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What to Do When the
Unexpected Happens


With any type of event there is always the potential for something to go wrong.  Decorations might be misplaced, caterers may not be able to show up at the last minute, and venues may be cancelled - these are only a few of the million little details that can unexpectedly go wrong. Even I have been plagued by little unforeseen mishaps including when my big dopey white and black spotted Labrador Retriever decided to eat half a tier of my wedding cake on the day of the big event.  No the dog wasn’t murdered by a tear-stained bride but some last minute planning had to be made and a garden had to be raided for fresh blooms to take up the space vacated by the missing tier.

When you are planning a baby shower, there are several variables that can be very unexpected and may change your party plans completely.  Obviously these greatly revolve around the plans of baby, and that is what we are going to look at in this article, what to do when the unexpected happens.

One of the most important things that I am going to say to you in regards to the unexpected is don’t worry.  Things will work out, and there is no reason to be overly stressed if things take an unexpected twist.  All it will take is a little extra planning, and you will be back on schedule for hosting an uplifting and fun baby shower.

When baby makes his own plans:

Despite all our best efforts, babies have their own schedule on how things are going to play out in the grand scheme of being born.  Some babies stay in much longer than others while some make an unexpected appearance several weeks before the expected delivery date. It is very common for baby showers to be missing the guest of honor simply because baby has arrived early.

If this happens to you, there are a few things that you can do, but it completely depends upon the health of the baby.

First things first - if the pregnancy has resulted in a pre-term delivery, you should either postpone the shower or turn it into something different.  This is a heart wrenching period in the lives of any parent whether it is their first or 23rd baby and the thought of celebrating a life that is clutching at a chance to be, can be more than a parent can stand.  Depending on the age of gestation, there is a survival rate of 20-30% for neonate born around 22 to 23 weeks up to a 90% survival rate for neonates born around 28 to 29 weeks (The Management of Preterm Labor, Robert L. Goldenberg, MD, 2002).

If preterm labor occurs in the later weeks of pregnancy, then a baby shower may be suitable, especially if you postpone it by a week or two, or until the baby is about a month or two months old.  If the preterm labor occurs in the 22nd or 23rd weeks of pregnancy, then you will need to either cancel the shower or change it significantly.

Regardless of the gestational date of delivery, you will need to get on the phone and contact guests.  Let them know what is happening and how things may be changed.  Offer to work as a go between for the parents and concerned friends and family and give updates to your guests about the baby and how the parents are doing.  Also find ways to collect letters of support or flowers. This goes above and beyond the call of a hostess, but since you have the numbers handy, it is the least you can do during such a trying period.

If the baby is at 22 weeks gestation or earlier, it is better to cancel the shower until later notice, possibly after the baby has arrived home.  If you would like to have a type of shower, ask guests to come and give gentle support to the parents that they care about.  Keep it very low key, no presents or games and just the silent support that they need.  If the parents are at the hospital, arrange for a group to go down for a few minutes and meet in a family room to offer support.  With all the extra prayers, hopefully baby will make it through and you can have not only a baby shower when he or she arrives home, but you can also have a celebration for the strong little soul that has fought the odds and won.

When the Guest of Honor can’t make it:

When I was pregnant with my second child, I went into pre-term labor at about 32 week’s gestation.  Luckily the doctors were able to stop the contractions, but I was also hospitalized for the better part of a week.  If my shower had been planned around that time, I would have missed it simply because I was sitting in a hospital bed gazing out at a world passing me by.  Even though I was lucky in many ways, many women have and will go through the exact same experience that I did with only one exception, their baby shower does fall in that time.

If this is the case for the baby shower that you are hosting, it can be manageable in many ways.  One option is to keep the shower set for the date that you have chosen but let your guests know that the mom will not be attending for medical reasons.  At the shower, you can do several things.  First, you can have a regular shower and videotape it.  All the presents can be sent over to the expectant mother later, or you can invite everyone back for a gift opening brunch after the expectant mom is out of the hospital.

Another option is to arrange for people to go over to the hospital in groups of 2 or 3 to bring their gift for the new mom to open.  This can be difficult since they won’t be able to leave the gift at the hospital and they aren’t going to want to travel back to your house to drop off.  It is also impossible to do this if the hospital is a fair distance from your house.  Anything over a 10 minute drive is going to be too far so I only suggest this option if under certain circumstances; 1. The hospital is close, 2. It doesn’t have strict visitation policies, 3. If the guest are for it, and finally 4. If the mom to be wants guests.  If even one of these poses a problem, don’t even suggest it.

If you are faced with the problem where mom has been put on bed rest, then you can still have a shower like I have outlined above by videotaping the event for the expectant mom.  Another alternative is to bring the shower to her.  Chances are she can sit on her couch without disobeying the doctor’s orders so she won’t have to miss her shower.  One point to mention is that you should try to keep it low key and only play games that guests do while they are sitting.  This way she won’t feel like she is missing out if people are jumping around and playing more vigorous games.

Remember that a baby shower can be thrown with the expectant mother missing from the guest list.  If you would like a few more ideas, visit our article about throwing an absentee or long distance shower.  Don’t forget, just relax and plan things to accommodate those unexpected events that have been thrown into the party planning excitement.





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