Friday, June 1, 2012

How to Visit a New Baby

Dr. Momsie and Jr.when he was a couple days old.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of visiting a fairly new baby boy in my neighborhood (and his parents). He was such a sweet, tiny bundle of snuggles. My visit took me back to just over a year ago when I was home with Jr. and receiving many a visitor. It occurred to me during those visitations that often what may be a natural good intention of a well-wisher can seem a bit annoying to a new momsie. Not only are hormones out of wack, but new momsies are without sleep and in the midst of a huge learning curve.   If you’re going to see a new mom and baby, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.

Wait awhile. Don’t bum-rush the exhausted mommy with a visit the moment the baby makes his/her appearance in this world.  I didn’t really want a lot of visitors in the hospital. Our hospital experience was a whirlwind of learning to breastfeed, nurses visiting either the baby or I, and trying to get a few moments of rest.  I hadn't showered and my breasts were popping out everywhere.  Just give the new family a little space, they aren't going anywhere.  When they've settled into their new way of life, they'll be more than happy to have visitors.  Send a text to say how happy you are for them and let them know you'll be by in a few days (or weeks) to meet their new addition.

Bring food.  Or send a gift card for a restaurtant that delivers.  It is a real hassle to think about food when you've just given birth.  When TJ was ten weeks old my neighborhood mom's club set us up on a feeding schedule.  We accepted graciously - it's never too late.  Giving food was really the BEST thing someone could do for me during those first few months at home with Jr.  There are helpful websites that can help your community of friends create a "care calendar" for new parents.

Don't bring germs.  Wash your hands.  And then use hand sanitizer.  Do this so new, anxious  momsie can see.  Also, don't bring your grubby kids straight from daycare.   Don't kiss the baby with your germ-infested lips (ok, so I did this to the poor baby I visited this week. I just couldn't resist!  He was so kissable!)

Be flexible. Napping, and especially nursing, schedules can be unpredictable with newborns. So, let mommy know that you understand her scheduling needs and that you can be flexible on when to arrive. I waited for one visitor two hours, trying to strategically feed the baby around when I thought she'd arrive. She ended up arriving just as Jr. got hungry again, so my hubby had to entertain for half an hour while I fed piggy-wiggy again. Kinda spoiled the whole visit.

Use kind language. Mommy is probably feeling insecure in a thousand ways (especially if this is her first child). She doesn't need you joking about lack of sleep or hard labor. She needs to hear how lovely she looks, what a fabulous mother she is, and how her baby is absolutely gorgeous and brilliant. Also, experienced momsies need to reassure new momsies that it gets easier! I remember reading a post on a message board during those early days from a mother of an eight month old who attested that it didn't get any easier, just harder in different ways. That freaked me out. I think I cried. I know now that was a lie! It really does get easier!

Do something to help. (Again, feed them!). My point here is, don't just ask if there is something you can do to help. Most people will say no. Bring food, walk in the kitchen and do the dishes, grab the toilet brush, paint the wall . . . whatever you see needs done, do it!

Normalize. If you're an experienced momsie, this is not the time to put up a front of perfection. New momsie probably needs some empathy and understanding. She needs to know others had a hard time with breastfeeding, post partum depression, in-laws, their hubby, etc. Let her know she's normal.

When I started writing this post, I thought it would be a funny.  Turns out, it's probably more of a picture of how grouchy and irritable I was as a new momsie!

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