My husband and I usually make a point of attending my family’s Thanksgiving in my home state. And we use this long weekend as an opportunity to see the friends we left behind after our move–but, Thanksgiving fell three weeks before baby D’s due date so we weren’t going to make the trip this year. The eldest of the newest family additions was having her first birthday party two weeks before my doctor advised me to cease all travelling, so we planned to drive for this important life event and to have one final family gathering prior to adding our own contribution to the family baby boom.
When my friend (and Matron of Honor during our wedding) discovered I would be in town, she waited and waited, but as I never mentioned having a baby shower, she enthusiastically offered to host baby D’s Baby Shower on the opposite day of the birthday party during our short weekend visit.
Because you cannot request someone to throw a party honoring you, I think anyone can appreciate how special this offer is. And anyone who has been the host of a baby shower, can appreciate the effort involved in pulling this together. Even the crickets didn’t bother chirping in my geographical exile, and at one point I had the realization that I would likely have no baby shower. I resigned myself to this fact, so when she offered I felt shocked and a rush of gratitude.
Even if you don’t need cake, you might be sad to exclude the experience and memory of cutting the cake and feeding your new spouse during your wedding. Sure it can be considered non-essential to the end goal, but it is a part of the experience. I think the opportunity to have a baby shower as a part of your experience and memory of entering into first-time motherhood is similar to a wedding cake. A vanity maybe–but I feel so overjoyed that my friend would give baby D this sweet gift.
She hand-made the invitations, and hosted the shower at the Salem Riverfront Carousel. Wow! She also kept me pretty well in the dark, aside from allowing me to help with the party favors. (surprises, boo!)
The Riverfront Carousel features an ornate, hand-carved carousel that is a staple of the Oregon state capitol. It was a beautiful sunny day in the Oregon fall, overlooking the Willamette River with the sound of the carousel music and children laughing beyond the glass window of our private little venue.
My step-mother also played a key role in seeing this event come together. I’m routinely grateful for her enthusiasm towards me and my sister, despite having three daughters of her own to be equally enthusiastic about. Sometimes people get lost in the mix, but she has managed to split herself by infinitude.
The shower was co-ed, which was ideal for us. It gave my husband and I the best opportunity to see all of our friends and family in the very short visit we had available. All who were invited came (excluding those who had literally left the state or country) and it was a wonderful time with lots of nice games and even writing on a diaper…which produced some hilarious notes for us to read at 3AM while we are wrestling with baby doo.
My friend is a book-a-holic (like myself), and had the clever idea to ask that, in lieu of cards, a baby book be provided with a message for baby D. I loved this idea so much! I was very surprised that no one overlapped books, and I am very happy that baby D now has a nice little library to enjoy.
Our newest family addition in 16 years turned one the following day. What an important life event! It was a safari theme, and was held at the Tualatin Hills Nature Park. A great venue with lots of space for all the little legs wobbling around! My uncles were in full safari gear (e.g. REI hiking clothes), and the little birthday girl was decked out in zebra print. There was a photo booth where you could change to various wildlife backgrounds and wear a variety of animal ears or noses. In true Portland fashion, there were gluten and gluten-free cupcakes, hummus, cheese, dolmades, fruits, and wraps all for the nibbling (and being in my third trimester…I went for two rounds! Yum, kiwi!) I was happy to get to sit with my family and chat. The birthday girl managed to not cry until the very end, when it all became too overwhelming (and likely past her nap time).
I sorely underestimated the one-way 9-hour drive to my father’s house. In fact, it took 13 hours each way. The discomfort of sitting in a car was so much more than I imagined. My husband drove, and my doctor and midwives advised stopping every two hours to get up stretch, pee (obviously, I’m pregnant), and to ensure I drank enough fluids and ate enough food. I packed two gallons of water and my giant plastic cup to place in the cup holder. I packed the Middle East Feast for both of us for our lunch break, and lots of fruits and snacks. We ended up stopping approximately every 40 minutes. My doctors would be happy, but my legs were not. They kept cramping and felt completely inflexible– as though I had run a 10k the day before without any running practice.
On the plus side, I can now review every rest stop between my house and my father’s house. Kudos to the Valley of the Rogue State Park and Rest Area–you get all four thumbs up from mama and baby to be. Also, Ashland’s downtown is a great place to stop for a bite. I loved my Spicy Confit Duck Pad Thai at Sesame Asian Kitchen.
The drive back was far worse, but after creaking my way up the stairs to my glorious bed and sleeping 12 hours a night for the past couple of nights, I can now say I’ve fully recovered from the travel and have no regrets (but definitely agree with my midwives that travel post mid-October is not happening).
I got to see my new niece again too this weekend. I had last seen her just a few weeks after she was born, but now she was a wide-eyed happy and chubby 6 month old. I don’t think I’ve ever met a happier baby. Our friends even snatched her during the baby shower to ride on the carousel and I just saw her bald head and big eyes as she was twirled around on a musical horse, completely unperturbed by her sudden lack of parents and increase in stimuli.