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No-Show Baby Shower Blues

No-Show Baby Shower Blues

By Amalah

Dear Amy:

I spent 4 years trying to get pregnant. Finally we got good news and my best friend couldn’t wait to throw me a shower. After week 14, I let her and another long-time friend begin the discussions of a shower. I gave them a list of about 15 family, friends and co-workers whom I wanted to invite. Invitations were sent out about 6 weeks before the shower and all but 2 people RSVP’d yes to the event. Finally about 3 weeks ago I let myself become excited about this event. Unfortunately last week with only 4 days before the shower, everyone began to cancel. It wasn’t even that they cancelled, but that I had to contact them to find out whether or not they were still coming and then they gave a lame excuse for why they could no longer attend. They never contacted the hostesses to apologize for the last minute no show. I ended up having 3 great friends still come and it was a nice day. My problem is that some of these women that last minute cancelled are relatives, friends, or co-workers that I now have to see on a regular basis. I am extremely angry and hurt by what happened and am having a difficult time getting over it. I need some advice on how do I handle my emotions when I see them.


Ugh. I’m sorry. I really am. I feel you.

Something really similar happened at my baby shower.  I wanted something small and intimate, but…uh, it ended up being REALLY small. Embarrassingly small. Four friends (two of which were the hostesses) and my mom and MIL. Everybody else sent their regrets, or RSVP’d yes only to later send their regrets, or made me and the hostesses chase them down to get their regrets. We ended up having a perfectly nice afternoon and all, but it wasn’t at all what I’d pictured.

My friends splurged on a gorgeous cake to feed a crowd, and I ended up going home with enough leftovers to feed at least a dozen no-shows. Have you ever had your ego mocked by slices of cake in your fridge? It’s…weird. SCREW YOU, CAKE.

Obviously, in the grand scheme of life, this doesn’t really matter. I’m sure there are people reading who are like, uh, get the hell over it, it’s a tacky gift-grabby party anyway and who are you to judge people who were legitimately busy and blah blah blah. But at the same time, the fear of throwing a party — be it a shower, birthday, housewarming, or regular ol’ dinner — and having no one show up is pretty much a universal fear of universal mortification. It’s something I still think about when sending out invites to my children’s birthdays: Oh God, what if no one can come? What if only two people can come? What if only two people say they can come and then they don’t come and gaaaaaahhhhh.

Add onto this your potential guests’ completely rude behavior of RSVP FAIL and making you, the guest of honor, track them down later when a simple “I’m sorry, I cannot attend” email would have spared you having to listen to lame excuses. Yuck, man. People who RSVP yes or maybe and then cancel get a pass — I’ve had to do that, for sure. But I understand the frustration of having to see and interact with people after the fact who let you down. Who probably don’t even realize they let you down or that there was a mass group-wide letting down that turned a special event into kind of a bummer.

Focus on who did show up for you

But yeah, in the end, that’s all this was: A bummer. An overly emotional bummer because you’re pregnant and this was an event wrought with meaning for you. And a bunch of thoughtless clods hurt your feelings. You’re perfectly entitled to your hurt feelings. You’re perfectly entitled to not invite those people to anything ever again and maybe secretly pass on contributing to the next office birthday gift for them or something. Remember that relatives let each other down too, sometimes even more so than friends and acquaintances because family is easier to take for granted.

But then around them you keep your chin up and your head high and focus on the wonderful three friends you do have (because seriously: as life goes on and gets more crazy, having three whole wonderful best-type friends is REALLY EXCELLENT). If you feel emotional (HELLO HORMONES) and need to have a mini-pity party in the bathroom you go right ahead. It doesn’t mean you’re going to feel this way around them forever, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s really better to just go ahead and FEEL and OWN your pregnancy emotions rather than fight tooth-and-nail to bottle them up.

Time will heal the hurt

These emotions do have an expiration date, or at least a set point (BIRTH) when they won’t feel so acute and consuming. I promise. You’ll look back on this and say, “Well, that was kind of a bummer.” The specifics of the original guest list will fade and your memories of who gave what excuse will grow fuzzy. Think back to your wedding or graduation party or some other big event and try to remember the guest list/wedding party drama and who didn’t RSVP and who didn’t show up and…huh. I definitely remember that feeling like a really big deal at the time. But I guess it wasn’t.

You’re having a baby. Your social landscape is about to change drastically, whether you particularly want it to or not. There will be friends who drift away from you and possibly friends you drift away from, not necessarily on purpose. At least now you have a clear picture of who matters and who…really doesn’t. Don’t let the people who don’t matter occupy your headspace.

More Advice from Alpha Mom:

  1. The Etiquette of Baby Shower Guest Lists
  2. Baby Shower Blues 
  3. Self Hosting a Joint Baby Shower: Yay or Nay? 
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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