Recently, one of my best friends had her first baby and she said to me, "I'm sorry I was such a jerk when you had Cole. I had no idea..."
This heartfelt confession nearly brought tears to my eyes. I wasn't expecting her to say that, and I wasn't expecting to feel relieved when she said it. But I was. It felt really nice to have someone so close to me finally understand how I had been feeling for the past two and a half years. It was so nice to finally share stories and experiences with someone I love like a sister.
Now that she has a baby of her own, she understands how your emotions change, how your heart changes, and how you—now a Mother—are forever changed.
I re-assured my friend that she wasn't a jerk. She doesn't have a jerk bone in her body. She was just a friend who had never had a baby. There is only so much you can understand without having gone through it.
With that said, there are certainly things you can do to try and be the most supportive friend possible, because, let's be honest, having a baby changes things. Not only does it change the mother's life, it changes her friendships too.
1) BE THERE AFTER THE BABY IS BORN.
Your friend just pushed a human out of her vag (or had it cut out of her uterus)—either way, it's a freaking miracle. You should be there. Yes, the baby might be wrinkly and goopy and look like an alien, but it will mean the world to your friend that you came to meet the newest love of her life. She'll give you extra points if you tell her she looks good and that her baby is cute (even if neither are true).
2) DON'T EXPECT THE NEW MOM TO DITCH THE BABY AND HAVE A NIGHT OUT ANYTIME SOON.
It's been two months since your friend became a mom, surely she wants a night out to party just like the good old days, right? Wrong. Your friend is likely too physically and emotionally attached at this point to really *enjoy* a night out. In theory, it's a great idea. In reality, (if she's breastfeeding) there is a lot of pumping and engorgement and missing-baby-guilt that she'll have to endure for a night of drinking. Really, as fun as it sounds, it's just not worth the effort.
3) HANG OUT DURING THE DAYTIME.
Sure, maybe you just rolled out of bed at 11am, but your new mom friend has already been up for a good six hours and is dying to talk to an adult. So, call her up and see if you can meet her for lunch (even if it is your breakfast), or bring her an afternoon latte and go for a walk.
4) DON'T GET GROSSED OUT OR MAKE WEIRD FACES WHILE ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS.
So there are going to be things that your friend has gone through that may seem strange, gross, or disgusting—and they are. She likely has hemorrhoids in her ass and stitches in her vag. Her baby has probably puked in her hair twice already today. Her post-partum belly is still trying to figure out what the hell it's supposed to do with itself now that the baby is gone, so it just jiggles around awkwardly. So whatever you do, don't ask stupid questions and make stupid faces, i.e.: "What is that thing supposed to be?" when pointing at her oh-so-attractive nursing-bra contraption. It's one thing to ask questions out of genuine curiosity, it's another thing to make your already self-conscious friend feel like a freak show spectacle (even if she is resembling the bearded lady these days. I told you...weird shit happens when you have a baby...)
5) DO SOMETHING NICE FOR THE BABY.
If you like your friend, you have to like her baby (or at least pretend to). So the next time you visit, or for a special occasion, bring something meaningful. A card. A homemade blanket. A stuffed toy. A token that says, "I welcome you into this world, you screaming little ball of flesh that has forever ruined girls-nights watching The Bachelor."
6) HOLD THE SCREAMING LITTLE FUCKER.
Your new mom friend is exhausted, and as much as you might hate hearing her baby cry...she hates it ten times more. It breaks her heart. She's exhausted. So please, offer to take a turn holding the screaming baby while she goes outside to breathe for 10 seconds. She'll love you forever.
7) SAVE YOUR JUICY STORIES.
Your new mom friend is wrapped up in breastfeeding, diaper changing, and forgetting to give her newborn vitamin D drops. There is nothing she'd love more than to hear stories that have NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE THINGS. Did you get stuck in the elevator on your way to work last week? Awesome! Did you flirt with a co-worker? Even better. Did you read an article on something even mildly intelligent? Fan-freaking-tastic. Pour your friend a cup of tea and don't forget a single detail!
And that's it! See? It's really pretty easy to not be a jerk when your friend has a baby. Just remember, you'll likely have a baby one day too and you're going to need this friend like you've never needed them before. Who will you call when you're literally crying over spilt milk? Only a new mom can sympathize when your husband knocks over 5oz of freshly pumped liquid gold.
If you'd like to read more about new adventures as a new mom, you can check out one of my first posts called, "I Am A Cow: A Breastfeeding Story." Or if you want more insight into the post-partum phase, check out "Life After A Baby."