There were cupcakes a-plenty, and gift bags bursting with parcels wrapped in baby blue. It was a lovely day, organised by two wonderful girlfriends, and full of giggles and quizzes and silly games. It was my baby shower, held about a month before my son was born. The question is, now that I'm pregnant again and living far from home, in London, do I have another one?
In my first pregnancy I hadn't given any thought to having a baby shower until two friends asked me when it would be. Surprised that I didn't have an answer, they decided they would hold one for me, and all I needed to do was pick the date. How could I say no?
So one sunny day they turned up at my house, laden with flowers and home-baked treats and games, and they and the other guests all spoiled me rotten. I'm not going to deny it: it was a real treat, and I enjoyed every moment of being told to put my feet up while someone else served the food and drinks, and even washed up and tidied up the kitchen afterwards. My girlfriends spoiled me with luxurious presents for me to pamper myself with, presents for the baby, and bags full of useful items that I'll be using again this time round.
The event all added to the excitement of a first pregnancy. It felt like I was joining a special club, a baby club, and this was the welcome party. Plus, it felt right to celebrate how lucky I was to be having a baby.
I'm not saying I'm any less excited about having a second baby, but this time I'm already in the club, and I don't think I should be getting another welcome gig in my honour. In fact, I have a feeling my little newborn, shocked at the bright open world she'll find herself in, might have her own ideas about the kinds of parties I'll be attending once she's around. They'll likely involve being up in the wee small hours, but I'll be changing nappies and feeding in front of the TV instead of dolling myself up and going out with my girlfriends.
It also feels like having another baby shower would be pretty self-indulgent. I feel like first-time mums deserve baby showers. If they're anything like me, they're so shocked at how tired they are, how heavy they feel, how achy their leg cramps are, how painful their carpal tunnel syndrome is - and the rest of it - that they deserve a break.
But the second time round, I know all this. Instead of being shocked and trying to be a martyr about it all, I'm spending every minute I can trying to rest and relieve myself of what are undoubtedly the woes of pregnancy. I also now have a 15-month-old boy running my life, and I'd rather spend his nap times getting my own shut eye than tidying the house for an impending baby shower.
For baby number two, we're also doing very little shopping. We were so spoilt the first time round - and then had our eyes quickly opened to how little we actually needed - that this time we can honestly say that we won't be buying out entire baby sections of my favourite online stores.
Of course, I don't think baby showers should be all about presents, but they are unquestionably a part of them. I know that I can't resist buying cutesy teeny weeny gifts for friends at their baby showers, so I can't blame anyone else for having the same lack of will power. But this time round, we really don't need anything.
There does, however, seem to be a growing industry around baby showers here in the UK. Perhaps I'd never noticed it before because it didn't matter to me, but I'm suddenly awed by the number of websites dedicated to this very particular social event. Stuck for a theme? The internet will help. I can't decide if it's tacky or not, but the industry is definitely there. You can even buy an entire party kit online: plates, banners, balloons, going home bags complete with favours, sweet treats, you name it. Theme it blue, pink, gender-as-yet-unknown, make it cutesy, teddy bearish, practical, artsy - whatever you want.
For someone who quite likes organising stuff, it starts to get tempting ... until I remember all my reasons for not wanting, or needing, another baby shower. Surely if I give in, it's just another step along the path of getting caught up in, and carried away by, all that is baby - again?