(a special guest post by boss lady and new mom, Carol Cooper)
As you can imagine, I’m not alone as most new moms are sleep deprived to some extent for the first year of their baby’s life (yes, a whole YEAR). Even if you have one of those miracle babies I’ve read about on blogs (but have never met in real life) that sleeps through the night at a mere 2 weeks old, you are probably still awake pumping or worrying about “all things baby” in general.
Also, when I say “sleep deprived” I’m not talking about how you feel when you have to get up at 5am to catch a flight to JFK or when you binge watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills until 2am and wake up at 6am for a meeting. The kind of sleep deprivation new moms experience is like nothing most non-moms can imagine.
My aunt said it best:
“Being a new mom is like trying to walk under water. Your body won’t move how you want it to, you can’t come up for air and you’re always covered in liquid of some kind.”
Some moms do make it look easier than others, but all new moms are unsure a lot of the time. I was lucky enough to have other moms and supportive non-mom friends around in the early months to ease the craziness. It’s hard to explain the stress that comes with new mom status, but I’ll give it a shot. Remember when you stayed up all night studying for a final in college and still didn’t crack the surface of feeling prepared? Combine that with the guilt you felt when you forgot your good friend’s birthday, and add a layer of that feeling you get when you narrowly miss getting in a car accident. You have a constant feeling that you’re totally unprepared, forgetting something very important or something scary might happen at any minute. Now you’re starting to understand what it feels like to be a new mom.
While there really isn’t anything you can do to take away that feeling from your new mom friend, it just comes with the territory and eventually it lessens, but it never entirely goes away. There were a few things my AMAZING friends did that I will never forget, so if you’re looking for boss lady ways to support the new moms in your life, here are a few suggestions as well as a few landmines to avoid.
✔ Consult this list of ideas for ways to help out and ease the transition for your new mom friend.
✔ Do text or email to let her know you care. Texts and emails are great, because they can be answered at any time (i.e. during a 2am feeding).
✔ Have takeout delivered. Bringing food is nice too; if you’re close enough friends that you know she won’t feel the need to get dressed or put makeup on or even brush her teeth for that matter (it’s that insane some days). Keep in mind, she keeps crazy hours so dinner time might be 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
✔ Offer to come over and watch the baby while she takes a shower or a nap or a walk. It’s super difficult for her to leave the house and do something for herself in the early stages, so the BEST gift you can give her is a second set of eyes for a couple of hours.
✔ Ask how the baby is sleeping, eating or developing in general. This is about the only subject she’ll be able to focus on, because it’s pretty much all she’s thinking about. Although you might not relate, it will at least make her feel like you get it.
✔ Comment / like every photo of the baby she posts on Facebook. It makes her feel connected to the outside world and reconfirms her feeling that her baby is, in fact, the cutest baby ever.
✔ Tell her she’s doing a great job; it’s as simple as that.
✖ Don’t get offended when she can’t make it to your birthday celebration, dinner invitation, or any other social function. She does miss you, but her brain is mush and if she has a free minute, she’d might just rather take a nap (nothing personal).
✖ Don’t be surprised when she still looks pregnant after giving birth. It takes weeks and sometimes months for any semblance of her old body to come back. Princess Kate did all new moms a favor when she stepped out still looking 9 months pregnant while leaving the hospital after Royal baby #1.
✖ Don’t expect her to be on time (especially if she’s bringing the baby). Trying to get a newborn out of the house is like packing for an extended vacation every day (diapers, bottles, wipes, change of clothes and the list goes on).
✖ Don’t tell her the baby looks just like Dad. She just spent 9 months baking that angel, taking on unwanted pounds and watching her boobs turn in to full-on cow udders. If you feel the need to comment on her baby’s looks, just stick to observing that he/she is a beautiful baby.
✖ Don’t tell her you know 10 other kids that have the same name as her baby. Even if her baby’s name is Ann, she still wants it to feel uniquely hers, and frankly, she doesn’t care what you think of the name she agonized over for months or even years in advance.
✖ Please don’t give unsolicited baby advice. This one is a toughy, because we all do it to some extent. Try to remember, EVERYONE is giving her advice and she is utterly overwhelmed trying to remember when the baby last ate or if the baby has slept enough that day. Adding another layer of, “I heard from my friend Stacey that it’s bad for a newborn to spend too much time in their swing,” is really not as helpful as you’d think.
A little more about Carol…
Carol Cooper is an LA-based boss lady and native of southern California. She works in entertainment and spends her free time with her little cherub of a daughter, AJ, and her hubby, Ken. When she’s not busy with work or doing the mom thing (which pretty much only leaves 2 hours at night while her nocturnal daughter takes a nap) you’ll find her enjoying her husband’s gourmet cooking with a glass of good wine, and day dreaming about what exotic locale they’ll move to one day.