Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baby shower drama

A few weeks ago I was in between work meetings I decided to hit the Taco Bell drive thru for a quick lunch.  A win win, I thought because it's cheap, sounded good, and hubs doesn't really like Taco Bell so if I want it I pretty much have to go on my own.  Anyway, as I was sitting in the drive thru waiting for my turn to order and my phone rings.  It was my pregnant sister.  I'd been avoiding her calls since she called to wine about her baby shower planning party, but I decided to pick up because the drive thru was taking forever and I knew that it would be a good excuse to get off of the phone with her.

Within the first 30 seconds I regretted picking up the phone.  She started out by asking me what my weekends in January look like.  I immediately knew that she was trying to firm up a date for her baby shower.  Playing dumb, I made a comment about how January is always tricky (weather wise) to plan trips, and asked why she was asking.  She replied that she was trying to schedule her baby shower and wanted to schedule it around my schedule since I'd be coming from out of state.  I thanked her for taking my schedule into consideration but that she didn't need to because I wasn't going to be able to come.

Cue the tears.  She thought I'd change my mind.  She really wants me there.  I'm her big sister.  It won't be the same without me.  It's important to her that I come.  It's just one afternoon.  She thought I'd change my mind.

This is the sister that dealt with infertility and required fertility treatments to get pregnant.  Providing more evidence, at least in my mind, that sometimes people forget the struggle to get pregnant as soon as they are pregnant. 

I started crying too.  Sticking to my guns I apologized, and assured her that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.  That I couldn't come because it would be far too hard for me and that it was just something that I needed to do to take care of myself.

Mercifully the line moved and I was next to get my food so I was able to get off of the phone, though I'm sure the drive thru employee thought I looked like a hot mess.  As did the people who stared at me as I sat in the parking lot and sobbed as I ate my burrito.

I get that it's important to her that I come to her baby shower.  I really do.  I mean, nobody envisions a baby shower without their big sister present.  Heck, a few years ago, I never planned to be the big sister that missed out on the important life events of my sisters.  But infertility changes a person, and in this case, not for the better. 

A few days later I was on the phone with my mom.  She mentioned that she'd talked to my sister and that my sister said that I wasn't coming to the baby shower.  I had also previously told my mom that I wouldn't be coming.  She mentioned how hurt my sister my sister was that I wouldn't be coming and implied that I needed to suck it up and come because it was important to my sister.  I replied that my mental health and well being was more important to me and as such I couldn't put myself in a situation that I knew would leave me a wreck and undo much of the recovery that I've worked so hard for.  I know she thought I was being dramatic.

I really do wish I could be there for her.  Or more accurately, I wish that I could take care of myself but at the same time not disappoint my sister.  Unfortunately those two things are not compatible.  So I chose my own wellbeing over doing what is socially acceptable.  It makes me really sad that by doing what I need to do hurt another person, but it's not going to change my mind.

The thing that makes me maddest about this situation is that I'm the bad guy.  I can think of so many other examples of a person who survived a trauma, not being expected to participate in a trigger of that trauma, and it being accepted without question.  Like no one would expect a recovering alcoholic to attend a party at a bar or a plane crash survivor to get on a plane again.  Their excuses would be accepted without question and they would be supported.  But infertility survivors are different.  They are expected to put on a happy face and deal with it.  It's not fair.  It's like my feelings don't matter.

I'm not going.  I'm not changing my mind.  I regret that by not going other people will be hurt.  It makes me sad that other people think I'm being selfish or dramatic.  But that's unfortunate collateral damage of taking care of myself, and right now I need to be number one.  Sadly I think that some people will never get it.


  1. I'm so sorry your family isn't being very understanding of your situation. Its even worse that they are trying to guilt you into it. If it comes up again, remind them that the baby shower is for her, not you and they shouldn't let your absence be such a big deal. I hope they will be able to respect your decision.

    1. I hope they won't make it a big deal either! And I suppose that even if they don't respect my decision, they'll have to deal with it. This is where stubbornness is advantageous! :)

  2. At the beginning of my infertility journey I attended some baby-related gatherings and it always hurt me, beyond description.
    It took me some time to learn that my mental health, my wellbeing has to come first.
    Now I always chose my own wellbeing over doing what is socially acceptable.
    Life is much easier now.

    sending you a big hug from sLOVEnia.

    1. PS: I love Taco Bell. I look forward to go there one day together with you!

  3. I am sorry you had to go through this, but glad to hear you stuck to your decision. I think your analogy with other traumas is excellent and wonder if you've tried sharing that with your family? Also, I always think that it wouldn't be in the best interests of the party giver for me to attend, because no matter how brave a face I put on, people who know me well can tell that I'm uncomfortable and miserable. So by attending, I may well bring the whole atmosphere of the party down. That's why I don't feel guilty at saying no.

    Naomi M

    1. I haven't thought of giving them the other examples. Maybe that would help drive home how tough these things are for me. But then again, who knows. And I totally get what you mean about dragging down the atmosphere. It's exactly how I view the baby shower if I attended!

  4. "She thought I'd change my mind." That line says so much. If people who now say they are disappointed had respected your first answer they wouldn't have upset themselves so much. Wishing you peace as you stick with the excellent decision to take care of yourself.

    1. Exactly! You just nailed it....she's the one who had to go and poke the hornet's nest. Thanks for supporting me for not going. People in this community really do get it. People in real life, not so much.

  5. yes, we've all been there.... sucking it up.... at the appointments, at the daily blood withdrawals, at the weeks of clomid injections, side effects, embryo transfers (if you get that far), the phone calls with the negative results for the current cycle while trying to maintain a brave face to get through the rest of the afternoon, week, month; The fertility nurse suggesting you try again next month...the endless questions from family and friends, our own disappointment in ourselves. There's been a lot of sucking it up throughout this ordeal. It is a very lonely journey even as a couple.

    Unfortunately our new harsh reality means we do what we must to maintain our emotional health. And I am finding that there are still some days when it is so, so hard to maintain that emotional balance.

    If we are labelled selfish or dramatic, then so be it. Occasionally I find friends or acquaintances who are sympathetic to my plight but more importantly I have also learnt to do whatever I must to protect myself because I am the one who is still trying to cope with it all these years later. Some months it seems like it is one step forward and two steps back. If I can protect myself from those backward step days then I will do whatever it takes, regardless of whose toes get stepped on. Maybe it has made me slightly more selfish, but I have learnt I sometimes really need to be for my own emotional self preservation.

    Sadly, family are only human and often one-eyed with events such as these. It would be nice to have your sister understand your reasons considering her own fertility journey.

    Ahem,.... must be a two steps backward day....sorry about the rambling.

    Stay strong with your decision and know that in the blog world you've got many friends that agree with you and would have done the same in this situation.

    1. Emotional balance and taking care of ourselves really does require a certain level of selfishness. It is what it is. I might not always be this way, but right now I can't go to baby showers. Period. And I don't feel that a lot of people need to know why.

      I feel you on the two steps backwards thing. I've had so many days like this!

      Hugs to you! Hope your day got better and I never mind the rambling!

  6. You freakin rock. What a way to stick to your guns - I felt like jumping up and clapping.

    That said, I feel deeply for the unjust isolation that we've all experienced while exercising our RIGHT to care for ourselves. I'm sorry you didn't get more immediate support since goodness knows you deserve it.

    I know it feels like people will never get it and some never will, but your actions ARE educating those who are, or eventually will be, open. There is no reason under the sun that the needs and desires of someone having a baby should trump those of someone who doesn't get to. No reason at all.

    Love your second to last paragraph especially - every word.

    1. Awww thanks! I hope that my actions educate, or at least make people stop and think. And maybe someday I'll be confident enough to be more vocal.

      One of the best things about this community is the encouragement to unapologetically take care of myself!