I get why people have baby showers. If you’re the pregnant one, you’re glowing (it could be the excessive sweat from all those raging hormones, but your guests won’t know the difference). Your hair has never looked better.
You are filled with hope and wonder about the person growing inside you — Will he look like me? Will she like Star Wars? Oooh, maybe the kid will be one of those rare newborns who sleeps through the night! — and want your friends to revel with you in the beautiful mystery of life. And you could probably use all that new gear.
Once the baby comes, it’s a different story. Your “glow” turns to haggardness (and your shiny hair starts falling out in chunks — that is the worst). Your clothes reek of breast milk, there’s nothing in your fridge, and your baby, it turns out, is one of those regular ones who wakes up at 2, 4 and 6AM.
You are in no state to be around other humans — and yet this is precisely when you need your village.
Bust writer Marisa Mendez Marthaller puts out an idea that I hope will one day become the norm: Skip the baby shower, she writes, and throw a “postpartum party” instead:
What if we took all the energy, time, and money that goes into prenatal fanfare and instead put it toward helping new parents when they need it most: during the emotional and physical recovery of the first six weeks after giving birth?
A postpartum party, as you might guess, wouldn’t exactly look like a party. As Marthaller explains, “This event is actually six weeks long, is BYOF (food, that is), and will have supercool games like housecleaning and diaper changing.”
Basically, instead of inviting your best pals to play the terrible “guess the poop” game and estimate the circumference of your belly, you’re performing an act of self-care, declaring, “I’m going to need you. Will you be there?” and then offering a list of specific ways they can help.
Your “party” guests, a select group of people whom you love and trust, might sign up for a meal train or show up during designated visiting hours to hold your baby while you nap, as Marthaller suggests.
If you’re nervous about putting on this sort of non-glamorous event, have a best friend do it for you. (You can make it fun with an Evite and everything.) People can always say, “No thanks.”
It’s part of having a postpartum plan, which is just as important as having a birth plan. A key here is to set up these structures before the baby comes.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, people would say, “Let me know if you need anything!” but I had no idea what I would need at the time. Then, after I gave birth, I felt like I was drowning, but was not in any state to say, “Hey, let’s set up a Google Calendar where people can sign up to bring us dinner.” I wish I had offered some action steps early on.
If you still want the baby shower, go for it. Make this the after-party. Don’t be afraid to open your doors and let people in.