I’ve learned from my past two pregnancies that total strangers interpret a visible baby bump as an invitation to ask questions.
I’ve been asked everything from the benign “Do you know if you’re having a boy or girl?” to the more prying “Do your kids have the same father?” Worse, based on the huge age gap between my first and second child, I have been asked “Was this one an accident?” The boldest of strangers also want to feel my tummy and without hesitation I politely decline.
I do wish everyone would follow the same basic rules of etiquette and avoid the uncomfortable prenatal situations for mothers-to-be. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also hold myself accountable to societal standards, like when it comes to baby showers.
When I was expecting my first child my baby shower was hosted by a dear friend and her mother. The sentimental side of me wanted to hold on to what I’d been generously gifted forever. Eventually, practicality and the constrains of apartment living won out and I had to recycle most of my daughter’s baby things.
Years later when my husband and I were expecting baby number two I knew from experience we’d need a myriad of baby items from furniture (crib, bouncy seat, changing table, stroller, baby bath tub) to clothing (onesies, burp cloths, bibs, socks, washcloths), as well as disposable items (diapers, wipes, cotton swabs, rash ointment, lotion). As far as a baby shower was concerned, the consensus was unanimous: more than ten years had passed between my first and second child and that entitled me to a shower.
Flash forward two and a half short years and my husband and I are expecting our third child. Now the question is more complicated. Surely a third baby shower is in bad taste? This go around we are prepared because we saved so much from baby number two and we think it would be greedy (especially in this economy) to ask for gifts. But aren’t people expecting me to celebrate the coming of this baby too? Doesn’t that usually mean hosting a party of some sort where people customarily bring gifts?
To help with this dilemma I Googled the proper etiquette and discovered baby sprinkles. In essence they are baby showers but with a few differences. The goal is still a warm gathering to welcome the coming baby but with a guest list limited to family and close friends and with none of the big-ticket registry items. Instead, only small, consumable gifts are requested and a typical baby sprinkle invitation would depict a closed umbrella and a shining sun to indicate as much.
Luckily, nothing in the baby sprinkle etiquette suggests scrimping on décor or skipping the games but prizes and favors can be small (think candles and lotion). Even the food can be kept to hors d’ouvres but a thank you note is appropriate whether or not a guest brought a gift.
A baby sprinkle is just the happy medium I was looking for. The only complaint I can humbly make is that there is no polite and conventional forum to ask for what a mother expecting her third child really wants: a tummy tuck.