Being a new momma can be hard—even if it’s not your first baby. Hormones, hospitals, and sleep deprivation can be a nasty cocktail but I’d venture to say it’s even harder to be a friend to new parents. Sleepless nights and newborn cries are no joke, but there is a purpose in the chaos. As a friend, it’s hard to know what’s helpful and what’s intrusive. What’s thoughtful and what’s too much love. So as a mom of two I’m graciously lavishing you with mediocre advice on what I appreciated the most. Each family is different so what I thought was the best thing ever may not resonate with you (or your friend) so you might have to tweak things to suite you and your BFF.
1) Don’t Use Her For Her Baby. I know, new babies are just about the sweetest things ever. The sweet smell of a baby’s head, the tiny fingers and toes and baby yawns. Be still my heart. But, as much as you can’t wait to hold that little bundle of wonderful, don’t be a user. Keep in mind that your friend has battled (gladly) nine-months (3/4ths of a year, 40 long weeks) or nausea, weight gain and back pain for that sweet smelling bundle. So as excited as you may feel to snuggle, imagine what your beautiful friend is feeling. Most moms are happy to share the snuggles, even welcome them but few want “friends” who only show up for the sweet smelling part. Avoid phrases like “I’ll come hold the baby if you need to get some laundry done.” Some alone time might be what momma needs but after something of a traumatic ordeal I haven’t met a momma yet who’s chomping at the bit to jump off the couch to start cleaning. She may want/need those things done but I doubt it’s her first choice to waste precious energy on scrubbing toilets. After you hold sweet baby, try offering insisting to do some dishes before heading home. She may turn you down, because she’s polite, but it’s doubtful she’ll be mad at a clean kitchen.
2) Mommas Are Girls, Too. Sometimes in the shuffle it’s easy (as a new momma) to forget you’re a girl. Before I was pregnant I imagined pregnancy and parenthood to be the epitome of being a woman. I was wrong. There are lots of times that pregnancy feels girly but the last weeks (month) and post partum I felt far from feminine. Lady-like downshifted into zombie-like. Josiah and I had a friend from his work who called me Momma Goose. He came to our house on weekends to hang out with Joe and occasionally the three of us would go out to eat or to a baseball game. When I was in the hospital with Noah he sent a bouquet of flowers. When I was in the hospital with Hadley my in-laws brought a bouquet of flowers. My parents bought me a pretty gown to wear at the hospital. All were simple gestures but they meant the world. Small symbols that I wasn’t lost in the chaos–that I was still a girl.
3) It’s Not A Race. Ever been in a revolving door? Sometimes, that’s how the first couple weeks can feel. I’m not complaining at all, just keeping it real. The first few weeks are full of loved ones coming to meet your little one, bringing meals and to see how you and your husband are fairing. A girl could get spoiled to that kind of treatment, which is why I was more nervous about when Josiah had to go back to work than labor and delivery. Crazy, I know. That’s why I suggest waiting when possible. I’m not talking about not going to the hospital or sending a thoughtful text. But, if possible, delay your long(er) visit until week 3 or beyond. Most of the time, the chaos as died down and new mommas can feel lonely. It’s hard to imagine with a newborn but by then most people have resumed their daily activities and the visits start spacing out. A lazy afternoon with a friend, and a premade lunch (or dinner) might be just what a girl needs. Bonus: the fear of leaving baby alone might be subsiding and you can snuggle longer, or you may not have to share baby with other visitors.