The Pregnant Lady's Perspective A Week of … THE BABY REGISTRY Sarah Spangenberg

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 Unpublished inventories, diaries and letters indicate that pregnancy and birth were celebrated with a wide range of birth objects such as wooden trays, bowls, and majolica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.

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  1. Refreshing commentary! For the arrival of my baby, I am living in NY in teeny apartment, where I had just moved to, and had no friends or family within miles (everyone’s in Colorado….or Panama!) so I had a ‘skype’ shower….I was in desperate need of the basics and had a registry on wishpot.com, it allowed me to ‘wish’ for hand-made items from Etsy etc….rather than the typical Baby-R-us faire. I had one ‘friend’ yell at me on facebook for inviting her to the skype shower because I hadn’t kept in touch with her….so imagine how the guilt was laced upon me!!! Yuk. People generally sent gift cards (to Ikea and Target) which were VERY helpful to get the essentials we needed. I think people should just gift whatever they find appropriate, unique or helpful, but the registry is good to help give an idea of what that person MIGHT like or need. In my journey with baby nearly eight months now, I started a new biz – hip, artsy T’s for babies — the essential baby wardrobe pcs! You can check em out at http://www.dujourbaby.com. Best!!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I’m Genevieve, aka Mama Natural. Thanks for using my ebook image in this post! Would you mind linking it so that other mamas could download it for free if they wanted to? (http://mamanatural.com/free-ebook-baby-registry-checklist/)

    I too dreaded the baby registry process and was overwhelmed by all of the seemingly needless stuff for baby (wiper warmers, really?!) which is why I put together the little ebook to help other mamas. XO.

  3. I am so glad you are talking about this! My sister in law just asked me if I am going to register. This is our first baby, and we are in desperate need of everything, but I feel like I am just standing there with a sign that says “gimme stuff”. One site I went to register on even offered to send out MAIL to tell people where we had registered…ew, so tacky! That is even worse “I am sending you this note to tell you, that you can buy me stuff at this store and that I have a list there waiting for you.” I am glad I am not alone on the baby shower funk!

    • I am also pretty glad I’m not alone. I’ve decided that I’m making my mother and friends who are planning the shower break the news to the potential attendees about the registry. To their knowledge (and, um, to mine, too), I have no idea about the registry, but I’m still cringing inside pretty hard.

      Sarah Spangenberg | 10/17/2011 01:10 pm
  4. a shower was pretty standard for a first kid…but unless your children are more than, say, five or six years apart, I’m not sure how many things a parent might need that they don’t already have. my youngest (poor soul) hasn’t had a scrap of new clothing in his first year. He just wears his bro’s hand downs. ok, if you’re having a boy and you had a girl, you’ll need new clothes. but, what else?

  5. I agree. Although every baby shower I’ve been to hasn’t had a registry. Gift cards are always good, no need to spend a lot of money for gifts.