Your friend had a baby, and all you can think: She’s home! I wanna go over and see that precious little ookikins and love him and squeeze him and hug him for my very own!
Well, hold up a minute. Deep breaths. Calm down.
Of course, everyone loves a baby. Because, well, they’re a fucking baby — let’s not delve into the evolutionary hardwiring. Everyone wants to get their cuddle and snuggle and love on the baby. They want to hold it. They want to sniff it. They want to croon to it softly while spontaneously ovulating. But remember: this baby belongs to your friend. Your friend who, last time we checked, you actually cared about, because, you know, friendship. You’ve got a job to do here. You’ve got to step up. Don’t fuck this up.
You’ve got to be a good postpartum mommy friend.
Rule One: It’s all about the mama.
Baby is a secondary appendage you can hold, offer advice about, change, or head-sniff if and only if everything else is done and you are invited to do so. Otherwise, ignore it, except as it pertains to the comfort of Mama. “Can I hold the baby for you while you pee?” is different from “Can I hold the baby?” which implies an indefinite time period and absolutely no helpful activity on your part. And girl, you are all about the helpful activity. At the same time, if she had a C-section and it hurts to change the baby, by all means, manage that poop explosion like a fuckin’ feces boss.
Rule Two: Do not offer your personal parenting advice unless asked.
I was that insufferable hippie who cloth-diapered, babywore, co-slept, and nursed until my kids could walk over and ask for it. When I visit a new mom, I do not say things like, “So, have you considered cloth diapers?” because that’s preachy and super annoying and she might not want shit in her Kenmore. I do not say, “You know, nursing is so good for babies,” because she might top off with formula and I’m not a sanctimommy-ass bitch. Not only does Mama does not give a shit, she has more immediate things on her mind, like how to get the baby to stop screaming. If you have advice about that shit, it might be welcomed. Maybe.
Rule Three: Get off your ass and do something.
Do something. Anything. Do all the things. Dishes in the sink? Wash them. Laundry on the floor? Gather it up, toss it in the washer, and fold the shit that’s been sitting in the dryer. Then put it away. Ignore her protests. Ignore her yowls. Tell her to sit there with the baby and let you do the work, because you have not recently taken charge of a human infant, with all the hellish sleep deprivation that entails. Then clean her bathroom. All of it. Including behind the toilet. This is not the fucking Olive Garden: when you’re here, you’re not family. You’re here to help. Accept it.
Rule Four: Get out of the house and run to Target/Wal-Mart/your Mart of choice
Make her give you a list of things she needs. Assure her, finally, huffily, that she can pay you back, if this is not a postpartum present (and it is a good postpartum present). This list can range anywhere from the makings of several meals to assorted baby doodads and nursing bras at Target. I have done many a Target run for new moms, and they always need a boppy, a husband pillow (one of those high-back doohickies with arms), pacis, lanolin, and nursing bras or very specific types of bottles. Feel free to toss in some shit you found indispensable — we always give new moms gripe water. Then get her something to make her feel human again. This should be a personal care item that does not relate to bleeding vaginas or incisions. Think face masks or nail polish.
Rule Five: Offer to come over tomorrow and hold the baby while she uses said face mask or nail polish.
And showers. Possibly shaves.
Rule Six: You bought food, right? Start cooking that shit.
Cook her dinner, at least, and leave it warm in the oven. Then clean up the kitchen. If you’re nice, you’ll make her a few freezer meals, then clean up the kitchen. (You can also make these at home and appear with them like Glinda the Good Witch. Then you will clean up her kitchen. If you even set foot in that room, you will clean up the fucking kitchen.)
Rule Seven: Keep up with her.
Text her periodically. Not every day, because you don’t want to be a stalker, but every other day. Ask how she is. Do not ask about the baby. Ask how she slept. Ask what she’s making for dinner. Ask what she’s watching on TV. Do this because no one else is. All everyone asks about, about, cares about? The crying baby, of course. Be the friend who cares about her, not just the baby. The baby will always be there. Your friendship? If you negotiate the postpartum period right, it’ll emerge even stronger.
And maybe you will get to hold that wittle nugget while she naps.
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