Last Sunday, dh & I braved the landmine field that is Toys R Us/Babies R Us to go shopping for a baby shower gift. StepBIL's wife is registered there, and her shower is this coming Sunday, at FIL & stepMIL's house. (She is due in late August.) There is no way that I can gracefully duck out, so I will go & smile until it hurts (while silently grinding my teeth).
Most of dh's aunts from that side of the family will be there, and perhaps even a few of his cousins, along with stepMIL's family and some of stepBIL's wife's family & friends. Dh's cousins don't know stepBIL or his wife, but stepMIL has been to all of their bridal & baby showers & kids' birthday parties, & I guess she figures it's payback time, because they've all been invited. In fact, I think they've invited about 60 people. And are praying desperately for sun (even though the latest weather forecast is calling for rain), since FIL & stepMIL have a fair-sized house, but not big enough to hold 60 people (& recently had stepBIL redo their patio with interlock brick, specifically with the idea of having the shower out there).
As we navigated through the aisles to the registry kiosk, dh muttered, "Wow… this is harder than I thought it would be." "Yeah, well, welcome to my world," I said unsympathetically. After all, all he had to do was walk through the store with me & carry the package out. He plans to spend Sunday afternoon at our place with his dad & brother & maybe one or both of the nephews, watching the EuroCup soccer finals. I'm the one who has to sit through the damn shower, watching everyone make a fuss over the mom-to-be (who is 41 years old & already the mother of a daughter who is in university)(!!), watching all the beautiful gifts being unwrapped to oohs & ahhs, playing all those incredibly stupid shower games, & listening to everyone comparing labour stories (hey, anyone want to hear MY labour story??).
The only saving grace about baby showers (& Italian showers in particular) is the food is bound to be pretty good. ; ) It's easier to play along with how many toilet paper squares it will take to wrap around the guest of honour's belly when your mouth is full of Zia's amaretti cookies. ; )
Even after so many years of living with loss & infertility, it's hard to go shower shopping. Some times are harder than others. I often opt for practical equipment as a gift over cute outfits or bedding (I bought a nursery monitor on this outing), & go somewhere like the Bay or WalMart to buy it. Here, however, you couldn't miss the display of cribs & nursery furniture, all decked out with adorable quilts, mobiles, stuffed animals, etc. I found myself saying, "Oh, isn't that cute?" but at the same time, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Still, after 10 years. We found the monitor we were looking for & got out of there as quickly as possible.
I can do this… I always have. I've been doing it for 10 years -- & nothing could be worse than those first few showers & first birthday parties that I attended after our daughter's stillbirth. Heck, I even went to a baby shower on my 40th birthday weekend, while in infertility treatment!! (I took the little square envelope out of the mailbox &, without opening it, said to dh, "This is an invitation for your cousin's baby shower -- & it's going to be on my 40th birthday weekend." I was right -- & I cried for two hours solid.) I find that the anticipation is usually worse than the actual event. To be honest, I probably find baby showers more boring than painful these days. (Or maybe that's just my self-protective shield kicking in.)
But I find it takes a lot out of me, & I'm totally exhausted afterwards from the effort.
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Also last Sunday, the New York Times Magazine had this article about the public's fascination with large families on television -- one "naturally" conceived (the Duggars of Arkansas) & one through fertility treatments (the Gosselins, aka Jon & Kate Plus 8).
I have to admit, I had never heard of the Duggars (do we even get their show in Canada?) until a few years ago, via the infertility boards I mostly lurk on. Their sheer numbers reminded me of the large Mennonite families in the small town I spent most of my elementary school years in. One family that lived on a farm outside of town had, I believe, 19 children. As each girl in the family reached high school, she would take a turn dropping out for a year, postponing graduation and any ambitions she may have had for herself, in order to stay at home & help the mother with the younger children.
Dh & I do watch Jon & Kate semi-regularly. Partly because the kids are just so darned cute, partly because (like many other people, I'm sure) we find it fascinating to watch how they manage to raise that many small children all at once. And partly because, while we wanted our fertility treatments to work, we didn't want them to work THAT well, and Jon & Kate remind us of the flip side of fertility treatments. You might wind up with the baby of your dreams, but you also might wind up with six of them, all at once. I like that Kate emphasizes how very blessed they are that all of their sextuplets turned out to be healthy. Liza Mundy's book, Everything Conceivable, which I wrote about awhile back covers the subject of multiples in great depth, including the greater risks involved (to both mother & babies), the touchy subject of selective reduction and the simple logistics of trying to bring up two or three or more babies at the same time.
I'll admit that I've always been fascinated with multiples, especially twins. My sister & I are only 21 months apart & looked sufficiently alike as children (& dressed alike too, at our own insistence) that people often thought we were twins. Our friends in high school dubbed us "the Bobbsey Twins" and, at university, we were often mistaken for each other. When I was in journalism school (25 years ago, in the very early days of modern fertility technology in North America) & looking for feature story material, I saw an ad in the local paper for a meeting of the local Parents of Multiple Births Association chapter. I attended several of their meetings & interviewed some of their members. One really interesting meeting featured a panel of teenaged & adult twins in all combinations -- fraternal male, identical male, fraternal female, identical female and fraternal male-female twins -- answering questions from the audience about what it was like to be a twin, what they wished their parents would have done differently, etc. One of the women attending that night was expecting triplets (!), & was herself a quadruplet (!!). She, of course, was born long before fertility treatments existed.
When we started doing clomid & then IUIs, I knew that multiples were a possibility (although my RE never said very much on the subject…!). I thought I could handle twins, & that twins might even be kind of cool. Anything more, I wasn't too sure about. I remember at one IUI being told there were four promising follicles. We drove away from the RE's office that day with me bawling my eyes out. All I could think was "quadruplets" & what the hell did we just do?? Of course it didn't work, and I knew that the chances of winding up with four (let alone one) were highly unlikely… but...
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Tomorrow is the last day of NaComLeavMo (National Comment Leaving Month), another of Mel's great ideas. I started out strong but the last week or two have fallen totally off the wagon. I'm not too bad at leaving five comments a day, since I generally do that most days anyway, but returning comments & visiting new blogs is where I fall down. So many blogs, so little time…! (sigh)