Baby Showers & Pregnancy Announcements: Not So Joyous for Some

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of pink and white ballons with "you're invited" written on white balloon on Baby Showers and Pregnancy Announcements: Not So Joyous for Some Infertility Blog on Not So Mommy

I don’t attend baby showers.  I avoid walking down the baby aisle.  And I do not put my hands on a pregnant woman’s belly.

Why, you might ask.  Because it has taken me too long to find myself and there’s no need to go back.  I simply cannot allow that part of my heart to become vulnerable again….

Baby Showers

When I was in the midst of my infertility battle, it seemed that everyone around me was getting pregnant.  I tried so hard to be supportive.  I was happy for the moms-to-be, albeit a bit jealous.  But I wanted to celebrate with them and so, I went to the baby showers.

I smiled and commented on the adorable little clothes and tried to avoid eye contact.  Because if you looked into my eyes, you would see the deep pain that was always there.  That longing to have my own child…  Tears just below the surface.

On one occasion, I agreed to collect the money and go shopping for the baby gift.  As the shower grew nearer, I simply could not bear the thought of driving to the store that contained all things baby and browsing the aisles to find the perfect little gifts.  I was starting to panic.

Because I wasn’t brave enough to express my fears face-to-face, I sent an email to my department members and asked if one of them would please do the shopping.  They knew I was struggling with infertility and luckily, they were kind.  Within the hour, they had swooped in to get the money I collected and promised to do the shopping.  Their genuine concern for my well-being was amazing.  Even more incredible, they did not judge or ridicule or make me feel silly for not having the strength to buy some diapers.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so understanding…

Pregnancy Announcements

At a family function, my cousin made the surprise announcement that she was pregnant.  Every female in the room yelled in excitement and ran towards her, smiling and hugging and congratulating.  Well, every female except me.  I ran away to lock myself in the bathroom and cry.

I don’t know how long I was in there.  It took all the strength I had to stop sobbing, to dry my tears, and to stay at that family event instead of fleeing as fast as I could out the front door.  I wanted to be happy for her.  I was happy for her.  But I was so sad for myself—for what I couldn’t seem to do no matter how hard I tried or how much money I spent.

I don’t think my cousin has ever forgiven me for ruining her special day.  She was so angry that I made the day about me, when it should have been all about her.  I didn’t mean to take the spotlight.  But at that moment, the emotions that were always right below the surface burst through and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

Know your limits…

 So, for me, staying strong—even now that I have accepted my infertility—means knowing my limits.  For me, that means I don’t attend baby showers or walk down the baby aisle or put my hands on a pregnant woman’s belly.  For me, it means I don’t even hold babies anymore.

A co-worker brought her adorable little one to work and I really wanted to hold that baby.  But I knew better.  So, I just let that squishy little guy wrap his tiny chubby hand around my finger and oh no…  There it was.  That pang in my heart, the longing, and the tears pricking my eyes.

So, when I say staying strong means knowing my limits, I am not joking.  Even one little tiny hand wrapped around my finger weakens my resolve—my acceptance of my infertility.

Because of this, I keep on walking when people bring their babies to work.  I smile and say how cute they are and keep on walking….  Please, do not think me rude.  I am just trying to protect my heart.

I did after school duty the first week of school for a co-worker who had a baby at home.  I knew it was her first week away from her little and I didn’t want her to have to wait an extra thirty minutes to go see that incredible bundle of joy.

I handled department chair duties for a co-worker when she was out on maternity leave.  But I didn’t go to the party she threw to introduce the baby to her friends and family.

And I watch your kids from afar on social media, liking their pictures and enjoying the sweet family time you have together.

But I can’t stop long to look at your life because I have to live my life.  And my life includes being infertile.  No baby for me.  But that’s okay.  God simply gave me a different path.  I just have to keep moving forward…

I have to say “no” to some things so that I can say “yes” to others—yes to my life as a dog mom, a host mom, an aunt, and a wife…  Saying “no” protects my heart and doesn’t let me fall back into that pit.  It took me a long time to climb out and I don’t want to go back….

So, I’ll just spend my time in boutique pet stores and hold all the puppies I can get my hands on!

I know my limits and I am strong.

 

World Childless Week – Sept 11-17, 2017

Recently, an announcement for World Childless Week came across my newsfeed.  Being an infertile woman, I want to connect with other people who understand what it feels like to be childless.  Because WCW’s goal is to increase awareness and understanding about childless not by choice, I liked their page in order to become a part of the WCW community.  When Stephanie Phillips, the woman who started the WCW movement, asked me to write a guest blog for World Childless Week, I eagerly accepted.  My hope with Not So Mommy…™ is to inspire others to be their authentic selves by telling my infertility story.  WCW has a similar goal and I am so excited to be a part of this group!  Please, check out their Facebook page at World Childless Week and join the childless not by choice conversation!

Photo Credit:  Ian L with Freerange

 

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32 comments

Lieeee September 20, 2020 - 9:40 pm

I found your blog at 2am while crying panicking thinking If I should go to the hospital because my Older brother asked me if I could to watch for my sister-in-law and my niece while he process the paper works so they could be discharged. After reading the blog and all the comments I told my brother the last minute that I couldn’t go, and told him honestly the reason why. Though I still felt a little bad even though he said its okay, I felt better and validated that what I’m feeling is not bad. I’m not a bad person for not going.

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Brandi Lytle September 21, 2020 - 11:24 am

Oh, your comment makes me smile and tear up–so many emotions! I’m so grateful that my blog reached you at just the right time and gave you the encouragement needed to practice self-care. You definitely are not a “bad person.” You are infinitely strong for bravely telling your brother the truth of your heart. I’m glad that he was understanding. Sending you so many HUGS…

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Diane Cuellar February 15, 2020 - 12:32 pm

I am suffering with infertility for 4 years now and having to go to baby showers and kid parties are so hard. Today I have to go to one with my husband for his friend and his girlfriend. He decided to do the last minute shopping today at Buy Buy Baby. As I am writing this I feel like I am in a bad dream on my way to another bad dream. I am happy for them and sorry for us. I want to run out of here but, have to endure. I feel like a horrible person who is incapable.

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Brandi Lytle February 17, 2020 - 11:04 am

Diane, I am so sorry that you are struggling. I do hope the shower this weekend didn’t cause too big of a wobble for you. Please know that you are not “a horrible person who is incapable.” Grief is a part of this journey. And it is perfectly acceptable for us to feel sad about what we do not have. Understanding and working through our sadness is difficult and takes time. Fortunately, we do have a beautiful childless community ready to love, support, and encourage us along this path. Sending you hugs…

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Diane February 19, 2020 - 12:38 pm

Thank you Brandi ?! It does feel less lonely knowing that I am not the ONLY person going through this. It is nice/sad to know that although no one has the answers that others do understand. I did survive the shopping debacle and the shower. I hoped no one saw my longing for children while playing with the other children. I do wish the couple the best with their blessing on the way. Until the next time…..,.the Academy Award goes to “Diane” for her role of “I am not wallowing in self pity”……lol. I am going to seek a therapist or group therapy. Thanks again for listening.

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Brandi Lytle February 19, 2020 - 3:35 pm

It is my humble pleasure to listen, as I am honored that you trust Not So Mommy… enough to share your heart. I am glad that you survived the shopping and shower. Your “Academy Award” quip made me grin. I’m grateful that you can find some humor in such a tough situation. I’m also grateful that you are going to seek out a therapist. Talking through our difficulties truly does help. Lots of hugs…

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Melissa February 11, 2020 - 8:13 pm

Hello! I’m back! My nephew and his wife just had their 4th beautiful baby! I’ve done pretty well with everything. I don’t attend kiddos birthday parties but I sent a gift, I did not attend the shower but sent a gift, I didn’t go to the hospital but checked in via text and pictures, and now baby is home and my mom wants me to go meet the baby with her on Friday and my heart sinks as I struggle to find the words that I just cannot do it. I cannot hold her. All my emotions will get more stirred up! I feel like a total (beep) hole out of nowhere and my entire evening is now a ball of emotions! It’s been almost 10 years since we found out we could t have kids. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes I think I got this and know I’m extremely blessed to be married to my best friend and sometimes I am triggered and I am a hot mess! My family and friends don’t know how to act around me and how could they? They all have kiddos! Tonight’s just one of those hard nights that will pass. Thanks for listening and know if your are emotional tonight, you are not alone my blog friends.

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Brandi Lytle February 12, 2020 - 9:35 am

Hi, Melissa! I’m so sorry you’ve been triggered and are dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with infertility and childlessness. I am honored and humbled that you find this a safe place to share your feelings, though. I understand the internal battle and inability to find the “right words” to express your grief without hurting feelings… I know some Not So Mommy… community members share blogs with their friends and family when they just can’t seem to find the words. Often, I write a letter or note, as it’s easier for me to express myself through the written word when I can think about what I’m saying and cry without an audience. Perhaps one of those could help you let your mom know that, at this moment, you simply can’t go see the little, yet? Sending you so many hugs… Remember–we are here to love, support, and encourage you, Melissa!

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Melissa February 12, 2020 - 9:43 am

Thank you Brandi!! I feel better this morning! It was so nice seeing your helpful message this morning! I was just having a down moment yesterday! I so appreciate you and this community you helped bring together! Please take care and Happy Valentines Week & a shout out to my furry twins ? ? who have their 8th birthday this Valentines Day!! ?

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Brandi Lytle February 12, 2020 - 10:02 am

I’m so glad you are feeling better, Melissa! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your furry twins! 🙂

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Sheena November 11, 2019 - 11:38 am

Couldn’t agree more.. every word is true and accurate.. i am always making excuses not to attend baby shower, i just can’t handle the pain inside. I thought I already accepted that i’m not going to be a mommy but then i see posts of people i know announcing their pregnancy and i can’t help but feel pity for myself.
Thanks for this 🙂

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Brandi Lytle November 11, 2019 - 11:41 am

I am so sorry you are struggling with the pain of childlessness. Despite the circumstances that brought you here, however, I am grateful that you are a part of this community. And I’m very grateful that you trust us enough to share your truth. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I’m always humbled that my words resonate with others. Hugs!

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Melissa November 4, 2019 - 11:35 am

Today, one of my best friends I have known since high school is having her first baby. It has stirred up some feelings of my own. I did not attend the baby shower (nor any baby showers) and I will struggle if I choose to go to the hospital or her home to see her son when he is born. Holding newborns really tugs at my emotions. I did text her lots of well wishes! I am thankful that I am usually accepting of my new path in life! I do feel blessed. We are celebrating our 22 wedding anniversary this week and I have a sitter for my furry children ??! I’m thankful to have this safe place to come to when my feelings get stirred up because as you know, you cannot possible understand totally unless you are have been through it too! Wish me luck! And thanks again for being here and being so open! I appreciate you!

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Brandi Lytle November 5, 2019 - 2:59 pm

Melissa, despite the circumstances, I am so glad that you are part of the Not So Mommy… community. Thank you for trusting me (and this amazing group of fabulous ones) enough to share your heart.

I am so sorry that “feelings got stirred up.” I completely understand. I am very grateful that you are taking care of your emotional needs, as that is so important. I am also glad you are staying in touch with your friend via text and that you are trying to figure out whether to meet the baby at her home… Often, I have to wait until the kiddos are a bit older. But I know you’ll do what’s right for you & for your friend.

On a lighter note, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! 22 years is quite an accomplishment! Enjoy some time away from your fur-kids. 🙂

Sending you so many hugs…

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Dee November 2, 2019 - 9:43 pm

I unfortunately can understand how you all feel. I on the other hand have been to the majority of baby showers, and birthdays. Have rubbed the belly, etc. I also struggle through Mother’s Day at church each year and have been called a spiritual mom since I help teach Sunday School. I told God I want to teach the children to learn about Him as I would teach our own child/children and hope to be celebrated one day for me and my husbands pregnancy announcement. I still have hope and some days I feel like running away and complete crap. Don’t know if I got to the point of insanity or indifference…. not sure what I feel but, have decided babies will always be born and it is EVERYWHERE. At one time I considered never coming out the house. I had already closed social media accounts because EVERY TIME I logged in the top feed was someone announcing their pregnancy. God has miraculously given us the strength but, yes I understand all you ladies and maybe I’ll stop attending.. who knows shrug ??‍♀️ ?‍♂️ .

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Brandi Lytle November 4, 2019 - 9:47 am

Triggers are different for each of us, as we are unique individuals. I am grateful that showers, kids’ parties, etc aren’t triggering for you. I am grateful that God has given you peace about such events. I am also grateful that you read this blog and understand that such events are difficult for many on the childless path…

One thing I would like to mention is that I have hope, too. Childless not by choice didn’t “lose hope.” We simply decided to accept what is and enjoy our life, finding the bright sides and changing perspective. “Hope” can be such a loaded word. Truly, I wish the infertility community would stop using the phrase, “Don’t lose hope.” I didn’t… But I did choose to let go and accept a life different from what I expected.

Sending you lots of hugs. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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Melissa May 15, 2019 - 3:21 pm

Thank you for being so open and honest! I wish I would have found your website years ago. As I was reading and I came to you not being able to hold babies, I finally felt somewhat normal! I simply cannot attend showers and even birthday parties unfortunately! I appreciate you and I cannot wait to read all your posts! I too am a dog mom of 2 ??, wife of 21 years, and an aunt! Thank you!

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Brandi Lytle May 16, 2019 - 9:26 am

Melissa, despite the circumstances that brought you here, I am so glad that you are a part of this amazing community! And I am grateful and humbled that my words resonated with you. Those “me too” moments are quite validating. (And it is always nice to realize that the feelings you have are indeed “normal.”) It sounds like we have a lot in common with fur babies, plus our wife and aunt roles. I hope the other blogs you read resonate, as well! Hugs…

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Liz February 27, 2019 - 11:34 pm

Your blog post resonated so well with me at this time. I actually just cancelled plans to get together with my mother in law and sister in law to go to a baby store to purchase a gift together for a family member’s baby shower (a family member whom my partner and I never thought would have or want a baby. We are now the only childless couple in the family).
I just couldn’t see myself in the baby store looking at all the items. I used to fantasize (in all the times I thought I was pregnant but wasn’t) about how I’d not have a normal baby shower, but instead encourage others to buy second-hand items and I’d scour the shops looking for lightly used baby items and go to church bazaars and purchase hand knitted items. I had a vision of myself walking the streets with an old fashioned pram and my baby in adorable, vintage outfits. I also always loved that idea of how in the nordic countries, such as Finland, a baby box is sent to prospective parents and the infant can even sleep in the box. I do think that is wonderful and ideal, but the hard truth of all this is I will never be able to live out any of these fantasies. All the ‘stuff’ that people feel they need and want…all the expensive items is stuff I never wanted for my baby and it hurts that I will never get to experience how I expected it to be when I conceived, because I will never conceive.

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Brandi Lytle February 28, 2019 - 11:11 am

Thank you for sharing your heart, your dreams, your truth with us, Liz. I smiled as I read about how you pictured yourself with your little. And I teared up as you stated, “I will never be able to live out any of these fantasies.” When we were trying, I often daydreamed about how we would tell our family that we were expecting. It was heartbreaking that the scenario never got to play out in real life…

I am glad that you cancelled the plans and decided not to put yourself through the baby store. Personally, I think you are showing great strength to tell your family, “No, I just can’t do that.”

Sending you tons of hugs. And despite the circumstances, I really am glad you are here, my friend!

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Barbara January 2, 2019 - 10:12 pm

I just found your blog and I love it. I’m 39. I’ll be 40 in August and I’ve made that my cut-off. Currently seeing a fertility specialist for “unexplained infertility.” I had an ectopic pregnancy a year and a half ago. My husband and I have been TTC for four years. Doing 2nd IUI this coming month, but I don’t want to do IVF. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your perspective. I always feel selfish and like people are judging me for not doing IVF or adoption. My husband is open to adoption, but I’m not. I wish I could be, but I don’t think I’ll change my mind. I am hoping to be able to see the good in my life and grieve my fertility and move on if that’s where this journey is leading me.

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Brandi Lytle January 3, 2019 - 12:03 pm

Barbara, in spite of the circumstances that brought you here, I am so glad that you are now a part of the Not So Mommy… community! I am grateful for your comments, sharing your truth and your heart. I am so, so sorry about your ectopic pregnancy. Many hugs…

Also, please know that you are not selfish for not wanting to do IVF or adopt. They are very personal decisions, and no one should judge (although I realize some do). Just know that you are doing what is best for you & your hubby.

I pray your IUI brings you what your heart desires. If not, I also pray that you will be able to “see the good in life.” That is a main focus here at Not So Mommy… Finding joy in the what is…

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Amy December 8, 2018 - 9:45 pm

I found your blog last week and I’ve been hungrily reading all of your posts. I was diagnosed infertile at 25. I left my ex husband for safety reasons when I was 32. I am remarried and a step mother now, but still no baby. I have been invited to many baby showers that I can’t attend, avoid church on Mother’s day, and keep walking when babies come around. I have added levels of difficulty, as I teach preschool. There are ALWAYS pregnant women around. It’s difficult. It’s also hard because, as a step parent, people tell me- you ARE a mom. And I am…. to an extent. My kids have a mom. My presence in their lives is hard for her to deal with, and therefore makes it hard on them…. which can be hard on me. Thank you for your blog. Thank you for sharing your struggles with infertility and faith. I feel greedy saying that I needed this, but I do. I don’t know any other infertile women, and that can make this journey feel even more lonely.

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Brandi Lytle December 10, 2018 - 9:56 am

Amy, I am so grateful that you found my blog and trusted me & the Not So Mommy… community enough to comment. I am sorry you are struggling and that your relationship with your step-kids is a bit strained. I have lifted a prayer, asking God to help soften hearts…

Personally, I do not feel that you are “greedy” saying that you needed to read my story and connect with someone who has struggled through infertility and childlessness. I felt very alone on my journey. So, one main reason, I started this blog was because I did not want anyone else to feel so alone. I am grateful and humbled that God has allowed me to connect with beautiful women like yourself.

I am always here to listen. Plus, I’m on Facebook and Instagram, if you’d like to get some encouragement in your feed! 🙂 Lots of hugs to you…

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Melodie June 13, 2018 - 7:07 pm

I am struggling with this right now. A couple I know just had a baby girl. It’s been 2 years since the decision to remain childless has been made but the pain rears its ugly head unexpectedly just when I think I am immune to it. I have virtually avoided babies and children for the past 2 years. On occasion I allow myself to indulge if I am feeling particularly strong that day… But as a rule I avoid it as much as possible. Every announcement, baby shower etc just reopens that wound. I honestly feel bitter and I don’t like that I do. It’s amazing how people don’t get it. How you are accused of being a party pooper or whatever, but it’s self preservation and nothing else. I’m happy for them but so sad for me. I appreciate this article. Thank you.

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Brandi Lytle June 14, 2018 - 11:22 am

Melodie, thank you so much for reaching out. My heart aches for you, especially when I read the line, “How you are accused of being a party pooper or whatever, but it’s self preservation and nothing else.” Oh, how I understand those feelings! Like you, we have a new baby in the family, and I’m already struggling with how much time I should spend around the baby, if I should hold the baby, etc. As I shared in my post, I normally just keep on walking. Because this baby is part of the family, however, it’s a bit more complicated. Like you expressed, I am so happy for them, but I still have twinges of pain for myself… I am grateful to have a tribe of women who get it. Sending you many hugs…

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Debbie April 13, 2018 - 1:56 pm

Agree we have to give ourselves permission to keep walking and know our limitations. After 25 years I am still learning about my limitations. I have often put myself into situations that I should never had, but I was pleasing others. I just wished that people would understand our situations and appreciate our limitations. Dealing with family events is hard, dealing with their births are harder. As I get older I am becoming stronger.

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Brandi Lytle April 13, 2018 - 2:27 pm

I agree, Debbie, that as I have gotten older, I have gotten stronger and better know my limitations. It’s hard to learn to say “no,” but there are times when not going is the best for all. Hugs to you…

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Jane Pritchard December 11, 2017 - 12:29 pm

Thank you so much Brandi for sharing your feelings – I have given myself a hard time thinking I am not dealing with things because I “keep walking” and don’t attend showers and I haven’t held a baby in 10 years. I see now “I know my limits” and feel a whole lot better.

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Brandi Lytle December 12, 2017 - 12:28 am

I’m so glad that this post spoke to you and that you feel better! That’s what this community is all about–supporting one another during our journey!

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Sherry Stout September 16, 2017 - 8:59 am

Summed up in a nutshell – Know your limits.

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Erica September 18, 2017 - 11:47 am

Couldn’t agree more. Recently had to skip out on my nieces 2nd bday party…it hurt not to be there, but it would have hurt more to be.

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