Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Dreaded Baby Shower Invitation

I knew it had to happen eventually. I've been invited to a baby shower. It's not the first one I've been invited to since losing my son. I had a friend who was due a month after I was and my son died just as her baby shower invitations were sent out. So in the midst of all the sympathy cards was that invite. Talk about a stab in the heart. Obviously I declined that one and everyone understood since it had only been a week since my son's death.

This one is different though. Partly because of who it's for, but mostly because it's been over a year now and I think people think I'm mostly "over it" now. Over it,,,, I actually laughed out loud when I typed that. As if I will ever be over the death of my firstborn son.... but that's another topic for another day.

I haven't received the actual invitation yet, just a save the date for mid-January. I guess the hostess wanted to reach out to everyone before the madness of the holidays (that's Christmas to you Brit's,,,, not vacation). Obviously I don't have to respond to a save the date, I just need to save the date. So for the moment, I have a reprieve on making the decision on whether to go or not. And it is a big decision.

You see, the last baby shower I went to was mine. I was 33 weeks pregnant, blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb inside me. Blissfully unaware that my son was slowly being starved and deprived of oxygen by his placenta. Blissfully unaware that just a few short weeks later I would go in for an ultrasound and be told that his heart was no longer beating.

I was "all clear." My son was almost "cooked" and I would soon be bringing him home. My Mom and Grandmother had flown over from the US to attend. It was one of the happiest days of my life. My life was perfect that day,,, nothing could go wrong.

Until it did.

I'm not sure I'm ready to go to another baby shower just yet. A day filled with happy people, baby stories, and the hopes and dreams of the Mother to be. Of course she will be happy, she deserves to be. It's her day to feel special and be surrounded with nothing but positivity. To listen to other people's stories and well wishes. It should be her perfect day, one of the happiest of her life.

I'm afraid I might spoil all that.

After all, no one wants a Debbie Downer at her baby shower. That woman who's baby died 3 weeks after her own baby shower.

So that's my dilemma. I have no idea how I will react on the day. On the one hand I may be fine. I could be swept up in the happiness of the day. I could see this as a hurdle that I can overcome. I could suck it up and be there to support the Mother to be.

Or it could all go terribly wrong. I could have flashbacks and start freaking out. Or I could just start feeling really down and then feel like I'm stuck there trying to fake being happy. My presence could make the other guests feel uncomfortable. Maybe they will feel they can't be as happy for her because they don't want to hurt my feelings.

I know for a fact that they already feel like this. One friend even asked if I was happy for the Mother to be (M2be) a while back. She said she always felt weird asking M2be about her pregnancy in front of me in case that made me feel bad. I'm sure the baby shower will be slightly different because by then they will all know that I am pregnant, but still,,,, I don't want to be a damper on M2be's special day.

There is also the issue of who M2be is. I wrote about her before here and here. She was Friend A in the story. In a nutshell, we were close friends for a while but over time things started happening that made me question our friendship. As I got to know her, I learned things that made me feel like I couldn't trust her and maybe she wasn't such a good friend after all. Then she got pregnant and said some insensitive things which really hurt me.

As a result of this, I've really backed off her. I didn't bother to have a confrontation with her because I didn't think it would help. I've just gradually stopped calling her and emailing her. I still see her in group settings but not one on one. It's worked out very well. We are pleasant when we see each other and there is very little tension between us. Of course there's a little,,, but as predicted I think she thinks it's because I have a hard time dealing with her pregnancy.

If it were someone that I'm closer too I may have more of an incentive to try and suck it up and be the better person. Something that I think all of us baby loss mom's have gotten really good at. It's definitely a skill I wasn't expecting to become so adept at. But since it's someone I'm already feeling detached from, there is less motivation to take the risk.

But at the same time, I know I can't hide from baby showers forever and maybe now is the time to do it. To jump in the deep end and hope I can remember how to swim.

Ugh,,,, I really don't know what to do.

*Pouring my heart out today with Shell.


  1. Hi - So sorry to hear of your loss. Take care, Kathy

  2. I cried the whole way through this. I wouldn't be ready to go. And people who think you should be "over it" are insane! I'm sure the person who mailed the invite just wanted you to know that they want to include you. I'm not telling you what to do but if it were me and that pain was still so close to the surface, I would decline and send a present...
    I still have you in my prayers and will keep you there.

  3. I wouldn't go. I'd also decline, send a gift, and be done with it.

  4. I understand your arguments for (sort of) wanting to go--to kind of get the first one over with, to prove to yourself you can enjoy celebrating with other people, and (maybe?) to prove to other people that you're okay with her pregnancy.

    Even so, I don't think you should feel obligated to go. If it were me, I wouldn't bother. Not because I think it would totally gut you and you'd leave feeling awful, but because no matter how it goes down, I think it will be emotionally exhausting and I just don't think you need to spend your energy on that kind of thing. It's not your sister or your dearest friend, and as long as you send (or go in on) a nice gift, I don't think anyone can be upset or offended with your decision.

    Of course, I'm a total weenie, so if I didn't have a good excuse, I might accept the invitation and then just not feel well the day of the shower.

  5. You never know how you'll feel by the time the shower gets here. Like you said, everyone will know you are pregnant by then, so maybe they won't feel like they have to walk on eggshells around you. Stand strong, because you have stood so strong so far. I think you should take the leap and go.

  6. That's a tough decision...however, I have to agree with the above comment. If the pain is still there, I would decline. Plus, you mentioned that she's not really a close friend. If it was your BEST friend, I'd say to try and make it to the shower. Hugs.

  7. I wouldn't go. This particular "friend", doesn't sound like she's really a great friend. If she said insensitive things in the past, she might on that day as well - when your emotions will already be near the surface. Hugs and prayers.

  8. Baby showers are just too hard. All the happy women who have no idea that pregnancies can go terribly wrong. And then being pregnant again means you have to deal with the dreaded question- "Is this your first?" I always say "No I have a son who passed away last year" so this will of course spark the uncomfortable looks and the gasps of shock.

    Yeah I would skip the baby shower.

    I've only been to one baby shower since we lost Aiden (not that long ago- I couldn't have done it in the beginning) and it was for another BLM. And it was STILL hard. Even with the other moms there knowing both she and I had lost children there were some comments that were difficult to deal with. And I hate how people always want to give you advice about labor and delivery. Ummmmm hello!!!! I've had a child before. Just because he is not with us anymore doesn't mean he wasn't real and that I'm not a mother who had delivered a baby.

    Ok let me get out of my funk. But I wouldn't go.....

    Sending lots of love xoxo

  9. Oh, honey...I could see the dilemma until I got to the part about who the shower is for.

    What might compel you to consider going since she has so hurt you in the past and you feel like you can't trust her?

    If it were me, there's no way I would do that to myself. There's a very good chance that folks who know we're babyloss mamas will be looking askance at us, trying to see how we handle ourselves at such an affair. I would imagine this former friend, A, at minimum would think you selfish for having anything but the happiest feelings for her grand affair.

    I did go to a baby shower recently, for a friend who was only 5 days ahead of me in gestation. I went because she has been SO supportive of me, even though I'm sure my situation scared the pants off her. Her pregnancy has continued...she's now 32 weeks; I would be 31 weeks today with my twins. She sat next to me and was loving me even though all attention was showered on her.

    There are other showers - even my own sister-in-law's - that I probably will not attend, for my own well being.

    Hugs to you as you decide...

  10. You can always leave it til the last minute to decide. Or just send a gift and don't worry about going.

  11. I went to a good friend's shower after my loss. I was very shaky, but I hid behind my camera, ran off to the bathroom, or found an excuse to bring gifts to the car or something. BUT this was a close friend of mine, she is still my friend. I feel that the only time you should 'buck up' and go to a shower if it is a really good friend, or a relative. I wish it was socially acceptable to always say "to heck w it" but in some cases it just isn't. Since you two have had a falling out of sorts, why should you feel obligated to go? Send a card and a gift and call it good.

    I agree with Amy. Some people are ambulance chaser lookey loos. When they hear through the grapevine of someone else's tragedy they just start to drool. If people are going to be looking at you and whispering because of the loss of your son, you shouldn't feel bad about giving it a pass.

  12. Since the two of you aren't super close friends, I wouldn't think twice about declining the invite. Granted, I might send a present in place of my presence at the shower, but I still probably wouldn't go, especially if you still need time. It's definitely a hard decision, but it's a decision only you can make, and they should respect whatever decision you make in the end.

  13. Who says that you can't hide from baby showers forever? Seriously, who? All the people that tell you that you should be "over" the loss of your son? Fu*k them.

    I have problems with baby showers due to my infertility (and not my loss). I have always felt jealous and always will. In turn, I don't go. Even my closest friend understood. Because, that's what friends do.

    I see no reason to go into therapy over it (for other reasons maybe, smile) or change my feelings. It's not negatively impacting my life in anyway. Except when I have to come up with a lame excuse because THEY don't understand (and not the other way around).

    Sure, I feel badly for a few days but then I get over it. You see, THAT is a lot easier to get "over" than my infertility and the loss of my son.

    As for your "Debbie Downer" concerns, not to sound callous but a wise friend once said to me (after I was concerned about an ex-boyfriend that I'd broken up with), "what makes you think that you're so important that you could ruin his life/experience". In other words, unless you plan on going there, plopping yourself in the middle of the circle, crying puddles and screaming "woe is me", I hardly think that anyone will notice if you need to take a longer trip to the washroom or a minute staring out the window. Not that they won't be sensitive to you but that they'll be working harder to make it be about her. As will you (I imagine) if you choose to go.

    My advice, do what's right for YOU at this time. Sending you support.

    Let us know what you decide.

  14. That's such a difficult decision... the one thing I've learnt through all that has happened in my life since losing Gabrielle, is I've got to look after myself and not worry what other's think. Follow your heart... if going would be hard for you then don't feel that you have to go. True friends will understand and those that don't understand will only know that you're unable to make it b/c of another commitment/reason. I haven't been able to go to a baby shower for a long time... and I know others have probably judged me for this. But I'd prefer not to go, than go and leave early before getting upset or not feel like my heart was in it. Thinking of you xoxo

  15. Ouch - tough one given the history. You don't owe this woman anything. Save yourself the aggro, have something really important to do on the day- maybe a hospital check up or something medically related, decline with the greatest of regret, wish her well and move on. Don't put yourself through the stress!!

  16. I have been on a 2 year shower hiatus simply because of my infertility. You are absolutely entitled to miss out on this shower. GOOD FRIENDS understand. Always. That's what makes them so special. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

  17. I just got my first invite to a baby shower in a couple weeks. I declined right away. There is no way I could handle being near all that happiness knowing I had all that joy also and had it ripped away only a week later.
    I wouldn't feel obligated to go at all, especially if you're not real close, and if she is any kind of friend at all she would understand why it'd be hard for you to attend. You and baby don't need that stress.

  18. Experiencing the same thing over here. And I'm not going. Buuut, to show I really do care about her and her child, I personally picked out the gift and plan to purchase a necklace with the baby name for my local friend. I also wrote a lengthy card about how I am not emotionally ready for showers but that I anticipate and celebrate their child and think they are such wonderful parents.

    But yeah. Parties about anticipating babies and people talking all around me about how that type of carseat was the best one ever and they just loved that type of cloth diaper-- uh, NO. That sounds worse than poking my eyes with needles.

  19. I don't go to baby showers as a rule. Period. That may sound drastic and inflexible, but it's my way of taking care of myself. I go to other kinds of gatherings, but not baby showers. I give myself permission, and no one's ever questioned it. I somehow find it easier when it is close friends who know what's happening for me and would never expect that I would show up for their baby shower. It's harder with people who I don't know very well because I don't want to explain it to them and I don't want to go to the shower and I don't want to seem like an insensitive bitch. But in the end, I can weigh out the options like this: taking excellent care of myself (including emotionally) versus making sure everyone else is happy. The choice is clear.

  20. it sounds like you are not ready... follow your instincts... you'll know what is the right thing to do..... no regrets..

  21. And this is why in three and a half years, I haven't been to a baby shower. The last one I attended was.... my own. 33 weeks pregnant, blissfully ignorant and god damn happy.
    I feel for you.

  22. In 11 months, I have declined 5 baby shower invitations, two of which were for very close friends. I simply explain that I am not ready to attend and send a gift. I am with you and the pp - my last baby shower was my own. It was Dec. 12, and my daughter died on Dec. 29th.

  23. If this is not one of your best friends you have no obligation to go. Not even if it was you best friend and hopefully they would understand. Do what you feel is best for yourself.

  24. I made the decision to not attend any baby showers...ever (unless it's one of my sisters). I don't want to put myself in that situation. I don't want to feel those feelings. I also don't want to ruin their (new mama's) day with me sulking in the corner. If they don't understand, then they aren't worth my time anyway. You have to do what's best for you. Don't push it if you're not ready.

  25. The choice is yours. Here's my two cents:

    I agree baby showers are a hard thing to overcome. Granted I still get emotional but I excuse myself if I think i'm about to have a melt down. I made a choice to go to a baby shower held for a "friend" that said some really hurtful things to me (mind you she was present when my daughter took her last breathe)...I was very distant during the majority of her pregnancy but when the shower arrived I did "suck it up" and went...though it was hard to watch this person enjoy something I didn't ever have for myself I took the occasion to learn from it and become stronger. I was later (about a month ago) able to attend my own sis-n-law's baby shower without even looking like I was upset...I did go home after and cry my eyes out but the reality for me is....take each step to grow even if it pains you from the inside out. I feel as if I can handle the "baby stuff" and deal with it because I've gone past my comfort zone.

  26. At some point you have to do it, but do you want to put yourself out there for someone who isn't seeming to be worth it.

  27. Oh what a tricky business, but I think I am with the commenters who say - why go? Wish you could pop over to Sydney and come for a cup of tea to our house instead on that day.

    So very glad to hear you are pregnant and wishing you and your husband and tiny baby the very, very wish with the next 8 months.

  28. Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy. That's amazing news. As for the shower, she doesn't sound like much of a friend really, so maybe this is not the time to push yourself. Maybe you should consider giving yourself a bit of a break. If there's ever a time to focus on you, it's now.

    Also to offer another perspective, my friend lost her little boy shortly after his birth and I felt honored that she could share his stories and photos with me while I was pregnant. There were others in our social group who would have had her be silent when birth stories were shared, but I certainly wasn't one of them. He was a beautiful sweet little fellow and since my friend wanted to be able to talk of him, he became a real presence for me throughout my pregnancy. Not everyone will expect you to be "over it".