Designing Women S4 E3 Extra Sugar - An Hour to Endow Her & Devour, Let’s Hook it up w/a Baby Shower
Updated: Apr 1
Tiny sandwiches, tiny clothes, and, hopefully, a big ‘ole cake - all ingredients for a successful baby shower! Let’s discuss traditions, Southern and otherwise.
Here are some of our references (and some cute ideas, if you’re looking!):
Come on, let’s get into it!
Hi and welcome to this week's edition of Extra Sugar, Salina.
What happens when you mix tiny clothes, tiny sandwiches and a big old cake.
A a baby, a baby shower, a big baby shower.
You told me no, no questions.
Sorry, you get one big baby shower just like sweet Charlene had in this week's episode.
So, in honor of her special day, uh I wanted to explore this special tradition.
So my goal with this segment is to cover a brief history of baby showers, discuss general etiquette around baby showers here in the US and then touch on baby shower traditions and other cultures.
Uh As I said in our main episode this week, I'm calling this segment an hour to endow her and devour.
Let's hook it up with a baby shower.
It was really challenging for me to write.
I wasn't crazy about endow her.
It's too much like endowment, he's well endowed.
Um So I hear you with me.
And then the other thing I'll say is that I was, I wanted to do like sort of a southern angle and I think maybe I talk about that a little bit through here, but it's not, there's not a lot out there to be had about what makes a southern baby shower unique versus a regular, a regular old shower cheese straws.
Uh So and then I have a couple of tutorial notes.
So editorial note number one is for just anyone for whom celebrating babies and parents to be really isn't on the spectrum of things you can emotionally handle right now.
Um Just come back another time.
I don't want this segment to be triggering.
It's really meant to be like light and silly, but I know that that can trigger some negative feelings for anyone who's ever had to eat chocolate out of the bottom of a diaper.
And if that triggers you fair enough, fair enough.
Uh And then also generally speaking in my experience and by the letter of tradition here in the US, a baby shower is a pretty gendered experience.
Uh It's usually really mom centric and it's usually a girls only affair.
So this segment is largely written that way.
However, I think we both understand that childbirth adding life to family.
However, you do that increasingly looks different than just a woman delivering a baby and that baby showers in the traditional way may not apply to everyone.
So again, the segment isn't intended to other anyone or make anyone feel left out and if it does, I'm really sorry, I didn't mean it that way.
Um So if it makes you feel that way just bow out, come back another time.
Um, I don't want you to feel bad.
So if, if you're still here, if I didn't scare you away, but if you're one of the three minute listen to show, right, maybe you could stick around.
So a brief history, I don't want to over explain something that may be obvious to a lot of people, but I also don't want to assume everyone is familiar with the baby shower tradition.
Uh so for anyone who doesn't know in modern times, a baby shower is a way to honor a person having a baby in the us.
The modern baby shower emerged in the 1930s.
It's usually a party held before birth where in the parents again, usually the mother is quote showered with gifts for the new baby.
There are good snacks, there are fun games and there's generally some level of like expertise sharing among experienced mothers with the mother to be whether it's like, what's your one word of wisdom or what do you wish you had known or something like that?
All those sorts of things.
But honoring new life isn't in any way a modern tradition.
Uh I found an article on the baby Doppler blog which I'll link to in the show notes that said a baby shower is believed to be related to the ancient Egyptian and Greek civilizations.
It wasn't centered around gift giving or receiving rather soon after birth, moms were quarantined because birthing was considered to be unclean and required post delivery, purification rituals.
That sounds spot.
I call that my little sits bath and my little cleaning bottle uh post delivery.
After ancient times, it seems like the first iteration of what's kind of like a modern day baby shower occurred during the renaissance period.
During this time, the mom to be was showered with good clothes and good food during pregnancy.
turkey legs, the Victoria jewelry, the Victorian age seems to have given us the closest approximation to the current baby shower.
Pregnant women typically weren't seen in public, but they were lavished privately by their friends and families at in home tea parties.
Well, we'll honor you just be quiet, stay home.
I'm just glad they let us in the workplace.
I'm just glad I go to the grocery store.
So in colonial times, in the US, pre baby rituals revolved more around the mother and community than around gift giving related to raising the baby.
So a lot of baby shower gifts now are like um layettes which you taught us about or in episode one this season or um you know, like this is the time someone would give you a really nice stroller or whatever.
So during colonial times, it was more about building a community.
So during this time, women held what were called birthing parties in the home of the pregnant woman.
Um during these parties, friends ate what were called groaning cakes and drank, groaning beer.
Um You go into labor.
So, ok, so what I had written initially was that it was in sympathy with the mother to be's labor pains.
And then they celebrated with a second feast after a healthy birth.
Then I got started getting in my own head about that.
And I was like, wait a minute, I don't understand.
Like, how is eating cake in sympathy with the mother's labor pains?
I don't understand.
So I actually kind of wonder if that first article either wasn't written super well or if it's just not clear what these cakes were for because researching it a little bit more, um, and still unclear, but I found a couple other options.
So, um, a couple of things I read seemed to indicate it was something the mother to be baked while in labor because the smells were comforting and it was an easy recipe to bake.
So she didn't have to worry about measuring closely and whatever it was just something she could do and keep her mind.
I wasn't alive then.
Oh, your labor pains here.
Make a cake.
No, I think it's still a thing.
Um And yeah, actually the, where I found that was a blog post by someone somewhere who was talking about how this is what she did during labor.
Hey, man, if it makes you feel better, I'm all for it.
I'm just, you don't want to be a requirement like a husband being like, you know, what makes you feel so good?
If you like a lasagna pot pie, I would feel so good.
You would feel better.
I'd feel better.
So other articles seem to indicate community women baked it during labor, labor because the smells comforted the mother to be and then gave the cake itself to the woman because it was super nourishing post delivery.
And then even other articles seemed to indicate like the community members just ate the cake while the other labored away.
Like they would all gather in the house and they like put Visine in it and then it gave them tummy aches and then they could, then they could relate.
Yeah, then they poop themselves and then everyone's pooping themselves.
So Salina might have the most realistic answer.
Groaning cake and groaning beer, whatever Visine was then it's like just poison at any rate.
According to a Huffington post article I found in a book on American family rituals.
Historian Elizabeth Pleck shared quote, the community of women who gathered for the birth of a child prevalent in colonial times and throughout the 19th century was part of a cradle to grave system of emotional support among women.
I'm including that quote because gosh, darn it.
Where did we go wrong?
I got no cradle to grave support.
Where is it, Salina?
Yeah, I know colonial America but there's gonna be some give take there.
You're gonna have to go into your bathroom and I gotta make groaning cake.
Yeah, you gotta watch all your, you gotta be put away because you'll be dirty after your birth, right?
Uh, so it seems like the baby shower as we know it today really came about in the 19 thirties according to that Huffington Post article.
So they say Emily Post didn't mention baby showers in either of her manners books that were published in the 19 twenties.
Um So they generally considered the 1937 reference to quote stork showers in her etiquette book of again, 1937 to be the origin of the baby shower.
Uh That mention of Emily Post feels like a good time to transition to etiquette around baby showers.
Uh to me if you think about rites of passage for people.
Um, a baby shower is one of those just really big social events um like a bridal shower.
And so then, of course, because of that, it comes with a fair amount of etiquette if that's your thing.
Um So first up that thing, um the etiquette around who hosts it, I want to talk about a little bit.
So since the concept is gift giving slash receiving, it's generally considered inappropriate for the mother to be immediate family to host it.
Does that surprise you?
Uh Yes and no.
I mean, I can see why.
Um But then like, I also know that etiquette skipped over quite a bit.
They're usually hosted by family, friends or coworkers or even members of the mom to be extended family like a sister-in-law.
Um It's also generally considered inappropriate to have a shower for anything other than a woman's first child.
Um So sprinkles or smaller showers have emerged in recent years.
That's that cradle to grave support.
There you go.
These focus less on giving gifts to support baby raisin and focus more on celebrating the milestone of another child's birth cheese straws.
Uh I feel like that's a great place to put in a plug for the shits creek episode where David is, he gets like strong armed into hosting the baby shower for the mayor's wife and he learns what a Sprinkle is.
Incidentally, I was in like the realm of putting this episode together and I ran across that scene on tiktok and I just cried all over again.
It's so funny.
Um I don't remember that episode.
That's why I'm, oh, I miss some episodes because it was a binge situation.
Yeah, he's like really annoyed.
They can't serve soft cheese and like super irritated.
They can't serve alcohol, sushi, right?
And so uh his, I forget who his boyfriend, I forget his boyfriend's name but he's like, but it's, it's her party.
Like, why are you not planning the party around her?
It's just very funny.
Um Let's see.
So a couple more etiquette points I wanted to mention here.
It's considered acceptable to set up a registry for a baby shower, but you're not supposed to list it on the invitation itself.
Apparently that's tacky.
So you're supposed to include it as an enclosure alongside the invitation or share it by word of mouth.
Uh, it is appropriate to serve alcohol at a shower, assuming the mom to be is ok with it.
So you, you should ask her and then this one surprised me.
Generally speaking and it's kind of, it's kind of niche go with me.
Generally speaking, it's kind of frowned upon to use the shower as an opportunity to help moms with thank you notes.
So that's to say, have you ever been to a shower, either bridal or baby where they give you an envelope and they say, like, write your address on it.
And I've hosted those before.
Well, apparently it's attacking.
I, I had no idea.
It's also easy.
It's so easy and it makes like I remember I was fortunate to have um, like Emily Post.
We work now right now I was fortunate enough to have a show like several showers for both my babies and um with my daughter, one of my showers I had on Friday and then had her Sunday, literally went home from work and by Sunday, I was in labor, I was actually in labor Friday while I was at work.
I just didn't know because it was my first child.
Um, so lunch with you uh you might have.
Yeah, I think we went to Luke's.
Oh, well, I think later on you were like, I'm a baby now.
Fair enough then with, with land.
And actually um I was getting my hair done that night when I went into labor.
So I just, I, I don't, I'm not good at the labor things.
Uh But for what I was going to say is that baby shower happened and there was no way I was writing thank you notes like right after she was born, I ended up having to do it because they didn't do this thing for me where they gave him the preds.
I'm saying, I think that is like you do it for like it's a nice thing to do for the person you're hosting a shower for.
So sorry, I disagree with that one.
I said if it's your thing.
Uh And so last but not least I wanted to cover my thing is getting past the shower period of life.
That's my biggest thing.
I don't know if I was telling you this, but I feel like I am past it like I feel like we're probably not going to have too many more like official showers.
So some of this is like dusting off some things in my head.
Um Last but not least I wanted to cover baby shower traditions in other cultures.
So in India, a shower is usually held during the seventh month.
Of pregnancy or the third trimester.
During the event, guests pray for the good health of mom and baby as well as for a safe delivery.
Guests also present gifts known as good, which translates to fill the lap.
I understand that I butchered that but I really tried, um translates to fill the lap.
The ritual is steeped in tradition and it sounds like that tradition can vary from region to region in South Africa.
They stick to the stork shower tradition, which is what I mentioned earlier when I talked about Emily Post.
Um they're not too dissimilar from American celebrations except they are surprise celebrations.
I feel like usually in the US, you know what you're walking into because you don't want to surprise a seven month pregnant woman.
Um They're hosted by a friend of the mom to be and they're pretty similar.
Like I said to American baby showers.
The cake take center stage at these events as I would agree.
It should, I would argue it should like every event.
Um But apparently it's to such a degree.
Apparently local bakeries specialize in stork party cakes.
Oh, like you can definitely go to pubs and get a baby shower cake here.
But you don't have like a local bakery saying like get your baby shower cake.
Now I'm curious what these cakes are made of and you know, I probably should have gotten you some pictures.
Oh, I thought you were gonna say some cake.
Uh There are also full time stork party planners in uh South Africa.
I think again, there are party planners who will plan a baby shower in the US.
Not strictly dedicated.
This sounds like they are strictly dedicated.
Um So in the Dominican, they have an evening fiesta to celebrate the upcoming arrival of a new baby.
Honestly, this sounds like the most fun.
Uh These parties are attended by both men and women.
Again, they're typically surprises, there's gift giving, but there's also feasting and game playing and they literally, it sounds like they party into the night when I was pregnant, I just wanted to go to sleep, but I can respect the tradition.
Well, people are probably just partying around the pregnant person who's gone to sleep.
Yeah, that's true.
Uh So in China, it's considered bad luck to celebrate before a baby is born.
So they have a formal feast during the first or second full moon after the birth.
Guests present the new parents with red envelopes containing money because in Chinese culture, red is symbolic of good fortune.
Uh And then in France, baby showers are held when the baby turns a year old.
This is probably the second most ideal situation for me like I'm not pregnant and also newly postpartum.
Um Both men and women are invited.
So my husband can also be thanking all of these people for this amazing effort that they've done.
I can drink.
That's a good point.
Um And then, you know, and then at these showers, guests bring gifts for both the baby and the mother.
And so also that sounds delightful because at a baby shower in the US, you don't usually give gifts for the mom and like infants.
I'm saying this with no knowledge, but like most of the time when I talk to parents, they're like infants are easy.
It's the stuff after infants when it really gets hard, they start moving, they start talking, they start wanting.
Um, and they were like, so, so it does feel nice that you get kind of like a little party when they're starting to turn into maybe a little bit of a monster for a little bit.
And I feel like I have a vastly different opinion on that.
Um, my infant stage with my daughter and I tell her this.
So I don't feel bad saying this publicly was awful.
It was really terrible.
Um I had a really rough, like six months with her and then of course, as she turned six months, I found out I was pregnant with my second.
You know what they do and what they say you can do anything for six months.
Is that what they say?
Got my eye twitch going on.
Uh But yeah, I think a year old, uh I remember my daughter at a year old because I remember her birthday party that year and it is a really fun age to have like other family members engaging with them and have like a party that sounds like a lot of fun.
Do you need me to ask Carolina next time?
I'm over, like, why she gave you such a hard time?
We talk about it all the time.
She wouldn't be surprised to hear it.
I imagine she's been the most wonderful child since then.
But man, she was rough.
Uh So no matter where you live in the world, I digress, no matter where you live in the world, there's a fun way to celebrate new life and the journey of the parents to be today.
Baby showers are evolving along with the modern family.
I've been to coed showers.
I've been to baby showers at breweries.
I've been to traditional all girl baby showers.
Um The only hard and fast rule with a baby shower is to have fun.
That's a good role.
So thank you for tuning in this week.
This has been this week's extra sugar.
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