First of all, let me just say that I couldn't be happier to be pregnant. This (third) time around, it was a particular cause for celebration because at one point, we really didn't think it was going to happen. We tried for a year, went through initial fertility tests and were told that my "diminished ovarian reserve" would drastically reduce our chances. Then it happened, and it was the most amazing, unexpected thing ever. Against all odds, we're having a baby — a girl.
But I don't want a baby shower.
Another thing: I'm an introvert, but I'm not antisocial. I love spending time with my friends and family. I like going to parties, and I get excited about celebrating birthdays, weddings, Christmases.
This is actually the first pregnancy when I've had to even think about this. I live in the U.K., and it's only been in the last few years that baby showers have reached American levels of popularity. In that time, I've been to several. I hate them for the same reasons I hate bachelorette parties: forced fun, women only, the financial cost, etc., but also because I'm now in my third trimester, and for the most part, my idea of fun is lying on the couch eating pizza, watching Netflix and getting my husband or kid to give me a head massage.
That doesn't mean I think baby showers should be banned. As I said, I've been to several. I even organized one for my own best friend. I just think the focus is all wrong, particularly in the third trimester, which is when most baby showers are held.
As soon as the baby is born, the focus is on them. So when a mom is at that almost-there stage, when she's feeling heavy and achy and tired because she's getting up 15 times through the night to pee, the focus should be on her. It's no easy job, creating a brand-new human.
From experience, what I really need from my friends and family at this time is support and connection. I want to hear other women's experiences of pregnancy and childbirth and babies, even if I've heard them all before. I want to be encouraged as I waddle through the last few weeks of pregnancy. I want to feel supported and valued and able to ask for help. I want to know I have people around me I can talk to if I have concerns about my mental health or am just freaking out about cracked nipples.
Speaking of help, I think the best thing you can do for a pregnant woman is offer to lend a hand. I don't need an expensive hamper filled with baby clothes and toys and gadgets or a cake made of 400 diapers. I'd rather have a meal for my freezer that I can tuck into five days postpartum when I'm too exhausted and distracted to put a meal together. I'd rather have someone take my kids out for a couple of hours so I can sleep.
Another thing I hate about baby showers is how stereotypically gendered they are. Having a girl? Everything's pink. A boy? Nothing but blue will do. I'm fully expecting to spend the first few months of 2019 living in a giant pink marshmallow thanks to gifts from well-wishers. To provide some balance, I'm currently stocking up on gray, blue, yellow, green and red clothes for my daughter, who definitely won't be raised believing that "pink is for girls."
It took a little while to convince my friends that my anti-baby shower stance was serious and not just me being polite. (Like when someone says they "don't want a big fuss" for their birthday when in fact they're secretly hoping for a circus-themed surprise party with Charlie Puth on the mic and Zac Efron jumping out of a cake.) But they've accepted it, so the pressure is off. Instead of a baby shower, I went for a low-key lunch with three of my closest friends. They brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. We spoke about my pregnancy and imminent arrival, but we spoke about lots of other things too: their kids, their jobs, their lives. We didn't play the dirty diapers game, they didn't guess my bump measurement, and there wasn't a pink balloon in sight.
It was perfect.