s not always easy to capture the small details and moments of something. So feel free to skip this post unless you want to know all the details. Truthfully, it’s just something good in the middle of chaos and confusion, and we could all use a bit of positivity and hope right now.

Yesterday was the second day in my 5th week of being home due to the pandemic. I was also in my 34th week of pregnancy … the end is finally coming into sight! I haven’t been in contact with many people from work because … I don’t need to be. I was laid off after my vacation was paid out and really haven’t heard from anyone because our business is considered non-essential so watching the news is enough to know we won’t be going back to work for a long time. Based on reports of the state of emergency order being extended there is a very good chance I won’t be back at work before having the baby. I’ve known that for awhile and made my peace. So when a co-worker contacted me asking if it was alright that she drop off a gift for the baby I thought nothing of it. Of everyone I work with (management and co-workers) she was the one I thought most likely to give us a gift, so yeah sure … come over and drop it off. I can’t come outside to talk to you, but I have a porch and a large window that opens onto it, so at least we can chat for a few minutes. Yesterday was the day she was slated to come by, and as the time rolled up I started paying more attention to the street so I could move to the window when I saw her arrive.

But I just happened to look up as a van drove by … which is not an unusual occurrence, we live on a busy enough street. But I could have sworn the woman in the car looked like my supervisor (she has unique enough hair that I can tell it’s her from a distance). My eyes must be playing tricks on me so I thought nothing of it. Until a few minutes later when I looked up and it was her. Holy crow! Now I move to the door to peer outside and there is my co-worker, the one I expected … and 3 more that I didn’t. Cue the water works. When everyone was there I looked outside to see 8 people (7 co-workers and my direct supervisor) standing outside – at appropriate social distances, of course – holding brightly coloured bags, smiling, waving, laughing, telling me they were here for my Social Distancing Baby Shower.

Each of them came up one at a time, starting with the co-worker I had been in contact with. I got to chat with each of them for a few minutes, hear some words of encouragement and support. They let me know they were thinking of me, of how scary it must be to pregnant and so close to giving birth with all of this happening. They know my baby shower would have been cancelled so I never got this experience. They wanted to bring things to let me know they were thinking of me, and us. That we matter and we’re important. That there are people in my corner supporting me. Surprising no one, I cried a lot.

I don’t talk about work a lot here for good reason – I usually try to keep work and personal separate. My job is stressful at times. My job is overwhelming, especially the times over the last couple of years I’ve been the only person in my position/department. I’m extremely grateful for my job – I work in a field that I don’t have an educational background in (that is to say, I don’t have the expensive piece of paper that says I went to school to know the skills I know), but they took a chance on me based on someone else’s word and I’ve been with them a few years now. I have a good working relationship with almost everyone I interact with. I have the freedom to be myself – usually dripping with sarcasm – and no one bats an eye at it. My supervisor respects my knowledge and experience and frequently asks for my opinion and input instead of just changing things and expecting me to adapt. When I held a similar-type job in my early 20s I didn’t recognize how good I had it but I know now. I am hardpressed to ever want to give up this job and it would take a lot to make me walk away. But I had been thinking about it. BF and I have talked on and off for awhile about moving out of our city, and during each discussion it’s my job that holds me here … I need a bit more time, a couple more years of it on my resume … but the last year has been a struggle. Not that it was anything wrong happening at work, but outside forces making my job even more needlessly difficult and my feeling that I was just a cog in the wheel. That people were friendly-ish to me because I was the only one in my position and thus they had to interact with me. That perhaps I had worn out my welcome and the sarcasm was starting to grate on people because it was more and more frequent. That I was working into the void, that I wasn’t being compensated fairly for the amount of work I was experiencing but no idea how to advocate for myself to get more. Add in the pregnancy and I was starting to have anxiety attacks in the morning trying to get ready for work. I was literally counting the days to my maternity leave just to get a break.

The pandemic threw it all to hell. I don’t get to leave my position on my terms, cleaning up the projects I wanted to have done before I left. I won’t get to train my replacement. I’m not even sure how long I’ll get on mat leave because of all of this. I know it’s all one day at a time right now. I know it’s focus on what’s most important and in front of me – preparing for the baby’s arrival as best as we can. So any gifts anyone has given us we’ve been grateful for but not expecting. Yesterday was unexpected.

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BF gathered the gifts off the porch and brought them inside while I tried to gather my thoughts and emotions. I’m a quiet person, a hard-core introvert. I keep a small group of close friends and I generally keep to myself a lot. I don’t think to reach out to people a ton … it legitimately does not occur to me to do so. I don’t think people want to hear from me. I don’t think my day-to-day existence is important enough to talk about. Generally I get up, go to work, go home. Wash, rinse, repeat. It was like this with Wasband, while I was separated, and now with BF. I don’t go out a ton. I don’t do a ton of exciting things. I was raised to keep my head down and do my own thing – don’t make a fuss, don’t cause waves. And even though I blog I have a hard time talking about myself in person. It’s a classic case of wanting people to show an interest in me … but not too many people, not all at once, don’t ask hard questions. I’m better at writing. I’m better at expressing myself in longer prose than in conversation. Small talk would be my personal circle in hell; I don’t know how to keep a conversation going. So something like this … all of this … was overwhelming, but in a very good way. In a way I can’t refute that people care about me (try as I might). In a way that I can tell people listen and pay attention to what I say. That I matter to people, I’ve touched their lives, I’ve made an impact. It’s not to say I don’t believe these things … but that I believe it only applies to a small select group of individuals … and these women were not included in that in my head. This proved me wrong.

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BF sat nearby as I opened the gifts, taking time to look at and hold each item. Every single person in this group is a mother, including my co-worker who just gave birth in January. Each present was thoughtful and unique – your standard clothes, bibs, toys, diapers, wipes. But there were things we wouldn’t have thought of – important items to care for the baby, gift cards in case we needed something last minute, toys we might have wanted but haven’t bought because it’s not a top-priority to get right now. And to feel the love and thoughtfulness reflected in the words in the cards … the well-wishes, the excitement at me being pregnant, at them getting to meet her … the requests to stay in contact and share lots of pictures. It was insanely overwhelming and wonderfully amazing.

The rest of the night was emotional. Every time I saw the pictures I took, or looked at the things organized on the table, or as I went through the clothes preparing them for a wash I would need to take a moment to gather myself. BF was great at being close, giving me lots of love and attention as needed. I know he was overwhelmed and grateful for the gifts but the emotions were all of me … of knowing these people (some who have only recently joined the staff), of worrying that some of them actually didn’t like me, of thinking they were probably sick of hear from me during work hours because a call from me means a mistake was made somewhere … but to have all that peeled away and just see love and caring and compassion from women who wanted me to know that people are in my corner to support me during this crazy and trying time. I am truly touched and very lucky to have people like this in my life.

~ J

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