A Gentle Reader asks: “We have some friends who just had their first baby. We are DYING to go and see the new arrival, but we feel shy about just showing up on their front porch. What is the etiquette in a situation like this?”
This is one of those times when communication is a MUST, because whether a visit will be welcome or dreaded depends entirely upon the new parents.
Some people (especially with their first babies) are extremely anxious in those few weeks at home with a newborn; they worry about germs, the baby won’t sleep when they think he should, and they’re concerned that their house is a mess. Even laid-back parents will be tired, and they may be very busy trying to incorporate nursing and diapering into their old schedule.
On the other hand, many – probably most – parents want to show off the new baby, too. Even if they seem to be sending out “stay away” vibes, they may be hurt that no one has come to pay their respects to the new prince or princess. The first thing to remember is that the new mama and papa are walking bags of surging hormones and sleep deprivation, so don’t let yourself feel insulted by anything they say (or don’t say) right now! In addition, they may be trying very, very hard not to become “THOSE parents,” the couple who only talk about their baby – so they may be too shy to ask you to come over.
I’m interested in what the other ladies think about this, because: Mollie always knows the right thing to do, Maggie has a one-month-old, and May has reached the age where her friends are having babies. Meanwhile, here are my guidelines!
• Call first. Never never NEVER just drop in on brand-new parents. They may have just gotten the baby to sleep or dropped off themselves – and as anyone who’s ever had a newborn knows, there is NO other feeling of accomplishment like the one you get when you finally get a baby to go to sleep. (If they are sleeping they’ll have probably turned the phone’s ringer off, so calling is okay.)
• If they’re not up to a visit right now, don’t feel insulted. It doesn’t mean they don’t like you, it just means they are stretched so thin they can’t handle even ONE. MORE. THING right now.
• Don’t show up empty-handed. A baby gift isn’t necessary, especially if you already gave one at a shower, but a casserole, a loaf of home-made bread or a handful of movie-rental coupons might really make their day. Oh, and there is one thing I always do if the baby has older siblings: I bring a present, but for the older kids, NOT for the baby. Big brothers and sisters get overlooked a lot at a time like this. The baby won’t care if they get a present and he doesn’t, but you can bet it matters if the situation is reversed!
• Don’t stay long. Twenty minutes is probably long enough during that first couple of weeks. That’s enough time to coo over the baby, ask to hold him if you think the parents will let you (and you want to), leave your gift and go. This way you get your baby fix, they get to show off a bit and no one gets tired out.
What do you think, Ladies?
Mollie Chips In Her 2 1/2 Cents Worth
Well, you asked!
I have a very good angel and a very bad angel sitting on my shoulders, helping me write this. The very bad angel says "Swoop on down, hug that baby, genuflect to the parents, and then share every moment of your own labors and deliveries with the mom." Like I said, a very bad angel. But isn't that what we all do?
It's what I wanna do!
"Here's what you might do" says the very good angel.
You know where the baby lives, so send flowers to the mom, a Teddy bear for the other sibs, and a bottle of Jack Daniel's to the father. Just because he doesn't drink now only means he hasn't raised teenagers yet.
If you live out of town, call nearby restaurants, etc. to see if they deliver. Then have food sent. Food is always appreciated, especially when you're nursing. Go for a deli platter and a case of sparkling apple cider. Oh, and beer helps the milk let down . . .
Send a packet of redeemable coupons to the parents. They should be for things like HazMat services, babysitting, a weekend away when the baby isn't nursing anymore, that sort of thing. Use your imagination, silly. What did you really need help with when you were sitting on your episiotomy, nursing a baby, dealing with mastitis, and just generally wondering why there are only 24 hours a day?
If you have a buck or two, start a college fund for the wee one. The parents will think you crazy, but $50.00, compounded at 1.5% for 18 years is probably an art history book when the princess is 18. And, yes, in college, every book is a gift from God. Ok, so maybe a laptop or whatever small pittance it will buy then, but you get my point. If that kidlet decides to spend the money on something other than higher education, that's fine, because you love him/her. But having a little nest egg started is a good thing!
Check the parents Facebook page daily and respond appropriately. Appropriate responses might be "Oh, Sweetie!!!!" if it's something related with new mommy frustration, or "Oh, Sweetie!!!!!!!" if has something to do with something positive. "Oh, Sweetie!!!!!!!!" pretty much covers it all.
Find out, via Facebook or e-mail, when a visit might be arranged. Start the correspondence with "I need a baby fix, when can you accommodate me!" If you are really nice, you can insert a "?" for "!". Telephones can rattle a nursing mom, e-mail will remain in a holding pattern 'til the mommy is ready to respond.
And remember, once that baby is here, that little person is #1 to the parents. If it seems like you are being ignored, it's because someone else is probably getting every drop of tender attention the parents have to offer. This is a good thing. This also won't change.
So, glorify in the beauty of birth. A new person has arrived here, all new and perfect, just waiting to be loved. So love away - but let the parents call the shots!