This is such a special post to me because it is written by my dear friend, Katie. Katie and I have been friends since our awkward middle school days and here is my oh-so-awkward proof:
Man. I remember thinking that blue polo shirt was “super nice”. Notice that big, dark spot under my nose? It’s from a zit I picked at too much. Insert embarrassed eye roll here. And who is that boy between us? Oh middle school- you were the worst.
Katie blogs over at And Baby Made 4 and she has oh so graciously helped me get my blogging act together. Especially since I am a hot mess of house projects and detoxing at the moment. Katie is brave, kind, thoughtful and intentional. And my whole life I have loved her joyful heart. I just know you will love her too! Take it away, friend!
A good friend of mine just had a baby. Like two weeks ago. And she’s beautiful and precious and has these squeezable cheeks. I went to see them the day after she was born and as I listened to her labor story, it made me remember both of mine. No one really talks about it, but sometimes (lots of times really, unless you’re a unicorn), giving birth is actually kind of traumatic. There are all these things to be worried about and people putting their hands in places you’d normally never allow and lots of chaos and sweating and if you’re me, lots of vomit. But then eventually you have this little person in your hands. And you have all this love exploding in your chest and also this feeling of great responsibility. Even though birth can be quite messy and terrifying, I believe we are designed to forget most of the icky stuff the minute we stare into that newborn’s face.
Bringing home a baby is one of those strange things in life that maybe happen to you only a couple of times, but you know they’re moments you’ll never quite be able to forget. One minute it’s just you and your spouse, maybe a dog, maybe a sibling. And then all of the world changes in an instant. You’re staring at your newborn in utter disbelief that this human actually came out of your body (yes, this even happens with baby #2 and I suspect others after that). You’re feeling these huge feelings, from overwhelming gratitude and love to a paralyzing fear and self-doubt. You’re not sure how to move on from this point, with your life and your family being forever changed. But you do. Because you are a strong mama. This is what you were meant for.
Looking back on those first few weeks with both of my babies, I remember the complete and debilitating exhaustion. I remember the lonely late night feedings while I let my hubby sleep because he had to work the next day. I remember staring mindlessly at bad crime show reruns as the baby slept during the day because I wanted to do something adult-y. Sure, I fell into a predictable rhythm, and as the weeks went by, it got easier. But the beginning was SO. HARD. And I remember there being a sort of darkness (you can read more about my specific darkness here). However, I was so lucky to have supportive friends and family who brought light into my darkness and helped me to feel strong and confident and back to myself very quickly. So that’s why this really isn’t for the new mamas out there, but for their girlfriends, their families, their tribes. There are so many great ways to be a light to a new mom, and here’s my list of the best and most practical ways to do just that:
1. Pray for them and with them.
You don’t know how much comfort it brought me to just know someone was out there praying specifically for me, especially when I was too tired to even utter a prayer for myself.
2. Take them a meal.
This one is huge. Those first few weeks are like learning how to become human again. And cooking is just a thing that doesn’t usually get done. Also, there’s so much healing that comes with a homemade meal. You know someone planned and prepped and spent time making something they thought you would enjoy. It’s a simple act of kindness, but one that is profound. And bring dessert. Dessert is the best. Here’s one of my go-to take-to-a-friend recipes.
3. Offer to babysit.
Or just come sit with the baby while mom takes a nap. Or work out a system where someone takes all the kids for a few hours so that one mom can go do something for herself. A pedicure, a solo movie, a Starbucks run without kids. It so helps to just get away for a little bit before diving back in. One of my good friends took big sister to the park for an hour one day while the baby napped and I got to enjoy an hour of blissful silence. I was so grateful.
4. Be humble enough to share your own struggles and “fails”.
Especially if you are a mom, don’t hold back the horror stories of saying naughty words at your baby under your breath in the middle of the night after she’s already been up twice. Or the time you burned dinner because you were changing the most epic of poopy diapers. Or the time your 4 year old puked in her carseat and you just took it out and left it in the garage for later because you just couldn’t. Share those stories with the new mom, I promise they will make her feel better and so much less alone in this journey.
5. Be present and LISTEN.
This doesn’t have to be an in-person thing. Some of the best advice I received as a new mom came from friends responding to panicky text messages. To know someone is simply on the other side and is truly listening to what you are saying and taking the time to send back some “you got this” or “I’ve totally been there” or “this too shall pass” is so encouraging.
6. On that note, only offer advice when it is asked for.
Holding your tongue can be a powerful way to support a new mama. (I’m going to be honest here and say I really struggle with this one even though I know it to be true. I am a fixer, so my unsolicited advice is always give in love, but I’m working on it!) She may just need to vent or cry or complain, and she’s allowed. But when she asks for advice, give it to her in the most non-judgmental way possible. And don’t be offended if she doesn’t take it. Remember that we were all new at this once, and we all have the find the right path for our own selves and our babies. And hers might not match yours and that’s okay.
7. And last, if the new mama is breastfeeding…
Being a brand-new mama is a season that lasts for such a short time, even though it may seem like forever when you’re in it. And it’s hard. But it gets better and more comfortable. The support and love from family and friends makes it so much easier to tackle. My greatest prayer for all new mamas is that they are surrounded with these kinds of people. Because, yes, the baby is cute, but ultimately caring for that baby is mom and dad’s job. The rest of us need to take care of mama so she can do her thing.
I am a wife and mama of two, an aspiring writer, and a joyful baker. When I’m ignoring the laundry or the endless dish pile, I love to read, snuggle my babies, create delicious things in the kitchen. I’ve known Erica since we were practically babies ourselves and have enjoyed going through this mama journey alongside her. Head over to www.andbabymade4.com to see more of my posts! Thank you so much Erica for having me!