I went to a baby shower on the weekend.
I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t particularly enjoy them. It’s nothing personal - I guess I’m just hyper alert and a little scarred from my battle with infertility. This baby shower was absolutely beautiful….pink balloons, cupcakes with cute little baby feet on them, banners with “baby” on them. It was like the room had exploded in the excitement of an upcoming baby.
Now for anyone else, who hadn’t struggled for years with infertility and pregnancy loss, it would have been delightful. And given the fact that I am now blessed with two beautiful babies of my own, it didn’t hurt at all. But I was very aware of everything that could be a potential trigger – and it was like a shotgun had gone off in that place.
As a fertility coach, I have conversations every day with my clients who are going through infertility. And it just so happened that two of the conversations I had before walking through that door were with a client who was currently having a miscarriage, and another who was devastated by a failed IVF cycle.
So, there I was, in the middle of what SHOULD be a joyous occasion, slowly identifying the things that could hurt someone who was struggling with infertility or loss.
I was very conscious of the conversations that were taking place around me – and it was ALL about babies. I didn’t know anyone else at the party, so when I was talking to the other ladies, I was asking them how they knew the mum-to-be or where they lived, or what they did for work. I DID NOT ask them whether they had children. But every single person I spoke to, asked me whether I did.
And that is EXACTLY what happens at baby showers. We talk about children, because that is why we’re all there. There is endless advice given to the mum-to-be, a lot of which is also a trigger – tales of how hard it is……. “make sure you get plenty of sleep now” or “I hated every moment of pregnancy”. All of which are completely acceptable comments and advice……except when you’re in the depths of infertility.
I also want to be clear – I am NOT saying that baby showers are evil. They are definitely cause for celebration, regardless of your path to get there. But they are filled to the brim with triggers. It’s like a war zone for the infertile.
So here are some tips to prepare you for the baby shower war zone –
If you can get out of going……DON’T GO. I’m serious. If you’re going because you feel like you SHOULD go. If you’re guilted into it by your mother-in-law or sister. If it’s a work colleague or someone who isn’t that close to you….DON’T go. This is NOT the time to be a hero. I am giving you full permission to skip it. You may think that it will be a big deal that you’re not there, but it probably won’t. You can drop a gift off at another time. So drop the guilt right now. This journey is painful…..but you don’t need to push yourself over the edge and suffer. And a baby shower is a form of torture for those going through infertility or loss.
Prepare yourself for the questions. They WILL be asked. If you have a list of answers ready, you won’t feel like you’re being put on the spot. You have a couple of options – (1) you can be honest and say that you’re struggling, (2) you can brush the comment off and say that you don’t have children (3) you can tell them you’d rather not talk about it. All are completely acceptable responses. But be prepared.
Get a wing-man. If you have a girlfriend who is also attending who knows your struggles, pull them aside beforehand and ask them to run defense for you. They can change the subject when you’re asked the questions, keep you away from others (people tend not to talk to you when you’re already engrossed in a conversation), and be there for a hug when you need it. Knowing you’re not alone, may help.
If they’re serving alcohol, try to limit your intake. I don’t know about you, but when I consume alcohol, the emotions bubble up and I’m a little more honest about what’s going on inside me. But if you want to maintain control, it may be easier without consuming a bottle of champagne. This may be tough to resist, because alcohol is the first thing we turn to in order to numb the pain. But this isn’t the solution for today.
FILL UP YOUR CUP. In the week leading up to the event, make sure you’re feeling strong physically and mentally. Self-care is essential to survival. Go for a run, read a book, have a bath, go for a walk in nature, meditate, sit in the sun with a cup of tea. Work out what gives you energy, and turn the volume up.
Journaling – in order to make sure you aren’t bottling things up in the lead up to the baby shower, releasing all your fears, thoughts and emotions is a great idea. You do not want to be like that champagne bottle that is shaken and then explodes over everyone. Journaling is a great way to download and release the pressure.
Make sure you are well rested in the lead up. You can’t be brave if you’re tired, and you can’t control your emotions as well when you’re lacking sleep. So get a few early nights that week or have a sleep in that morning.
- Understand that there is no perfect way to attend a baby shower. Set your expectations for what you will feel up front, and give yourself a little grace. If you can’t relax, that’s ok. If you cry, that’s ok. If you spend most of your time in the bathroom, that’s ok. If you hate every minute of it, that’s ok. If you snap at the 10th person who asks you if you have children, that’s ok too. There is no need to punish yourself.
- Your mind will inevitably start to compare. You may look at all the women in the room and wonder WHY every one of them has children, but you’re struggling. It may even feel like you’re the ONLY one who doesn’t have kids. If your mind starts to wander into suffering territory i.e. creating that story about WHY this is happening to you, try to guide it away. Create some mantras you can use to bring you back. You could try “we all have our own path” or “my time will come” or “my hope is stronger than my fear” or “we are all worthy of motherhood”. Whatever feels good for you. And instead of sitting in the suffering, replace the thought with a healthier affirmation.
More than anything though, please understand that this is a tough season you are going through. This isn’t just a little baby shower – it draws on every fear, thought and emotion you have been going through since you first began your fertility journey.
Just because you can’t enjoy the celebration, does not mean you are a bad person, nor does it mean you are weak. You have nothing to prove and do not need to feel guilty, because this is hard. There is no need to punish yourself any further.
If you MUST go, I hope these tips help.
AND if you'd like to feel completely prepared in ALL aspects of your life while navigating infertility (because there are SO many triggers out there), you can.
My private coaching program is designed to prepare you, so you feel less anxious. It provides a safe space for you to share, so you feel heard and lighter. And it allows you to get the help that you deserve - so you can reconnect with that person you lost along the way.
If you'd like to know more, message me HERE for details.
Written by Jennifer Robertson, Fertility Coach
Jennifer Robertson is a fertility coach and has helped women all over the world transform their mindset and take back control of their life in the midst of infertility.
She is also author of The Injustice of Infertility, a deeply inspiring and raw account of her own seven-year fertility journey.
Throughout her own fertility journey, Jen discovered that her old ways of pushing and working hard weren’t serving her. She is now using the lessons learned along the way to develop programs and support women throughout their journey to motherhood - from the moment they start trying to conceive, until they hold their baby in their arms.