Carrie's stress about her late period is palpable throughout the shower as she and Miranda stand in judgement by the front door. (Samantha is in the kitchen getting drunk and Charlotte is enthusiastically sharing her shower gift, a "Bellini Baby Basket.") Carrie frowns throughout the gift opening and thinks to herself,
As Laney tore open a terry cloth baby bib with the same enthusiasm she used to reserve for tearing off a rock star's pants, I couldn't help but wonder, was I next?
The ultimate insult occurs when a friend of Laney's mentions that Laney's baby will be named Sheyla. It turns out that Sheyla is Charlotte's secret fantasy baby name that she shared years ago with Laney and made her promise to never use. Laney pretends she does not recall this discussion, and the girlfriends storm out of the center hall colonial and into a local bar. The baby shower and name stealing are so painful to Charlotte that she decides she is all washed up. Defeated, she goes home and removes her "box of wishes" from under her bed. Charlotte fumbles longingly through the items in the box which include a photo of her dream house (a town house in the city), a Pink pillow with Sheyla embroidered in fuchsia, and (in a heartbreaking reminder of the fact that this otherwise current episode was filmed in 1998) a photo of her dream guy, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Later that evening, Laney cabs to the city and crashes Samantha's "I'm not having a baby shower." She proceeds to humiliate herself by trying, pathetically and without success, to perform a strip tease on Samantha's ottoman. Samantha states that Laney's pregnant strip tease fiasco is either the most pathetic site she has ever seen, or the greatest validation she has ever received. Embarrassed and defeated, Laney heads for a cab and admits to Carrie that she longs for her former life and worries she does not recognize herself.
When the episode concludes, Carrie is sitting in a playground watching children play and wondering if motherhood could possibly work for her. "Could I do this?" she asks herself, "and still manage to be me?" Her period arrives later that day, and Carrie's mommy question remains unanswered.
The common sensation of torture brought on by the baby shower is an ideal metaphor for the common tensions that can arise between friends with babies and friends without. While there is no easy answer to this complicated question, this episode clearly demonstrates that we are all vulnerable to fantasize about the path not taken. If your pregnant friend is annoying you to pieces, consider that some of her baby obsession may relate to tremendous anxiety about how her world is about to change. Most are not prepared for the dramatic lifestyle and overwhelming hormonal shifts that accomany pregnancy and, evenually, motherhood. Maybe your pregnant friend's life is not nearly as perfect as it seems. If your not yet pregnant or single friends do not embrace your pregnancy as you might wish, remember that your milestone may be a complicated one for others who may wish for or feel conflicted about motherhood. A woman's silent but ticking biological clock is, for some, the biggest and most stressful pressure they carry. And yet, this can be a fiercely private pressure that many women rarely speak of, espcially to their pregnant friends. It is easy to imagine that the grass is greener, especially the manicured lawn of a Connecticut center hall Colonial. But looks can be deceiving. The more you embrace your own path without criticizing yourself or comparing your path to the paths of others, the stronger your friendships will be and the more likely you are to find and feel genuine happiness.