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Dear infertility mom (yes, you are a mom to me), I’m here as your personal permission slip. From this point forward, consider yourself fully exempt from going to baby showers after miscarriage or infertility. I also give you permission to say no to hosting a baby shower after miscarriage or infertility. And if you are the one hosting a baby shower and wondering whether you should invite your friend going through fertility trauma, I’ll teach you how to provide miscarriage support and give you advice in this article too.
If you’re pregnant and your friend had a miscarriage, read this advice on how to be sensitive to both their needs and yours.
You Can Skip the Baby Shower After Miscarriage
Infertility and miscarriage are miserably hard. You are not alone in your journey. So many of us have been there. And so many of us have grappled with this question–do I have to to go to a baby shower after miscarriage or while dealing with infertility?
I remember dealing with this question constantly during my recurrent miscarriage journey.
It’s also a question that regularly pops up in my email or Instagram DMs. I Someone emailed me just the other day because they were asked to host a baby shower but weren’t even comfortable going. This poor reader felt guilty, like she was doing something wrong by feeling emotionally triggered by a baby shower.
So I’m here as your personal permission slip. If you want to skip a baby shower, feel free. You have every right to make that decision. You are not selfish. You are not wrong. You are not a bad friend/sister/daughter/in-law/etc. And if anyone says you are, please send them to this article.
Why Baby Showers Can Be So Hard After Infertility and Miscarriage
When you’re going through the heartbreak of infertility or miscarriage, you’re constantly hurting. It feels like your world revolves around this one dream you have, and going to a baby shower is a slap-in-your-face reminder that you don’t have what other people do.
Does it mean you’re not happy for the person having the baby? No!
Does it mean you’re not willing to put yourself aside to celebrate someone else’s joy? No!
For some of us, the experience is simply too triggering to manage.
What do I mean when I say “triggering”? I mean that it takes us back to our loss. It reminds us of the shower we’d envisioned, the gifts we’d thought we’d receive. It makes us think of how old our children would be…if only they’d lived. Or if only we’d conceived them. It puts our mind into a place that makes us re-experience our grief, and a baby shower simply not worth re-experiencing trauma.
What If I Want to Go to Baby Showers?
Then girl, GO! More power to you.
I know tons of infertility and miscarriage moms who really love going to baby showers.
It reminds them that there’s hope.
They’re thankful for other people’s joy.
They’re so glad for the babies they get to love who are being born into the world.
If this is you, then by all means, go toast the new mama.
If you’re not one of these women (I was not), you are not a bad person for not feeling this way. Here’s the thing. We can’t control our feelings.
We can’t control if the pregnant lady in a coffee shop takes our breath away, almost leading to a hyperventilating-level of panic.
We cannot control any of what is happening in our lives or our bodies.
But we can control how we respond to other people’s pregnancies. And if they’re hard for you, it’s okay to excuse yourself. If they aren’t, it’s okay to stay and celebrate.
No matter what you do, dear one, you’re doing okay. Your life is about self-preservation right now.
What If I’m Asked to Host a Baby Shower?
Nope. Nope, nope, nope, no, no, no, no!
I seriously hope no one who knows your story is asking you this. If they are, let’s evaluate that friendship. They clearly aren’t thinking straight. Unless you just really want to, you should not be hosting a baby shower after miscarriage or infertility.
But if this occurs, follow the same explanation as above. Or, if you REALLY want to support the person, offer to help host from a distance. You can give some cash to help buy decorations. Or maybe you can arrange some flowers. But you do not need to dive into shower hosting if you’re not comfortable with it.
Remember–and tell others–this is someone else’s day. You don’t want to risk your emotions overtaking such a special day for someone you love.
Also, you just don’t have to put yourself through that. Hosting a baby shower after miscarriage or infertility is just too much for most of us!
How Do I Politely Say No?
If you’ve been open about your experience with pregnancy loss or infertility, then the answer to this question is really easy. We heard it in all the anti-drug seminars when we were kids:
“Just say no.”
“I appreciate you thinking of me,” I would tell people, “But I just can’t handle the overwhelming mix of emotions I feel at baby showers right now. I’m genuinely excited for you. This is about me. I hope you can understand.”
Then, I’d send a gift. And when I say a gift, I mean 2 things specifically:
- A gift card that I got at the grocery store. If you are not up for attending a baby shower, then dear one, you are not up for walking through a baby store or browsing an Amazon registry. Don’t do it.
- A card with a note. In this note, I would reiterate my earlier point. “I am genuinely happy for your joy, and I hope I’m able to express that to whatever extent possible.” That was it. Note: this card had nothing to do with a baby. I usually just wrote it on personal stationery.
What If I’ve Kept My Experience Secret?
Saying no to a baby shower invitation is much harder in this circumstance. It’s time to make a decision. You have a few options.
- Be open about your experience. Tell the host, or the mom being celebrated, what you’ve been through. If they’re people who are worth having in your life, they’ll be sympathetic to your situation.
- Vaguely explain the circumstances. “I really don’t want to go into details, but pregnancy is a really difficult subject for me right now. I hope you’ll understand that it’s best for us all that I celebrate you from afar.”
- Find a reason not to be there. If you simply aren’t comfortable sharing what you’ve been going through, then find a reason not to attend. I’m not a proponent of lying, so I won’t suggest that to you. But scheduling a lunch with someone from a different friend group, choosing to visit your parents out of town that weekend, accepting a commitment for work that no one else wants to do on the weekend–these are all valid ways to be able to say that you have another commitment.
I’ve taken all these different situations into account in the scripts provided in this downloadable cheat sheet to saying no to baby showers after miscarriage or infertility. Click here to find DOs, DON’Ts, and scripts for all situations.
If you feel up to seeing your pregnant friend, another great option is to offer an alternative! My favorite is brunch. It feels inherently celebratory but has no direct relation to the baby. And who doesn’t love a good brunch?
I’m Hosting a Baby Shower. Should I Invite My Friends Dealing with Infertility and Miscarriage?
Thank you so much for asking this question because it’s a hugely important one. And the answer is very easy.
You can determine the best way of doing this based on your relationship with the person. I think texting is a good option because it doesn’t require face-to-face interaction in case the person is upset by the question.
I’ll never forget when my friend Rebekah texted me and said, “Hey. Some friends of mine are throwing a shower for me, and I wondered if you wanted to receive an invitation. I don’t want you to feel left out, nor do I want you to have to see the invitation if you don’t want to.”
I LOVED THIS! This girl’s emotional IQ is through the roof amazing. Want to learn more about helping friends after miscarriage? Learn more about helping a friend through a miscarriage by reading about other things Rebekah did to help me during my losses. Specifically, validating my grief over and over again.
I said, “thank you for asking, but I would prefer not to be invited.” My instinct was to say, “Of course I want to come!” And actually to offer to help host.
But she gave me an out, and I took it. Because that’s what I needed for the sake of self-preservation.
Why You Should Ask First
I would’ve been equally happy not to be invited, but I know a lot of infertility and loss moms who are hurt by being excluded from baby shower invitations after miscarriage.
It’s kind of like inviting someone who is suffering from depression to a party. You know they are unlikely to show up, but it’s still important to make them feel welcome.
So I say ask. It’s an easy default. It shows that you’re considerate. And it hurts no one.
And that’s really the goal here, right? To celebrate people during the good times but help them through the hard ones.
Did you want to attend baby showers after miscarriage or infertility? Tell us your story in the comments!
More Miscarriage Articles
- Coping with miscarriage grief
- Creating miscarriage memorials
- Recurrent miscarriage testing checklist
- After miscarriage, what to do
- Books about miscarriage
- Reader-favorite miscarriage tattoos
- Katy’s success after recurrent miscarriage
- Beth’s ectopic pregnancy story
- Arden’s misoprostol experience
- Katy’s blighted ovum story
Miscarriage Support Articles
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.