Who doesn't love attending the baby shower of a beloved mom-to-be?! The vibe is so hopeful, the guests are giddy, and the gifts are totally adorable! Before my own birth experiences, I observed baby shower gifts with an element of ignorant delight.
At my baby shower in the spring of 2012, I received the usual suspects on a baby registry and an “extra” that would prove to be exceedingly meaningful.
A dear mom friend gave me what she called A Bag of Honesty: a large paper bag filled with drug-store items and a note: “This will make sense later. Pay it forward”.
In the chaos of my beautiful, cowboy-themed baby shower, it was easy to shove the sterile Bag of Honesty aside in favor of cuter, warmer gifts: an ACTUAL newborn cowboy costume, a delightfully colorful crib mobile, and the dozens of soft, soft blankets I had received that day.
After a long, Doula-attended, vaginal delivery weeks later that Bag of Honesty turned out to be the first gift I reached. That Bag of Honesty brought me more warmth, camaraderie, and solace than anything from my carefully-crafted baby registry.
As I perused the cold, brown bag, full of packaged items that first day home, I started to cry. Someone had been here before. Someone had felt as simultaneously scared and overjoyed and happy and confused and emotional as I was feeling. Someone I loved got it and I wasn't alone. In those first days back home with our son – healing and crying and loving and adjusting – her gift became so meaningful to me that I vowed to share it with my tribe of moms-to-be at every baby shower I would attend thereafter.
I have happily gifted this bag at several baby showers since that time. My intention is never to compromise the hopeful, giddy vibe at the party. Thankfully, I have found that the honesty surrounding this gift can pleasantly co-exist among the many sweet, adorable, fun, fancy baby gifts. In fact, it often spurs the sharing of “truths”, the exchanging of stories and encourages knowing laughs between powerful moms.
While everyone's birth experience is different, mine was based on my two experiences and contains the following items (with notes):
Stool Softeners - because that first poop is pretty damn scary.
Medicated Wipes - because you can't steal nearly enough from the hospital and they feel SO GOOD.
D Batteries - because keeping that infant swing moving is the ONLY way to pee!
Granny Panties - A pack of large, cotton Fruit of the Loom undies because they are the only thing you want near your vagina for a few weeks.
Maxi Pads - A pack of large, full winged ones because you'll probably bleed for longer (and more) than anyone tells you.
Lube - because, eventually, you'll get that Doctor's note and your partner will have waited long enough.
Travel Tissues - because you'll be doing some serious crying (happy tears and sad tears and tired tears and overjoyed tears and because you're in Target tears).
Mascara - because you won't be putting on a full face of make up for a LONG time, but you'll feel better going to Starbucks with mascara on.
Non Parenting Book - like Tina Fey's Bossypants because you'll want some non-mom funny reading material.
ITunes Gift Card - because Justin Timberlake makes you want to dance no matter how tired you are.
A Bottle of Wine - because, wine.
And, last but not least,
The most important component to the gift, whatever it includes, should be the “Pay It Forward” imperative. Yes the gift is honest, yes the gift is useful, yes it will offer a unique, and much needed, camaraderie, but the greatest effect it will have is to inspire more women to encourage each other during this trying, but amazing, time in life.