Monday, February 22, 2010

Post-shower update

So my friend L's baby shower, which I posted about here, ended up not being very hard for me at all. It helped a lot that this was a "couples shower," so about a third of the guests were men, which cut down significantly on the pregnancy/birthing stories I had to hear. (I also stuck close to my childless girlfriends a lot, as planned.)

Because it was a couples shower, we didn't play any of the usual shower games, which was awesome. And the guests of honor opted to open their gifts later at home (because there were so many? because they didn't want to seem greedy or ostentatious? not sure), so I didn't have to sit through seeing all the cute little baby girl clothes and toys and hearing all the "oohs" and "aahs" which would no doubt have accompanied the unwrapping of each present.

All in all, the shower was more like a brunch-time party than like most baby showers I have attended. The only differences were the decorations (pink balloons & diaper pins), the wrapping on the gifts (mostly baby-girl-themed), the cake ("It's a girl! Congratulations, L & M"), and the fact that the guest of honor was almost 8 months pregnant. ;-)

My hard(er) moment of the weekend actually came later that evening when I had dinner with an old friend of mine who I had not seen in over 15 years. Ironically, this dinner was supposed to be one of my "treats" to myself for getting through L's shower OK.

My old friend is five years younger than I, and we last saw one another just after I had finished college and she had graduated from high school. In the many years since I last saw her, she had married, had two children (a boy and then a girl, 14 months apart), divorced, and remarried. During that same time, I have worked several years as a hospital nurse, gone to law school and become a lawyer, and finally got married (in 2008). So lots to catch up on.

Her kids, ages 7 and 6, are adorable and were very well-behaved, really a joy to be around. Perhaps surprisingly, that didn't bother me. She shared that she is unable to have more children with her current husband because she developed peripartum cardiomyopathy and has been told that another pregnancy could literally threaten her life, or at the least, put her in a position of needing a future heart transplant.

After the kids were in bed, my friend asked whether my husband and I planned on children. It is always awkward for me having to explain to people that, while we would like very much to have a child of our own, it is likely not in the cards for us. Inevitably people want to know whether you've been to a doctor for testing and what was found; what treatments, if any, you have tried; how far you are willing to go down the treatment path; whether you've considered adoption. My friend was no exception. I haven't found a way to briefly explain our position without becoming emotional or defensive of our choices. (BTW, I'm open to suggestions on how to field this question. I've tried saying that it's unlikely because of my age--39 next month--but have learned that this just prompts anecdotes of someone the person knows who conceived naturally after 40.)

For some reason, I found it even harder to explain these things to someone who has known me for such a long time and who has devoted herself to motherhood for the last several years. My friend was always a bit of a "wild child" when she was younger, and I think any objective observer who knew us both as teenagers would have much sooner chosen me as the more likely of the two of us to become a mother. Life is strange.

So that was hard, but it was only a small part of our evening together. I think my friend fairly quickly sensed my discomfort (I am usually a very open, non-private person) and kindly did not dwell too much on the topic.

Funny how sometimes the things that I think will be hard to take aren't and things that seem harmless bring up some difficult feelings.


  1. Know what I say? Because I seriously HATE that conversation... I just say... "Maybe one day." And then my friendly conversation can continue on as planned. ;o)

    Glad you handled the shower well. That is SOOO the kind of shower I want to have.... maybe one day. ;o)

  2. I've noticed too how it's never the things we worry most about that we should have been worried about - it's always something else that we never gave a second thought (not that we should have been worried about that thing either because worry does us no good). Sometimes that gives me comfort - when I'm worried obsessively about something in my life it's nice to be able to remind myself that _that_ isn't going to happen, just by the very fact of me worrying so much about it. It makes me feel out of control which is initially alarming but that too can be comforting if I think about it the right way. Like the universe is saying just sit back and relax, there's nothing for you to do but live your life and take the hits and make the best of what you can with them. We'll take care of the rest. There's no other way around it.

    Still, it's frustrating for someone who likes to be prepared for anything. I think that's a common lawyer trait.

    The nutshell response is hard because people are nosy and opinionated. I wish I had some advice. I would probably keep it straight to the point - we did try X and Y and everything we were comfortable with and it's not in the cards (no one would be anything but delighted if you are pleasantly surprised in the future). If they press for more or "why not this or that" just say it was a personal decision that we made and leave it at that.

  3. Glad the baby shower went well.

    I have no advice to give on the best way to explain IF to a third party. I just tell people we tried and the doctor can't find anything wrong with us and that we're hoping for the best. I usually find that people don't ask me for specific details, but if they do start asking questions, then they hear all the sordid details (cause hey, they asked..)

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  5. Isn't that interesting? I love when things I dread turn out to be not that bad (which is usually the case), but I hate being caught off guard by something that I expected to be enjoyable.

    As for fielding the question, I would usually be asked if we wanted children, or something along those lines. At first I responded with a breezy "some day" or a "yes, soon enough" or something like that. It then forced the questioner to ask (rather inappropriate, imo) follow up questions such as are we trying, etc.

    p.s. Thorougly enjoyed your comment on my post today!


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