When I received the invitation a couple of months ago to a baby shower for my daughter in law Emily, I definitely had my doubts. Wasn’t this an American invention designed to boost the card, flower and baby ephemera industries? Was I going to be force fed false sentiment, along with cake I didn’t want to eat and headache inducing champagne on a Sunday afternoon?
I am delighted to say that all my rather cynical and waspish thoughts turned out to be completely wrong. On a wet afternoon in Brighton, around twelve women met to celebrate a much wanted and much sought after baby, who appeared for the event as the most perfect bump under a tight fuschia pink dress. Emily is a beautiful woman anyway and pregnancy has only enhanced this. She is genuinely radiant.
What did we do? Well, a task was set and games were played. The task was for everyone to make a piece of origami – appropriate paper and instructions provided – that would eventually form a mobile to hang over the baby’s cot. Some managed this easily but both Emily’s mother and I found that it exposed a diminishing number of grey cells (or was that the champagne?) and passed on our much creased pieces of coloured paper to younger members for completion. The games were to guess the circumference of Emily’s tummy (turned out to be not as big as everyone thought) and to match baby photos (previously submitted by email to the organiser) with the women present. All very good fun.
Emily was indeed showered with gifts for the baby, with not a dud amongst them, and considerable amounts of home-made cake were eaten.
Rather than being a glitzy occasion celebrating fashion’s latest accessory – a baby with all the consumer trappings – as I had feared, it was a warm and affectionate coming together of women who are close to Emily to mark the imminent arrival of new life for a couple who have longed to be parents for years. I don’t know if it would have been such a special occasion if this baby had been conceived without the years of disappointment and sadness that preceded her IVF/ICSI conception. Maybe. All I know is that this party had a poignancy that lifted it beyond the banal and we all came away with tears in our eyes. And like donor conception families, Emily and Peter are likely to be warmer and more attentive parents than those who achieve parenthood easily.