First, allow me to begin by saying the intention of this article is not to make anyone feel bad. The intention is to hopefully make people think differently.
I am almost 37 years old and currently 18 weeks pregnant with our first child. It certainly isn’t something that happened immediately. We began to think it wasn’t going to happen which we would’ve accepted. We also waited due to hesitation. That hesitation originated from contemplating the kind of a world we would be bringing another human into. Let me repeat that we are bringing a human into the world. Not a cute, tiny, squishy baby. This tiny squishy baby is going to grow up to be a walking, talking, decision-making human-being. And it is our responsibility to raise this kid differently than the average person may consider “normal”. Having said that, I believe raising this kid differently begins now, in utero, and that is why I don’t think I want a baby shower.
“Of course, you need a baby shower”, they say. “They” being my very loving, very generous family. I love them dearly, but it’s very hard for some people to see things the way you do. Especially when you are a weirdo like me. I know 5 people out of my entire circle of people who would understand and support why I wouldn’t want one, and I feel lucky to have those 5 people in my life right now. It reminds me I’m not alone in my thinking. But allow me to explain why I don’t want a baby shower and why perhaps you should consider skipping one too.
I HATE BEING THE CENTER OF ATTENTION Not everyone can relate, but neither I nor my husband enjoy being on display. Our wedding shower was torture for both of us. There were too many people there we don’t even really know watching us opening gifts for what seemed like hours. For someone with social anxiety, it was the least bit enjoyable. Then I feel responsible for everyone having a good time. If someone shows up who doesn’t know anyone, I feel I need to take them under my wing so they don’t feel uncomfortable. Then I worry about them the whole time. I am not wired to enjoy being the guest of honor. I also hyperventilated before walking down the aisle at our wedding because I didn’t want to stand up there in front of an audience. I had stage fright as a child and I still suffer from it. I know a baby shower would produce the same anxiety and this time I can’t pop a Xanax and down a bunch of mimosas to make it go away.
HOW MANY THINGS DOES A BABY NEED? When my mother approached me about considering a shower, she told me to start putting a list together of things we would need. As my list grew, I thought, “wow this is more than I thought.” Then I hit a wall. I looked at my list and the items on it, and it really did not seem like anything I couldn’t put together using second-hand items.
There are mom groups all over Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, UpCycle, Craigslist, other people in your life who may have things you can have. For the first year of my child’s life, all they will want is a clean diaper and a boob. Later on, they may benefit from a toy but they certainly don’t need a room full of toys. The only toys we plan on having for this child will be bamboo or made from some other sustainable material, and MINIMAL. More studies are being released suggesting all these toys don’t necessarily benefit the growing child and can hinder imagination and creativity. Those are two important things I plan to nurture.
As far as clothing, It will be winter in Michigan. This baby won’t be leaving the house for a while and will be living in sleepers. Not to mention Christmas is 1 week after the baby is scheduled to arrive. I have a feeling we’ll be good in that department.
I ONLY WANT WHAT I NEED I can’t tell you how many forums I have read so far where women talk about how they didn’t receive the glass bottles they registered for, but they did receive 7 different pink, frilly dresses. This is the only reason we are not finding out the sex until after the shower if we choose to have one. One of my fears with a shower is not receiving what I need. If I registered for it, it’s because I need it. You don’t want to be the only person who only gifted 2 cloth diapers? Too bad. I need them. I would never judge someone for buying me what I need, even if it’s just one item. I will most likely become annoyed, however, if I get things I don’t need while the “boring” stuff I do need goes ignored because that toy or garment you saw is just so damn cute.
THE CONCEPT OF A SHOWER PERPLEXES ME Think about it. You spend a bunch of money to feed and entertain people —most of whom don’t even want to be there according to almost every person in my life — in exchange for gifts. Why not use that money to just buy what you need? When the idea of a shower was presented to me, it was suggested we have it in a hall. For the cost of renting a hall, feeding 40+ people on top of buying us those big-ticket items we need (they said they would buy us a crib) you could literally buy everything on our registry. We are going about this minimally. We literally registered for only necessities and no, a butt wipe warmer is not one of them. I will not register for more than we need just to accommodate more people. It seems silly.
I understand there is a social aspect to the shower. It’s an opportunity for friends and family to come together and celebrate the mother-to-be, but that bothers me as well and leads me to my next point.
I STILL WORRY AND HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO I worried the entire first trimester about miscarrying. Once I entered the second trimester, I felt a little better but I know that anything can go wrong at any moment during this pregnancy. For that reason, I don’t feel comfortable celebrating something that hasn’t happened. Can you imagine coming home to a room full of things for your baby that never took their first breath? Many women don’t have to imagine that because it happens more than you think. We just don’t want to talk about it. So aside from the essentials needed to care for a newborn, I would rather people gift things after the baby is born and healthy if they really feel the need to.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED A SHOWER MORE THAN ME I Don’t come from a rich family but I do come from a family who can afford to help buy the larger items such as a crib and car seat. There are a lot of mothers out there who don’t have that. What I would love more than anything in place of a shower is for those in my life who can afford to buy us things for the baby gift them to mothers in need. I will make it work because I can. Some women don’t have that option and quite frankly, I feel kind of guilty having people make a fuss over me when there are people in this country who could use it more.
Some people might take what I just wrote as being ridiculous and ungrateful but that is the problem with our society. I am bringing a human into a world of excess against their will. We are programmed to want things we don’t need, especially when it comes to babies; things that require finite resources to produce, pollute, and destroy this planet that is in dire straits. We mindlessly consume without thinking where the products come from or where they go when they break, and we simply toss them away. If we choose to ignore the problems in this world because we can’t be bothered, challenged, or it goes against the societal norm, I don’t know what it will take to make people start caring. I just know we need to rethink these outdated traditions or simply ditch them all together.