Monday, 5 October 2015

Friend is a Four Letter Word

The first three months after a baby is born is often referred to as the fourth trimester.  It's when new or returning parents get thrown into the deep end of the pool and they discover "the new normal" while baby slowly gets used to the world outside of the womb.  Long forgotten are the beautiful hand knit blankets and designer baby bags that were bestowed on the new parents before little Junior was born.  Many new parents argue that this is the hardest and least rewarding part of parenthood, where sleep is the most rare and those who come over to visit or "help" spend all their time cooing over the newborn during the only few moments when they're actually sleeping.

Sleeping Jack, Two weeks old

If you have friends who just had a baby (or babies) here are four things you can do for them in the first three months for under $5 that will really help (although I'd argue that doing most of these things are pretty awesome at any time, new baby or no new baby).

  1. Send "thinking of you" email or texts.
    You don't really have to say "thinking of you" anywhere in the body of the message, but sending a quick note with a funny joke, the name of a great podcast, a movie suggestion from Netflix or simple check-in is a nice way to show that you care.  By sending these messages instead of a call or a drop-in you also allow the new parent to respond on their own schedule, because they probably don't feel much like talking when they're in the middle of the fourth cluster feed of the afternoon or elbow deep in poop.
  2. Bring them food.
    Okay, this may cost you more than $5, depending on what you're cooking, but our friends and family kept us well fed on yummy, healthier food than the unsteady diet of cereal and Little Caesars "hot and ready" pizza we would have lived off of otherwise.  If you have an extra portion, or three, of something consider wrapping it up and delivering.
  3. Offer to run an errand or give them a ride.
    Being a new parent means a lot of trips to the doctor's office, often both for baby and mom. When I had my twins I wasn't allowed to drive for six weeks after my C-Section.  This may not seem like a big deal, but it really impacted my independence.  Offers of a ride to an appointment, mailing thank you cards for me or picking up a bag of milk meant a lot, even if I didn't take the person up on their kindness.
  4. Bring them hot beverages.
    There is this scene from the movie Reality Bites (which I am aware that I reference a shocking amount in this blog) where Troy Dire announces, "This is all we need.  A couple of smokes, a cup of coffee and a little bit of conversation.  You and me and five bucks."  While new parents might not be keen on you showing up with Camel Lights, the sentiment is right.  Showing up with a hot cup of tea or coffee and some good conversation can be amazing.....Just remember to warn them that you're coming, no drop-ins!
What help did you receive during the fourth trimester that made a big difference?  What help were you afraid to ask for?

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