Know someone who just had a baby? Great! Allow me to help you help your friends who are helping a newborn understand how to be a human.
The first thing you should know is that a breastfeeding woman is a machine. And not like “oh she is powerful like a machine!”Nah, she’s actually a milk-making machine. And sometimes she hooks herself up to another machine in order to function at maximum efficiency.
She doesn’t sleep. Shirts are frivolous. She puts her head under the faucet and drinks one gallon at a time. She burns 500 calories a day just from sitting down. She may seem like a dynamic interesting person, but truly, she only has one function. Although a pregnant woman is technically “eating for two,” she is riddled with food-consuming impairments such as shrunken stomach, indigestion, and, in some cases, gestational diabetes. She likes to eat, but she’s nothing like the beautiful beast she will become after delivery.
Even if a woman is not breastfeeding (by choice or not) or if the new parents have just adopted a baby, there is still an indescribable hunger around those first few weeks at home with a newborn. What I’m trying to say here is that you need to bring these people food, and lots of it.
If you live nearby and would like to do bring something delicious to the new parents, here are some suggestions:
Lasagna! My mother-in-law brought us a veggie lasagna the third day we were home from the hospital. Nate and I ate the whole pan in one sitting. It is literally the best thing you can do for a person. Side note: I have a plan to make free frozen lasagnas available to all new mothers who are leaving the hospital. Here’s a mock-up in case any of you are Hospital Decorators:
But back to the point. All you have to do is make it (this recipe is great) and then freeze it in case they have other meals lined up. If you don’t want to make it, find an Italian deli nearby and raid the frozen section. If you don’t have an Italian deli nearby then move to a different city.
Rice Krispie Treats! Nothing fancy. No brown rice cereal substitutes. If you can’t find all the ingredients in a gas station market, then its not the real thing. These people are starving and scared and want to feel the comfort of a fourth grade bake sale. BRING THEM A FOURTH GRADE BAKE SALE!
Liquids! Bring wine. Champagne. A special bottle of bourbon. No such thing as too much. If alcohol isn’t their thing, bring as many delicious beverages as you can find. Do they make kegs of lemonade? If yes, drag one onto their lawn. Or even just a case of fancy sodas from that Italian deli (have you not moved yet?).
Grab-and-Go Snacks! Sometimes even reheating a lasagna is too much work for dazed new parents. An assortment of special granola bars, cookies, dried fruit, or potato chips will go a long way. These are things that the mom can eat quickly before feedings and use the tin foil wrappers to gouge her eyes out.
A Special Meal! Pretend it’s your last meal on Earth. What would you eat? Imagine it in your head, go buy it, and then bring it to your poor friends. I once woke up from a nap to a huge box of Popeye’s fried chicken and biscuits. I cried. And ate it all.
Deliver the goods in person only if you have been invited by the mother. Fathers are typically the amazing glue that holds the postpartum household together, but please be wary if the dude texts you “yea come over this afternoon.” This is unstable information and you should proceed with caution. Double check that your visit is OK with everyone in the house. Remember that the mother underwent a major medical procedure and/or surgery, searches desperately for 10 minutes of sleep, is most likely topless, and cries a lot. She should have final say on whether or not it’s an appropriate time for guests.
If you do get through the door, place your food in the kitchen and wash your hands (there’s a newborn in the house, you Bozo!). Tell your friends that their baby is beautiful and that it most definitely doesn’t look like an old potato at all! Tell the mother she looks fantastic. Feel the father’s biceps and ask, with your most serious face, if he’s been working out recently. Because his arms feel terrific. Make them feel special because they are both scared and unsure. If you see a pile of laundry, start folding. If you see dishes in their sink, start scrubbing. Then do the best thing possible: leave. Never stay longer than 20 minutes!
If you’d prefer to opt out of causing a fuss, make a drop off! Here’s how:
1. Fill your trunk with lasagna and lemonade.
2. Drive to your friend’s house or apartment.
3. Tuck-and-roll out of the driver’s side and drop all the food, beverages, and a note on their doorstep.
4. Do NOT ring their doorbell! Remember, this is a furtive operation. Plus, if they have a dog, it will bark and wake everyone up. That is damage that no number of Rice Krispie Treats can repair. OK, maybe one dozen. But they better be extra Gas Station-y.
5. Get back in the car (which should already be at a steady roll down the street) and drive away as fast as you can. When you’re two miles away from your friend’s house, leave your car in a parking lot and set it on fire. Take a cab the rest of the way.
6. Once you’re home, crawl under your bed and count to 100.
7. Send an email (no texts, texts make noise) to the mother, father, and anyone that might be at the house at the moment (a grandparent, a nanny, the dog). Let them know that there is food on their doorstep and that you can’t wait to meet their crusty potato at a time that is convenient for them.
8. Ask them if you can borrow their car for a couple weeks.
If you live out of town, send them stuff! Just don’t text the mom asking for her address after she has had her baby. Be resourceful and find it another way. Here are some fun things to send:
A Subscription to US Weekly! A very good friend gave me this and I loved it because by the end of Day Five, I had already reached the end of the internet on my phone. The content is light and dumb, which is a nice balance to the nightmares of Googling “SIDS” at 3:00 am. Also, it was oddly refreshing to see photos of celebrities walking around outside while I felt chained to the inside of my apartment. It gave me hope that I, like Liam Hemsworth, would one day be able to enjoy the pleasures of the Brentwood Farmer’s Market.
A gift for the baby! Everyone loves a froofy baby outfit or an adorable stuffed animal. Just be sure to include the most generous gift of all within that gift: Written permission for the mother to not send a thank you note. Thank you notes are torture. Are you trying to kill this woman?!
Flowers! A beautiful gesture. Send them to the house. Make sure the delivery person doesn’t ring the doorbell. Tell him he’s a Bozo if he does.
One of those popcorn things! You know, the big tins with the the three kinds of popcorn in it. Why not??
All I’m saying is that gifts go a long way for new parents. They can’t always express their gratitude right away, but trust me, it’s there. Make sure your efforts are uncomplicated and don’t require any extra effort by the new mother. Thank you.
So, you guys, did I miss anything? What’s an amazing postpartum gift that you’ve received? And what can we give to people who have just had second and (heart attack) third babies? Extra popcorn tins?? Comment!
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