Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How to Help and How to Annoy a New Mother

Whether you have had one child or a dozen and whether you physically birthed the child or not, life with a brand new baby can be hectic for at least a period of time.  A dear friend of mine had a baby recently and I found myself remembering the exhausting newborn days.  A few things stand out to me about that time and here are the things that I found to be the good, the bad, and the ugly of early parenthood.

The Good
- My husband took nearly a full week off of work to be with me.  That was sooo helpful because I couldn't even lift the baby in the first few days and having him there was a great comfort to me.
- Between my husband and my MIL, I never changed even one dirty diaper in my son's first week of life.  I didn't see even one meconium-filled diaper and don't feel that I missed out on anything!
- Friends and family brought us dinners every day for nearly two full weeks.  I can't stress enough how much those meals were welcomed and appreciated when I didn't have the energy to cook and couldn't even manage my way around the kitchen. 
- A lactation consultant who seemed really interested in helping me establish an awesome breastfeeding relationship by helping me work on getting a good latch.  This was in contrast to the first LC I saw while still in the hospital.
- The friend who volunteered to watch our son when he was a couple months old so that we could go to dinner.  I still find it difficult to leave my son with a sitter who he doesn't know and it was incredibly kind that this friend offered because hubs & I definitely needed the time to reconnect at that point.

The Bad
- People who suggested that I stop struggling with breastfeeding and just go with a bottle of formula.  It is no one's business how any mother chooses to feed her child.  Period.  So STFU about it unless you are asked for your opinion or advice.
- People who suddenly developed opinions on my dietary choices. . .and I lost my pregnancy weight by my post-partum checkup!  Yeah, I gained that weight right back (and then some!) once my son was weaned, but it was gone for a period of time.  A woman's doctor is just about the only one who can voice concern about her weight.  If you aren't her personal physician, you just sound like a jerk.
- People who give unrequested advice.  OMFG, this one gripes me!  It's unbelievable how many people try to undermine a new mother's authority over her own child.  The worst was when my husband would be given some choice nugget and he'd take it back to me because then it felt like my husband was being used against me.
- People who expected their dishes back within some unknown timeframe and badger the mother about them.  It is very kind to bring meals to a new mother, but it is very stressful if you call every day to inquire about getting back your dishes.  It's even more stressful if the mother has had a c/s and can't even freaking drive yet!  Drop off meals in dishes that you don't need back right away (or dishes that are disposable) or don't bother.
- People who try to scare you about your new baby by indicating that something completely normal and expected is abnormal and unexpected.  New babies generally do not sleep through the night, new babies do go through a peak fussy period, new babies do experience growth spurts in which they nurse significantly more than they did the week previously, and newborns tend to spit up a bit.

The Ugly
- People who stopped by unannounced and wanted to see the baby.  When a new mother is walking around nearly topless and totally sleep deprived 24/7, this is not an appreciated visit and her ability to shoot the breeze is impossibly impaired.
- People who stayed for what seemed like forever.  When you're operating on two total hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, an hour-long visit is just too long and it's time that could be used for napping.
-  People who are uptight about Thank You notes.  Look, I am kind of obsessive about writing out thank yous and I do it the day that I receive a gift so if you didn't receive one from me at some point, it was most likely lost in the mail (or I held it because I usually see you in person).  But I wouldn't dream of acting like a snarky witch if a new mother hasn't found the time to write a stupid thank you note.  Seriously, is the recipient going to frame it or something?
- People who have the nerve to ask when you're going to clean and do housework.  WTF?!  I swear that my response will be, "as soon as you can help me," if I am ever asked such a ridiculously rude question ever again.
- People who question your parental choices.  I ordinarily have pretty thick skin and can take criticism fairly well, but not when I'm in the midst of the post-partum hormone crash.  I think that these people have no idea how lousy they made me feel when I was at my most vulnerable.

What are your top tips for helping out a new mother?  Do you have any early motherhood horror stories?


  1. Okay, so I know what I am getting you for a welcome baby present after reading the Unsolicited Advice topic! Wher River was a baby, I got so sick of that shit, that I made thim several cheeky onsies to wear that would help the situation. They had the folowing phrases bazen across his chest:
    "Please do not give my parents unsolicited advice"
    "Please stop staring at my lunch" (breastfeeding)
    "My Mom has had two hours of sleep, any unsolicited advice could result in you being slapped"
    "Yep, my Mom is really doing that. And, no, she doesn't give a S**T what you think about it!"

  2. LOL! Those onesies are AWESOME, Megan - very cheeky and most amusing!