It is that time of year again. The weather is warming up which means cue the baby showers, announcements, engagements, weddings, and more. As if going through each day while struggling with your fertility wasn't already difficult enough, now you're being bombarded with invites to baby and milestone events. It can feel like a constant reminder of your struggles, your pain and loss. These life events that bring so much joy and happiness to others can also leave you feeling behind or thinking, "why not me?"
As much as you want to be happy for your loved ones, it's untrue to say that you aren't feeling a sense of grief, envy or even shame. Often, we try to suppress the feelings and emotions that come along with seeing others reach a milestone in life that you are desperately fighting to achieve. We tell ourselves that we are being selfish, resentful or jealous for not being "happy" for those around us. It's important to remember that both things can be true: you can feel happy for your loved one, but still wish it was you. That doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you human.
In this article, we are going to discuss ways to navigate baby showers, weddings, proposals and other social events while struggling with (in)fertility.
How to handle baby showers, pregnancy announcements and gender reveals when trying to conceive
Search through your feelings and validate them
You got the card. The little blue and pink card with a stork on it that has some cliché way of saying "I'm having a baby" on the cover. An immediate trigger. You open it up to see someone close to you (or maybe even not-so-close to you) is having a baby and they want you to attend their baby shower or gender reveal party.
Your body will have a reaction before your mind does. You might carry stress in your mouth and clench your jaw, maybe a wave of heat will fill your chest, your might tighten your shoulders or feel a stinging sensation in your eyes that will soon be followed with tears. But your brain might tell you, "you're supposed to be happy." Do not ignore these feelings, do not repress them. Work through them. Validate your feelings and emotions. You are absolutely valid in feeling triggered, upset or grief when someone conquers a mountain that you feel you've been climbing for an eternity.
Assess where you are in your fertility journey
Okay, so you've given yourself the space to feel, now what? Well, let's assess your options. You can choose to attend or not to attend. Whether to skip an event that is so significant in someone's life is a tough decision to make. However, it's important to think about where you are in an emotional, physical and mental place in your journey to be around all that "baby" stuff.
To go or not to go: Do you feel pressure to attend a baby shower while struggling with infertility?
If you feel pressure to attend a baby shower, wedding or other social event, where is that pressure coming from?
Is it coming from yourself? Are you afraid if you don't go, you'll be a bad friend/family member? Is it from others? Do you feel that if you don't go others will be upset? Do you feel that others will view you as a bad friend/family member? Identify where the pressure is coming from and how to proceed in a manner that isn't detrimental to your own well-being.
If you feel that not attending would be the best option, then that is the right decision for you. It's important to create boundaries in your fertility journey with others, and even with yourself. As much as you want to celebrate another people's joy, you can't expect yourself to do so at the expense of your own feelings and emotions. Tune into yourself to find out what you need to navigate this situation.
If you can't skip it, come up with alternatives
If there is absolutely no way you can miss out on this event, provide some alternatives to make the experience more bearable.
Here are some tips for attending a baby shower/wedding we love:
1. Prepare yourself (or them) with an excuse for why you'll need to leave early. (i.e. Having another engagement the same day, work/school early in the next day, etc.)
2. Ask if you can bring a plus one (aka your scapegoat!) Bring a friend or family member who is aware of your situation that is willing to pull the, "My security system just went off at home, I need to get back!" excuse. (Pro tip: make sure you carpool and that you are their ride! That way no one can offer to drop you off later!)
3. Ask someone else to shop for the gift. If going through the baby aisle or looking through a registry is too much for you to bear, ask someone you trust to pick one up and bring it to the event.
4. Ask for a schedule or estimated timeline of events and plan your arrival/exit around that. If there's an activity that may be especially triggering for you, you can be sure to be absent during that time.
5. Keep an archive of something that makes you happy. If you feel down and need to excuse yourself to the bathroom or to "take an important phone call" – make sure you have something that can take your mind off it for a little bit. Maybe keep an archive of your favorite Tik Toks to make you laugh or a playlist to uplift your mood until you're ready to rejoin the party.
6. Don't be afraid to leave. Even if it may be abrupt, if you realized it's too much for you to emotionally bear, don't be afraid to leave. You can always explain later.
7. And lastly, make sure to schedule in some self-care. Whether planning a relaxing massage before or a session with your therapist afterward, it's important to take time to prep your mind, body and spirit beforehand and decompress afterwards. Your feelings are valid and they take a toll on your body and mind, if you don't fully process and validate them.
This time of year is never easy. We are sending you all the love and support as you process your emotions, validate your feelings and learn to give yourself grace. Your fertility journey is one of the most crucial periods of your life; but because it demands so much perseverance and strength from you, it's important to give yourself the space to feel. You don't always have to be so strong.
For additional resources to help you navigate this season, click here to download our 7-Day Fertility Mindset Journal.
If you're looking for more tips, we love this article by Fertility Resilience!