Almost every infertile woman I know dreads the arrival of pastel colored envelopes in the mail inviting her to a baby shower. How in the world can she navigate these invitations without hurting either her friend or herself. One option is a letter explaining what you are going through.
Dear Pregnant Friend:
It is with a sad heart that I write you this letter telling you that I won’t be at your baby shower. I so want to come and celebrate with you this exciting time in your life, but unfortunately I need to take care of myself right now.
I think you know that we’ve been trying to get pregnant for several years now. Being infertile is like having a bruise on your heart. When you are bruised you protect the spot—guarding it from being bumped. That’s where I am right now in the disease process—being very self-protective and trying to avoid situation that cause me pain.
I want you to know how truly happy I am for you. Funny as it may seem, I can be genuinely excited for you and equally sad for me. One doesn’t take away from the other—they can and do both existed side by side within me.
I had hoped I could push the sad aside for the afternoon and come and celebrate with you, but the thought of doing so fills me with such dread that it multiplies my pain. I just don’t have the energy right now to overcome my feelings—even for a friend like you that I care so much about.
Please don’t take it personally. Know that I care about you and your baby, but I need to give myself permission to take care of myself, even though I risk hurting your feelings. Infertility sucks!
P.S. This is the second in our Dear Friends & Family Series of blogs. Check out the first: Dear Pregnant Friend: Why I Seem Like a Selfish B_tch
Please send me ideas of things you would like to tell your friends, sisters, and cousins about infertility. Send to: dawn at creatingafamily.org.
Image credit: Ayca Wilson
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For me it was buying the gifts that killed me. Being forced to go into a baby shop or baby section and look at all the adorable outfits, cuddly toys, booties just brought me to tears. There’s something about the tiny clothes that really breaks your heart. Eventually I learned to go with books I had loved as a child. Much less painful to buy and nice personal touch. Plus they don’t grow out of books in six weeks! Dr Seus ‘oh the places you will go’ works well as does Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, nice illustrated childrens bibles…hardly anyone gives books to babies but they are always appreciated
Great idea! And buy them online if going into the children’s book section of a bookstore is too hard.
The other day when I was scrolling through Facebook I came across one of those GIF memes that was dedicated to “10 Baby Shower Game Ideas”. One of the game ideas made me want to hang my head and cry as an IF sufferer who is still trying to build my family. This “fun game” involved taking small plastic babies and freezing them with water in an ice cube tray. All attendees get one in their cold drink and then throughout the shower they get the fun of watching the ice cube melt. The first person whose ice cube melts has to yell out “my water just broke” and then wins a door prize. Sounds like fun, unless you are IF and know that this silly party game might be the closest you yourself ever come to having that type of experience. Can you imagine being an IF survivor and being at a party where you were subjected to a “game” like that? (Shudder) . I just found this sad. The article was great, though.
YES, that game sounds like it would be really hard on the heart of someone struggling. So often, when we are involved in the planning of events like a shower we don’t think about those who are struggling. I’ve seen some pretty insensitive things happen at showers like this. Being part of this community has widened my ability to look out for ways to be more gracious and compassionate to the private struggles others face. I don’t think, when I was younger, I was terribly aware or sensitive to those things unless others were quite vocal about them.
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The last baby shower I attended was a double one for co-workers that were due within a week. So, one baby shower for two; one was expecting a boy and the other one a girl, with double all. I think I managed a smile that over time was plastered in my face; I felt devastated while struggling to find a light inside me. After that I refused to attend other baby showers with different excuses.
The last one was a family of one of my friends and I told her the truth and they never invited me anymore.
What I feel is if I don’t go then I become one of the conversation topics and not in a good way. Ideally the others care enough to understand, to tend a hand or a hug; in reality it is very isolating.
It is very isolating. And I’m sorry that you spoke up about your struggle and that the response was to stop inviting you altogether. There doesn’t seem to be any easy way to navigate that when you are hurting so badly. You are right though, lending a hand or a hug can go a long way to taking the sting out of it at least for the moment.
i have help heal my heart by focusing on all the things we get to do because we don’t have children. Please know it does not fill the void and the pain is so deep that I am even surprised that I can’t speak of it w/o my voice cracking but I have made the choice to direct my thoughts to the positive. I would write a dear friend letter re: why it’s so important that I get a chance to develop a relationship w your children. The opportunity to share my time, experiences and knowledge w others children helps me build a legacy in a different way. It’s hard but the opportunity to have a relationship w others’ kids is beneficial to everyone. It’s the ‘takes a village’ approach. A village gives but also benefits w the investment in others. Grateful for all the friends, neices, nephews, and children that enter my life and I have the opportunity share with.
Jennifer, how beautifully said. I wonder if others feel the same way or if they avoid other people’s kids?
I personally wouldn’t send a letter. If I am close to someone, they already know I’m struggling and why I may choose not to attend. A few years ago I attended a friend’s daughter’s baby shower thinking I could handle it but I came home in tears. I vowed that was my last one. Since then, I’ve adopted my son which has helped fill a place in my heart. That being said, I believe I would attend someone’s baby shower but only if they are my nearest and dearest.
I wonder if the pain and sadness of infertility will go away if I live to be 100!
I think it lessens with time, but like all grief, it leaves its mark.
Perfect for my due date (miscarriage 5 for my husband and I) being today and my niece’s baby shower this weekend.
Alicia, I’m so sorry for your loss and for the unfortunate timing!
I love this letter ???? I thought maybe it was just me.. I didn’t mind going to them in the beginning of my infertility but after 9 years, I’ve just kindly said I can’t make it due to work or other plans and buy a gift online to be shipped (which is difficult in itself.)