Sunday, January 19, 2014

baby showers = still hard

During those difficult years "in the trenches", I declared a moratorium on baby showers. I made no exceptions. I tried to show women I loved who were having babies that I loved them and supported their entry into motherhood in other ways. But going to a baby shower, however much I loved the guest of honour, cost too much emotionally. I was already near emotional bankruptcy, and just couldn't afford it. 

This approach is not shared by all infertile women, and I respect people's individual choices. I think we each go through different experiences and figure out what we can do and what we can't. For me, a gathering of women celebrating the one big dream I wasn't sure I would ever get to fulfill was too much. That was an automatic no for me, so much so that I stopped being invited altogether. 

Then I got pregnant (again) (and this time for a longer time and it resulted in a living baby). 

My dear, lovely, generous friends wanted to have a gathering for me. I politely declined. I could not bring myself to go through with that, for many reasons. I felt guilty for not having shown up at so many baby showers, and not having supported many of my friends through early motherhood. I felt like at this point, I had grown to HATE baby showers and so why the fuck would I want one. I wondered if I needed to believe I was going to have a baby to have a baby shower, and unsure of the answer, I had to  forgo the experience. 

I don't feel like I missed out. 

(but tell me if you think I did)

I went to a baby shower this afternoon. My first one in....shit....I can't even remember. It was a lovely gathering of women for Lianne, this great woman I know a little bit and like very much. I wanted to be there especially because she has struggled psychologically with some aspects of expecting a child and turned to me for support. In turn, I wanted to show my support by joining in the gathering. 

It started early last week. I found myself complaining, complaining, and complaining some more to Mr. A about ALL the crap I had to do for this stupid shower. Bring cheeses and crackers. Bring a photo. Bring a bead. Bring a fucking affirmation. 'This is too much', I thought. 'The excessive meaningfulness is going to make me vomit' (and I did vomit, but that was because Gummy gave me the stomach flu by vomiting on me twice). 

But last night, as I was flossing, I thought "Augusta, what the hell is up with all your complaining about this shower?" I had to admit to myself a few things: 

1) I still felt anxious about going to baby showers.
2) I had nothing to offer a woman about to give birth on the topic of birth. 
3) I was scared for Lianne. In my mind giving birth is still scarier than meeting the Yeti. 

It was good to have an honest conversation with myself about these things. I could check my fears at the door today, and try to make this experience about Lianne and not about me. 

I went to the shower and it was mostly uncomfortable. The excessive meaningfulness did make me want to vomit at times, but I could also find it meaningful and sweet. Of course, when it came time to read affirmations, people had all these lovely wishes for the mother-to-be. I, on the other hand, pulled out a quote from psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott* and sobered the mood right up. 

There was a game of trying to guess whose were the baby pictures on a board, and people talked about wether their babies looked more like them or their husbands. Always an interesting one for a DE mom. And then I tried talking to a friend I hadn't seen since April and she wouldn't even look at me. There were other parts too, good parts, but I left feeling like I just had been at a gathering of ornithologists and all I know about birds is that blue jays are blue.  

I'm not ready to reinstate the moratorium, but I would say these darn baby showers are still hard. I've got a few more coming up, and I probably need to spend less time complaining to Mr. A and a little more time shoring up the necessary inner resources to attend. 

*"I would rather be the child of a mother who has all the inner conflicts of the human being than be mothered by someone for whom al l is easy and smooth, who knows all the answers, and is a stranger to doubt."


  1. No baby shower for me, either. I do not feel slighted. I am intensely proud of your foray into baby showerdom, but will say that for myself, I hope I never have to go to another one in my life. Or else, I will stand by my party pooper trick of arriving early and leaving early citing something important.

    I would feel like an outsider even if I had a dozen kids.

    1. Thanks Misfit. I love it when you are proud of me.
      And I really like your trick that I will surely use in the future: arrive early (manage own guilt) and leave early (manage own sanity). It's good. You should patent it.

  2. Ugh, baby showers. Luckily (and miraculously) for me, I've actually not been invited to a baby shower once since I learned of my infertility. This journey just scars you ... I don't blame you for feeling exactly the way you do feel.

    1. Let the streak of miraculous/lucky absence of baby shower invitation continue. Unless, of course, it's for your own in several months (and only if you want one. But I wouldn't blame you for not wanting one or feeling ambivalent).
      THank you for commenting, lovely woman.

  3. I have been following you for years. I have struggled with infertility for six years. I am 39 years old and gave birth last March to a baby girl. I did not want a baby shower because I did not know if the pregnancy would result in an actual baby... I do not think anybody enjoys going to baby showers either.. I am still very protected regarding my feelings towards pregnancy. It is alright to follow your emotions and protect them:)

    1. Hi Coll. Welcome and Thank you for posting a comment. You've been following me for years and this is the first time I say hello! I'm sorry if you've commented before and I was too self-absorbed to notice. But I'm noticing now!
      Congrats on your baby girl, who like mine, is working her way very fast to her first birthday. How is that possible? I'd love to see a picture, if you want to email me.

  4. I can't do them either. I'm pretty sure they rank right up there with poking my eye out with a pencil. (I'm exaggerating, a little, I think) At the same time, I feel like a terrible friend. It's a fine line to walk to be able to support them and support my mental well-being.

    1. I support you in boycotting any and all baby showers right now, Suzanne. I will send your regrets in your stead to all your friends if you want. I like that you are taking care of yourself.

  5. I'd like to smack the friend who wouldn't look at you, and, really the whole lot of them, all women who are doubtless lovely and kind. Maybe I'll leave the expectant mama alone. NO HITTING PREGNANT WOMEN, BUNNY.

    I've only ever been to one, the one I threw for BFB, but I think they are a bit creepy. I mean, they're somehow not really a good fit for Our Kind of People. I mean, I suppose they could be, but... maybe the prototype is so horrible (uh, sorry people who love these things) that the best version is still tainted by that prototype. So anyway, I think in the best possible scenario it would have been icky, but this was hardly that. I'm sorry. I applaud you for going. It was a gift of kindness, and that's you all over.

    1. I agree that the prototype is tainted. The idea of the baby shower has some good in it, but there are layers of gross taintedness. And I agree, Our Kind of People, those who hate showers, shouldn't go to showers. Or if they go, make sure there will be alcohol (and there wasn't at that one. Fatal error).