So you've just experienced the
miracle of birth. Isn't it wonderful. And now you are the proud and exhausted
mum of the cutest little angel in the world. Family and friends come over to
coo. Everyone is smiling and celebrating this new life.
Well, everyone that is except certain individuals, who for reasons known only to themselves, are incapable of being supportive and can't resist saying the most insensitive things.
Why these people feel compelled to steer away from the customary, "what a cutie," "well done new mum," and "is there anything you need?" remains a mystery. But they do. And more often than not, we've all had to endure at least one such person.
So here are ten asinine comments that no new mom wants to hear:
1) "You look so well and relaxed."
Actually I've lost a ton of blood, have stitches down below, my nipples feel like they've been through a cheese grater, I haven't had a bowel movement in ten days, and I've slept less than three consecutive hours in the last two weeks. I am NOT well and relaxed, and the fact that you can't see that only serves to increase my feeling of isolation. I can't believe I ever chose such a self-absorbed person as a friend.
2) "You need a break. Leave the baby with your mum and I'll take you out to dinner."
Thanks but when my mum takes the baby off my hands, I'll relax by SLEEPING!
3) "Aren't you just absolutely and insanely in love with your new baby?"
Actually right now I am in the process of bonding with my baby. Yes believe it or not, bonding is a process.
4) "I can't believe you didn't hear about that hurricane in ....?"
Well believe it! Because right now, current events are not a priority.
5) "I can't talk to you like we used to. All you talk about is babies."
Why don't you bear with me for a few weeks?!. As soon as I get the hang of this insanely steep learning curve, I'll be back to my old self. Though I might reconsider whether I'll still want YOU as a friend!
6) "Have a glass of wine."
Looking after a new baby is hard enough. I don't need the added challenge of doing it with a hangover!
7) "It's selfish not to breast feed."
Get your own baby and mind your own business!
8) "I remember when my son/daughter was that age."
I don't want to hear from people whose son/daughter is no longer that age. I want to hear
only from people who are suffering the sleepless nights, lack of freedom and steep learning curve. The fact that you went through it and now have your freedom back is not something I need to hear at this particular point in time.
9) "I lost all the baby weight in the first week."
There is no civilized response to this.
10) "Are you planning another baby?"
I've just squeezed out this one. Right now I'm not even planning another bowel movement, let alone a baby. What is even going through your head?!
I'm sure there are many more insensitive no no's out there. So feel free to share some of the outrageous "advice' to which you have been subjected.
Occasionally though, someone will surprise you with advice that will resonate and carry you through the toughest times. I'd like to share the two most important pieces of advice that I ever received, and that repeatedly kept me sane in those times of doubt.
1) Always bear in mind that everything your child does is a phase. So if he won't eat this week, he'll probably be over it by next week. If he throws a tantrum, he will grow out of it. If he likes to fling food on the floor, he won't still be doing it years from now.
2) All babies develop at their own rates, so just because your best friend's precocious little thing is up and running at 8 months of age, while yours isn't even showing signs of crawling, doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your baby. Chances are your friend is exhausted and jealous of your super chilled little angel.
So moms don't worry about baby's fluctuating appetite, bowel movements, size of baby, time to grasp, time to crawl or time to walk. Your aim in that first year is to effectively sleep train your baby and to show him / her lots of affection.
Oh yes, and try not to strangle those insensitive people who simply, for the life of them, can't bring themselves to say something intelligent.
Dr Annabelle R Charbit
Author of A Life Lived Ridiculously