Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. Maybe baby shower? A good friend has had a string of terrible and life-threatening miscarriages and is now pregnant again. The problem is that it is uncertain if the baby will make it to full term, due to some unfortunate complications. Her OB-GYN has also warned that the baby will likely not survive if born.
She wants me to throw a big baby shower and act like the baby will be just fine. The idea of throwing a big party has me in tears. I want to bow out—but I’m afraid it will end the friendship. What should I do?
A: If your friend wants a baby shower and a hopeful attitude, I think you should do your level best to provide her with that. Even if her baby does not live long after birth, if your friend wants to shower her with as much affection and attention as possible for the duration of her short life, that is her prerogative. Your reluctance is understandable, as are your strong feelings, but I think you should both allow yourself to cry and help your friend have a baby shower. Unless you believe she is unnecessarily putting her life in danger now—you say that past miscarriages have been life-threatening but not that she is currently at a high mortality risk—I think it would be profoundly kind to help her celebrate this precarious pregnancy.
That said, if you do believe that she is taking wildly unnecessary risks with her own health, and fear that she will continue to pursue high-risk pregnancies in a way that you cannot support, you should allow yourself to entertain the possibility of saying, “I love you, and I want you to be well, but I’m so scared that you’re going to come to harm as a result of these high-risk pregnancies. I can’t in good conscience encourage you to continue trying to get pregnant.” You are likely right in assuming it will end, at least for a time, your friendship, but if you absolutely cannot support her, it’s better to be honest and say something now.