For many mamas-to-be, the baby shower is one of the highlights and rewards of pregnancy. You get a party in your honor, there's usually some kind of awesome cupcake situation, you play some fun games, and you get a ton of presents. What's not to like? Well, for me, the only appealing thing on that list is the cupcake part. I had more than a few reasons why I refused to have a baby shower for both of my children. Some reasons had to do with my family, while others were more superficial. However, all in all, a baby shower was just not something that appealed to me.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy other people's baby showers. I thoroughly enjoy watching other people awkwardly open their gifts or navigate uncomfortable social situations in which different "friend worlds" collide or where their aunt with no filter says something off-putting to their conservative in-laws. Those things can be super fun. I just don't find it all that fun when I am the person at the center of it.
Luckily, I don't plan on having any more kids so the pressure of will-I-or-won't-I is off. Still, during both of my pregnancies, I had to field a ton of questions as to why I wasn't planning on having baby showers. Here are the types of answers I would have given people at the time:
Because My Partner Wasn't Comfortable With The Idea, For Religious Reasons
My husband comes from a more conservative and observant Jewish background than me. While everyone is free to practice how they choose, of course, many conservative or Orthodox families don't buy things for the baby until after the baby is born (let alone throw a party for the baby prior to the birth). So while my mom was somewhat disappointed that she didn't have the opportunity to throw me a baby shower — which certainly would have brought her great joy and pride — I wanted to respect my husband and my husband's family's comfort level as well.
Because I Hate Parties That Include "Forced Fun"
Some people live for that point in the party where you do the quiz about what the mom-to-be was like as a baby, or when the measuring tape comes out and you have to guess how round her tummy is. (These people and I tend to not hang out that often.) I wanted to do everyone a favor and not drag my friends and loved ones through any hokey activities that require that we all sit in a circle privately wishing the mimosas were, in fact, spiked or that someone's "fun" friend had hired a stripper on a lark to spice up this otherwise super snore-fest of a baby shower.
Because I Don't Enjoy Opening Presents In Front Of People
How many times can you feign surprise or exclaim in delight over unwrapping the very thing that you requested people buy for you on your painfully curated baby registry? Like, "Oh! Wow! It's that snot sucker and baby thermometer plus the gender-neutral bibs I wanted, all from Amazon! How did you know?"
Plus, I am the worst at being fake. I can't lie to save my life. If I don't like something, it is pretty clear, even if I try to hide it. So if, for example, I had been forced to sit at my shower, opening the gift from a well-meaning but ill-informed relative that included a boy's track suit heavily laden with sports paraphernalia and slogans like "Future Lady's Man" it would have been hard for me to hold back something like, "The (expletive) is this (expletive)?"
Because I Feel Like A Jerk At Parties That Are About Me
Unless you're a Grade A narcissist, or, like, someone under the age of 6, who honestly likes parties that are all about them? OK, technically, the baby shower is about your baby, but since the baby isn't actually there to receive all those comments about how huge they are looking, and field questions about how they are making you feel and whether they are so ready to come out yet, you're the one who has to party on the baby's behalf. Or, at best, you're partying for two.
My mad love of parties that are about me ended after my Bat Mitzvah. I had been stoked beyond belief for My Big Day because I had envisioned it being a fantastic and life-changing event since this was the day that all my classmates would see me for the passionate and spiritual individual I was as I read my moving poem instead of the usual essay people do, after their Haftorah portions in synagogue. And then they would be blown away by my killer dance moves at the local Radisson hotel where we had the party, and the guy I had a crush on would do a slow dance with me and kiss me outside in the hotel parking lot. Well, all the boys at my party spent the entire time making soda fizz volcanoes in the hotel bathroom and I think it was just me and my BFF and cousins on the dance floor the whole night. And my crush was like, "Ew, no," when I asked if he would kiss me. So from that day on, I lost my desire to have parties where I was the center of attention. I made one exception for the wedding because that was a shared day.
Because I Didn't Want All That Stuff I Didn't Need
People were going to buy me all kinds of stuff I didn't ask for and didn't need anyway, party or no party. Why give them even more reason to, by inviting them to a baby shower, where they would have no choice but to bring things to the actual party? At least by not having a party, it would give them the option of forgetting gifts, or being lazy. One of the worst parts of having a baby is having to write all those thank you cards for the gifts. I figured, no baby shower, far fewer gifts, less work for me!
Few things give me more anxiety than having excess stuff. Some people have hoarding problems, but I have a purging problem. I am always trying to get rid of things we don't need in our house, so the idea of receiving things that I knew we wouldn't need or that I didn't want for the baby gave me little panic attacks. We were living in the basement of my husband's grandma's house at the time, which wasn't "our" space to begin with. I knew we were only there temporarily, so I really didn't want to have even more things that we would have to eventually pack up and take with us to our next home which would be a New York apartment. Again, not the best kind of space for excess stuff either.
Because My Schedule Was Pretty Packed As Is
Between doctors appointments, my final dentist appointment, my final waxing, my last manicure, and my last dinner with such and such friend before I wouldn't be able to go out for who knows how long, there just didn't seem to be this great big opening in my schedule for a baby shower. It felt like it would be more of a drag than anything else to have to set aside time for one.
Because Looking Good For The Party Would Have Stressed Me Out
By the point in my pregnancy when people would have wanted me to have a baby shower, I felt like the biggest piece of garbage, that no Glamsquad could have rescued me from myself. It was bad enough that I had to be in two weddings in my last trimester, which, just to make matters worse, both took place in late summer. I remember that at one of them, I had had to pose in a vineyard next to all of the gorgeous bridesmaids who looked so easy-breezy in their matching blueberry-hued dresses while I, on the other hand, looked like a greasy Violet Beauregard.
Because My Bridal Shower And Bachelorette Party Were Enough, Thank You
Yes, I know I declared earlier that after my Bat Mitzvah, I ceased liking parties that are about me. That does not mean I always had a say about them, or that I am not able to make exceptions. First, the bridal shower wasn't about me. Everyone knows that one is for the bride's mother. So we had that one, and it wasn't so awful, except for the present opening part (after which I swore, "never again"). And the bachelorette party, well, that was for me and my ladies. Plus, I was promised there would be pole dancing and there was, in fact, pole dancing. And if there is pole dancing or other kinds of debauchery involved, then that means everyone is drinking enough to make it not a "forced fun" party. If people are having actual fun, then I'm OK with this kind of party.
Because I Can Go To Some Dark Places
Even though I skulked around for a day or two when I first found out that my husband wasn't comfortable with the idea of a baby shower, I actually didn't feel right having a party for a baby that may or may not arrive. I had suffered a miscarriage before, so the pain of planning for a baby that wasn't meant to be was very real for me. I couldn't imagine (despite spending countless nights trying to do just that) what it would be like to come home from the hospital to all of this stuff for the baby if God-forbid, something unthinkable had happened. It felt a little bit safer to not have any kind of party, or to not have any gifts at all in the house for the baby, until after the baby was born. I guess I'm mildly superstitious, too. At the time, it was easy to blame my husband for being the party pooper, but a big part of me was relieved to not have a party and therefore avoid any possible emotional turmoil caused by having had a party or having all this baby stuff in the house if there had been a tragedy.