Thursday, September 18, 2014

Things you should NEVER say to new mothers...

People say the stupidest crap to new moms.  One of my close friends just welcomed her first baby to the world and people have been saying truly moronic, unfeeling, make-a-new-mother-doubt-herself, crap to her.

To these morons I say: Yes, you have had a baby yourself.    THIS baby, however, is not YOUR baby.  THIS baby is different from your possibly decades-long remembrance of the baby you had.  THIS baby, when it (insert action here), might not want whatever the hell you think it wants. You just met THIS baby.  You don't know THIS baby.  THIS baby is an entity unto itself.

If THIS baby is using a soother, do not say, "Oh, you've chosen to use a soother?" in the most condescending tone possible.  Yes, the new mother has chosen to use the soother - that's why the baby is sucking on it.  The appropriate answer to this rhetorical piece of tsk-tsk, judgemental crap should be:  "Oh, we haven't chosen the soother, the baby chose it.  We left random items in the crib, you know, soother, teddy bear, switch blade, nun chucks - he decided to go with the soother.  We're a little bummed."

If the new mother has decided not to breastfeed, 1) it's none of your frickin' business, and B) DON'T say, "Have you tried..." and then list things.  She has.  She has tried.  She knows that breast milk is best.  She knows about the antibodies.  She KNOWS.  The next time this comes out of someone's mouth - make up the worst possible thing you can think of.  Coat your breasts with jam, lift your shirt and bra and say, "My mastitis was worse than most..."

"That baby is too young to be out visiting people!"  

"What's the alternative - shoving him back in, until he's cooked more?"

"Are you tired?"  

"Yes, yes, but not because of the baby.  It's all this spare time I've found I now have. I actually have more spare time than before the baby! I have learned to knit, paint watercolours and speak Italian - and that's just this week!  Next week, we'll be doing some tandem hang-gliding..."

"You have to get that baby on a schedule!" 

"As soon as I figure out how and when this time-sucking remora eats, sleeps and craps, you'll be the first to know."

"Oh s/he's not (insert verb here) yet?"  

"Yes, s/he is smiling/laughing/teething/crawling/walking/running/reading/writing/reciting the periodic table - (sad smile and wince). I don't think s/he is comfortable enough around you to share her/his talents."

"When's baby #2 coming?"  

"That depends.  How long did it take you after recuperating from the episiotomy, hemorrhoids, post-partum, self-doubt, lack of sexual interest/lubrication to get back up on the horse?"

Oh, and when the new mom phase has shifted to toddler mom...  If a toddler mom looks like she might possibly be pregnant?  Never ask,"When are you due?"  Ever.  In fact, don't say that phrase to any woman -  even if she looks like she has three basketballs inside her.  Don't say it.

When first hearing this phrase, an exhausted, overwhelmed, teetering-on-the-edge of sanity toddler mom will probably internalize it, dying just that little bit more inside.  The second, third or fourth time she hears it?  She could lose her shit, I know I did, with varying degrees of meaness depending on the tone of voice that the stranger (and it always seems to be strangers) used.

"Nope, not pregnant, just fat from the first one."
"Nope, not pregnant, stomach cancer."
"No... (sob)... not pregnant... I lost the baby at 7 months...

Give the new mom a break.  Let her lead the conversation - remember what it was like when you were a new mom - remember that.  Be there for her, be a sounding board, check in on her, brush her hair, let her shower, take the baby for a few hours so that she can do whatever she wants...  I know, I know, you've been there, you know it all, your child has turned out perfect.  No, she hasn't reinvented the wheel, but to her, it's still a brand new wheel.

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