The Joy of Baby Showers (An Article for Baby Shower Skeptics)
This morning my husband and I were out for coffee, and I had the pleasure of seeing a baby shower a few tables across from us. I saw a mama unwrapping a gift with a huge smile on her face.
I felt a strange rush of emotion which brought tears to my eyes.
“I think baby showers are the pinnacle time of pregnancies,” I commented to my husband.
Sure, pregnancies are filled with special moments - the positive test, announcing to family and friends, hearing the baby’s heartbeat, seeing the baby on the scan, doing up a nursery - etc.
But as I watched the mama-to-be across the room, I couldn’t help but remember the immense joy of my own baby shower - being able to spend time and celebrate with my dearest friends the hope and excitement of the next stage of my life; the heartfelt gratitude I felt for the gifts I received and for the women who organised such a beautiful event; to know I was so loved, and my baby-to-be was coming into a community of such love; and the permission to be completely baby-obsessed. Then, when the baby shower was over, we took all our lovely gifts home and found a special place for each of them as we now prepared for the arrival of our baby.
However, I didn’t always think this way. In fact, before my own shower, I remember thinking baby showers were outdated. They were just a selfish grab for gifts. They were full of dumb games that no one enjoyed. They were shallow and boring and no one really liked going to them (especially when you’ve already given gifts to the mama-to-be).
I remember how I looked online for gift ideas, and how I hated all the lists filled with expensive toys and gadgets (here's my own list of unique and thoughtful baby shower gift ideas). I resented going to baby showers with wish lists asking for special brands and the latest trends, as if it were my duty to help fill my friends’ designer nursery dreams. I felt used, as if I were invited for the gift I would bring, not the love and support I hoped to give.
I still believe you don’t need much to take care of a baby. I believe you don’t need certain brands. And I believe we shouldn’t expect gifts at all. But I experienced the blessing of beautiful gifts - from wise mamas who knew what I’d need well before I did, from friends who knew what would bring joy to my home, and from family who wanted to give something special to express their love for a baby who would forever be in their lives to come.
Not all baby showers are a con. In fact, my baby shower was the highlight of my pregnancy.
We used every single one of the gifts we were given. My baby and I adore the book my friends made for her as a ‘party game’ (a bit like this one). And most of all, I loved being able to spend quality time with the people I loved. Perhaps I value my baby shower even more now, now that I have a toddler who limits my ability to spend quality time with my friends, and to travel and spend hours chatting and laughing without being interrupted. I guess I miss my baby shower because I miss my friends, and because it was a time when I felt so loved. (And everyone can do with a bit of that after months of being sick, having aches, pains and constant exhaustion, as well as the fast-approaching childbirth to look forward to.)
So thank you to everyone who made my baby shower special. It may not have seemed like a big deal for you, but I really will remember it for the rest of my life.
If you’re a baby shower skeptic like I was, let me reassure you. There are baby showers that don’t mean much, because of the intent behind them. But yours doesn’t have to be like that. I was wrong about baby showers, but it was only my own baby shower that convinced me. I am sure yours will too.