The Green-Eyed Baby Shower Guest
I’m 25 years old, and my husband and I have been trying to conceive for over a year. During that time, a family member on my husband’s side got pregnant during a drunken one night stand. She moved back in with her parents, and in spite of dropping out of college “to save up for the baby,” her parents and grandparents have bought her everything, including a car. I just received a baby shower invitation for her. My thoughts are a) I don’t think a baby shower is appropriate, but maybe I’m just an old-fashioned, bitter jerk and b) I don’t know how I’d handle the emotional upheaval of this shower. Things have been kind of strained with my in-laws (and we all live in the same town), and I don’t want to make the situation any worse by not going. This whole infertility deal by itself has been devastating, and then to have to deal with the way my in-laws are being enablers is really frustrating on top of it. Please help!
And please sign me,
Oh, don’t go.
Now, I personally have zero qualms with a baby shower being thrown for a single mother with an unexpected pregnancy. Zero. Not inappropriate at all. That baby deserves to be celebrated and fussed over just as much as any baby, and in spite of supportive parents and a free car, single motherhood is tough. The rest of her circumstances (no father figure in the picture, dropping out of college, no means of self-support, the fact that everybody “knows” her story and are likely quietly judging her, etc.) are tough. Her parents and grandparents are taking care of things for now, and maybe yeah, she really doesn’t “need” more gifts from friends and family…I really can’t fault her for allowing someone to throw her a little party in the meantime.
You’re in no shape to attend this shower. That’s obvious. You’re hurting, you’re jealous, and unless you feel certain you can steel your nerves and sit through a couple hours of baby!baby!baby! stuff with a big fake smile on your face (as opposed to like, glaring in the corner or crying the bathroom), I think it would be a terrible idea. If Knocked Up was like, your sister or BFF from childhood, I’d probably encourage you to sack up a little bit and attend for her sake. But in this particular case? There’s just no reason why you MUST do this to yourself.
Yes, yes, maybe there will be annoyance from your in-laws that you can’t attend. Is there any chance your husband would be willing to TALK to his side of the family — at least his mom — and explain that “Hey, Anonymous and I have been trying to have a baby for some time now without any luck. Knocked Up’s pregnancy and shower came at a tough time for us. Please understand that’s why Anonymous won’t be attending.” Just be honest. Then pick out a super-basic shower gift and ask that they deliver it for you, just to further take the edge off the potential “snubbing.”
If your husband isn’t comfortable being that open with your in-laws (or you’d rather no one know about any of it), I’d still enlist his help. It’s his family, but you’re his wife, and even if guys don’t always really “get” this part of infertility and how much it sucks to see someone else achieve what you want so easily, he should attempt to understand and support your decision to skip the shower. Have him book a weekend trip or buy event tickets for that day, like “Oh! Can you believe it? I told him the date of the shower and he got it mixed up and now I can’t attend. DRAT!” Or…hell. If it’s just a casual get-together at someone’s home and the headcount isn’t that vital, RSVP that you’ll be there and then call out sick with a stomach bug the morning of.
Obviously, the Super Ethical Advice-Giver-Type Person in me wants to encourage you to go with the honesty route, via your husband. If you are comfortable with that, it could possibly help in other ways — maybe they’d think twice before mentioning Knocked Up’s pregnancy in glowing terms all the time, maybe things would be less strained if they understood the stress you guys are under right now. Or…not. Maybe they’d just ask stupid intrusive questions about the state of your uterus or tell everyone in town your business. If that’s the case, then…yeah. You totally have my permission to stoop to some subterfuge…and skip the shower for whatever reason without another agonized thought.