Well it had to happen. A post all about babies. Not a huge fan of this genre in the best of times, but since I finally popped last Tuesday, I actually do have baby on the brain.
The baby shower, as far as traditions go, does not really exist in Poland. I lie, it is making a debut in the more ‘let’s be more West’ mother circles, but generally it’s a non-event. I, for one, have not attended nor have I hosted a baby shower whilst living in Krakow. Instead the tradition is that your friends and family visit you after the baby is born, coming to your home for coffee and cake, bearing gifts for the newborn and sometimes token gifts for the mother (after all, she’s just been through a major slog). There’s a tradition from Michal’s region that if the newborn is a boy, then the paternal grandparents buy the pram, if a girl then the maternal grandparents are stuck with the bill. Also, if you want to be mega orthodox, you do not prepare the nursery in advance. It’s considered bad luck. Of course for logistical purposes this is no longer followed much, but some parents do adhere to it. We did. Mainly because we’re very unorganised and do things at the last minute. I popped on Tuesday. Michal was putting the last coat of white paint on Kazek’s old crib on Monday. The girl I was sharing the hospital room with hadn’t even purchased the crib yet. Her husband was sent on an errand for the baby bed to be ready by the time she left hospital.
My favourite baby-related custom/tradition is associated with what guests bring to hospital. And it is not flowers (in fact flowers are not allowed at the hospital I was giving birth at – deemed as ‘bacteria spreading’. Well the water they sit in anyway. I think it’s because the nurses can’t be bothered with cleaning up the flowers afterwards or having to change their water upon the patient’s request. Or there are just not enough vases in the Polish health care sector). Nor is it pink or blue helium balloons. Or teddy bears. It’s food! Families come with huge bags filled with food parcels from home, with food assisting in lactation, with food assisting in general rejuvenation and with food that is generally considered ‘better than this hospital rubbish’. My young mum neighbour had the complete works. Her family brought her Polish doughnuts (helps sweeten the milk), ham and other cold-cut meats (strength), home-made stewed apple kompot (digestion), various yoghurts and dairy products (lactation) and beetroot soup (lactation). Our room smelt like a deli. It was awesome. Pity the hospital did not provide mini fridges in every room. Every day she was there her mother or her in-laws would arrive bearing more food parcels. And she would make herself gourmet sandwiches at two in the morning in between breast feeding sessions. Pretty damn excellent, I say! I too had my share of goodies brought to me by Michal. Fresh bread rolls (cause I like them), Greek yoghurt (as before), kabanosy (really dried out, extremely tasty smoked sausage), plenty of water, a thermos with good coffee he brewed at home, and various pastries. There were also apples and mandarins (probably for lactation purposes) as well as chocolate wafers. I really wanted beer, but he drew the line.
When we arrived home with Julian, my mum was already here, and in true house-keeping Polish tradition, she had cleaned our flat spotless, ironed my linen (!!!) and probably cleaned the windows. Hang on, she already did that before Christmas.