The Long Distance Baby Shower
When I was 19 years old I made a life altering decision and moved 3000 miles from my family and closest friends. I felt a little overwhelmed, slightly lonely and occasionally I wondered if I had made the best decision. The latter would often plague me when I was pregnant with my first and second children, and I often felt like I was missing the celebration that friends and family would have around my pregnancy.
I would like to say that it got easier and that somehow I had the time and the funds to rush out and spend a few weeks with my family as we had shower after shower. Unfortunately, that did not happen for me, and I wasn’t even aware at that time that anyone could throw me a distance shower. Now I know differently and for many people who have moved away from their family as I have, there is a way to celebrate your baby’s coming arrival with all your friends and family whether they live in the same town or thousands of miles away.
Over the past few decades, our world has changed and evolved. We are a global community and we show it time and time again with who we know on the internet, the places that we’ve been and even the knowledge that we acquire. There are very few roadblocks on the road to globalization and that is why many new moms (or dads for that matter) find themselves cut off from their family during one of the most important events in their lives.
A distance shower is one way to make a transition easier on new parents and can provide a way for everyone in the family to celebrate the start of a new and sometimes terrifying chapter in an expecting parent’s life.
When you can't go to them:
A few years ago, I had the unique experience of co-hosting a shower for a woman from China. All of her friends and family resided in China and it was only herself, her husband and her husband’s family. Planning the shower took a little bit of organization, both on my part and also on the two wonderful women who were co-hosting with me, but we were able to come up with a plan to have a shower that would include at least one member from the expectant mother’s family.
It actually wasn’t that hard when you think about it. There was no way for us to take the shower to her family in China, although that would have been a very memorable trip, so it came down to scheduling the shower around the arrival of her parents.
Before you start planning a distance shower, you will need to take into account when out of town family will be coming in to visit the new mom, dad and baby. Many grandmothers and other close family will come a few days to a few weeks before the arrival of baby. I know that we often recommend having the shower 4 to 6 weeks before baby’s arrival but when you are accommodating guests that are coming from out of town, it is best to hold it after the guests have arrived or after baby has arrived. The latter is more common especially if close family waits to travel after they are sure they will see the baby. For more about planning a baby shower after the arrival of baby, please visit And Baby Makes...a Special Guest.
When you plan your baby shower to accommodate the out of town guests, you can be sure that you will be giving the expectant mother exactly what she wanted; a chance to share this momentous occasion with her close family, her mother, father, brothers and sisters.
When no one is able to travel:
Now we have this problem all the time where mom can’t travel to her family since she is in her last trimester and for many extenuating circumstances, they can’t travel to her. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mother had arranged to come and be with me for the first few weeks of baby’s life. Unfortunately, as the day drew near, her husband suffered heart complications and she was unable to travel out of province to visit me and my new baby. It was a little disappointing, but it proved the point that life can throw you curveballs that make certain things impossible. Her husband, by the way, recovered with very few complications and is doing much better today.
If no one can travel to mom, try having a little improvisation. Send an email to the long distance ‘guests’ and ask them to send a video (if they have a digital camera) to be played or letter to be read at the shower. You will, in turn, send out a video or pictures of the shower so that they can see how everything went. You can also give them the option to send a gift card or present but stress that they shouldn’t feel obligated.
With today’s modern technology, there are many things that you can do to have long distance guests be an active presence at the baby shower. If you don’t mind doing a video telecast on a private server, you could set up a webcast of the shower for family and friends to log into for the big event. It might not be as good as being there but you could plan a time where the logged in guests can give a toast to the mother to be. Regardless of what you do, there are many ways to include people in the festivities.
If Mom can travel to you:
Maybe you aren’t planning a shower and trying to figure out how to get all the guests to mom, and instead you are trying to figure out how to get mom to the party and the presents to mom. This can happen when mom-to-be is travelling in to visit friends and family before she has baby or maybe even after she has baby. Many people still want to share in having a shower, but there is a major problem with having mom travel long distances to the shower; and how do you get the presents back to her home?
One of the best alternatives to giving a present is to have a gift card shower for the expectant mother. This way all she needs to do is stuff the gift cards into her overstuffed purse and hop on the plane or into the car and head home. If your guests would prefer to pick out a gift, suggest having them pay for delivery directly to the expectant mother’s house (e.g. if purchased online) and to bring a picture of what they got her. If neither of those suggestions work, ask them to bring small, easy-to-pack gifts. Things like clothes, blankets and other small items will only require a second suitcase so it can be more manageable and cheaper than having to ship a crib, stroller, or large toys.
Oh, one last thing about throwing a distance shower for mom. Try to have it a day or two after she arrives for her visit. Many things can happen such as missed flights, delays, last minute details or a large dose of jet lag. Give the expectant mom time to unwind and relax before she has to arrive for a baby shower. No one wants a travel weary expectant mother (or new mom and baby), and she won’t really want to be the center of attention when she feels travel stressed and tired.
When Mom is absent:
Sometimes, the unexpected happens and you are suddenly left hosting a party without the expectant mother. This can be due to many things; bed rest, early arrival of baby, unable to travel or a million other things. Life with baby is always an adventure and that starts while baby is still warmly protected in the womb.
If you can’t have mom at the shower, don’t fret, simply have it like she was there. Pile the gifts up to take to her later or ask guests to bring gift cards for the mom so she can take them to purchase the items for baby when she can.
Since she isn’t there, you should try to make it seem like she is. Again, video cameras or webcasts are a great way to include her. If she has access to a camera and has the time to watch (something she won’t be lacking if she is on bed rest) then she can see the shower from the comfort of her home and still have a chance to say something to her guests. If she doesn’t have access, simply tape the shower and send it to her, make sure to format it to a media that she can use, i.e. DVD if she doesn’t have a VCR. At a minimum, take lots of pictures and ask guests to write a note of advice and best wishes to go along with it.
Having a long distance shower or an absentee shower does not have to be that difficult, and it is not that uncommon anymore. All it takes is a little patience and ingenuity to figure out the best way to manage it, but you will find that it can be as successful as any other shower and it will provide the expectant mother with the positive affirmation that she needs right now; yes, she is important and everyone is overjoyed for her!