When my mom first told me about the envelope — pale pink, handwritten, no return address, sent to a house where I haven’t lived in nine years — I assumed it must be a wedding invitation. Probably an old family friend who still thinks of me as 16, living with my parents.
I almost asked her to open it. Because really, how personal could it be? But something stopped me.
“Could you just mail it?” I texted her.
It was a wiser move than I could have imagined. Because the envelope was not, in fact, a wedding invitation, or from an old friend. It was “Jenny B.,” writing to congratulate me on my forthcoming baby. And despite my brief moment of panic — what does Jenny know that I don’t? — I am not pregnant.
My first thought was to run through any people I might have rubbed the wrong way: If someone wanted to inject my life with a good dose of entirely unanticipated stress, there truly would be no better way than tricking my mother into thinking I’m pregnant.
As it turns out, I’m not nearly that special.
For the last week, women across America have been receiving almost identical versions of this card. Many women had the same experience that I did. Instead of going to their current address, the card was delivered to the house where they grew up, a false-alarm for one of life’s most emotional declarations: Mom, Dad, I’m going to have a baby.
The front of each card is exactly the same: There’s a kissy-faced avocado, with a little pink heart nestled in its pit.
“Holy guacamole,” the card exclaims. “You’re going to avo baby!”
Inside is a message from Jenny B., dashed off in black sharpie: “Congratulations!!! I’m so excited for you!” At first glance, the card looks like it was certainly written by hand: The writing appears to bleed through the back, and there’s a fingerprint smudge on the crease. But it seems Jenny knew smudges would draw people in: Every version of the card posted on Twitter has the same exact fingerprint.
“I hope you like this,” Jenny’s message continues. She’s referring to the 12 gift cards and coupons included inside the card, for all manner of baby paraphernalia: baby slings, custom onesies, a sparkly pacifier that reads “Daddy’s Gem.”
It is these promotions that are the reason for my unexpected mail. The card hails from Pleasant Grove, Utah, where Mother’s Lounge, a wholesale retailer for mothers and babies, is headquartered. While no one from the company responded to my request for comment, all the gift cards and coupons are for brands associated with Mother’s Lounge — of which Jenny Bosco, the leading suspect for the role of “Jenny B.,” is the founder. (The Better Business Bureau, BBB, confirmed that Mother’s Lounge is behind the card. The company has employed similar tactics in the past, said BBB spokesperson Kelsey Coleman, earning them an “F rating” with BBB.)
The target demographic for the card seems to be women in their 20s. Mother’s Lounge did not find it worthwhile, apparently, to weed out women who are not pregnant. Most of the women who I found posting about “Jenny B” on Twitter do not have children.
It’s not clear why the cards are going to people’s parents. Maybe Mother’s Lounge is accessing an old database, said Coleman, filled with information gathered from purchases made many years ago. Maybe a lot of 20-something women (like me) just don’t update their permanent address very often.
Either way, the cards are sparking some heated family conversations. A.P. Hawkins, a 27-year-old writer based in Houston, asked her mom to open the card while she was on the phone.
“My mom’s first thought was that it was some weird or cute way of me announcing I was pregnant,” said Hawkins.
It was hard, she said, because her mom really wants grandchildren. Hawkins got married last year, so, to her mom, a baby didn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. But Hawkins and her husband aren’t even thinking about kids. As soon as she got off the phone, Hawkins said, she felt herself getting emotional.
“If someone had just sent me coupons for baby stuff in the mail, it wouldn’t have been a big deal,” she said. “But this looked like a thoughtful card from a family friend… and that was different. There is so much emotion tied up in pregnancy.”
Hawkins can’t imagine what it would be like to get this card after struggling with infertility. “I feel like that would be a really traumatizing thing, to have someone write to you and say, ‘Oh hey, you’re pregnant,’” she said.
Many parents weren’t nearly as thrilled as Hawkins’s mom at the prospect of an unexpected grandchild.
Lauren Jones, 23, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tweeted that she had to “talk [her] mom down off a ledge” after she opened the card, convincing her mom that she wasn’t pregnant.
“She told me her heart completely dropped to her stomach,” Jones said to me in a message. “I think she was more upset that i wouldn’t have told her and told some random in Utah than anything else.”
It wasn’t a conversation many wanted to have. The card seemed like an attempt to cause trouble, said @emmaacat. She wasn’t thrilled to learn that her dad had been the one to open it.
Another card-recipient, @leaahhmariie, tried to laugh it off with her mom in a text message.
“Be honest were you excited you were almost a grandma,” she wrote.
Her mom responded with one word.