Tuesday 26 March 2019

Fiona Ness: 'Forget the lavish gifts, Meghan - nipple cream is your new bestie'

Pop Life

Meghan on her way to the $75,000 baby shower venue. Photo: AP
Meghan on her way to the $75,000 baby shower venue. Photo: AP
Fiona Ness

Fiona Ness

Candy floss machines, harpists, flower arranging lessons, there was ne'er a twin breast pump in sight when Meghan Markle's new besties met to throw the duchess's baby shower this week.

Instagram-ready guests floated in bearing gifts from exquisite little baby stores, no doubt containing miniature outfits made from babies' breath and spun gold. Poor old pursued and vilified Meghan appeared to bear all the attention of her New York trip with stoicism and designer sunglasses.

The grand scale of Meghan's baby shower proved yet again that it is easy to mock the rich and rarefied (isn't jealousy a terrible thing?). However, it wasn't the harpist, or the red carpet, or the oxymoron of the exquisite dessert buffet prepared for people who haven't eaten anything other than celery since 1996 that set my stomach churning. Nor was it the $75,000 price tag of the baby shower venue itself (which proved, at last, that you can actually put a price on friendship). No. It is the fact Meghan had a baby shower at all.

Baby shower: I think by now we all know what this means (and it's not a stray tinkle from your newborn). Some of us may even have organised one, attended one or been the focus of one ourselves. In recent years, Irish people have embraced the US phenomenon of the baby shower - an event that celebrates putting the cart before the horse by 'showering' an expectant mother with gifts before the actual birth of her baby. Any excuse for a party, right?

Wrong.

Ladies of Ireland: look at Meghan and know we have lost the run of ourselves. In years gone by, women approached the birth of a child with a little more caution, and with good reason. Tradition was that you bought as little as possible before the birth of a child - nappies, some newborn babygros and muslin cloths would suffice.

A partisan approach to new parent preparations before childbirth in some way reflects a real understanding that - no matter your money or status - nothing in life is a given; most especially the birth of a child. Meghan Markle's baby shower, on the other hand, showed us a bunch of women hyped up by consumer and celebrity culture throwing generations of wisdom and experience out of the penthouse window. It was celebrating Christmas without first contemplating advent.

The duchess's pregnancy is emblematic of our times. The outfits, the jet-setting, the bump-foregrounding, the beatific glow has 'let's celebrate!' written all over it, when the signposting should still read 'proceed with caution'.

That's not to say I'm a total killjoy. There are certain things that are still worth gifting a pregnant woman, quietly, with sense. Here's hoping Amal or Serena or Micha Nonoo thought to include the following in amongst the Louis Vuitton baby tights:

Lanolin nipple cream

This wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals may not have made Meghan's shower, but new mothers would swap 50 Ralph Lauren baby outfits no question for a tube of this little doozy. As with childbirth, you can't explain the pain of the cracked nipple to a pregnant woman; you can press a tube of Lansinoh into their clenched fist while whispering the words, "ignore the vegans - it works".

Peri-cold packs

Meghan would be delighted to be gifted these gel packs to slip into the freezer and then into her knickers to take the heat out of her stitches when she sits down - if she can sit down at all, that is.

Muslin cloths

No matter how many she has already in the royal drawers, Meghan is going to need more. Especially if she is going to continue with her grá for high-cost couture while burping baby Windsor. Note to Meghan: the amount of fluid out is exponentially disproportionate to the amount of fluid in.

A copy of Hatched! The Big Push From Pregnancy To Motherhood

Sloane Tanen's little picture book of "miniature chenille chickens toting fingernail-sized Louis Vuitton bags" should ring a bell with the duchess, even if the irony might ultimately be lost.

Irish Independent

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