Shower invitations and education

February 20, 2007 at 11:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 31 Comments

Can I just tell you all that I love all of you ladies so damn much? Thanks so much for the support and empathy and giving me permission to skip K’s shower.

I had another conversation with my mother in law last night. Because she sounded so frazzled the night before, I called her to check in and see if there was anything I could do. And we talked frankly (as frankly as we could – I do keep in mind that I don’t want her to feel stuck between her own daughter and her daughter in law, you know?) about the shower.

As it turns out, my MIL was PISSED at K because she thought that being in Italy gave me an out of having to be there in the first place. Sweet woman that she is, she knows that the shower will be painful for me. Particularly if we’re still not pregnant. (Have I mentioned recently just how much I love my mother in law?)

But K told her – and I’m quoting here – that “she wanted to make J and Serenity feel like they had a bond with the baby.” So it’s really important to her that I be there.

If I put myself in her shoes, I think it’s actually a pretty sweet sentiment. I have heard from a number of family members that she feels guilty that it was so easy for her to get pregnant when we’ve been struggling for so long. And so I really think that her motives are driven by empathy. She wants to share her pregnancy and her baby with us in the hopes that, somehow, it will help our pain.

So this wanting to share with us? It’s really a wonderful sentiment from her.

As an infertile, however, the thought makes me vaguely angry. Does she really think that ‘sharing’ her pregancy makes it easier to handle the fact that we still aren’t pregnant? And frankly, I’m a little unclear as to how watching her open baby gifts is going to help me bond with her kid. But maybe that’s just me.

But, also. She ISN’T walking in my shoes, and I can’t expect her to understand what it’s like for me.

Thing is, though, here’s the thing. I HAVE to go to this shower. I know you all say that self-preservation should be first… but my relationship with my sister in law will go on long after we have resolved our infertility. And if I miss something that’s really important to her because I can’t get past my own pain? It might damage our relationship… and I just can’t do something to hurt our relationship in the long term.

And honestly. If we’re not pregnant, it will be painful. It will hurt a lot. But shit, if I can survive 2 surgeries… and 4 failed transfers… and an early m/c… and more than 2 years of BFNs… surely I can survive one afternoon at a shower. Right?

The thing I’m struggling with right now is whether or not I spend the time trying to educate her on why I hate baby showers. And that though I will love her kid, it’s not going to take away the pain of being infertile. I don’t want to make her feel bad for thinking the way she does- she just doesn’t understand. Her motives are driven from love; she really just wants to help. And she already feels guilty enough about something in which she has no control – her fertility.

But if I don’t take this opportunity to tell her my side, then I’m enabling her ignorance. And it could potentially snowball into something that will REALLY hurt me and she won’t realize it.

Ugh. Managing all of the crap that goes along with infertility is really freaking hard.

Any assvice?



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  1. Dear Serenity, that’s a tough one. (And may I say at this point that I love your mother-in-law too?) I think it’s really generous of you to see K’s thinking for what it most probably is: giving (for her) and well-meaning. But *ugh*.

    I do understand your wanting to make her see how difficult it is for you, but my gut feeling is that you probably shouldn’t do this if you have already decided you have to go. “All right, I’ll come, but I’ll really really be suffering” is not a sentiment that’s very constructive to convey. If you do want to share, it would be a good time to say “I love you and am thrilled for you, and I will love your baby, but right now this type of celebration is simply too much for me to handle because (x, y and z). It’s really important for me that you understand it’s got nothing to do with my feelings for you or your baby.” And show her in other ways that you are there for her, so your words have more weight.

    So that’s my take — either one or the other. If you still want her to know what kind of a sacrifice you are making (and you are), I would suggest getting your MIL involved. Let her be the one to share your pain with her daughter, while you grin and bear it.

    Sigh. This is actually why I was an advocate of accepting the invite but then being struck at the last second with a terrible, terrible stomach bug…

    Good luck, my dear. You have such a good heart.

  2. And may I add that I love the fact that they don’t even do baby showers in this country? Bless them.

  3. I wish you luck. Personally I think if she is a kind and caring person that she should understand that it’s OK for you not to be there. It sounds like you are putting her feelings first(you are so kind!)? You need to do what’s best for you though so I wish you luck with whatever you do.

    Take care

  4. My assvice? I can’t believe someone actually wants it! :)- Here goes: I’d do the info — not in relation to the babyshower- but just as she wants you to experience her happiness I think it helps to have family to share in your IVF process as well– and if she wants to be supportive of you, as much as she wants you to be supportive of her– then giving her the “how friends and family can be supportive info” can’t really hurt.

    I think it may go far in educating her that it is ok that she didn’t struggle but to know that 1 in 6 couples do and that it’s important to ask if it is ok to share stuff. If she only learns to ask,”hey, I’d really like to give you an update with where we are right now, is that ok- and can you hear it?” then for me it would be worth it. It isn’t just about being at the baby shower- it’s about not being run over with all the info and not having a say about whether you are emotionally ok to hear it. One day might be ok, the next- not so good (hormones…) so having the support of family acknowledging those limits– priceless.

    As for how to make it through a babyshower– hmm, maybe they’ll serve wine spritzers or something for the guests? I’d stick close to the mother in law – she is a safety zone for you– and offer to take on a task at the event to help out– that way you have a job that requires your attention– if you have to watch her open gifts- log them down for her so she can send the giver a note and then you have your head down doing something rather than just watching and cooing.
    The art of distraction seems to work well for me.

  5. I have one word for you, Serenity: XANAX!

    Yes, I’m serious. See if you can get an rx for some Xanax. That stuff has seriously gotten me through some majorly stressful situations, including my fourth m/c (well, combined with Zoloft but Zoloft is more of a long-term thing and you’re looking at a situational thing right now). I also used it when I went to Texas to visit my BIL and his new family. It’s amazing!!

  6. That is really hard. Kath has it right – you don’t want to come off as a martyr. That being said, I think ellie’s comments are good too – perhaps you can talk with her more specifically and more openly about your feelings, not in relation to the baby shower per se. It sounds like she is trying to reach out, albeit in a really weird and unconstructive way. Because of that, she will probably be really receptive, and she may even be smart enough to read between the lines with respect to the shower. That doesn’t mean she will readily let you off the hook for the shower (especially because in her mind, at this point, she has already changed her schedule to “accomodate” you – hah), but she will at least be sensitive to your feelings.

    Finally, if you are not pregnant, then pharmaceutical intervention might help survive the shower. and you will survive – like you said you’ve been through much, much worse.

  7. As people have said here already, your MIL totally rocks…

    As for the other: Educating her about what’s going on is the best way to go, but try not to tie it to the shower. In other words, I agree with Kath – saying you’ll come but it will hurt tremendously is the martyr’s position, and no one will be comfortable with that, least of all you.

  8. I agree with you–your relationship will go on long after IF has been resolved, therefore it needs to be taken into consideration when choosing to go or not to go. I don’t see how you can skip this one.

    But I also think you could do a world of good for your SIL and the world in general if you teach her how to view situations from multiple points-of-view. And I think you need to tread very gently because she’s already in a sensitive space.

    I think she wants you there because your presence signifies to her that all is well between you. It means that you “forgive” (as if there is something to forgive?) her for getting pregnant easily. When you couldn’t come, she couldn’t get her forgiveness. It’s not really about you, per se. It’s about her. Except that it’s about her caring that you’re sad. She doesn’t want you sad–she certainly doesn’t want to be the cause of your sadness.

    Which is why I think you need to point out to her that infertility is the cause of your sadness–not her. And whether or not you’re there, all IS okay between you.

    But she does need to realize that it would win her many sensitivity points if she were to word her invitations with the ability of the receiver to gracefully bow out. In all situations in life. Since you never know what the other person is going through. For the twins first birthday, we had a giant baby naming party (long story) and invited 80 people. The way we worded the invitation conveyed that we wanted the guest there, but also wanted to give them an out if it was too hard to see the twins (many of our friends are infertile since that’s who we tended to gravitate towards during our journey). And a few people took us up on the offer and bowed out and no one felt the need to explain or apologize. And a few thanked us for the out but said they’d come simply because they knew there was an easy out. And a few told us they didn’t need the out because they wanted to celebrate with us. It was such a simple thing to do–change the wording–but it allowed everyone to stay in their own comfort zone. And I would approach weddings and all life-cycle events this same way. I think bridal showers suck for single women. Or graduations. You get my point.

    So…this is my long way of saying that this is a wonderful opportunity to reassure that that you love her and that it’s mostly the infertility, not her. And that she needs to understand that her happiness doesn’t create happiness in another person. Seeing her celebrating her child will not instantly make you happy or connected to that baby. But allowing you the space to come forward and bond in your own time? That could lead to a great deal of happiness for you.

    And your MIL rocks.

  9. I think it’s really important that she sees that her shower has nothing to do with how much you’ll love the baby. Of course you will; it’s impossible not to fall in love with a baby. But, the shower is celebrating her and her pregnancy (can she have a baby shower month? 🙂 My sister in law is exactly the same way!) and that it will be very difficult for you to be surrounded by it.
    The worst part of infertility is that we have to go on with our lives. We have to do the day to day things expected of us because nobody in the “fertile” world gets it.
    I do agree with previous posters that it is important to preserve your relationship, and it does show you how much she values you.
    At least you know you can vent to us whenever you need to. Maybe take a laptop to the shower and blog during 🙂

  10. What a toughie..I wish you luck! I am hopeful that she will understand. But I agree with katd-take a laptop if you go and give us up to the minute updates! Hehe

  11. That is really hard. I don’t think I have anything to add that someone hasn’t already said, but I wanted to wish you luck with the whole thing.

  12. It’s interesting the importance people attach to a baby shower. Being Jewish, I come from people who are superstitious about all things birth and therefore, haven’t been to a lot of baby showers in my time (it’s considered tempting fate). As someone else said, the shower is about the mom-to-be geting gifts–not about the baby itself.

    Would it be easier to bond with the baby when it actually arrives, rather than at an event where the baby hasn’t been born yet? Would it be easier for you to actually be there when the baby is born, or at a Christening event or babynaming or whatever will happen AFTER the kid’s arrival?

    If you can’t get out of the shower… maybe slight drugs are the answer (or else drinking solidly during the event itself). Or busying yourself with some task that your MIL is fully aware of.

    Then again… maybe this entire discussion will be moot because you’ll already be pregnant.

  13. How I wish my MIL was more like yours….heck, how I wish your my Mom was more like your MIL! Oh well.

    When I feel a need to tell or explain something about infertility, I always ask myself – “Does this person NEED this clarification?”

    Basically, if it is a person who I have a relationship with, a person who I would have deep and meaningful conversations with, then I would tell/explain the situation to them.

    However, if the person will get no benefit of hearing it. They are either unwilling or unable to understand. They have no want. I let them be.

    Because ultimately, I will just be aggravating myself.

    So, that is my assvice for the day. And yes you can/will survive it. Hopefully, if you are not p——-, you will be able to have a glass of wine or two. It always helps me.

  14. Folks have given you a lot of good ideas, but I have another one for you.

    If you can, and if it is something you like – see if you can administrate part of the day. It would keep you away from the babyness of it all, but you’d be there for your SIL. Such as, help put out food and clean up, hang coats, etc. Something to keep your mind off of the reason for the event…

  15. nope , no assvice from me. However, I will tell you that you are so strong and I agree that one afternoon you can live through. I say this as a woman that hasn’t been to a baby shower in about 3 years , but if it was my SIL I would go. (I hate to admit that but I would) and although I would hate it, I would put on that brave face for her and well for me. I know when the time gets here you’ll know what you can and cannot do and you just go from there. You’re doing all u can at this point, trust your gut that you’ll do the right thing for you when it’s time.

    your MIL rocks. Thank goodness for her and for the love she is showing you.

  16. well crap. I wrote you a long, lovely comment and then my internet connection burped right when I tried to post it. So this one will be more brief…

    My bottom line – no matter how much she is pretending that this is about you, I think your SIL is being selfish. If she was concerned about you, then she would not want to put you in a position that would make you uncomfortable. And insisting that you have to be at her shower will make you uncomfortable. Why does she need you to fawn over her pregnancy so publicly? And why would you not coming to her shower hurt your future relationship? is she that shallow?

    I think Mel and the other posters said it all pretty well.

  17. Everyone else gave such great advice that I really don’t have anything to add. Xanax does sound good though…

  18. Get ready, here comes my lame assvice…

    First of all, don’t feel any obligation to be the poster child for infertility and take on the responsibility of educating anyone, unless that’s what you really really want to do.

    Second, I think you said it beautifully when you said that loving her baby will not take away any of your own pain. The two can coexist. Being happy for one reason rarely dissolves the sadness for another reason. The way you said it to us, seems like a great way to say it to her, if you feel that you want to go there. Trust your instincts on this one.

  19. Wow. What awesome assvice (and I must say, I love that term, “assvice”). Finally, a term my husband had never heard of – brilliant. I digress.

    Okay – I love your mother-in-law!! And I have to say, I agree with the sentiment that while you are very sweet and understanding, I think your sister-n-law is being completely selfish. This “bonding” thing is all about HER, not you and her baby and that just pisses me off. (projecting a little of my own life there)…

    Anyway, everyone has covered everything, but one of the ways I find it helpful to communicate my feelings to someone is by writing – they can’t refute or invalidate what I’ve said, and I can just stick to me. I do understand the need to attend the shower, though. That’s a tough one.

    Best of luck and most of all – my wishes for you that this will be a nonissue by the time the shower date arrives.

  20. Serenity, I’ve read through the responses and I can’t add any assvice.

    You’re right – you *can* go to the shower and survive it. It won’t even be the most difficult thing you’ve done these last 12 months. So if it comes to that, then yes, you can do it.

    I don’t know if anyone’s suggested alternative event between you and SIL (ok, I only skimmed the comments…)? I know one of the hardest things for me about events like this is not seeing the pregnant woman in question, but being in the midst of a whole lot of people and buzz. I’d prefer a one-on-one event with me and pg woman. Maybe you can suggest that if it’s bonding she wants, you two can do it together over morning tea a few days before the shower? You could even help with shower preparations at that time.

    But none of that is directed at your main question, which is, should you try to educate her?

    I think you do need to come to an understanding, for the sake of your future relationship. Even if you go to the shower, you’re going to have a hard time being bouncy and happy the whole time you’re there – even if you’re pregnant you might find this – and you may want to leave early or something. So I think some talking is in order, yes.


  21. Xanax sounds good to me. As does valium or ativan. And you are right, you will survive this!

  22. God Serenity, this sucks ass.

    I’m sorry to be so blunt (and SOOOO bitchy on these goddamn BCPs) but I am SO pissed at your SIL!

    Re-arranging the date so you basically HAVE to go, not taking into consideration that being in Italy MIGHT have been a perfect and tasteful excuse for you to miss it? Lame.

    And having a bond with the baby?? By sitting around playing games and watching people ooh and ahh over presents? PLEASE.

    Again, I apologize but she is being so selfish and self-centered. Even if she doesn’t have experience with IF, she is being dense by not realizing that this might be a very uncomfortable event for you…

    But saying that, if you’ve decided to go I would just go. I wouldn’t have the energy to try and enlighten her about the issues surrounding IF. (If she cared she would at least ask you directly about attending the shower.)

    [And honestly, NOT attending really shows her how hideously painful this whole process is…]

    I would just go — if you feel like you have no choice — and just do your best to get through the day.

    You are a better woman than I. I’ve already warned my Mom and sister that if I’m in a bad place come April I’m not attending my sister’s TWO back-to-back showers and they can all JUST SUCK IT.

    (Did I mention I’m super cranky these days??)

  23. I think we all love your MIL!! You’ve posted about her before and she sounds like an amazing woman.
    Everyone else has said it all, but I’m a firm believer in going with your first instincts. If you don’t want to go, don’t. If you want to explain to SIL, do it. If you want to drink when making these decisions, go for it. Maybe a good drunk and dial to SIL is called for when you can really let it all out there. Then if it goes over like bricks, you can blame it all on the alcoholic stupor (0:

    Bottom line, it sounds like you’ll be supported in any decision you make, and that’s important.

  24. Great assvice all round. Showers are so difficult at the best of times, and No, I also don’t think watching a bunch of women oooh and aaah over the cute little baby stuff will help you bond with the baby. I like Bea’s idea about the private tea with your SIL before the shower. Use that time to talk to her about how difficult showers are for you (and any IF) and tell her that depending on your circumstances on the day (how you’re feeling / whether you’re pg or not, etc) will decide whether you’ll be there or not. She should understand and if not, then she’s only thinking of herself.

  25. My rule of thumb: go with your instinct. My problem with these situations is that my mind thinks I can handle them. I mean, after all I’ve experienced emotionally and physically on this path, a shower seems like a piece of cake. But my heart always says “I told you so.” when I get there. If you do decide to go, make sure you have a planned escape procedure, just to be on the safe side.

  26. Urgggg I hate blogger some times. I left you a nice long message this morning, I was “told” that my message was saved and would appear later, and now it is not there.

    But you don’t need it, it wasn’t particularly inspirational and everyone has already said everything. So just know that I am thinking of you, that no matter how you look at it, this situation sucks, and that you will get through it, not matter the outcome!

  27. I must be shallow because everyone else has written out wonderful long comments… and I have only one word for you my love….


    My gift to you!

  28. i see why you want to…but i still say don’t go.
    i agree with kath…don’t say you’re going and go and then tell her how painful it is…

    and your MIL (who i’d like to kiss full on the lips) really holds the power. she understands why you don’t want to be there…and she’ll guide ms.little selfish pants. rightgei say.,..again MIL on your side..tell her you’re afraid about hurting ms. little selfish pants…let her drive from there.


  29. for the record i have no idea what “rightgei” means or why i typed it. i only know that i am 1/3 of the way thru my smoothie and i can’t type.

  30. Wow- this is a tough one. I can’t imagine having to sit at a potential baby shower for my SIL right now, so I can’t really add to the great advice so far.

    I am not sure that you need to take on the job of “educating” SIL… It doesn’t sound like she will “get it.”

    I think I like Kath’s comment the best so far…Make your decision and stick with it.

    And of course, the “stomach bug” is *always* a great escape if you can’t do it…

    Good luck!!!

  31. If you want a deeper relationship with her, then taking the path of informing her as to why her shower will be hard for her and what the toll of infertility does to a person and how your infertility and her shower/pregnancy are mutually exclusive events.

    Again, though, it all depends on what kind of relationship you hope to have with her. If you are fine with the relationship as is, then you’ll have to decide whether setting aside your feelings for her sake is more important than doing something you’d rather not do at your expense.

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