Monday, November 12, 2012

The Difference Between French & American Baby Showers

Holy shit. I know I've turned 30 when all my friends have started families. Year of the dragon my ass, it's year of THE BABY. They are popping up like fricken mushrooms, people.

The French love babies. This is clear enough to me when strange people are constantly stopping to stare at my buddies' little ones to coo, ogle and often give totally inappropriate, unsolicited advice.

What's odd is the way the French seem to respond to babyshowers.

Not only does this beloved American tradition treasured since the 1950's not exist here, it's even less popular than picking up your dog's poop.

The first one of my girlfriends to help me learn this lesson was French. When I offered to throw her a party at 7-months along, she looked at me like a giant cockroach was crawling out of my eye-socket, and I'd just suggested we take her baby out prematurely and turn it into a piñata. 

I explained that it was very common, and it would set her up for the months to come and she seemed agreeable to the idea. But as time passed, we couldn't find a suitable date, and I started to suspect her resolve to have a shower was wavering. Not being the kind of friend to force my beliefs on anyone, I let it roll, and bought her a gift which I delivered after the baby was born.

The second one was also French, but since she really could benefit from friends and family chipping in to set her up for the new addition, her enthusiasm was without compare. Lots of us banded together for what was, to my great surprise, exactly like a sleep-over between 12yo girls except everyone but the mother-to-be was getting hammered.

Several other non-Americans were having showers hosted for them by their American friends, and I noticed a strange trend. At some point I would mosey over to a French woman to ask -- "So, how are you enjoying the festivities?".

In response I got one of two things typically:

a) deafening silence coupled with a really awkward shrug that was basically the type of answer you'd expect from someone offering you a free enema. I backed away slowly because sometimes that is immediately followed by..

b) the LECTURE of the CENTURY about how WRONG it is to give your pregnant friends a gift before the baby is born.

I found out that I was :
- laughing in the face of destiny
- preparing her for great sorrow should anything go wrong
- a total ass-sprinkler for being such a BAD BAD friend

From what I gathered, the French women at these parties expected no bother to be made for the mother while she's undoubtedly going through one of the most difficult things a woman can experience physically.

So the difference imho is:

Americans: YAY!!! Let's Have a party and celebrate the wonderful new addition with lots of gifts the mom-to-be will need! Let's be *optimistic* about this pregnancy and not assume the baby will die! I'll bring pigs in a blanket! Someone sign up for alcohol-free cocktails, WE NEED CUPCAKES WITH STORKS ON THEM, STAT!

French: You, future-mother, are dead to me until that thing starts breathing on its own outside your humincubator. I don't want to celebrate your pregnancy because I feel celebrating it is like counting chicks before they've hatched. 

I prefer to give gifts after the birth when the you will be a sleep-deprived, baby-pudged-up, trainwreck with baby puke on her forehead and poo on her forearm when you feel the least like having visitors because you're trying to figure out how not to kill the new human you just pushed out of your snatch.

While we're at it, I'm not sure how long you have left, so let's not celebrate your birthday until after it's happened. I know it's on a saturday this year for the first time in years, but tough tomatoes, you might get run over by a bus on Friday at 11:59 and then we'll have prematurely planned all these joyous festivities only to wallow in sorrow. 

PS: I don't want to hear about how sore your boobs are when this is all over with.

So, my advice to you dear readers, is:

a) maybe don't invite the Frenchies?

b) invite them, but tell them it's a party for non-superstitious people ONLY and if they're just going to pout during the whole thing or make faces or comments they can go get stuffed.


  1. HILARIOUS!!!!! And good to know, when I plan on procreating here.... Good lord for a relatively non-church going nation they certainly do hold to superstition wildly!

  2. Yes, another cultural difference. Also, they have pregnant women avoid salad (toxoplasmosis!) and cheese (listeria!) but wine and cigarettes are just fine. Seriously, my SIL's ob/gyn was shocked shocked shocked when she gained weight during her pregnancy because she quit smoking, and advised her to start smoking again because "it is better to smoke than to become fat."

    1. "it is better to smoke than to become fat."

      LOLOLOLOL, so, so true (well, not the statement, but the fact that these instructions were given!). This one just kills me. When my husband's Aussie co-worker was pregnant, I remember my jaw dropping when she told me her OB-GYN said it was okay for her to still smoke while pregnant, but just to be sure to cut back to a half-pack per day of Lights. GAH!! o.O

  3. I'm going through this right now. I swear if one more stranger touches my belly, Imma flip out like a ninja. And how bummed am I that I won't be getting stork cupcakes? Very. In fact, I might just buy myself some from Sugarplum or Sugar Daze or something and just eat them. Because dammit what's the point of being a humincubator if you can't scam some cupcakes?

  4. This is hilarious. I never knew French people felt that way about baby showers! But you know what, they're equally superstitious about birthdays. A friend of mine is born on Christmas and naturally prefers to celebrate it the week before as a) everyone is out of town during his birthday and b) being France, no one is back until a month later. But noooooo, we absolutely cannot do it because it's - as you say - counting your chicks before they hatch! I, who have been known to have 3 birthdays every year during my early 20s, with one of them undoubtedly falling before my birthday, say, screw it. Getting a few people together to express your happiness that another year is passing will not invite demons to jump out of the woodworks to jinx you. Nor will giving the tired baby momma a few small prezzies before her life turns upside-down...



  5. alexyeh09@gmail.comDecember 7, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    Cute toys!

  6. Classic Shannon!! :D I loved reading this so much. Everyone's comments so far are great, too. I knew a little about the superstitious nature of French people re: baby gifts before birth, but you brought my understanding to a whole new hilarious level. Thanks. :)

  7. Was not aware about the festivities and traditions of their baby showers. Plenty of pictures were clicked at my cousin's gender reveal. Favors and cake design was lovely. Invite for Chicago event venues was sober and outlined with golden ribbon. Sparkling lights and French posters in the interior were simply superb.

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