Not every woman who struggles with infertility finds baby showers to be like salt in an open wound. However, for me baby showers were excruciatingly painful. It took a lot for me to attend a baby shower during the years that the Mr. and I were struggling with infertility. Today I wanted to shed some light on baby showers from the perspective of the “fertility challenged.” *Disclaimer- I understand that all women who struggle with infertility do so in different ways; this list is based on my own personal experiences.
- Dreaded Baby Shower Syndrome- Some women who struggle with infertility are not bothered by baby showers, and I think that is absolutely wonderful! However, I was someone who dreaded baby showers. I often avoided them because just talking about pregnancy hurt too much. Spending 3-4 hours gushing over something that I might never have ripped out my barely hanging on heart. Also it never failed, every time I attended a baby shower someone would ask me “When is it your turn Darby?” Remember what I said about asking questions like that (“When are you going to have children?” or “When are you going to have your next child?”)? Never ask these questions. Just don’t; you don’t know someone’s story and just attending the baby shower might be all someone could muster dealing with in one day. If it is going to add stress to you, and cause a lot of emotional pain, I say politely decline the invitation to a baby shower. Your true expecting friends who love you will sympathize with you; they wont hold it against you. If you still want to send a gift, you don’t have to go to Babies R Us, just order something online and have it sent to her house. You never have to hold the gift or see it in person; this is how I have handled baby showers for the past few years unless I was hosting, of course, and then I just spent A LOT of time praying for my heart to be softened.
- Don’t Assume I Don’t Want to Attend- I had a family member who knew about our struggle with infertility and chose not to send me an invitation to her baby shower. I found out about the shower the week after when pictures were posted on Facebook. As I scrolled through the pictures online, I noticed that I was the only female from our family absent from the pictures. When I put myself in her shoes, I imagine she was trying to "protect" me from the pain of attending the shower, but to be honest it made me feel like an outsider looking in. It hurt really really bad. I felt like any power I did have was stolen from me and I was in even less control of my life. Women who struggle with infertility don’t want to be left out of even more activities, send them an invite and let them decide if they can handle it.
- Big Sacrifices = Big Love- Even though baby showers were dreaded for me, it did not mean that I was not happy for my friends or family when they were expecting. I was truly over the moon even if it was a challenge for me to express it. Seeing the pregnant belly grow is a constant reminder of what someone struggling with infertility cannot have, and is often very painful. Unless an infertile woman plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women again. She isn't rejecting you or your children; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby or children with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her. When a woman who is fertility challenged attends a baby shower, know that she is pushing her own heart-ache away and demonstrating great love for you.
Again I know that not every woman deals with infertility in the same ways, but I hope that my experience sheds some light on how some women who are fertility challenged may be feeling.
Have a great Monday friends!
Have a great Monday friends!