I never liked going to baby showers, even when I was in the childbirthing years.
Back then, it was a women-only party usually held on a Sunday afternoon. The hostess (the term is now host) would expend way too much energy, in my opinion, decorating the room in pastel pink and blue crepe paper and balloons. The party was always right smack in the middle of the afternoon, so it shot the whole day. All of us women would arrive wearing our Sunday best (we hadn’t changed from church) and we would sit around and “chat” about inane topics until the party planner declared we were going to play some games.
I would rather have cleaned her house than participate, but I would dutifully take the pad and pen handed to me and start writing as many names as I could think of beginning with the chosen letter, usually a Q or V. Then we’d play pin the diaper on the baby and end with matching baby pictures to the adult. (sigh) Whoever won a game had to hand over her “prize” to the honoree. We could have saved a lot of time by skipping the games and just giving the pregnant one the rattle, burp pads and teething ring.
Next came the gift-opening portion of the party. I guess I’m jaded after attending a kabillion showers, but there isn’t a lot of excitement watching a fat woman open a box containing some onesies, a receiving blanket and a sleeper.
I could always tell when a gift-giver did not have children of her own. The present would be a two-piece outfit, size zero. First of all, newborns are so scrunched from being barricaded in the womb that it’s almost impossible to unbend limbs to get them to go through the tiny arms and leg holes. And although most babies can wear that size home from the hospital, by the end of the week, the kid has already outgrown the outfit.
Another never-to-be-used item was the crocheted sweater set. The teeny tiny buttons can only be fastened by someone with teeny tiny hands (and the baby can’t do it). Plus, one overzealous burp and the sweater is ruined.
Once we were finished oohing and ahhing we would dine on the mandatory cake and punch. And there is an unwritten rule that all showers must offer butter mints, but I never saw anyone ever eat them. The cake was always white, decorated with little booties. And the punch was usually unswallowable. It was a concoction of 7-Up and some kind of fruit juice, but it always turned pink.
I just threw a baby shower last weekend and, thank goodness, times have changed. My shower was held for the couple. And since men won’t tolerate games, I deleted that torturous part of the party.
Instead of punch, I offered alcohol (and, yes, I had non-alcoholic beverages available). Instead of white cake I broke all of the rules and served brownies. After the mom-to-be opened her gifts (the usual stuff) we sat around and chatted. This part will never change. Even with the men within earshot, women can’t refrain from telling personal horror stories about their deliveries.
As I sat there listening I reminisced about when I had my children. Back in medieval times we relied on witchcraft to foretell the sex of the child. We’d use a pencil swinging on a string to predict the sex (we were right 50 percent of the time). Now, mothers can know the sex of her child just weeks into the pregnancy and with the new three-D Dopplers they can tell if there is a pimple on Johnny’s nose.
Husbands were forced into a waiting room when the baby crowned. But I never heard of a husband demanding to stay by his wife’s side. We mothers-to-be were wheeled into a sterile delivery room where we pushed like crazy all alone with only strangers cheering us on.
Today, the baby is born in a room that looks like a cheap hotel. And doctors welcome anyone who wants to witness the birth. I have one daughter-in-law who should have set up bleachers there were so many people in the room.
No matter how much science has improved the process, every time I watch a child come into this world I know I am seeing a miracle unfold. I’ve attended the births of four of my 14 grandchildren’s and even participated in one. And each time I suppress a giggle knowing what is in store for my children for the next two decades.
If you have a comment or want to share your delivery story (the best one will receive a plaque pronouncing The Most Difficult Labor Ever), please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.