Does anyone else have a really foul time when registering for a baby shower? When I was pregnant the first time around with my daughter, I went through this funk where I didn’t even want to have a shower, let alone add items to a list which I “expected” people to purchase things from. For me. Essentially for me, anyway, though the baby would ultimately benefit from said items. I just have a hard time putting a hand out for things that, though it would definitely strap me to a certain extent, I could go ahead and buy on my own.
I mean, what is the history of the baby shower, anyway? Well, in short, its origins were ancient. So you’d think that today, in the 21st century, such barbaric practice of making an already-emotional pregnant woman look cheap and unwilling to pay for her own crap and then – THEN! Horror of all horrors! – having to open that very crap in front of a group of guests who probably have no interest in watching an indulgence of “Look what I got, look what I got!” would be obsolete. That last part’s got to be the third-grader in us all. During the Renaissance, however, purchasing items for expectant (in more ways than one there, ha) moms became par for the course:
Childbirth was an almost mystical event during the Renaissance, and mothers-to-be would often be surrounded with references to the Annunciation to encourage and celebrate her. Unpublished inventories, diaries and letters indicate that pregnancy and birth were celebrated with a wide range of birth objects such as wooden trays, bowls, and majolica wares, painting, sculptures, clothing, linens, and food. Painted childbirth trays, in particular, were popular items and were inscribed with wishes for good health and successful childbirth (Musacchio 1999). They were used to both carry food and gifts to the new mother and serve as decoration to be hung on the wall. Such childbirth objects emphasized the family and procreation and encouraged Renaissance women to fulfill a maternal role.
The gift-bearing continued into the Victorian era and eventually evolved into what we celebrate in modern times, also known as The Baby Shower, and naturally, because of this gradual evolution of sorts, I find myself in an uncomfortable pickle. I feel like I should be sending out gift cards to favorite stores in place of the customary “Thank you for spending a load of money on me and my friendly fetus,” and you know what? That’s not a half-bad idea.