Is he good?
Perhaps one of the most frustrating questions every mother faces of her newborn. Is he a good baby? A good friend once told me: “Any time I was asked that, I felt like answering sarcastically – 'no, he's terrible', just to see their reaction!”
It's a question which prompts a whole heap of standard responses that tumble from a mamas lips with no thought about whether they're actually true. A question that doesn't need (or even want) an honest answer. If you're keen to avoid the small talk and show you genuinely care, the next time you speak with a new mummy, try one of these instead:
1) Are you OK?
Not, 'is baby OK?' or 'how are you all doing?' Are YOU alright, mama?
2) No seriously, are you OK?
Because the first time you ask, she will smile and tell you how lucky she is and that she's doing great. Ask, and ask, and ask again. Because if she feels like she's loosing her mind, she almost certainly isn't going to be the one to volunteer that info. If she doesn't know how she's going to get out of bed today, she won't call you up to tell you. She's been though such a lot and is constantly reminded to 'enjoy every second' and told how adorable and perfect her baby is – which is true of course. It's just sometimes hard to see it through bleary eyes that are so in need of a rest.
3) What can I cook for you?
If you're lucky enough to have been invited over to meet the baby. BRING FOOD! Mama is almost certainly not meeting her own nutritional needs in favour of taking care of her family. Cooking takes time and energy and perhaps you arriving for your cuddle is the first moment today that baby has been out of his mama's arms. She will ALWAYS be grateful for a tupperware or two of something tasty.
4) What can I do, right now, that will help?
Whether it's returning some library books or throwing a load in the washing machine, you can bet mama has a pretty full 'to do' list in those early weeks. Rather than showing up just to cuddle the baby, be there to help her if she needs it. If she has older children, she might be pining to spend some one on one time with them too. Ask the question, often. She'll be so very grateful.
5) Can I take a photo?
Bear with me on this one. Many new mothers won't be thrilled to be photographed in the early days, feeling tired and self conscious and worn out in equal measure. But down the line, that's not what they'll see in those early days photos. When my first daughter was born, I asked my husband to take a few snaps of me and her in the studio. I came to look at them and was sad that there wasn't a single shot I loved. Her second birthday rolled around and I realised I still didn't have a photograph of me and my daughter together! (Call myself a photographer – I should have known better!) Or so I thought.... I went back to look again at those early days photographs and there is was. I definitely look a little tired, I had no makeup on and it's not technically perfect – but it's us. I look so in love and so in awe of my tiny girl, this photograph captures perfectly how I felt then and in many ways still do now. I am so grateful for all of those snaps as our family grows bigger and we all grow older, so... take the photo. And keep it safe. One day it may be more appreciated than you could know.