Friday, February 12, 2010

Support & strategies sought

Next Saturday, I will be attending a baby shower for the friend I wrote about here. I am looking forward to the shower in one way: I will get to see my friend, the guest of honor (who I'll call "L"), and other friends who I don't see often since I moved from Tucson to Phoenix.

In other ways, though, I am dreading the shower. And I will confess that I haven't even bought a gift yet, when usually I would have done this weeks ahead, for the fun of it, especially for a baby girl. Just haven't been able to bring myself to set foot in Babies R Us, where she is registered.

I think anyone who has struggled with infertility can relate to my feelings of dread. A baby shower is one of the worst possible places to be for a woman who cannot have a child of her own. The last one I attended was in April 2009, around the time when we first started treatment. (I wrote about it here.) Parts of it were hard, but overall, I found it tolerable. We had just started using medical intervention, and though I am a pessimist by nature, I actually still had some hope that, with the help of medications and IUIs, we would conceive.

It has now been almost 10 months since that last shower. We are no longer doing intervention or actively TTC. I still think a lot about TTC, but I spend far more time now trying to come to terms with the probability that I will never have a baby of my own than I do dwelling on the day-to-day minutiae of TTC. It's a very different place to be, mentally.

This particular shower will be harder for me in several ways than a baby shower for another friend might be. (Hey, I am invited to another baby shower, for another friend in Tucson, the following Saturday! Maybe I should attend both so that I can compare and contrast and decide if this one truly is/was uniquely difficult.) First, as I mentioned in the post I wrote when L first told me about her pregnancy, L and her husband married the same year that MM and I did, and they actually started TTC several months after us. Unlike us, they weren't even sure whether they wanted children when they married.

Second, as I also write about in that post, L's due date is the same due date I would have had if my early miscarriage in August 2009 had not happened. This fact will make it especially hard for me not to dwell on my own loss. And L is having a girl. At this point, we would happily take any child, male or female, but both MM and I have expressed a preference for a girl in our many conversations about our future child.

Finally, though a couple of the friends who will be at the shower know that we have been TTC and/or that we would like to have children, none of them know that we spent a lot of last year doing intervention. None of them know about my miscarriage. So it likely wouldn't make any sense to them why I might be upset. Thus, I am determined NOT to show any outward signs of distress. . . . not only because of this, but also because I don't want to cast a pall on a fun shower for L.

So, ladies who have faced similar situations in the past. . . . give me some ideas and strategies for dealing with this event. L is a close enough friend that non-attendance is not an option, particularly given that she checked with me before setting the date to see if I was available and that she knows I will be in Tucson next weekend for unrelated reasons regardless.

Any advice will be appreciated.

P.S. Why is it that some days are so much harder than others? Some days I feel like I am fine and happy with my life as is, and then I feel OK with the idea that I will never have a child of my own. Other days, I feel very sad and low, and it's all I can do to get through the day without crying. (This is VERY unlike me, as I almost never cry. . . . or perhaps now I should say, I almost never cried before the past 22 failed cycles of TTC.)

8 comments:

  1. I am sorry you are faced with this dilemma. Anyone in your shoes would feel the same way.

    If you go, you will need to muster up a bunch of strength beforehand. You will get through it. The hard part is even if they knew what you've been going through, most other people still do not understand the conflicted feelings.

    If it feels like too much, perhaps you can pass on it. Honestly, it's all about self-preservation at this point.

    I am thinking about you.

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  2. Oh, I'm sorry honey. I so respect you for going to the shower and, since I don't really have any good advice or suggestions, I'll just wish you all the peace and comfort in the world.

    Last month I went to a shower - it was the first I attended in over 2 years. At that time we were in the midst of treatments and it was so hard. This most recent one was hard, too. It just sucks so much because it's as if a rule that all conversation at showers must involve children, pregnancy, and nothing but children and pregnancy. And I have nothing to contribute. At least, nothing that anyone would want to hear :)

    Thinking of you.

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  3. You know, I just realized that two of my friends who will be attending the shower are not only unmarried and childless, both have recently broken up with fiances. They probably won't feel much like hearing about pregnancy and babies either. Maybe I will just try to hang with them as much as possible and avoid all the mommies at the shower.

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  4. It is incredibly hard. I don't have many women friends, so I have only been invited to a couple of showers in my life, and only one since I had started TTC. I had already RSVP'd months earlier, and I knew that this person, like me, had more male friends than female, and just isn't girly girly and into this stuff (she is an engineer). I got pregnant with our 3rd round of IVF, after having major surgery to remove a fibroid, and resting for a year. I was over the moon. Our babies were going to only be 3 months apart in age...and then I miscarried. It was so hard sitting there among all those fertile women talking about babies when I should have been happily round and pregnant myself. But all I had to do was talk to my friend and it was worth it. She was scared of all the labor talk, all the women were in laws since her family was far away, and the baby stuff wasn't tickling her pink like she thought it should. Anyway, talking to her away from the rest of the party took my mind off of my own pain. At least until I got into my car on the way home. I was proud of myself for going. It was only a few hours out of my life, after all. Have answers prepared for people who want to know about your kids and whatever, or the questions will catch you off guard. And make yourself busy. If you need a moment to yourself no one will bother you if you're handing out coffee and cake or bringing gifts out to the car or what have you. Also, bring a camera and take pictures. It is easy to feel removed from the baby scene if you get wrapped up in taking a nice picture.

    I hear you about some days being harder than others. From the time we started trying until the day I took home a live child was over 6 years. Thinking of you, hang in there. :)

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  5. Showers AREW hard. I went to 27 of them in the three years and nine miscarriages we went through to have our son. My advice will sound cold, but it isn't meant to be that way, it is just what helped me get through them. So, PLEASE, take it as it's meant, with a pure heart and wanting to help you through what will undoubtedly be a difficult time. This became my mantra when I went to a shower, to visit a new baby born to a good friend, or any other event that caused my heart to break on the inside. I would say this over and over again (inserting the proper event as needed).

    THIS SHOWER IS NOT ABOUT YOU. When you start to get sad, remember, THIS SHOWER IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

    When you think about what could have been for you, remember, THIS IS NOT YOUR SHOWER. THIS IS A GOOD FRIEND'S SHOWER AND YOUR JOB AS HER FRIEND IS TO BE THERE FOR HER AND TO BE A GRACIOUS GUEST.

    THIS SHOWER IS NOT ABOUT YOU. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOUR PAIN, YOUR HEARTBREAK, YOUR INABILITY TO HAVE A BABY. IT IS ABOUT YOUR FRIEND, HER HAPPINESS, HER BABY, IT IS HER DAY.

    IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. IT IS NOT A SAD DAY. IT IS A HAPPY DAY. YOU CAN BE SAD AND CRY TOMORROW BUT THIS SHOWER, THIS DAY, IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

    After the shower, I would treat myself to something fun, like a dinner out with my husband or a friend that truly understood. Or a pedicure. Or a glass of wine (though I had to be careful with that last one, if I was already really sad, a glass of wine made it worse) and a bubble bath. Or a movie out. Whatever sounds good, give it to yourself as a treat.

    For me, this "self tough love" route worked because I am the type of person that if you show me any compassion, I will cry. I didn't ever want to embarass myself at these events, so I kept a tough facade.

    And cried all the way home. Hugs to you, I will be saying prayers that no matter how you handle it, you are able to get through it.

    I also found that hard days and good days seemed to come in waves. I would have lots of good days in a row, but then something would happen (an impending shower, for example) and I would have a slug of bad days, one after the other. The funny thing is that, just when I couldn't take ANY. MORE. it would get just a tiny bit easier.

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  6. Hi I'm here from LFCA. I am sending you strength and courage for the shower. It's so hard - I agree with the pp that of you try to arrange an event for afterwards that is special for and too you the focus for the whole day might not be the shower. I wish you could be the one that everyone is celebrating and you were getting ready to give birth. I've only been to a few showers but they were all my peers who beat me to it and they all know about my TTC and say: next time it'll be you and I'm still waiting. Take care and treat yourself with kindness:) and I hope that others do too:)

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  7. Here from LFCA...

    Okay, just to explain where I'm coming from on this, here's some backstory--my sister-in-law and I were pregnant at the same time, with due dates about 2 weeks apart, but I lost my baby and hers was born perfectly healthy almost a year ago. I actually staged car problems to skip her shower because I just couldn't handle it (it was in February and I deliberately drove through puddles the day before to freeze my brakes so we'd be unable to make the 30 mile drive safely).

    Sweetie, this shower is going to be your personal hell on earth. There is NO shame in skipping the shower no matter how close a friend she is. If you feel comfortable explaining to your friend why you can't manage it right now, that's great, and she ought to understand. If not, you can always "accidentally" leave too late bearing a gift purchased online and meet up with her afterwards with apologies for missing the shower. Or since you're there for other reasons too, if you really feel you have to go, maybe some other pressing matter could pull you away from the shower after a short period?

    No matter what you decide to do, I wish you strength to get through this. ((Hugs))

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  8. From LFCA: This is a tough one. I think you need to think about what you can handle. If you really want to go I would go in knowing that it might be difficult. Also, like you said you can hang with some of the ladies that don't have kids. Also I would focus on thinking about your friend or other people there. It is when we are focused inward on our own suffering that it is easy to get stuck on our sadness and pain.

    You can do it.

    If you are concerned about a gift, maybe you can get a friend to go out and buy it for you. I will be thinking of you. Good luck.

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