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Surviving Baby Shower Season

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
As I set my fingers to the keys, I suddenly asked myself how I would feel if there were a baby shower for me. After all, most of my Edinburgh friends are childless. Actually, I am not sure who would host this baby shower. Obviously I could not host it for myself. Thus, if there were a baby shower for me and my imaginary miracle baby (or babies, since twins would be better), it would be held by one of my Single, childless friends, which would be an act of tremendous love and generosity.

If I, aged 39++, managed to have a baby, I would be deliriously happy, and the baby would be such a magnanimous gift from God that it would seem to me horribly self-absorbed of childless Single friends not to come to this baby shower unless they had a really good excuse. Hello! Miracle here. Years of waiting. Scary doctors. Blood test phobia. Husband struck mute.

Ideally this baby shower would involve delicious cocktails that everyone but me could drink as I sat in the middle of room like a fat spider sipping water. Also ideally it would be in the ninth month of pregnancy when I would be an object, not of envy, but of pity--terribly swollen and sweaty and moaning, "Baby!!! When are you coming out?"
That would be extremely awesome. Much more awesome than when I went to a baby shower in my early-30s and everyone there except one other woman and me was married or widowed and babies swarmed the floor. I hadn't been to a friend's baby shower before, so I was excited to be invited to this one, and I was not expecting to feel so out of it. The other Single woman felt out of it, too, and we hung out for most of the afternoon, talking about our world travel. I wonder if frazzled mothers  overheard us and felt intensely envious and resentful. Oh to be single and childless and participate in world travel.

There are two kinds of baby showers that I know of: work baby showers and social baby showers.

Work baby showers are great because they give you an excuse to stop working, and also an excuse to duck out of the baby shower early. They aren't usually that expensive because all you have to do is chuck $10 or $20 at the woman organizing the baby shower. (At least, I hope it's only $10 or $20.) Although it is pretty ridiculous to have baby showers at work, it is a good time to witness to the Christian beliefs that babies are good and that being a mother is more important than being the purchasing manager at Beeptronics.

Social baby showers are great if you love the woman having the baby. How many of your woman friends do you love? I don't mean like. I mean love. If you love someone who is having a baby, you don't care that much about yourself and your own disappointed hopes after your first effects-of-original-sin twinge of "When will it be my turn?"  It is natural to think, "When will it be my turn?" but it would not have been before the Fall.

However, social baby showers are not great when you are the only--and I mean the only--adult woman there without any children. In fact, they can be pretty darn boring because, if the few baby showers I have been to represent the genus as a whole, women at baby showers talk a lot about their babies. And why not? If a woman can't talk about babies at a baby shower, where CAN she talk about them? I don't think it would be fair to expect fifteen women with babies to watch whatever they said so that poor childless Seraphic didn't feel sad.

By the way, for sheer grotesquerie, read an online message board for fertility challenged married women. After that, you will not complain about baby chat again. Nor will you ever want to read an online message board for the fertility challenged. Trust me. Ick.

My recommendations are as follows:

1. For work baby showers, pay up your $20, sign the card and say you are very happy for your co-worker. Have a glass of whatever and go back to your desk.

2. For social baby showers, consider the invitation carefully and ask yourself if you love the woman having the baby. Be honest. If you like her, but you don't love her, RSVP that you can't attend and send a card. If you feel guilty, send a present. Cards and presents symbolize respect. Post some respect, and nobody feels disrespected.

3. That said, if you don't love her, but you see her socially at least once a week anyway, you should accept the invitation.

4. At a baby shower, keep an eye out for the other childless women. Ask them how they know the mother-to-be and then ask them how they enjoyed the circumstance, that is, did they enjoy their high school, college, job, living in that city. If you start feeling sad at a baby shower, the attendance of other childless women can perk you up. Remember that the party is not about you but about the guest of honour.

5. Don't be dramatic or wallow in your feeling of being left out. Who knows what the other women have suffered, and yet there they are. Perhaps the mother-to-be had two miscarriages before this baby. Perhaps the cheerful woman gabbing on about breast pumps lost her first child to crib death. The great-grandmother making sandwiches in the kitchen may be thinking about how her late husband would never let her have another child. The glowing woman with the five year old may be ten days late on her period and is hoping against hope that her second baby has finally come. Fifteen women in a room means fifteen stories that are mostly secret to everyone else.

Other suggestions welcome in the combox.