In my fifth grade health class, I was essentially told that if you let a penis touch your leg, you’d instantly get pregnant.
This is why when my husband and I decided to finally have a family, we thought it would be as easy as saying, “And now, we shall have a baby! Let it be so!”
We had no idea we would be in for such a long, emotional and often isolating odyssey.
Now obviously, not everyone has this experience. Some people do actually get pregnant on their first try or if they aren’t even trying. Looking back now, I think I was friends with all those types.
Everywhere I looked, there were babies, pregnant bellies, commercials about either diapers or pregnancy tests and sonogram pictures posted all over Facebook. It was like the world kept reminding me that everyone could get pregnant but me.
My periods became more like statements saying, “You can’t get pregnant. You’re a failure." Mother’s Day served as a painful reminder of exactly what I was not, and anytime anyone asked me when we were going to have kids, I wanted to crawl under a table and die.
Nothing was worse though than being invited to the dreaded baby shower. When you’re trying to conceive and cannot, it’s like being invited to watch someone else live out your dream. The whole gathering is about the baby, baby presents, the expecting mother and everything and everyone is just simply oozing with pregnancy/baby/estrogen goodness. Oh, the fecundity!
In the infertility community -- which I actively sought out in order to survive -- my friends and I would suggest attending these showers drunk and saying things like, “Well, at least I can eat sushi!” but it was a small consolation.
In my very bitter and resentful state, I would often think to myself, “Not only do fertile women get a baby but they get a party with presents too! How the hell is this fair?” In an attempt to comfort myself and because I have a somewhat twisted sense of humor, I began dreaming of throwing a “No Baby Shower.”
I would register at Liquors R Us, cover the place in Minnie Mouse Décor (as she never had children) and instead of having guests play games like “Guess Mommy’s Tummy Size," we’d "Guess How Much I’d Spent on Fertility Treatments.”
We could even play “Pin the Sperm on the Egg." The participant would be spun for 15 minutes solid, accidentally stab another party-goer, and then we’d all laugh hysterically over the contestant’s poor motility issues. Ahhh, the fun we’d have! At the time though, I was drowning in sadness, going through treatment (hormones, in vitro, fail, repeat) and was unable to pull the planning off.
Fast forward to several years later.
I’m both grateful and humbled to report that after my third IVF treatment, I have a two-year-old son and yes, even did have a baby shower of sorts. However, I’ve remained a very active infertility advocate as I never forgot the hell of my journey.
This is why I’m finally making my dream a reality and planning a "No Baby Shower" for all of those in the trying to conceive trenches. They deserve a party and a goodie bag of treats just as much as anyone else. True, their goodie bags will be filled with ovulation prediction kits, maxi pads and chocolate -- but still. It is my hope that all of those who attend will not only have fun but make connections with others who can empathize and support them.
I also hope that the “No Baby Shower” will, in a small way, raise awareness that one in eight people struggle with fertility issues. You, like me, could be one of those eight. You might not be thinking of having a baby right now but if it’s something you want to do down the line, I’d highly recommend keeping a close eye on it. Mention your family building goals to your OB/GYN, perhaps even get a fertility work up or look into egg freezing, which can hit the snooze button your biological clock.
If I can spare you from the costly, arduous roller coaster ride of infertility, I’d really like to.
And if I can’t, then I at least want to get you drunk with other fertility challenged women.
Ultimately, whatever issue is plaguing you, there’s something so empowering when you not only own it, but celebrate it. You could have an “I’m Getting Divorced Party” or “I’ve Lost My Job Cocktails” or be like a friend of mine who survived an aneurism -- she has a special dinner on that date every year and calls it her, “Aneu-versary.” The key to surviving any issue is to always maintain a sense of humor and making sure that all of your pity parties are expertly planned and well catered.