This time last week I was at my cousin’s baby shower.
It was my first traditional American baby shower. I was delighted!
You see, traditionally, for Cameroonians, we don’t do baby showers per se. Often, you may not even know that someone is pregnant until the baby has arrived. Then you hear through the grapevine and start saying, “ahhh she had a baby? Look at that” for the acquaintances and start making plans to visit for the family friends.
And that visit is what’s known as a “voir bebe.” It literally translates to “see the baby.” Once a woman has given birth, family and friends will come and shower her with support. (I suppose it is still a baby shower in a way). Other women will come bearing gifts…but mainly food. Especially one of the dishes known as nqui. Le nqui is very popular for women who have just given birth because it is believed to help boost the production of breast milk for the new mother. It is a dark, flavourful, slimy liquid that can be eaten (more like swallowed) with fufu.
In addition to that, close family also help the new mother by engaging in the traditional stomach wrapping practices, carrying the baby, and overall assisting the mother on this journey she’s about to embark on.
Having been raised in the States though, it comes as no surprise that there has been a mixing of cultural traditions for some of us third culture kids, including my cousin. So when she invited me for her shower, I was ecstatic.
The day of the shower, it was pouring outside. Very on brand…but also, not ideal. What would have been a lovely outdoor event turned into a delightful indoor event. It was clear that the rain deterred some guests, but it was quickly apparent that it was for the best…the place was overflowing with people!
Their loss because the food was bomb (to no one’s surprise); and the games had me giddy – I love a good game. We played traditional baby shower games, from guessing what’s in the diaper (it was all different brands of American chocolate bars so…I failed terribly) to using crepe paper streamers to determine the amount it would take to fit around my cousin’s stomach, and more. Listennn, I had A TIME!
As much as I enjoyed the food and the games or even catching up with some of the people who saw me grow up, what moved me the most was the outpouring of love I got to witness from my cousin’s friends.
The host of the event was her best friend from college. The photographer was another friend from college. Some of the host’s family members came through because they, too, had gotten to know my cousin over the years. As I looked around the room at everyone who showed up, I recognized that each person there was a testament to my cousin’s love for others and her skill in building and maintaining meaningful relationships. And when you’re preparing to welcome a new life into this world, that’s one of the best things to have.
So. Here’s to Baby J and the joy he’ll be bringing. Here’s to traditions..no matter the culture. And here’s to friends and family who always show up.