Special delivery helps moms learn what to expect when expecting
KADENA AIR BASE - In a large banquet hall, the atmosphere buzzes as soon-to-be mothers discuss questions many expectant parents have on their minds. And who better to address those questions than a knowledgeable author of a prominent series of books on pregnancy and child development.
Heidi Murkoff, author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” was the keynote speaker and guest of honor at a series of baby showers and informational seminars June 17-19 at the Kadena Officers’ Club on Kadena Air Base.
The events launched the new Special Delivery Program, in which the USO and the What to Expect Foundation not only host baby showers at military installations worldwide, but also provide information to expectant mothers dealing with the challenges of pregnancy and parenthood.
“The baby showers provide support, connections and celebration for all the women that come,” said Kerri Needle-Ray, a Washington, D.C., native and program manager. “The event started last year, and our first location we ever hosted this event was on Okinawa.”
The event was organized like a traditional baby shower for expectant mothers who are miles away from their closest friends and families.
“We provide the food and have games like at a traditional baby shower,” said Maralyn O’Brien, the programs manager for USO Okinawa. “For a lot of expectant mothers, they are far away from home, and they just got here and pregnant. It (may be) the only baby shower they will have on the island, so it’s a good opportunity to meet other expectant mothers and gain a connection and friends.”
Attendees learned about and discussed topics ranging from breastfeeding to baby carriers. They also received gifts and raffle prizes.
“Everyone receives a gift bag and a one-piece, USO baby outfit,” said O’Brien, a Canton, Michigan, native. “We are raffling for strollers, baby carriers, a moveable play system, and baby clothing.”
Event participants had the chance to meet Heidi Murkoff, whose popular book series answers pregnancy and parenting questions. Murkoff’s husband, Erik, also attended the events and spoke with guests.
“Her favorite thing to do is interact with moms and dads,” said Erik Murkoff, a Los Angeles, California, native. “If Heidi could quit her day job and host events like this, she would do it.”
First-time expectant mothers might need some guidance when they are pregnant, or have questions during pregnancy that family members cannot answer. Both Murkoff’s books and the Special Delivery Events help to answer some of those common questions.
“She realized there was no place to turn to for answers,” said Erik Murkoff. “She wanted a book that would be reassuring to moms so they could have their questions answered that she didn’t have while pregnant.”
Heidi covers many topics in her books, including pregnancy stages and what to expect during a child’s second year.
Expectant mothers were grateful for the fun and informational baby shower, according to Jessica Johnson, a military spouse.
“The event answered a lot of questions to find out if the things I went through were normal,” said Johnson. “The event helped me get out and meet new people since we just moved to Okinawa.”