It’s Time We Get This Out In the Open, and Just Have the Talk About Baby Showers

I’ve kept my mouth shut about this for SO. LONG. But I just can’t keep it shut anymore. I consider it to be hazardous to my health to hold this in any further.

If, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, I wish I could apologize. But I can’t. Instead I’m going to say as nicely as possible: if, through the course of this, I in some way hurt your feelings, you should probably take a look at your behaviors and adjust them to display a little more class and decorum when it comes to your baby showers. Or, in short: sometimes the truth hurts.

There, I said it. I started the ball rolling; no stopping now. It’s time we get this out in the open, and just have the talk about baby showers.

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I’ve been to a lot of baby showers, and parties about or for babies. Sometimes it feels as if this is a punishment we women in our 30s are given as some sort of universal, karmic retribution for our prior behavior. Every time I made out with my boyfriend while babysitting as a high schooler is paid back with a terrible, tacky, and – quite frankly – disgusting baby shower now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my friends and family and their new additions. But as with many things in life, there is a right and a wrong way to handle it.

Wrong Way: Not Enough Food

I guess I’m becoming the minority on this point, because it happens more often. Granted, I typically can’t eat the food at any of the baby showers (or other events in general) that I attend, because I eat gluten free and people still don’t seem to grasp the concept that more and more people have dietary restrictions.

But I’ve witnessed it. I’ve seen the rage in people’s eyes when they see they’ve come to a baby shower, bearing a gift hovering around a $100 value mark, to find there was nothing being offered. They’ve taken their Sunday afternoon or Saturday morning, when they could have been doing something else entirely, and brought that gift, dressed up in a flowery dress and high heels – and in return there wasn’t even a decent deviled egg or potato chip with ranch dip to be found.

I recently went to a baby shower where everyone was saying they were doing appetizer-type food. Pick-me-up food, so they could avoid having to set up the sit-down tables usually required when you serve a sit down meal. This way people could mingle – it would be spectacular! All anyone would talk about for the months preceding the shower were these fucking appetizers they’d be serving – it would be the appetizer party to end all appetizer parties.

Well then the mom-to-be’s friends all flaked out at the last minute, and it morphed into mostly a family party. Which she had no interest in. So no one gave a shit about the appetizer party anymore, or mingling for that matter; and it turned into a “give me presents and get the fuck out of my house” kind of event.

Oh, it was so tacky.

By the time eating the appetizers actually happened, people quickly realized that all they had was a small plate of Costco sandwiches, a small plate of vegetables, and approximately 7 deviled eggs. The guys in the other part of the house even had better food than the actual baby shower had, and fire shot from the eyes of the family members in attendance when this came to light. They weren’t even going to have a cake, until someone donated one – all in all, it was tasteless, tacky, and – quite frankly – transparent as to what the party was all about.

Right Way: Party Within Your Means

Now I get it, not everyone can afford to throw a huge party with the caviar on the side.

Can’t afford anything more than a cake? Then you need to have a gender reveal party in lieu of a baby shower so people don’t come expecting more. (And by expecting, I don’t mean people have particular expectations; I mean that’s the status quo so people will come hungry.) People will still bring you gifts out of the kindness of their heart, but they won’t be set up to get the impression that everything is about just collecting as many presents as you can.

Don’t have anywhere to throw the party comfortably with the number of people you want to invite? Well…move it to a restaurant, but only if you can afford to provide the meal.

Just yesterday I was invited to a baby shower that included both a copy of the registry, as well as the prix fix meal menu card with my bill.

Yes, that’s right. If I were to attend, I’d have to select what I wanted and send my check to pay for my meal ahead of time. I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised to hear that the registry items started at $200.

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Honestly, if you are just interested in getting gifts, you shouldn’t have a party at all. Baby showers are supposed to be about a celebration, gifts are a side note – which is why the truly right way to handle a baby shower is to have one within your means, or don’t have one at all and just graciously tell people where you are registered if they ask about getting something for your new(est) little one.

Wrong Way: Being Gross

Everyone knows how you made the baby. We don’t need to talk about it.

Everyone knows baby diapers are gross and squishy. We don’t need to play games where you melt chocolate into diapers and make us taste it, as if we’re licking human feces out of an infant’s diaper.

And what is it with people’s more recent obsessions with talking about getting the baby out? I mean really. Everyone wants to talk about what their experience was squeezing their baby out of their v-hole. Baby cakes are now fashioned in the likeness of a woman birthing her baby, with words like “PUSH BABY PUSH” written in buttercream frosting around the trim.

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christina-aguilera-baby-shower-cakeAnd I think this giant vagina cake just says it all.

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Right Way: Be Compassionate, Tactful, and Thankful

Babies are a really sensitive subject for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. I think a lot of people have forgotten that.

Babies are also a really exciting time, which is why it’s a delicate balance. The bottom line is that no matter how well you think you know someone, there’s still a good chance that there’s something you don’t know.

One of your good friends may not be attending your baby shower because she just had a miscarriage. One of your family members may be struggling with infertility, and have a hard time doing much more than just coming, having a slice of your giant vagina cake, wishing you congrats, and leaving before the gift opening begins. The right thing to do is to be understanding of other people’s circumstances, even if you don’t know what those are.

But it goes beyond that.

You should never invite your ex-girlfriend or ex-husband to your baby shower.

You should never tell all of your family and friends of child-bearing age that your party to celebrate your future child is going to be “kid-free.”

And – this is a big one many people will disagree with me on – you should never have multiple parties.

I get that people have different factions of family-, friend-, and work life. You have a work shower and a regular shower…I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about having so many different parties to celebrate your future child – a gender party, a baby shower for one side of the family, a baby shower for another side of the family, a work shower, an introduction of the new baby party… all of a sudden you’ve thrown four, five, maybe even six parties, crossed invites all over the place; and in all the hubbub, forgotten to invite people that should have been invited, and moreover you haven’t thanked those that came to each and all.

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Ultimately, I think that baby showers have become the new pre-wedding experience. It’s one last hurrah, one last fling, one last “it’s all about me.” But what people are failing to realize, here, is that once you’re pregnant, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about your family, the life you’re taking care of, and the community and system of values you’re bringing that child into.

 

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Ways I Quietly Judge My New Mom Friends

Sad news for me, because I am sure if any of my new mom friends read this blog post (which I am sure most of them will not – they are too busy uploading 7,000 photographs of their new babies taking a crap – see #2, appropriately numbered…); well, I am sure if any of them actually do read this, they will cease to be my friends. It’s just that I have been quietly judging many of them for some time now. Pretty much since all of them started dropping babies out of their lady-holes… sometime around the beginning of this summer.

I’ve reached that time where a lot of people my age are having babies. A few years back it was that everyone was getting married; and don’t get me wrong, quite a few are still on their way to wedded bliss. But the babies started coming and then this year it reached an all-time high. I think something like 50 or more people that I know squeezed one out, or plan to sometime in the next nine months.

Being a seasoned mother at this point, though, I have been all-the-while quietly judging my new mom friends. You know, we all do it as parents. I write blog posts all the time about how we – as parents and mothers – should support each other and stop judging one another, and all that other happy horse shit that sounds gloriously understanding and open-minded. But of course that is even a judgement in itself (the judgment that people are too judgmental), so finally a month or two ago (as I said, the beginning of this summer), I said “screw it” in my mind and decided to just join everyone in the chorus.

I don’t get all up in the mommy war debates or anything like that, though. And when all is said and done, I still could give two figs what anyone does as a parent. I will support others in what they want to do as a parent, even if I do not agree. Even if I do not agree vehemently. Nonetheless there are a few quintessential ways that I quietly judge my new mom friends. Do you?

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#1 I Think Their Pregnancy Announcements Are Lame

Granted, they seem to be getting more unique. More inventive. I saw one recently that involved a photograph of people wearing t-shirts; that was cute. But how many of you have read this – at one time or another – on your Facebook page:

“Blah blah blah and I are proud to announce that we are expecting a baby such and such on yada yada day month year. The first trimester has been rough, but mommy and daddy could not be more excited!”

Oh just can it. There were some days when there would be eight or nine of them in a day. It was all I could do not to make snarky comments, like: “wow, so many of you … that must have been one great group orgy!”

And as their pregnancy continues, I of course judge (in my own mind) just how glaringly awful each set of new mom friends acts, as if her pregnancy is the first pregnancy in the history of all humanity.

#2 I Feel Like They’ve Become Our Parents

I sometimes wonder if our kids are going to find us to be terribly guilty of overexposing them as babies to the Internet.

I’m not talking about online predators or perverts or anything. And honestly I’m not begrudging the occasional family shot, or the cute photos of baby at certain months, or whatever. I mean that when our kids are 14 or 15, they’ll have their own Facebook or whatever is popular at the time, and on our pages will be hundreds of thousands of photographs we have uploaded of them in the most humiliating and compromising positions imaginable.

Think of it. When we were teenagers, the worst thing that our parents could do was break out a humiliating photo album and show off pictures of us in the bathtub or on the toilet. “Look, that’s the first time little Jimmy took a growler on the big boy potty…” and your date to prom decided she’d be going with the kid that smelled like rotten asparagus instead.

I feel like my new mom friends have become our parents. They have exposed all of our children’s most humiliating, most mortifying, moments to the entire world. If I see one more photo of a baby taking a shit on Facebook, I’m going to scream. Every time a friend posts one of these photos, I quietly judge her for becoming exactly what we hated about our parents when we were younger.

#3 I Say Things Like…

… “Oh, I’m not sure how public school works … I homeschool …” Which, of course, I only realize after the fact that it might make a friend that has to work to make ends meet feel like shit because she knows all-too-well the ins and outs of all the horrors the public school system has to offer.

And then I have judged her for having her kids in public school. Because since I don’t really know how public school works, how can I even say to myself or imply that these “horrors” exist and that public school is so awful, in every case?

I could go on, but I won’t.

What I realized a while ago, as babies continued to pop out of others and it seemed that the baby-making time of our lives would never even take a break, is that it’s hard not to judge in any way at all. Because that would mean we have no opinions on anything at all. Of course we have opinions on being a parent or raising kids or being pregnant, or really just about anything – how else would we make decisions in the best interest of all these kids we’ve decided to have?

I think the important part is who you share those opinions with. Do you keep them to yourself, or do you wage wars on Dr. Phil?

3 People You Should Hide Your Early Pregnancy From

So I think I’m about to lose a lot of you as faithful blog followers. I say that because I’ve been thinking about the concept of the pregnancy announcement, and I think my feelings about it will hit way more home than some of you want.

Get over it. This is my blog. My opinions.

It seems like it’s pretty taboo to announce you are pregnant before the second trimester. This year has seen an unprecedented number of pregnancy announcements – from friends, family … people I didn’t even remember existed until suddenly their naked belly photos were splattered all over my Facebook Newsfeed. The underlying commonality of each, though, was that they waited until the second trimester to announce. Complications could come up. Miscarriage is most likely in the first trimester. Blaa blaa blaa. You know the drill – it’s taboo, because what if you lose the baby?!

Yes. What if you lose the baby? God forbid you have a networked support system to be there for you.

In my mind, there are three people in particular that you should hide your pregnancy from:

#1 Your Hot, Latin Pool Boy

Yes, I said it.

We have a joke in our family about my uncle: that he’s really the Mexican gardner’s son. My grandma used to be teased to no end about the fact that he looked completely different than the rest of the family. She’d respond with “OK, but you know the milk man was a possibility too.” You go girl.

We all know that the baby’s father may very well be your Latin pool boy anyway – the paternity test on Maury two years from now will be the decider of that. In the meantime, you can limit the drama and keep the fun going for a little bit longer. At least until you start to show.

#2 That Gossipy Family Member

Everyone has a family member that is overly gossipy. I am fairly certain that I am bordering on being her in my family; but besides that, you should definitely hide your pregnancy from her.

Don’t hide your pregnancy from me, though.

Gossipy ladies are so horrid. Really they should be called: shit-talkers. Back-stabbing shit-talkers whose entire personality revolves around the ability to fling crap like monkeys. They don’t just tell stories they should be keeping to themselves; or share secrets that  were told in confidence. They make shit up. They speculate. They exaggerate. Someone gets fired from their job as a part of a huge set of layoffs, and the gossipy lady turns it into a dramatic scenario where “you know, I heard he was bringing vodka to work in his water bottle.”

Losing a baby is hard, but to have the gossipy lady talking all kinds of shit behind your back is just unnecessary. For this reason we will never be able to tell a single member of my husband’s family about any future pregnancies, until the baby is on its way out. Those people gossip like there’s no tomorrow, and you know what they say – someone who will talk shit to you, will talk shit about you.

#3 Your Starbucks barista and/or bartender

I’m just kidding about the bartender thing. I mean I know the pendulum swings on whether or not it is safe to drink any alcohol while pregnant, and right now a lot more people are having the occasional glass of wine after the approval of their doctor; but I’m still kidding.

Okay I’m not.

Nothing brings out the judgy-mcjudgers more like early pregnancy. “I made this decaf for you since you shouldn’t be drinking caffeine” they say. “You’re pregnant? Oh, I’ll hold off on bringing edamame to your table” they defy. “Can I show you photographs of babies with fetal alcohol syndrome while you drink your half a glass of wine that your doctor said you should go ahead and drink, because I disagree with him and my associates degree in mixology is so much more valid than his many years in medical school?”

The only person who has a right to give food and beverage advice to a new, budding pregnant lady is her doctor. And Web MD. And maybe What To Expect When Expecting, but I’m going to err on the side of just her doctor. Keeping it mum when you are trying to weave your way through your daily pattern of eating and drinking is perfectly fine for your own ease.

Now did you all notice something? I didn’t say that you should be keeping your pregnancy hidden from your closest family and friends, now did I? I know this is a touchy subject for a lot of people. Perhaps they miscarried or had to terminate the pregnancy due to complications. Maybe that was the hardest thing – and how could I ever understand what they went through. I’m such a fucking insensitive asshole that doesn’t know shit.

Or am I?

Little known fact: about two and a half years ago, in spite of the chastity belt lined with razors I keep close to my lady parts every night, Poor Nick successfully shot one in the hole, so to speak. I know, I know – who knew? It was a horrible time for us to have a baby, though; I had just left graduate school and was having a hard time even getting out of bed after doing so. We already had Pookies running around too, so he acted like a jerk about it from the minute I said “oh shit…” All the drama and stress and secrecy and “how are we going to do this” about it was for naught, though, because “God’s plan” took care of everything, and before the sixth week I was again not pregnant. To be clear: of no fault of my own. (Duh, I’m Catholic.)

Flash forward to now, and I am living through the deaths of two people very close to me. A suicide and the natural one of my grandfather. Had I had the love and support of the family and friends around me then as I do now, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long to feel normal again. People say it’s different, but it isn’t. There’s always someone there waiting to say something stupid – in both situations. There will constantly be people pitying you, or avoiding you because they don’t know what to say. But in the middle of all of that are a group of people that are there for you, and support you. Unconditionally.

I see no reason to keep your pregnancy a secret from any of those people – for any amount of time. Because having to tell them about it is a path to being less alone if something goes wrong. Culturally, I think we need to get beyond this taboo – we need to learn to do things together again, rather than always isolating ourselves from each other at the worst times.

And of course to once again embrace the love of our hot and sexy, Latin pool boys. Because pool boys need love too.

That’s just my opinion, though. What’s yours?

Reasons You Should Admit Your Baby Is Ugly

There’s no denying that there are a lot of babies out there that are ugly as hell.  I suppose that in the end the love you feel as a parent of your newborn child blinds you from seeing the truth; or possibly your opinion of what makes a baby beautiful is just different than every other single human being on the planet.  In any event, it will greatly benefit your baby if you just admit – once and for all – that he or she is damn ugly.  Here’s why:

Reason #1:  Admitting that your baby is ugly as all hell will make you more aware of how much ridicule your baby will be up for when you share his or her photographs all over the Internet.  In the digital age, parents have become out of control with the sharing of baby pictures online.  If you’re like me, you have ghads of friends sharing their baby photos (the majority of which are actually adorable) on every social network and other online sharing site they can.  The problem with this, though, is that if your baby is truly ugly, those photographs are being pirated by humor sites, like SomeUglyBaby.com.  Potentially, your ugly assed infant is being put up for ridicule by thousands (if not millions) of Internet users, just because you couldn’t admit to yourself that the kid is fugly and that you should ratchet down the public photo sharing as a result.  Share with close family and closer friends; keep it off Flickr public view.

Reason #2:  Admitting that you have a less-than-beautiful baby will inspire you to avoid gimmicky shit, like hideous hats or poses at professional photo shoots.  Let’s face it, when you have a drop-dead gorgeous baby, you could put a pile of dog feces on the kid’s head and it would still look adorable.  But when your baby is ugly, different rules apply.  Placing a gimmicky and stupid-looking prop on the kid’s head for your annual trip to get your free 8X10 from the Sears Photo Center is just going to make your baby look even uglier.  Eventually, your kid is going to outgrow that ugly phase of their life – very likely somewhere during childhood or early puberty.  But there will always be a collection of hideous photographs to immortalize their once-upon-a-time ugliness.  Why make it worse with horrific props?

Reason #3:  Admitting that your baby makes a gargoyle look attractive will stop you from forcing your friends to lie to your face, and (even worse) on those horrible “cutest baby” contests.  Every day some asshole friend of mine is posting for the 100th time one of those “vote for the cutest baby” Gerber contest entries on Facebook or Google+, with the request that I vote for their kid daily until the contest is over.  Not only is asking someone to go back and vote every, single day a bit rude, but to ask me to lie and say the kid is cute, when in fact it is hideous, is just not cool.  Worse is when I go to a friend’s house and they shove the kid in my face, asking “..isn’t he cute?  Isn’t he just adorable?  Don’t you just want to pinch those little cheeks?!”  My natural response to this would be “…cheeks?  I can’t see past the eleven layers of chin!” – but instead I stick with “oh, yes – he’s lovely.”  I would never ask a friend or family member if they thought my kid was cute.  Why, you ask?  Because I would be utterly destroyed if they said “no.”  Further, I would be even more utterly destroyed if my someone I trusted had lied to me, even about just how terrifying my newborn child was to look at.

Reason #4:  Finally, if you admit that your baby is ugly, you will be more apt to notice things that are easily fixable in the early stages – preventing your child from a lifetime of ridicule.  Your baby have a piece of skin flap hanging over part of his eye?  Admit that your baby is ugly and you will get this taken care of when it is simple and relatively painless, rather than later on after it has screwed up the kid’s vision and he’s been subject to years of bullying by kids that call the skin flap his conjoined twin.  Your ugly-as-hell baby have a mole on her forehead that resembles the Virgin Mary?  Have that shit cut off and the scar will be virtually unnoticeable by the time she’s five (whereas leaving the mole will just result in it continuing to stretch, grow, get uglier, demand veneration, possibly give birth to another mole resembling Jesus; and finally, probably become cancerous when your child is an adult).  Admitting to yourself that the little uglinesses of your baby are, in fact, ugly is rife with possibilities of what you can do to fix the things that may make your kid suffer a lot less ridicule as time goes on.

Ultimately, we all want to accept the human body for what it is; to admit that we are humans and thus flawed, and accept that we are who we are.  But isn’t that an unbelievable crock of shit?  We live in a material world – a material world in which we are all very material girls.  To deny the impact that looks have on our society is to deny the very fabric of who we are.  More attractive people get paid better, get more opportunities, and are even liked and loved better.  That doesn’t mean we need to tell ugly adults they are ugly – because ultimately, as adults we are all relatively ugly in some way or another, and we also all develop our own patterns of beauty that may or may not be correlative to physical traits.  It just means that when we have an ugly baby, we should admit it and not set them up for even more ridicule so early on.  Life is full of bullies and bull shit.  Admitting that your baby is uglier than ugly will at least make the situation a little more realistic and less ridiculed from the get-go.