There’s a special flavor of giddy contentment that comes from a baby shower.

A little over a year ago I had the most wonderful bridal shower. It was a beautiful luncheon affair at one of my favorite restaurants in DC, with blissful food and excellent wine and the most delightful company. I wore a brand-new Brooks Brothers dress — yellow seersucker, embroidered with little pineapples — and felt surrounded by flowers and wineglasses and delight, wrapped up like a Williams-Sonoma package. (I assure you, any resemblance between my dress and the official W-S wrapping paper was purely coincidental.) Looking back at the pictures, I get the warm fuzzies at how incredibly pretty it all was.

Bridal Shower: September 19, 2009

September 19, 2009

A baby shower has a different feel. Everyone else has wine, but you can’t. Elegance is no longer the point, nor could it be when the guest of honor resembles a large marine mammal and contains another whole person. People will still compliment you on your appearance, but it’s less admiration of a hottie and more Adoration of the Magi. When people say you look great, they mean you look impressive. (Unless you’re one of those pregnant women who hasn’t gained any weight outside of your bump. In that case, people will say you look fantastic and mean it, and you’ll know by the hint of incredulity that creeps into the compliment.)

But it doesn’t matter, because that’s not why you’re there. It’s not a party in the sense you’re used to. For the first time in your life, you’re at an event for your baby. Your baby. A tiny yet fully-articulated person inside your newly-prodigious abdominal cavity. Someone that no one has ever met, yet dozens of people already love without seeing. And that love is an amazing thing. You’re sitting in the honoree’s chair, surrounded by wrapped presents, just like last year; but you and everyone around you are thinking of nothing but that incredible little person, the one everyone already loves, the one everyone can’t wait to see and dress and feed and play with and admire.

Suddenly things you never before noticed are squealworthy. Tiny handmade sweaters, hats, blankets? Impossibly cute. Onesies, pacifiers, rattles, carriers, baby books? Adorable. Everyone loves to caper over tiny baby stuff, and the surprising part is that you do too, even if these items have never held any interest for you before. Because they’re for your baby. And that thought makes you even giddier than the cutest dress and the nicest wine and the fact that you haven’t seen either of those things in months.

Baby shower: October 9, 2010

October 9, 2010

The gratitude is different, too. As before, you’re thankful for the company and the generosity of friends and family. But there’s a particular flavor of thankfulness that accompanies a much-longed-for, hard-won pregnancy. A year ago, crazy though I was for &, I was still fairly ambivalent over marriage as a general proposition. Today I am not ambivalent, only grateful. Grateful that this pregnancy caught, and stuck, and hasn’t derailed in any of the myriad ways I feared it might. Grateful that, at this point, the Most Likely Outcome is a healthy baby in my arms in seven short weeks (or thereabouts). And grateful for the support of everyone who has already offered wellwishes, necessities, good advice, eventual babysitting and love for my daughter already.

“Ah, a shower,” a male colleague remarked last week when I mentioned the upcoming event. “It’s a good idea to take a shower.”

“Once a year, whether I need it or not,” I replied with a wink.

Right now there are no plans to have another next year. But I imagine that all this good feeling will last at least that long.