Baby Showers and Infertility: A Difficult Combination

by sockii

For a woman dealing with infertility, an invitation to attend a baby shower can present a challenging situation.

A baby shower is meant to be a joyous celebration, a way of welcoming new life into the world. Yet if you are a woman coping with infertility, a baby shower can instead be a dreaded and depressing reminder of your own inability to have a child. As much as you may be happy for the mother-to-be, it can be hard to really share in the happy event because of your own painful emotions. And figuring out how to best deal with an invitation to a baby shower without offending or confusing friends and loved ones can be difficult, especially as others may not understand just how deeply your fertility struggles are affecting you.

I know it's difficult because I've been there myself, and sometimes let my own emotional turmoil over infertility overshadow my ability to share in the happiness others are experiencing. It's taken quite a few years to come to terms with the situation and how best to approach it to both protect my own state of mind as well as not offending others. Here are my thoughts and suggestions on how you may wish to handle the situation yourself.

Image above courtesy Jeremy Nicholson on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

It's okay to feel upset and angry when you get a baby shower invitation.

Infertility doesn't play fair. Infertility isn't a punishment for those who have done something wrong or made incorrect choices in their lives. It's okay to feel angry and upset about your infertility when reminded of another's (seemingly easily, although we may not know) ability to become pregnant and give birth.

Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed of these feelings when you receive a baby shower invitation, because many other women know and understand exactly what you are going through.

Baby Shower Cupcakes

Talk about your feelings with friends and family who understand your struggles and don't keep your emotions bottled up inside. That said, don't take your grief and anger out on the mom-to-be. It's not her fault you are dealing with infertility any more so than it is yours. If you feel the need to rant, find an infertility support community online where you can vent to some understanding voices - anonymously. These are people who have been there and likely know exactly how you are feeling.

For those affected by infertility: How do you feel when you receive a baby shower invitation?

Do not feel obligated to attend the baby shower.

Vantasha's Baby Shower

Unless the baby shower invitation comes from someone who is an extremely close friend or family member, you should not feel obligated to attend. Some baby shower hosts will invite anyone and everyone whom the mom-to-be is friends or co-workers with--or at least it can seem that way! You can express your regrets for not attending with a congratulatory greeting card and gift certificate, if you wish, but don't feel obligated to explain your absence beyond a simple, "I'm sorry, I can't make it that day."

If the invitation is from a close friend or family member, you can still decline if it will be too painful for you to attend the shower in person. Think of it this way: you don't want to bring down the celebratory mood and ruin the party for the mom-to-be if you're going to feel depressed the entire time you're there (I've read plenty of stories about infertile women spending an entire baby shower hiding and crying in the bathroom. Okay, I've come close to doing the same thing myself.)

If you're very close to the mother-to-be, express your regrets for not attending in private and be honest about why you can't attend. Perhaps suggest meeting for a one-on-one lunch date in the near future to celebrate her pregnancy in an environment less stressful to you. Think of it this way: if a person is not close enough to you that you do not feel comfortable talking about your infertility with her, then you should feel no obligation to attend her baby shower party.

Agree or disagree: Should you go to the shower no matter what your feelings?

Buy baby shower gifts online or stick with gift cards.

Don't torture yourself with having to browse through Babies-R-Us or similar stores in person just because they are on the baby shower gift registry. Purchase something online--or better yet, give the mother-to-be a monetary gift card that can be used wherever she wishes. That will save you stress and aggravation, and no doubt provide the recipient extra cash they can use after all the other gifts have arrived.

Baby shower gifts for a girl

It's hard to go wrong with an Amazon gift card, and they have designs perfect for baby showers and baby congratulations.

If you must attend the baby shower, keep your presence brief and polite.

Funny Onesie

If circumstances demand that you attend a particular baby shower, try to limit the amount of time you will be there. Don't feel obligated to stay through all the gift-giving and games that may take place; simply take the time to express your congratulations to the mother-to-be, make sure she has received or knows your gift is there, and then bow out of the gathering as soon as you politely can.

Spend your time at the shower with other women you know who do not have young children, and try to keep the conversation going about other matters if possible.

And remember this, too: If anyone starts pressing you about when you will be the celebrated guest of honor at a baby shower, smile and thank her for her concern about you, but do not feel obligated to reply. Your reproductive choices and struggles are no one else's business but your own.

Need help coping with infertility? These books may be of interest and guidance...
Coping With Infertility, Miscarriage, and Neonatal Loss: Finding Perspective and Creating Meaning...

Pregnancy loss can be devastating, regardless of whether it is early or late in pregnancy or in the short period after a baby is born. In many instances, similar emotions are ex...

View on Amazon

Small Miracles: Coping With Infertility, Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Premature Birth

SMALL MIRACLES is a landmark Australian self-help book offering practical advice, inspiration and comfort for anyone coping with the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbir...

View on Amazon

Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss

Hannah’s Hope is intended as a guide to assist you in making wise decisions as you struggle through your grief of not yet conceiving, losing a child, or struggling through the a...

View on Amazon

Updated: 01/31/2017, sockii
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