Infertility: Should You Go To A Baby Shower?
Anyone who has ever had difficulty conceiving knows going to a baby shower can be the apex of pain. You have come to find yourself doing everything you can to avoid babies and pregnant people most of the time, and baby showers are all about both. An easy answer to the invitation is “politely decline.” But when you are working on trying to conceive (TTC), it is all too easy to make your focus like a laser beam on getting pregnant. You stare at charts, chatrooms, and calendars until you’ve burned a hole in the thing you were trying to focus on. It’s easy to forget that there are other parts of your life that are important too.
The problem isn’t whether or not you attend a shower, it’s a problem when you get in the pattern of skipping out on life events. We need people in our lives. We thrive on connection. The more you stop connecting with people the more isolated you become, and the more stressed you get. If you feel like you need to attend, a baby shower does not have to be all about the fact that you don’t have a baby. But it will be if that’s what you decide it’s about. Try to remember who you were before you started TTC. Consider if there is anything about the event that you can connect to your system of values. You can attend with the plan of trying to meet someone new, to support your friend, to visit with family, to have a chance to wear a cute dress, to get some new book/movie/music ideas, to talk about your small business, to see if anyone has recommendations about vacation ideas, to practice your cake eating skills! Women in my Asheville counseling practice have also told me that it depends on where they are in their cycle that month. If they’ve just had a period arrive after a hopeful two weeks, then they can usually feel okay about calling in sick to the shower. But others have been pleasantly surprised at the outcome of the event if they shift their focus.
No matter how you look at it, going to a baby shower is stressful. If you have just had an embryo transfer for your IVF, do not go to the baby shower. Go to acupuncture, get a massage, walk the dog , see a movie with your partner. Luxuriate yourself, there will be plenty of other showers to go to. If you are having difficulty conceiving, you have every reason and right in the world not to attend a baby shower.
A few notes for those who decide to go:
Have a prepared line to answer the inevitable question: “Do you have/want kids?”
Find little jobs for yourself around the party - cleaning up plates, putting out more food.
Don't wear too much make up in case you need to have a brief cry in the bathroom.
And I guarantee you that there is someone else in attendance that also does not want to be there. Try to figure out who that person is and strike up a conversation about something non-baby related. Who knows, you might make a new friend.
When you receive the next invitation with the picture of the baby giraffe on it in diapers, try to zoom out your focus on your TTC struggle a little bit, ask yourself if there is anything about this event that would help you connect to the part of yourself you used to be before TTC. Also, it is okay to feel upset, resentful, and jealous. And before you go, tell your partner you’re trying something new, it’s going to take a lot of energy and courage, and you’re going to need their support when you come home.