Thursday, June 3, 2010

the un-baby shower

I have a friend (we'll call her S). She's much closer to several of the other gals in the group but she's a sweet girl and I like her. In a situation I know she bitterly regrets, she became pregnant several months ago; she stopped dating the father of the child very shortly thereafter, and they have a bad relationship and he is by all accounts a highly objectionable person. She appears to be super-fertile - apparently a trait that runs in her family. She has been robustly healthy throughout her pregnancy. But she has been sad.

It's funny - I don't become bitter about people on the other side of the fertility looking glass when I can see that they have their own crosses to bear. It's the annoyingly (and, most often, the falsely) happy who really provoke my ire. No doubt this is some insidious form of uncharity on my part, but I think it's also philosophical. I respond to others' sufferings that I don't share - and about which they're sensitive - by observing, correctly, that we're all carrying crosses. (This has come up often with friends who are looking for jobs. They want you to understand that it's hard to be out of work, but they don't want you to think them wretched. And I want them to understand that I have a job, but my life isn't perfect. It's what I'd want to hear myself.) We have compassion for each other in our diverse difficulties. At least, so it seems to me.

Anyway, S's sister (married with several children) has planned a celebratory weekend for S. S just closed on a house near her family, so the party was conceived as a combination baby shower/housewarming/help-moving-in event. It was a charming idea. From what I have been able to piece together, S was immediately horrified. She does NOT want a baby shower. The invitation was hastily (and graciously) revised by S's sister to specify that moving assistance would still be appreciated; S does not need baby-related presents, as she has so many hand-me-downs from friends and family (though several of the girls are going in on the last big-ticket item she needs); and S will be inviting her broader acquaintance to a combination housewarming/welcome baby party after the baby is born, when, I gather, she will feel comfortable entertaining. Right now, I think she has been avoiding everyone but her close girlfriends - and, sometimes, them too. The weekend, more or less as originally advertised, will proceed, but with a much smaller group, mostly all-female.

My first reaction is that I am sad that S is sad. I cannot fathom what my reaction would be in her place, but I know it can't be easy. I am sure, if it were me, that I would be in a very unstable place well into the pregnancy, as I adjusted to the idea, and to my increasingly obvious appearance as an unmarried pregnant woman. It's not a position in which she ever thought she'd be.

I had the hopeful notion on her behalf that at some point she would become accustomed to the idea, and just be excited about the nearing arrival of the baby. Clearly, that is not how she feels. And I am sure this has continued to be much harder than I can imagine. I certainly respect her honesty and firmness in turning down the opportunity to be publicly celebrated and fussed over, when that is at odds with how she feels.

I've actually been looking forward to the weekend's un-baby shower (to which I am, apparently, invited). Obviously I have an obsession with all things real estate and home decor related, and I am excited to see the new house, and to lend a hand in painting or any kind of small repairs I'm capable of. And I appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate, to myself at least, that I can be as tactful as I'd like people to be with me in my interestingly different situation. S's sister asked for cards (with well-wishes), so I figured I'd do a card (still haven't figured out what to write) and chip in for the group present, and I bought what I hope is a modest but fun housewarming gift: a pair of glass hurricanes/vases and scented pillar candles in her favorite color.

All of this (well, not necessarily my shopping victories) is interesting enough in its own right. There is a fascinating and not always happy world outside my little IF corner of the universe. For better or for worse, when I'm not succeeding in pursuing a hermit-like existence while my DH travels, I see my friends struggling with a lot of challenges different from mine. (I know, you all thought I sat up in a tree pitching rocks in a ball of hate all weekend, right? Well, I come down once in a while.) After all the years longing for a baby (and, lately, realizing that I might be horrified by a baby. I'm not sure when or how this transition happened, whether it's normal, or whether I should do anything about it), it's rather arresting to see someone who inevitably will have a beautiful and healthy baby, and is just wishing that nobody would make a peep about it. But for reasons I haven't entirely worked out yet, I think it's probably good for me to be exposed to.

In a sort of limping epilogue to all of this, I've realized that today is CD1...probably. (I spotted - bright, pretty red, which I guess is good - for the four days previously. And a little itty bitty streak of red the day before. So, which day is CD1?) If today is CD1, I need to get my CD3 bloodwork done on Saturday. That can't be good. The un-baby shower is many miles away from my blood lab. It would probably mean I have to head down for the festivities Saturday morning, instead of Friday night. I don't really want to miss the blood draw this cycle, with a "what medication should we put you on" appointment coming up right after.

On the other hand, coming late to the un-baby shower might not be a tragedy. Apparently several of the activities - including rafting - are actually occurring Friday afternoon. I couldn't possibly arrive before 7PM (maybe later), since I have a job. The fact that this didn't strike S's sister as a major impediment tells me that the invitees whose names I didn't recognize are all stay-at-home mommies. Notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat.

But - lovely people as they may be - they might also be insufferable company, for me, at least. (People will have babies on the brain. And my DH travels all the time, and his absence will be mentioned. And they'll be meeting me, so they'll ask, "How long have you been married?" And then after I answer they'll pause elaborately. And I might - might - have to drown someone with paint. Would that be wrong?) Actually, I imagine that they'll also be insufferable company for S. I see the two of us as unlikely natural allies, but she has shown no signs of seeing that, and these are probably all her close friends. So I will need to, at a minimum, keep my homicidal thoughts to myself.

So now I'm thinking that I should just say I have a last-minute medical appointment (true), and can't come down till Saturday morning (I'll have to go to the blood lab early, so I could arrive as they're all getting up), and then I could make the bachelor birthday party on Friday night - for a good friend, so I was really sorry to have to miss it. Would that be rude?

Why are these things so complicated?


  1. Given all the various intricacies of this, of which there are so many ... I do not think it would be rude at all!
    I think I have also been told that CD2 and CD4 are close enough, so that is something else to consider. But one of these napro smarter-than-me people can speak more authoritatively about that.

  2. I think it's kind of humbling to realize that not every pg is as exciting for everyone like the way some of us think it is. I do think this is unfortunate but if it was exciting..there wouldn't be any abor.tions or b/c pills..right? That's is where the true tragedy lies. I'm sure S is scared and was most likely picturing her first pg to be exciting and with a man she loved. However, that is not the case. She has a lot to swallow and she may not be feeling very proud of herself. Hopefully, when the baby comes she'll be able to wallow in the joy of it all even if it is for a moment. I do feel her sister should have been more compassionate and just wait until the baby came to have the shower, etc. Interesting situation. I think you should do whatever you have to in regards to the shower. I'm sure S won't mind at all.

  3. Ugh. I hate having to get blood work done on a weekend. I'm lucky to have two labs close by that are open on Saturdays, but there is ALWAYS a HUGE wait.

    I definitely think that waiting to attend the un-baby shower on Saturday is the best bet. It always sucks when people forget that most folks work on Fridays!

  4. obviously getting your blood work done is very important, and isn't it just wonderfull that it happens to interfere with your being around chipper mommys all day?? I say not rude at all! You go to your friends party Friday, and show up late to that giggling group of mommy's and their baby talk. b/c you know that is going to happen!

  5. I think that going saturday after your blood draw is a perfect solution. It gets you out of hanging with some SAHMs, which could be uncomfortable, and allows you to celebrate with your other friend as well. Win win.

    As for S's situation, what a sin. You're so right though, everyone has their own crosses, and while they may not be as evident as others, no one's life is perfect. I wish S. all the best in raising her child... I am glad she'll be close to family (and I'm assuming friends) when she'll need them the most.

  6. I think the first day of full flow is considered cd1, as opposed to just spotting. Sounds like you should be able to get it done on Saturday, and using it as an excuse to miss the first part of the weekend fun sounds okay to me :).
    I have a really hard time seeing people who obviously aren't thankful for their pregnancies, but I can definitely understand how hard it's going to be for her. The embarrassment of being a single mother, the tough part of being the only parent, the expense, the difficulty of dating, etc. Yeah, she's probably scared to death of what her life will look like...

  7. It definitely sounds like your best move all around is to go for just for Saturday. You avoid having to deal with days of baby talk, you get your bloodwork done and you can go to your friend's party.