Yes, I have been to baby showers before. I remember some showers for cousins when I was young, which I thought were long and silly but had yummy food. The ones I attended pre-marriage and directly post-marriage were wonderful, filled with that blissful glow of expectation and excitement not only for the mom-in-waiting but also for me, presuming as I did that first comes love, then comes marriage, and so on. (Didn't know that song could get so drawn out...)
I even planned a baby shower for friends of ours a few months after I got married. We made it a co-ed event and hosted it at the father-to-be's former residence (he lived with my husband when they were bachelors, in a very manly guys' household). I thought up fun games and trivia, made cupcakes and couscous salad, and loved treating my friends to a special afternoon.
Many of my close friends had their first baby before or shortly after my wedding, before the gloom of IF settled over everything baby-related. So their baby showers were fine - not painful.
The only baby shower I've been to in the months after IF has taken seemingly permanent residence in my heart and mind was for a coworker that I didn't know that well. I plucked up my happy face and made a brief appearance, long enough to get some goodies and die inside. I'm not even sure why I went - I'm sure she wouldn't have missed me. Maybe just to prove that I'm not that far gone down the barren road of baby angst, or maybe not to clue in my coworkers that something is amiss for me in the realm of fertility.
I just received an invitation to what I thought of immediately as "my first baby shower." The first shower post-IF for a real friend, someone who has meant something to me. She and I used to live together, in a very feminine female household =) back when I was in grad school. She had the room directly above mine, and had to walk through my inconveniently situated room to get to her attic abode. And she was just the kindest, sweetest, best person I could think of to "intrude" in such a way. She was a model roommate and someone I was really happy to have encountered.
We've stayed in touch more or less, and I went to her wedding last year. (Last year. A year after mine. Of course I didn't think of that immediately when I heard she was pregnant...ha ha.) The ladies who are throwing the shower are also lovely people, and people I don't see nearly as often as I like. They're mamas too.
So what to do? On the one hand, I feel like wild horses couldn't drag me to a baby shower at this point...just thinking of sitting around a glowing pregnant woman, talking of nothing but babies and breastfeeding and bottles is enough to make me hyperventilate. I picture my heart sinking to my toes at every mention of "well, when I was pregnant..." or "just wait till you experience this as a mom..." and that shared mom-knowledge that used to seem so magical and now just seems so impossible.
On the other hand, I really care about this friend! I care about her life, about her baby, and I'd like to see her again. I hate the idea of going, and I hate the idea of not going. This feels so unfair. I honestly don't know what to do. I know very well that I don't have to go. I know that I could politely decline, send a nice gift and a card and pray for her, and that would be worth a lot. But I feel like I'll be unhappy doing that, just like I most likely will be unhappy going to the shower and having to erect emotional barriers of mammoth proportions just to get through all the cutesy games and gifts without totally losing it.
So I don't know. I feel pretty mad at the way IF snakes its little tendrils into my heart and makes me open baby shower invitations with dread instead of joy. I hate the idea of missing out on an important moment in the life of someone I love. This is not the person I'd like to be, and yet what can I do? Is it my fault that motherhood hasn't come easy and breezy? And that I have to work awfully hard to stay close with my mother-friends because my inner crying barren woman wants to run far, far away from them and their adorable kids?
I hate how much IF impacts my life. Even if I end up going to the shower, I hate that I had to talk myself into it. I feel really jealous of everyone who lives their childbearing years with no worry about "if" they'll have children, only "when." Who doesn't cringe going past a baby store or hearing people talk about "big Catholic families".
For now, I put the invitation on my bulletin board in the kitchen. I have until August 3rd to RSVP, and I'm just praying that I make the right choice and feel at peace about it. I never knew this would be so hard either...