Baby Showers And Miscarriage
Inviting a woman to a baby shower after she has lost a pregnancy should be done carefully and with the utmost consideration for her feelings. If you are facing this challenge as the hostess it's natural for you to feel somewhat perplexed. Whether or not the bereaved woman decides to attend, your guiding principles and those of the mom-to-be should be tolerance and understanding. For women who have lost children through miscarriage or stillbirth, these events may be simply too painful. Even a woman who has been trying in vain to conceive may find it difficult to attend.
You might be tempted to avoid a potential minefield by simply not inviting her at all. However, this may leave her feeling isolated and unwanted. She might think she and her grief have been shoved aside while all her friends and/or family get on with enjoying themselves. If the mom-to-be is much closer to the woman than you, you should discuss this with her. Conventional wisdom says it is better to send the invitation and allow the woman to make her own decision. However, simply getting an invitation in the mail with no warning could be extremely upsetting, especially if the pregnancy loss was very recent. Therefore you should never send an invitation before either you, the mom-to-be, or someone close to the woman has spoken to her to ask if she would like to receive it. You should also make it clear that whatever she decides to do will be ok. In short, never assume you know how the bereaved woman feels or how she will react. If she is especially close to the expectant mom, she may be determined to gather her strength and attend. If this is the case, there are some practical arrangements which might make this easier for her.
Making The Day Easier
If she's torn between wanting to acknowledge the expectant mom's joy and protecting herself from further pain, there are some suggestions you could make that might help her. For example, if she really can't attend the party, she could send a gift. If she can't face shopping for baby goods, perhaps you or someone else could do it for her, or she could simply send a gift voucher. Make it clear that whatever contribution she makes, no matter how small, will be treasured by the mom-to-be. Maybe your guest would like to congratulate the mom-to-be in person but can't hold it together for the whole event. In this case she could come for a short while before other guests arrive or at the very beginning of the party, then slip away quietly. Be careful when suggesting this so as not to give the impression that she isn't welcome to stay for the rest of the celebration. If she is determined to make it through the whole day, she might benefit from having the support of her husband or boyfriend there. It has become increasingly common to have fathers and male partners at baby shower events. If the mom-to-be is ok with it, there's no reason why not. If the expectant mom is very close to the woman and really wants her to be there, she might consider asking all the invitees to bring their partners, to make the bereaved couple feel more comfortable.
If It's Just Too Hard
If it's just too painful for her to attend, both you and the mom-to-be should accept this decision with compassion and grace. Don't be offended - this does not mean that she doesn't appreciate your efforts to include her or that she resents the expectant mom's happiness. Likewise, if she does come but feels she needs to leave early, show her that you understand. Try not to be too disappointed if she initially accepts your invitation and then changes her mind later. Losing a child at any stage in a pregnancy is a traumatic experience. The fact that she is not able to celebrate with you at this stage in her grieving process does not mean that she will never attend a baby shower again. Above all, don't criticize her or trivialize her grief. Check out our pages on pregnancy loss for advice on supporting her and understanding her experience.