Thursday, August 28, 2008

Top 10 things NOT to do when your friend has her first baby

Take this as a word of warning. When one of your friends has her first baby, you will be almost maniacally driven to do certain unhelpful things. I know, I know, you think you are not like other people. But you are. So read on:

When your friend has her first baby ...

1) Don't tell her your own birth stories. Right now it's all about her. Listen - even if she's already told you five times about how great her delivery nurse was.

2) Don't tell her your kid's poop stories, no matter how funny you think they are. She is not ready for poop stories. (Some day you will laugh together about poop stories. Today is not that day.)

3) Don't give advice. If she needs advice she will ask. For now, just smile and nod and tell her how great she's doing, how thin she looks, and how cute her baby is.

4) Don't tell her that the newborn stage is "the easy part." Many moms conveniently forget about the sleep deprivation and the 2 a.m. feedings. I call it "selective mommery." Don't discount what she's going through. Instead, reassure her that it can be difficult in the beginning, but over time being a mommy gets easier (because you gain skills) and more rewarding (because you bond with the baby).

5) Don't ask her if she is "enjoying" her baby. Some women adore the first few months of mommyhood. Others struggle with the adjustment. Don't make her feel like there's something wrong with her if she's not enjoying every minute. It's OK for new moms to have frustrations, fears and disappointments like everybody else.

6) Don't talk about what's going on at work unless she asks. The idea of returning to work can be a source of anxiety. Plus, it's boring.

7) Don't assume anything. Ask her what she needs from you. It may not be what you expect. Like doughnuts.

8) Don't regale her with stories about your own kids, especially if they are older. This is not the time. She can't see beyond the little warm bundle in her lap this very moment, and that's OK.

9) Don't ignore signs of depression. If she seems to be struggling, help her find the resources she needs. In American society, mommies are expected to be happy all the time. That expectation makes it more difficult when you're suddenly feeling blue (or downright depressed) and you think you're not allowed to tell anyone how you feel.

10) Don't try to correct all of her misconceptions. She may tell you she is planning to make all her own baby food from organic vegetables she'll grow in her own garden. She may swear her child will never watch cartoons and only speak French on Sundays. No need to interject. She will learn as she goes, as all moms do. She needs you to just be there and support her as she finds her way.

Remember these tips and you will be a great source of encouragement to your new mommy friend. She may even name you the godparent.

PS again, photo credit goes to my homey (and new dad) Daniel Dubois.

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