We all know that there is a lot to think about when it comes to hosting a baby shower. From choosing the theme to the invitations, from preparing the food to choosing the games, pulling off a shower takes a lot of effort and forethought.
But when it comes to hosting for a pregnant-after-loss mama, there are a few additional things to consider. Such as ways you can be sensitive about her loss even while celebrating this new baby. Deciding when the right time is to host a celebration for her. And how to create a safe environment for her where she feels loved, honored, and respected.
We hope to help you navigate those issues so you can have the most meaningful event possible.
Hosting a baby shower after loss is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.
If you have not experienced a loss, it can be easy to assume that a celebration would inherently be happy and wanted. Because after all the sad they are going through, why not embrace the joy?
But a baby shower after loss can be complicated. A loss mom may have had a shower for the baby who passed away and the idea of a shower is triggering. She might already have a stash of baby items from her other child. Perhaps she is unsure what to use from her other baby and what she’d rather get new. She may worry that she’ll plan the shower and the baby will die before the date arrives. She may worry that celebrating before a live birth will jinx the pregnancy. Or she may feel so guarded that she has not been able to bond with this baby – not yet.
No matter the gestation of her previous loss, it is hard for a loss mom to envision a happy ending. Hope feels too indulgent, and the price, too expensive.
Even though it can be complicated, a baby shower after loss can be meaningful.
On the other hand, many loss moms want to celebrate their rainbow. The path to get to this point is long and was hard. And they are ready to express their joy and hope with those they love over this new life. Baby showers are a cultural right of passage that holds tremendous meaning. So yes, navigating all the triggers can be worth it, especially if the expectant mom can voice her desires and have those wishes respected.
Here are tips on sensitively planning a baby shower after loss.
If you’re ready to move forward with a celebration for baby, here are some tips on what to consider while planning:
Decide on a baby shower, sprinkle, or sip and see.
The first thing you’ll want to discuss with your loved one is what kind of celebration she wants. Would she like a baby shower before birth? A sprinkle (which is like a smaller version of a shower and is lighter on gifts)? Or a sip and see after she gives birth, where she can introduce baby to her guests and the guests can still shower her and baby with gifts?
Be mindful of timing.
As they say, timing is everything. Talk to the mom you are celebrating about when in her pregnancy she would like to have the shower. Perhaps she wishes to reach a certain milestone first, such as past the point of her loss. Or, if she is likely to be on bed rest or have a high-risk pregnancy, she may want to have one earlier than usual. Also, a lot of loss moms don’t feel ready to celebrate until after baby is in her arms, so she may prefer to wait until after baby is born.
As much as you can, leave the timing up to her.
Consider your guests.
Naturally, she will provide you with a guest list. You may want to discuss ahead of time how big of an event she would like and how big you are willing to host. If she is inviting loss friends, consider pre-inviting them: Have her ask her friends if they would like an invitation before you send them out. This gives them an easy decline if they are not yet up for attending showers. Last, talk about if she is comfortable with other children at the shower. Even though she’s having a baby, she may not yet be comfortable around other people’s children.
Allow space for grief.
Just like laughter is appropriate even when grieving, grieving is appropriate even at happy events. If your loved one tears up, don’t take it as a failure. Recognize that as deeply as she feels about this baby, she feels about the one she’ll never hold again.
Brené Brown says joy is our most vulnerable emotion. By celebrating this new baby, a pregnant-after-loss mom feels incredibly vulnerable. Hold space for all she might feel at your event. (And be sure to have some tissues handy for her as well.)
Include her baby who died.
You may want to include her baby who passed in the event to whatever extent she feels comfortable. Consider lighting a candle in memory of her baby during the event. Include her other baby in a prayer or blessing. Say her child’s name. Give a gift that acknowledges all her children. If she has a symbol or word that she associates with her loss, use that symbol or word in some part of your event. Let her know you recognize that while this new baby is worth celebrating, her other children are just was worth remembering. If you include her baby she didn’t get to keep, talk about it with her first so you don’t completely catch her off guard during the celebration.
Get a list of what she needs or her registry.
Don’t assume she will be using the same items she got for her other baby, even if they are big-ticket items. Loss moms deal with their dead child’s things very differently, and there is no right or wrong on what they choose to do. Even if she got a stroller, nursery décor, or car seat at her last shower – she might not feel right using it for this new baby. There is nothing wrong with her decision, even if it feels wasteful to others. It’s important to buy gifts from her registry. And if going through baby items and making a registry is too hard for her right now, offer to help her through this, too.
While it can be tempting to want to keep a lot of the celebration a surprise, try to navigate around grief triggers when possible. Ask her if there are any games or activities that she would rather you not do. Extending this courtesy allows her to know that you are doing the best you can to make this event feel as safe as possible for her.
When it comes to picking a theme, we thankfully live in a Pinterest-world where you can get ideas for any theme you imagine. Babies born after loss are frequently referred to as rainbow babies. If your friend uses this term, you cannot go wrong with a rainbow-themed event. Or, if you’re doing a sprinkle instead of a shower, nothing is sweeter than a celebration designed around tiny colorful confections. Consider where you want to host a shower and when it’s occurring. If you’re hosting in the middle of spring, a garden tea party would be delightful. Or if it’s around the holidays, a “Baby, it’s cold outside” with a hot-cocoa bar would be the coziest ever.
One note on themes – try to steer clear of ones that suggest she is a mama-to-be. Your loved one has already carried a baby inside her. She is most definitely already a mother – not a mother-to-be.
Hoping the best for your baby shower after loss.
Now that you have all our tips on what to consider for a baby shower after loss – we hope that you feel prepared to host a shower that is meaningful to you both. Remember, more important than any theme or décor is how you make her feel. Let her know you are there to support her, she gets to voice what is most important to her, and that you are ready to take her however she comes. We think pregnancy-after-loss mamas deserve all the support they can get. And we are so grateful you are there for her this big step in her journey.
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