When Gayle King’s daughter, Kirby Bumpus, first started planning her baby shower, the mom-to-be assumed that—like most events amid the coronavirus pandemic—it would be largely, if not completely, virtual. “My husband [Virgil Miller] was doing a trip with his guy friends, so I felt like I should do something to celebrate, too,” Kirby tells Oprah Daily. “But I also didn’t know if people were really gathering. At that point, I was barely doing socially distanced walks.”
But then the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available, and Kirby decided to get the shot—which is when Gayle, Oprah Daily’s editor at large, offered a suggestion: Why not celebrate with a small group of friends, either at Kirby’s house or a nearby restaurant? “When Kirby got married in December, she didn’t have the wedding that she’d planned. We were still in the process of figuring out exactly what that would be, but we knew, whatever it was, it’d be more than six people,” says Gayle, referring to the couple’s socially distanced ceremony at Oprah’s house. “That turned out to be perfect, but she didn’t have a bridal shower or any of those events, so I really wanted her baby shower to be more than just a Zoom thing. Not to mention that part of the fun of being pregnant is seeing your friends react to your baby bump, watching them ooh and aah and letting them touch it.”
Kirby was on board and remained so even when the plans changed once more, after a close friend suggested they turn it into a spa weekend—an idea both Kirby and Gayle loved. So at the end of July, Kirby, Gayle, and 16 friends and family members (all of whom were vaccinated and had tested negative before the event) headed to the picture-perfect Montage Laguna Beach resort for a three-day trip packed with everything Kirby loves.
That included an outdoor, orange-themed dinner at Broadway by Amar Santana, during which guests were encouraged to wear something in Kirby’s favorite color (“I got out of the elevator, walked into the lobby, and saw everybody together in orange, which was really special,” she says), as well as a seaside yoga class and a meditative sound bath. “When I turned 35 this year, my husband organized this incredibly thoughtful weekend for us, which included a sound bath,” says Kirby. “I’d done them before, but this time, the baby was at a phase where he could hear things, which really amplified the whole experience. After that, I knew I wanted to do another—and that I wanted to share it with my friends.”
The weekend’s main event was, of course, the baby shower, which took place on one of the resort’s stunning oceanfront lawns. While Gayle initially thought she could organize the event largely on her own, she soon realized that might not be the case. “A friend asked me, ‘Who is going to put together the gift bags? Are you going to be stuffing the gift bags? And do you have time to order the flowers?’” recalls Gayle, who joined forces with Kirby’s best friend, Erica, for the shower. “That’s when I knew I needed a planner.” With a recommendation from our creative director Adam Glassman, Gayle hired Jeannie Young Savage, owner of the aptly-named Details Details, who suggested that they use shades of blue—inspired by the fact that Kirby is expecting a baby boy—as a starting point for the design. “I’m very excited about a boy,” says Kirby, “For starters, I think my husband Virgil would be a great dad to a boy or girl, so I just can’t wait to see him become a dad. And selfishly, I’m grateful that I don’t have to figure out how to do a little girl’s hair just yet, because I’m not sure I’m ready for that.”
Adds Gayle: “I would have been thrilled either way, but I was so excited when I found out it was a boy, because as the oldest of four girls, I always wanted a big brother for myself.”
Together, Jeannie and Gayle ensured that the decorations not only felt “pretty and welcoming,” which was important to Gayle, but that there were also splashes of blue throughout—from the sky-colored umbrellas surrounding the dinner table to the parasol-themed photo backdrop to the upholstered chair that Kirby used while opening gifts to the delightfully decorated two-tiered cake from IntriCakes, and even the blue hydrangea-based garland that marked Kirby’s seat. “That’s something that would never have occurred to me,” says Gayle. “There were so many little details that Jeannie suggested that really took it to another level.”
When Kirby finally saw the decorations, which Gayle had wanted to keep a surprise until the big day, she was equally floored. “It was the first moment to celebrate a lot of things that happened in the last two years—and Mom definitely went all out and outdid herself,” says Kirby. “The thing I keep saying is that I can’t even call this the shower of my dreams because I didn’t even dream something like that for myself.”
Before sitting down for a celebratory dinner, the festivities included a couple of games that Kirby and Erica had found through Google searches: One quizzed attendees on Kirby’s history and preferences (where she was born, her favorite food, whether she’d rather sleep in late or get up early) to determine who knew the mommy-to-be best, while another required guests to taste unmarked jars of Yumi baby food and guess what the ingredients were. “That was a fun activity because some varieties had one ingredient and others had up to eight,” says Kirby. “One team had all of the moms on it, and they took it quite seriously.”
And there was also another hallmark of a classic shower: At one point, Kirby opened a variety of gifts, which included a BabyZen YOYO² stroller from Oprah, a quilt that her aunt Sharon had made from scratch (“I don’t really have sewing abilities, so that was pretty impressive to me,” Kirby says), plenty of cute clothing (think: a tropical-printed onesie, teeny-tiny Nike sneakers), and a whole lot of books. “There were so many beautiful, inclusive books, from Giraffes Can’t Dance, which talks about ability, to The Undefeated, which highlights generations of Black American heroes,” says Kirby. “It was really cool to feel like I was creating a library that had been cultivated by all my people.”
One book, though, is particularly special: Earlier in the day, each guest received a piece of cardstock with a phrase and drawing that illustrated one letter in the alphabet (for example: “J is for jack-o’-lanterns” or “N is for Narwhal”). In addition to coloring the picture, Kirby’s friends and family members were also encouraged to leave a note for the baby. “Now we’ll have it bound, and that’ll be the baby’s first ABC book,” explains Kirby.
By the end of the weekend, Kirby wasn’t the only one who had amassed a bunch of gifts. Not only did each guest receive a monogrammed Paravel tote filled with items supporting mostly women-owned and small businesses (like robes from Kim+Ono, T-shirts from Favorite Daughter, earrings from Kendra Scott, nap dresses from Hill House, and cookies from Debbie’s Cakepops & Sweets and Cake-wich Craft), but each table setting at the baby shower included a custom pressed penny by Paul Conner Studios (think those souvenir coins you can make at amusement parks and tourist attractions), which was a sweet nod to Kirby’s decades-long collection. “I’ve been accumulating them since I was 12, and one day I want to turn them into a wall, a floor, or something else, so I can see them all,” she says. “For the shower, we had ones made with the dates of the shower weekend and a little baby, so I could have something fun yet very meaningful to give to my friends.”
Not to mention that many of the guests went home with something that was perhaps even more special: new friends. “I had invited friends from so many different chapters of my life—from childhood, from college, from D.C., where I lived for several years—and it was really the first chance for all my people to come together and meet each other,” says Kirby. “All my friends are incredible, smart fun people, but they all have such different personalities. So to see them connect and create their own friendships was awesome.”
Gayle continues: “It turned into something that was bigger than a baby shower. Kirby was at the core of the celebration—no doubt about that—but it became a celebration of friendship, a celebration of women, and a celebration of coming together after things have been so hard for so many people. To be honest with you, I didn’t know it was going to be that. I knew it would be pretty and nice, but I think it grew into something much more significant than that.”
Now, with the shower behind them—and the baby’s due date just weeks away—Kirby and Virgil are completing the final items on their pre-baby to-do list. They just installed their baby’s car seat and had their final session with their doula, something that Kirby emphasizes was very important to both her and Virgil: “Knowing how the whole birth experience is different and riskier for Black women, we felt it was essential to go into the delivery room fully informed and with someone who would really be an advocate for us,” she says. Next up, they’ll finish washing the last loads of clothes and crib sheets, as well as hang a few finishing touches in the nursery.
“Once we’ve done that, I think we might actually be ready—or as ready as we can be. We know there’s a million things that we don’t know and a million things that we need to learn, but out of all the jobs I’ve ever sought out, this is the one that I know for sure I really want,” says Kirby. “I’ve wanted to be a mom for so long and having a mom like mine has given me such an incredible template for what a mom can be. I love our relationship, and I get so excited thinking about what that relationship will look like with my son as he’s a baby, as he’s a child, and so on.”
Adds Gayle: “To see your own baby have a baby—it still blows my mind that this is actually happening.”