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As featured in Motherly magazine.

During my infertility journey, I dreaded baby showers. I was happy for my friends, and I wanted to celebrate with them. Afterall, a baby shower is meant to be a joyous occasion.

But dealing with infertility, baby showers always meant one thing: being surrounded by excited squeals and endless reminders of the one thing I didn’t have and desperately wanted. The one thing I was fighting so hard for. It was excruciating.

I found that it depended on what I was going through at the time or where I was at with my treatment. A week before one friend’s baby shower, we lost our baby. I couldn’t go.

I could barely get through the day without sobbing, let alone attempt to attend someone else’s baby shower. I had to put myself first. When I spoke to my friend about it, she understood. In her words, “Why on earth would you put yourself through that?!”

With my very good friends, I often did attend. Their baby showers were intimate, understated and beautiful. They would also check in with me before and after to make sure that I was OK. But outside of those close friends, I did not attend.

I often felt guilty and selfish. Why couldn’t I put my feelings aside and be happy for them? Why did I cry before and after? Why did I often feel the sharp sting of jealously?

From talking to other women dealing with infertility, I discovered that it’s extremely common to get upset, and often jealous, about others’ baby showers. If your infertility journey makes it hard for you to attend baby showers, you are not alone—and it is OK.

How to manage baby showers when dealing with infertility

1. Know that your feelings are valid

Infertility is hard. You’re going through something incredibly difficult, emotional and all-consuming. It’s OK to feel upset.

2. Know that it’s OK not to go

If you are not close to the person, I doubt they will miss you. They’ll have plenty of other friends, family and work colleagues there to celebrate with them. And if you are close to them, as a good friend, they should understand.

3. Speak to your friend

If you decide not to go, speak to your friend—or send a text message if you’re not very close to them—about why you’re not coming. Most people will understand. Most will emphasize. You can also send along a gift with someone else who may be attending.

4. If you decide to go, have a plan

  • Is there a friend attending who knows what you are going through? Stay close to them.

  • Allow yourself to have a good cry before and after.

  • Plan a self-care day for yourself if you can, preferably the very next day. Whether that’s getting a massage or going for a long walk—do whatever makes you feel good.

  • Drive yourself. This way, you can leave at any time you need to without getting stuck there.

  • Give yourself a job. Sometimes being trapped in the kitchen making endless cups of tea or passing food around can be a life saver. A job can keep you distracted and can help the time go by faster.

Dealing with infertility is hard. It’s all consuming. It’s unfair. So if you are feeling upset or jealous about baby showers, know that it is OK. Your feelings are valid. Be kind to yourself, because that’s what you need to surround you during such a difficult time.

  • Writer's pictureKirsten McLennan

Loved chatting to Ali @InfertileAF recently about my infertility journey.

You can listen to the episode here.

From @InfertileAF:

“On the latest episode, I’m talking to @straight.up.infertility Kirsten McLennan, the author of ‘This is Infertility’, which tells the story of her six year journey through IVF and surrogacy.

Kirsten’s son Spencer was born through gestational surrogacy in 2019 in Utah. But it was a long, long road to get there.

Kirsten and I talk about all of the significant challenges and setbacks they went through, their very real experiences with IVF and surrogacy, how she went through treatment in Australia, Canada and the United States and so much more ❤️”

  • Writer's pictureKirsten McLennan

Updated: May 27

Here's an extract about baby showers from Chapter 4 of my new book 'This is Infertility'.

A few days after our second transfer, I started bleeding. Dread. And once again the universe had its timing. I started bleeding an hour before a close friend’s baby shower. One hour before. I’m not a superstitious person, but I’ll admit, the timing was uncanny. I felt like I was someone’s punch line.

A quick sidebar about baby showers. Don’t go. Unless it’s a good friend’s shower. And even then, see how you feel at the time or where you’re at with your treatment. If it’s a work colleague, acquaintance, distant relative…don’t go! As one friend asked me, “Why would you put yourself through that?”

If you’re not close to the person, I doubt they’ll miss you being there. If you do go, strap yourself in for at least two hours celebrating the one thing you don’t have. Those two hours will be full of excited squeals and ‘fun’ guessing games about the baby’s birth weight, the due date, the gender. You’ll be surrounded by the one thing you yearn for and would do anything to have. The one thing you are fighting so hard for. I realised early on that this can be excruciating. Then one day, I just stopped going and had to trust it would be okay. It was. With my close friends, I always went. My good friends don’t need to be the centre of attention. Their baby showers were always intimate and beautiful. They also had an innate ability to make sure I was okay.

Back to the bleed. Convinced it was my period, I accepted defeat. I nervously went off to the baby shower, a knot in my stomach. But being around my friends made me feel better. I quietly told one friend what had happened, and she clung to me like my life raft, never leaving my side. She had suffered her own infertility challenges over the years, so she understood. Trying to think optimistically, I pictured my own baby shower and knew this baby was worth fighting for.

You can buy my book here.

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