News: Operation Baby Shower celebrates new JBLM mothers
Story by Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Balloons, games and cake, oh my!
For the more than 200 attendees of the second semi-annual Operation Baby Shower event at the McChord Field Collocated Club Sept. 29, it really was a colorful and magical transformation into a land of all things baby.
“The initial idea was just to celebrate birth with the moms here, a lot of them are displaced out of state, and so we wanted to give them the opportunity to have the same experience they might have had if they had been home with their friends and family,” said Carly Michael, Commercial Sponsorship Director for the JBLM Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “We really tried to make it as close to what a home shower would be like but obviously on a grandiose scale.”
The main room was decked out in boy and girl-themed decorations from the diaper cake table centerpieces to the multi-tiered building block cake and featured familiar shower games like guessing the food contents of a “messy” diaper or the diaper toss competition. Lucky game winners able to vie for prizes like a Wii Fit game console during a special pool tournament. Fathers to be were required to compete while wearing sympathy bellies. Moms and their Families were able to indulge in an impressive spread of free finger food or freshly made “mocktails” while they partied to a live DJ.
In addition to being a fun-filled event, it was also educational for both first-time mothers and seasoned veterans. Several interactive booths were displayed throughout the venue, with local vendors and military agencies present to pass along support and information to the expectant mothers.
“We wanted to get the information out to them about the resources available to the moms on the installation – things that will help them in their new role as parents,” said Michael. “We have here the Family Advocacy Program, New Parent Support Program, information about child seat safety and then also infant sign language or infant dance classes; anything that will help them in their parenting roles, bonding or communicating with the child, because ultimately, the goal is just to make better parents.”
The consensus among many of the attendees was that the event was even bigger and better than they could have anticipated.
“This is my first time attending. I just wanted to come out and see what new things were out there. I’ve enjoyed the games and the food, especially the food,” said Sgt. Maria Schorter, 23rd Chemical Battalion, who is welcoming her second child in October. “There is a lot of good information out here. Especially for new moms, first time moms don’t really know what to expect, but it’s also good for moms who have more than one kid, it’s nice to meet other moms and know you are not alone in this.”
Attendees were able to put their names on a registry to be linked with other families who live in their areas for play dates and support groups. Michael said it was an important opportunity to find not only other women to relate with but also women and families who share the military lifestyle.
The next Operation Baby Shower is scheduled for March 2013.