Why I still hate baby showers.

April 9, 2009 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

This past weekend I went to a baby shower for a friend from college.

Believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to going. A was due in April with identical twins, but had them at 26 weeks when her water broke on New Year’s Day.

Her babies are still in the NICU. In different hospitals, since one of the girls needed surgery to correct a preemie condition in her eyes. She’s back at work. From all I heard, she didn’t WANT to have a shower because she wants to spend as much time as she can with them. The girls are doing okay, really well given how small they were when they were born.

I was looking forward to the shower because then I could do SOMETHING for her. Even if it was as little as getting her girls sleepsacks and crib sheets.

Because there is so much more I wish I could do for her. I wish I could tell her that I know what it’s like to be scared. And to feel like an outsider in a world full of blissfully ignorant people.

But I digress. So I gladly went. And I got there, a little early, and picked a seat and sat down. And people started trickling in.

The vast majority with big pregnant bellies.

That didn’t really bother me. Not really. Because after all, I have a baby at home. Who has been a balm to my soul, who’s allowed me HEALING from the pain of infertility.

And then someone at the table announced that yes, she was pregnant. 14 weeks.

That didn’t bother me either.

But then someone asked her, “are you going to find out what it is?”

Her answer? “Of course. I’m a planner.”

After that, things started going downhill. The squeals “OMG! I’m pregnant too! Do you think it’s a boy or a girl? When will you find out? How long were you trying?” made me want to vomit.

(I’m not kidding, either.)

And at some point during the shower, I leaned over to my best friend J and said “This is seriously like my worst nightmare.”

It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized why the shower bothered me so damn much.

It took me, personally, a lot of heartbreak and blaming myself and fear and worry to realize that having a baby was NOT UP TO ME. And the resentment I feel toward women who get pregnant on their timeline is directly correlated to how much they think that they’re in control.

Let’s look at the girl who’s 14 weeks pregnant. The planner. She and her husband got married last October. They just bought a house last month. And she’s pregnant. Of course I don’t know for sure – I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors – but the only conclusion I can make is that everything she wanted happened on her timeline.

Which promotes a VERY BIG UNTRUTH.

We are told as little girls that if we work hard, and try hard, we can ultimately succeed at anything. ANYTHING. We can make our lives look the way we want them to just by working hard.

And it couldn’t be further from the truth. I mean, shit – look at the SHOWER ITSELF. It was for a woman who has gone through HELL because she delivered her babies early.

So wait. Does that mean she FAILED? Because she couldn’t carry them to term? And of course I don’t know for sure, but I can guarantee you that, on some level, at some point in the past few months, poor A blamed herself. How could she not? Her body failed her, when it mattered most.

Just the way I blamed myself when we couldn’t conceive. I tried everything when we cycle – Exercising. Not exercising. Acupuncture. Abstaining from alcohol. Abstaining from sex. Meditation. Losing weight. And I was SO quick to blame myself when a cycle didn’t work.

Because, you know, if I had just worked HARDER, maybe we would be pregnant.

So in that room that day, I looked for my infertile cohorts. There WERE some, right? I mean, 1 out of 7 couples are infertile. There had to be someone who was in my boat.

There weren’t any. (To be fair, two of my friends that I know had problems weren’t there.) I felt very alone, and very much the exception to the rule. And it brought up all those feelings of failure again.

Because well, maybe I WAS a freak.

Granted, I will say that my best friend was quick to say, during the discussion of “planning” for a baby that they were fortunate in that it happened right away. And she was sweet enough to call me afterwards, too, in the hopes that she didn’t offend me by saying that they had thought about planning to get pregnant.

I wasn’t upset about that, and I told her so.

See, it’s not about the fact that I’m bitter that women can get pregnant on their timeline anymore.

(I’ll be honest, though. A few years ago? Yeah, okay. It was about that.)

But I’m infertile. It’s our reality that we can never just have sex and get pregnant. That’s OKAY. I’m okay with it, I’ve accepted that.

Here’s the thing. I don’t resent a woman because she can get pregnant on her timeline. Not anymore.

I resent a woman for TAKING CREDIT for it, though.

Because it’s NOT UP TO YOU. You got pregnant because you ovulated and a sperm fertilized it and made an embryo which was chromosomally normal. It had nothing to do with you and everything to do with biology and statistics and things that are much bigger and wider than our little lives.

And it wasn’t my fault that we couldn’t get pregnant for so long. And it wasn’t A’s fault for having her twins so early.

And as she sat there, away from her babies, opening up gift after gift after gift, all I could wish was that people could SEE that. That we should sit there and be thankful for miracles. That her 26 week old babies are, for the most part, THRIVING. Maybe even 20 years ago, they might not actually be alive today.

Bad shit happens to good people. Good shit happens to bad people.

But at the end of the day, it’s not up to us. Not any of it.

(Okay, so maybe it’s not baby showers I hate.)

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16 Comments »

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  1. I just got an invite to a shower for my SIL (who is on her 4th girl and has had a shower for EVERY one) and I can’t bring myself to go. This explains exactly why. Too often I am not able to express my feelings into words. Thank you for doing it for me.

  2. That was some damn fine cake though! 😉

  3. I’m in total agreement with you on this. I was choking back tears as I read this post.

    “Bad shit happens to good people. Good shit happens to bad people. But at the end of the day, it’s not up to us. Not any of it.”

    So true on so many different levels and something I wrestle with everyday lately.

  4. No one with any kind of brain or compassion would ever think to blame you for your fertility issues. Us infertiles all know the pain and difficulties and feelings of inadequacy, etc. There are many women who have never, and will never, make it to where you are in terms of procreation. The way you feel about women who can have kids easily is likely the way those women feel about you.

  5. I’ve been thinking about this. You are right, about how these women go through life thinking THEY planned, and THEY made it happen and believe that they are in control and it is a false sense of control.

    But, is it really a bad thing? It’s annoying for sure. And in this case very insensitive to do during this particular baby shower. However, if you look at the grand scheme of things ignorance really is sometimes bliss.

    I know that you aren’t really taking issue with that per se. However, would it be better if they did know the hard lessons and realities of conception, pregnancy, and birth? Is it preferable or more commendable for a woman to be worried her entire pregnancy that something could go wrong so that she is that much happier when she comes home with a live, healthy, baby?

    I’m not sure if I’m making sense, so I’ll stop.

  6. Great post. My (twin) brothers’ wives are both TTC right now, which agitates me more than I would like — partly because I fear their competition, and partly because I want to shake them both and tell them not to depend on a damn thing.

    I cannot believe that people were so smug at such an occasion. How terribly inappropriate. 26 weeks, my God.

  7. Aw Casey, that wasn’t my point. It’s not a fertiles versus infertile argument. It’s not a I hate them because they can get pregnant and I can’t. It’s more that I can’t handle someone sitting there and taking CREDIT for everything happening on their timeline, like they’re great planners. It’s the same when guys brag “my boys are SWIMMERS.” Just sticks in my throat.

    Thing is, though? When she becomes a mother, she’s going to KNOW. My “fertile friends” (let’s go with the label then) love their kids with a deep and abiding love. Just like I do for Baby O. If there IS a difference, which I doubt? It’s incremental – not enough even to be remotely significant.

    It’s the newly-pregnant-with-my-first-baby-because-I’m-a-planner that get me. Not the MOMS. There’s something about those newborn weeks that shows you very quickly that you are NOT in control.

    Really my post wasn’t about bashing people who can get pregnant without assistance. Not at all. It was about the fact that I wish people realized that there are things in this world which they can’t plan for. That’s all.

  8. I was going to say the same thing you just added in the comments: These planners will quickly learn about the (in)ability to control/plan everything once their little ones are here.

    It reminds me of how the people who have certain plans for their babies irk me, too. “My baby will sleep in (insert a place babies sleep here) from the beginning.” Well, great if it does, but you know what? It might not. And if not…that’s okay!

    I do worry about the “planners” and their adjustment to motherhood since so much of it is flying by the seat of your pants and being flexible about things. When planners’ plans don’t come to fruition, it can often feel like the whole world crumbles around them. Paired with an already stressful situation, I can see how that would make it even more of an adjustment. So for me I think it’s not as much being frustrated by them as knowing what’s coming their way and feeling sorry for them if they can’t adjust.

    D

  9. I am so glad we don’t have baby showers here. It rubs salt in the wounds in a particularly nasty way.

  10. YES I know what you’re talking about – I feel the same way!!!!!!

  11. “Here’s the thing. I don’t resent a woman because she can get pregnant on her timeline. Not anymore.

    I resent a woman for TAKING CREDIT for it, though.”

    Oh, well put.

    I’m glad you’re doing better at the fun thing, too.

    Bea

  12. Also one who’s glad that baby showers aren’t common here.

    You’re right – it’s the smugness, the attitude that it’s all as simple as just making a plan.

  13. “Bad shit happens to good people. Good shit happens to bad people.

    But at the end of the day, it’s not up to us. Not any of it.”

    This is what I need to remember.

    Everyday.

    Very well put.

  14. Damn . . . just lost my longwinded comment!

    Basically, it is annoying and true that people don’t get it until life throws them something that MAKES them get it. (ie hardship)

    I was at a playgroup last week were a woman was whining about how her child stopped eating purees and now she has all these *expensive* jars going to waste in her cupboard (ever heard of a food bank?) and she said “they better not expire before our second is old enough to eat them” A second child which has yet to be conceived never mind born. But for her is was a question of when not whether.

    All I could think in that moment (and that moment alone, I am normally too happy loving my boy to care) was that I have about $2K of expired infertility drugs in the back of my fridge that I can’t bring myself to throw away because the idea of the wasted money is too painful. (Not to mention the failure it represents, etc.)

    So, I could not offer her any sincere empathy.

    Sigh.

  15. I really like your post. We can think that we can manipulate the whole process but, in fact, you are right – it’s not up to us, we’re not in control.

    I’m glad to know your friend’s preemies are progressing well. She might be interested in visiting the March of Dimes community for parents of preemies called Share Your Story: http://www.shareyourstory.org/. She can connect with other parents who have experienced or are currently facing the many challenges she is facing now. It has been a big source of support for many families.

  16. I really appreciate that you took the time to write about this.


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