Thursday, January 26, 2006

When Baby Shower Plans (and Babies!) are Premature

If you have ever helped to plan a baby shower, you know that there are many different things to consider. In addition to agenda items such as deciding what kind of food will be served and what games will be played, you will need to decide when the best time is to hold the shower.

Planning the right time for a baby shower is not always as easy as it may sound. Case in point is my own baby shower. My mother, sister, and sister-in-law went through a lot of trouble to plan everything just right. They had the event planned for a month before the baby was due to be born, everything was in place and all the wheels were turning smoothly.

Well . . . until my daughter decided that she wanted to make her entrance into the world five weeks early that is. As it turned out, she was already ten days old when her baby shower was held. Nothing really needed to change except for the gifts that some of the guests chose to bring. More than one of the family members and friends attending the shower mentioned returning a "unisex" gift for a girl's dress or something else in pink.

If you are planning a baby shower for someone, keep in mind that a birth may be early, but not much has to change in the way you plan. The few things that would need to be altered with an early birth can be easily fixed. Just be sure to have the alternative plan ready to put into action. If the mother-to-be knows about the shower, you may want to consult her about what to do if there is an early birth. Perhaps she would prefer having the shower at her home if the baby has already been born.

In the food category you may want to modify the cake but that's all. In my case the generic "welcome baby" cake was changed at the last minute (by contacting the person who would be baking and decorating the cake) to an "it's a girl!" cake. All of the other food should be able to stay the same.

Games will mostly likely not need to be altered whether or not the baby was born before the shower date. The only exception would be if one of the games involved something like guessing the baby's birth date, the birth weight, the time of day or night the baby will be born, gender, amount of time mommy to be had to spend in labor and so on.

If you had a guessing game like this planned, be prepared to switch it with an alternate game and you will be fine in the game category, too. Simply replace it with a memory game of the guests writing down every small baby related item they remember seeing on a tray that you pass around. (Have at least two dozen items on that tray because some people have excellent memories!)

Of course you also need to remember that if there is an early birth, the mother to be may not even be able to attend her own shower. In that case, of course, there would be no shower on the appointed date and it would have to be planned for sometime later. You may be tempted to ask the new mom if she would like her partner to attend the shower and pick up the baby's gifts and well wishes from friends and family . . . but don't do it. The baby shower, even if baby has already been born, will be a good time for mom to have a few hours with her family and friends. Anyone who has given birth knows that exhaustion that is part of the joyful new lifestyle for the first few months, so getting out for those few hours to nibble on finger food, play games, and see friends will be greatly appreciated.

So when should you plan for a baby shower to occur? It is never a good idea to plan a baby shower for too early in a pregnancy. The reasons for that are numerous but they are all very good and valid reasons. The shower should never be earlier than two months before the baby is due. Four to six weeks before the birth is usually the customary time.