1. No, I’m not “tired.” I’m exhausted to a degree only someone who’s stayed up raving for three days with zero help from any illegal substances can understand.
Look, everyone knows that you “don’t sleep much” when you have a new baby. But that barely touches the depths of the sleep deprivation you’re in after bringing your new kiddo home. Your body either just went through the physically and emotionally grueling process of childbirth or the physically and emotionally grueling process of adoption. Both have their own challenges, and both will wear you the F out. And now you’re home with a new baby, and you have no idea what you’re doing. Why is he crying? Why isn’t he sleeping? Did he just poop again and do I really need to change his diaper if he’s sleeping? You must make these mental calculations on zero sleep and just hope you get the answer right. It’s like the most cruelest show imaginable, where your reward is … no sleep.
2. Everything is sore. E V E R Y T H I N G.
In those first few weeks of motherhood, you could literally list all your aching body parts on a mile-long scroll, and it still would not be enough paper. But it’s not just the obvious ones that feel miserable (hello there, vagina, breasts, and general C-section scar area) -- it’s all the other stuff too: your back aches from hunching over the breastfeeding pillow, your shoulders are permanently clenched at your ears thanks to general new-mom nerves, and your abdomen is cramping like crazy thanks to your uterus shrinking back down to size. So please, if a new mom wants to complain about how beat up her body is: LET HER.
3. The casserole is much appreciated, but please don’t hang out for long.
Food is always such a help, and quick visits are nice too! Just please turn on your Social Cues Radar so you can pick up on us hinting that it’s time to go. Because we need our space – to rest, to cuddle our kid, to freak out in private – almost as much as we need that lasagna you just brought us.
Which reminds me…
4. Instead of asking if there’s anything you can do to help, please just offer to come over and do the dishes and laundry.
No new mother will ever turn this offer down, and it is an incredibly helpful gesture that’s also easy for just about any friend to do. Please, come wash the kid’s onesies and then scrape all that hardened lasagna cheese off these plates that have been in the sink for four days. This is how you earn a spot in the Eternal Friendship Hall of Fame.
5. I managed to leave the house today with my baby and should be given an award (and a parade too, let’s be real).
The next time you see a mom out with a new baby, buy her a bouquet of flowers. Hand her a trophy that you just so happen to conveniently keep in your bag. Stand and applaud as she passes. Because holy crap, is it hard to get your shit together to get out of the house with a new baby in tow. You have to time your exit just right – change the diaper, feed the kid, and then load them up so they’ll chill quietly and hopefully fall asleep – all while dressing yourself and remembering your keys. But leaving the house isn’t even the hardest part –it’s surviving in public when things go awry. It’s standing in line at the grocery store with a screaming 5-week-old on your chest, it’s staying calm in a stalled subway car as your child’s poop leaks all over her stroller. Hand us an Oscar and a glass of champagne. We’ve earned it.
6. I’m scared, I’m lonely, I’m in love with my kid, I’m overwhelmed, I’m emotional, I’m ecstatic, I’m – oh look, I’m crying again.
The new-mom emotional roller coaster is real, ya’ll. Chalk it up to hormones, exhaustion, being home with a screaming baby 24/7 or just, ya know, processing how much your life has changed (literally) overnight. Listen, support, and bring us salty foods. And if you’re worried a new-mom friend might have postpartum depression, speak up. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see that we might need help.
7. I don’t remember what it is like to have my body all to myself.
What I do remember is what it’s like to have a tiny, writhing creature clamp on to my body for dear life and then suck its meals down like food is going out of style. I am pooped on, peed on, chomped on, and slept on. I am one tiny person’s entire life force. And I really miss what it was like to take a shower by myself every morning.
8. If I need advice, I’ll ask for it.
Sometimes the most supportive thing you can do for a new mom is just listen. Nod in solidarity. Say, “I hear you. I totally get that.” When we complain or question, we’re not always looking to be told what to do. We’re working on figuring it out for ourselves. Also, sometimes it just feels good to bitch and moan.
9. It’s not as rosy and fun as it looks on my Instagram.
On the day I posted that photo of me fresh-faced and smiling with the baby at the farmer’s market, I also screamed at my spouse, spilled coffee on my pants, accidentally sent an important work email to the wrong person, and read Twitter for two hours instead of starting that sleep-training book. Social media is an illusion! But please still fave all my pics.
10. Compare having a new baby to having a puppy and I will judge you for it. Forever.
Do this, and our friendship will be over faster than you can say, “but I have to let him out to go pee in the middle of the night!”