After I made the long, hard exit from this particular group of friends, I formulated some New Rules for myself: I decided that I would no longer participate in friendships that were simply a one-way street.
I would no longer be bullied into going to baby showers; one was going to be too much in the very near future. I would live my life Child-Free as everyone around me continued to build their own families, and I would seek out and find women that I had more in common with, and even if I connected with someone who was my polar opposite, I would appreciate her as long as she appreciated me.
I am proud to say that I have not attended a baby shower in about ten years. My new friends know that it is simply something I cannot in good conscience subject myself to; it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable, and I simply refuse. The great thing about friends you cultivate later on in life is that there is a modicum of respect for where you are when they find you.
Don't get me wrong: I always send a gift, and I usually cook multiple meals for the lady with the newborn as part of the type of support I can offer. Everyone who has received my culinary gifts seem to think that this is a far better bet.
My New Rules included respecting my dog. My dog is my baby. I'm sure if you've never owned a dog that you just don't get it, but that's okay. Please know that I love my dog just as much as you love your kid. If you find it hard to wrap your head around that...that's okay. There's no need to comment.
I would also like to extend a word of unsolicited advice to any woman who is reading this, who has both a child and a friend like me. Sometime soon, pick up the phone and call that friend. Make it a point to get a sitter if you can and get out of the house (sans kid) and grab a cup of coffee with her...and when you do get together, don't talk incessantly about your kids. I guarantee you she will appreciate it beyond measure. Perhaps you already do that; and if so, I tip my hat to you. We live in a very child-centered society here in America, so...take a moment, take a breath, and consider what I've said. I guarantee your friend will truly appreciate you.