|By: Kerry Bone and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D.|
|There are so many markers of your baby's
imminent arrival. Imagining the tiny clothes, soft blankets and helpful gadgets that you
will collect is one way that you begin to prepare for this major life event. In many
cultures, gift-giving is an acknowledgement and celebration of your baby's birth; it
signifies a welcome, it indicates hope for the future. But if your baby comes early, the
traditional rituals of welcome can be abruptly pre-empted.
The ways in which your family and friends respond with gifts and parties may influence you feel your baby is being welcomed into your family and into your community. For those whose culture does not celebrate baby showers, the timing of baby-gift giving takes on similar meaning. No matter whether an official party was planned, or if informal welcomes are more your group's style, gift-giving and celebrating birth take on additional meaning when you have a preemie.
As with so many aspects of the preemie experience, parents vary in how they feel about having a baby shower after having a preemie. Sometimes, it is hard for new preemie parents to figure out what they want and need and even harder for friends and family to imagine what will be helpful and supportive. It's always helpful and important to ask parents how they feel, and what feels best for them. Parents may feel a mixture of feelings: Wanting a shower or gifts because it makes them feel hopeful, but being upset and anxious, nonetheless. While receiving gifts and having a baby shower can help to make this experience a little closer to what they had imagined, it can also bring up the losses and the hopes that are felt so intensely. Here are some issues that arise and some common feelings that parents discuss.The Timing of Your Shower/Giving of Gifts:
If a shower was previously planned, but happens to fall after the baby has arrived, your family or friends might worry about continuing with the original plans. They may be trying to be respectful of your need to be with your baby and of the time constraints that come about when your baby is hospitalized. Perhaps they are afraid of how it would feel for you to receive baby gifts when the future remains uncertain. In most cases, people are trying the best they can to be sensitive, though they often don't discuss this with parents or ask them what feels best.
It's likely that if you decide to go ahead with an already planned baby shower, you will have some mixture of feelings about being there. You may feel:
Rescheduling the previously planned shower:
Other times, the hostess may not feel it is appropriate to continue with plans, in case "something happens". When this happens, it can contribute to the already large list of losses the mother feels. She may feel disheartened by those who expect a poor outcome. She may feel that others doubt her reports of how her well baby is progressing lack the faith she has in her baby.
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