My husband and I chose to have three kids. Yes, they were all planned. Yes, we needed help each time one of them was born. And, yes, I totally hosted a party to celebrate the arrival of each of our babies. I think the idea that a family should only have one baby shower is outdated and unfair to parents everywhere.
We didn’t want anyone to think we expected presents, but we also knew what we needed to replace with each child. And the basic premise of a baby shower is a good one: The community gets together to offer support and love to the soon-to-be parents, and to make sure they have everything they need to focus on their bundle.
There is this prevailing idea that the first baby should be celebrated with an over-the-top shower with dozens of relatives and friends in attendance. With a big guest list, you can outfit an entire nursery or fill up an RESP in a snap. If your guests shop from the registry (warning: plenty of well-wishers will go rogue and pick out something they think is adorable), you’ll be provided with every single item you need, and then some.
Some parents-to-be also do professional pregnancy announcements (sometimes it’s a viral video or social media post), then they hold a gender-reveal party after they find out the sex of the baby and then they do a traditional shower. That’s a lot of fanfare. Why should baby number one get all the love?
For our first, we had a big shower which was “hosted” by my mom, but organized by my husband and me. We did a registry and were grateful that we barely had to buy a thing once the baby arrived. For our second and third kids, we had a “sip and see,” which happens shortly after the baby is born. People come to meet your new arrival and—if they are so inclined—bring a gift. The sip and see is slightly different than a “sprinkle,” which is considered more of a “baby shower lite.” For both of our sip-and-sees, we put together an online registry of the things we needed. Because, let’s get real: Babies—and parents of newborns—always need stuff.
Luckily, we didn’t get any pushback or side eye from friends and family on our subsequent online registries, and it actually took any stress out of what to get us (I think). When friends would ask, “Do you need anything before the baby arrives?” I’d be able to offer up our online registry, which listed things like soothers or extra blankets—the practical stuff that gets worn out after lots of use. At the time of my third pregnancy, I had recently been a co-owner of a baby store, so everyone assumed I had everything. They were mistaken: I’m the queen of the purge.
And then, of course, our third baby decided it was go-time well before we expected him, so we were a little low on the essentials.
I’m also a firm believer in being as equal as possible with my kids. My husband agrees. We are frugal and always save clothing and other reusable kid items, but if we can afford it, I think each kid deserves his own time to shine, even for just a little bit.
Our three kids all share a room and their toys, and the younger two get all the hand-me-downs that survive. But I want each of my kids to remember his individual strengths and be allowed to have something special that is just his.
When we found out we were having a third boy, everyone would exclaim, “Well, at least you have all the toys and clothes already!” This assumption, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Our middle kid loves princesses, dresses and ballet. He chooses pink and purple over navy and grey. If I were to simply throw him every hand-me-down from his older, more traditionally boyish brother, there would be tears every time. So, of course he gets his own clothing and toys that reflect his passions in life. Just because they have the same genitals doesn’t mean they aren’t individuals.
In my neighbourhood of Toronto, it’s increasingly rare to meet other families with more than two kids. Having three feels like the exception, not the norm. With daycare costs soaring across the country, it’s no wonder. But that doesn’t mean those of us who choose to go big shouldn’t ask for the support we need when a new baby arrives. Whether it’s a new pack of pacifiers, a replacement bottle warmer or even a Costco-sized case of baby wipes, we can all use a bit of help.
Instead of questioning the motives of families and wondering if they are being selfish or greedy in hosting a second shower, we should be happy to help them welcome the new addition.
If you invite me to your shower—whether it’s your first or your fourth—expect me to ask what it is you truly need and I’ll happily oblige, even if it’s nipple cream and a box of maxi-pads.
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