It's been a busy couple of weeks, including a five-day bout with stomach flu (not terribly enjoyable at 8 months of gestation). After losing five pounds and reminding myself over and over that I was (very likely) NOT going to barf the baby ("okay, so...those tubes and wires are not at all connected...impossible...right?"), I'm back to normal! (Normal being a waddly, smiling whale with swollen ankles.)
First off, I'd like to inform everyone that by marrying into this family last year, I have acquired the most loving, warm, funny, genuine and supportive in-laws ever, in addition to my own wonderful family. They're a pretty darned tootin' good bunch of folks, and I am unusually lucky. My magnificent sister-in-law, Deanna, who just last November brought her very own little tyke, Jack, into the world, somehow found the time and energy (did I mention she just had a baby?) to organize an international-postage baby shower for me, and so four sizeable boxes plus a suitcase full of prezzies made their way to our fourth-floor apartment door over the past few weeks (much to the chagrin of our postman). I was instructed by Don (who was also in on this shower of gifts) that under no uncertain circumstances was I to touch, look at or even share air with these boxes. (This warning to someone who mastered flawless scotch-tape removal and perfect reapplication on Christmas presents under the tree by age 6.) (Sue me.) And so, after ignoring this leaning tower of baby things, I made it to March 1st, the day where I'd get to Skype with Deanna and rip everything open with Don. Yay!
When the doorbell rang at 5:30pm, the jig was up: Don had secretly invited five very dear Danish ladyfriends -- Jorunn, Annette, Susannah, Ulrika and Randi (all moms) -- over for a surprise shower for me. Out came platters of tuna salad, egg salad and cucumber-and-cream-cheese tea sandwiches (crusts cut off, each variety in a different shape), champagne, fresh fruit, a cream cake, a cheese board -- Don did it all. (He specifically asked the cheese shop lady in our village what cheeses would be good for a party of ladies, and she immediately recommended Emmenthaler, a basil gouda and this lump of unknown French creamy heaven.) There were vases of daffodils and roses everywhere. Can you believe this guy? I mean... COME ON. (I'd been out running errands for much of the day, so he was doing all of this while I was gone and stashing everything in cupboards and drawers.) I still almost can't even stand it.
We even had Deanna and baby Jack join us all the way from California via Skype! The ladies took a real interest in Jack's sling that Deanna was wearing, and that they were live from the Bay Area.
All of these ladies were unfamiliar with the idea of a "shower" -- is it for cleaning the pregnant person? Do all American pregnant women smell that bad? There was quite a bit of curiosity among them, and they wanted to see what the Americans were going to do for this shower, but I also think that perhaps there was a teeny tiny worry of bad luck, as they told me that the practice here is for people to come visit you right after the baby is born, bearing gifts then, not before. But, as my friend Jorunn said, it's actually quite nice to rally around the mom at a time preceding a huge, potentially frightening, life-changing event, and at a time when she may not feel the most, shall we say, lithe and dainty.
Don took photos the whole time, and while I'll curb my desire to post all 73 shots, here are some highlights:
I have never seen so many onesies in my entire life. We're off the charts on the Onesie-a-Tron. And the blankets... I think I've developed a thing for baby blankets. This little boy is going to be the most elegantly swaddled chap in western Europe, I have no doubt, and I have so many of you to thank for it. The "real" thank yous are in production, but for now, I am so, so very grateful to everyone who sent a gift, a card, or advice for this novice mom, along with the oceans of good energy and oodles of love.
Three and a half weeks and counting. I'm fairly surprised by how calm I am about it all -- the fears of birth have kind of melted away into clouds of relaxed deep cleansing breaths. I have no idea why or how, but I'm glad it did. Susannah swears by the big ol' tub of warm water in every delivery room in our hospital for killer contractions, which I'm all about, but to me, the shower will always be a uniquely treasured event.