Olympia Monthly is proud to present you with the first edition of our advice + etiquette column, DEAR DIANA. This month’s question is apt indeed for our resident goddess of childbirth, the moon, and the hunt. Also, knowing how babies appear to bend time while you’re looking at them, we also think it’s an appropriate Q for our Time Zones Issue. We hope you enjoy.
For Diana’s response to your own query, please write her HERE.
A close friend has recently had a baby, and I’m really excited for her! But as I don’t have a newborn myself, I’m a little unsure how best to interact with or show my support for my friend in these first weeks. Also, I have refrained from bothering her since shortly before the birth, but I miss her and want to see her face!
I realize her life and our relationship will be slightly different now, and I’m cool with that, but mostly I don’t want to burden her with unwanted presence or my non-baby drama. Am I being selfish to want to hang out? How can I do that without being a jerk? HAaallllpppp meeeeee!
Thank you for your question! It’s timely around these parts, too. Having babies is an extreme physical sport, it turns out, and your BFF has recently been through a sort of solo Olympiade inside her body. She’s likely exhausted. No, she is for sure exhausted. She’s also probably getting a bit wild and primal, perma-bonding with her new babe in a wide-eyed and private animal ritual in all the time she's not spending figuring out her new baby sling. And, while we don’t know her home situation, lots of D’s friends seem to be braving those long early days alone with the baby. If this is the case - and well, even if it isn’t - your girl has her hands full.
So where do you come in? First of all, don’t let yourself think your problems are less important just because they aren’t as pressing in the same way as a diaper that needs changing. If you have a big ish you need to chat over with your new-mom friend, and her alone, don’t hold back. It’s not selfish.
But, as I always say, there’s a way to everything:
First off, I recommend flexibility when it comes to communicating. Try calling her to set up a date after the baby’s first 2 weeks in the world (not before). Don’t text (she may get poop on her phone) and don’t try to keep her on the horn for too long. As in - don’t get into whatever is up with you right then and there. Or, if you happen to be a blurter, don’t expect a considered response. I think it goes without saying that you should plan to meet her at her home, and be flexible for when she says she’ll be available, even if she says 9:25 on a Tuesday morning.
Other rules about hanging about with a newborn and mom: STAY AWAY if you’re sick, or have recently been sick. Instead she’ll be glad to video chat, I swear. When you arrive at her house, wash your hands the way the hospital instructions tell you to. Plan to stay for 2 hours max, but be ready to go much sooner if need be. In fact, be ready to leave after 15 minutes of desperate hugs to your friend and even more desperate googly-eyed faces to the baby.
Be extra sensitive to what is (or more likely, isn’t) going on with her: she may not look her normal glamorous self. She may have frighteningly greasy bangs or wear sweat pants you haven’t seen since her absolute worst depression. Personally, I think you should schlump it up just a bit in solidarity. And, her house may be in total chaos. No, it will be. While you’re there, offer to help her do anything. Even if that’s taking a shower or going to the bathroom. While you’re tidying her kitchen or clearing off the sofa is the best (and probably only) time to get a pressing matter in for a chat. You may not have her undivided attention like you did 9+ months ago, but it’s hopefully still a precious and lovely time with your friend (plus one). She will not forget it.
And, in any event, no matter how tough your own life is looking (and no matter how much you wish someone would do the same for you), bring a small care basket. It will make you feel better to prepare a beautiful little gift. And even if it gets chucked aside as you enter the den of the newborn, it will be appreciated.
What to bring? Here are some ideas, most of which you could assemble for under $25 and will make a world of difference:
Fill a plain brown paper bag with delicious, perfect groceries:
A big loaf of fresh bread from a bakery, and a slab of salted French butter. Or, a big tub of fresh cream cheese, smoked salmon, and a half dozen bagels. Or fresh sesame Fladenbrot and hummus and olives. Whatever version of the classic and easy snack your friend will most delight in. And make it the best quality you can search out.
Organic milk, fresh orange juice, and/or a big bottle of fancy lemonade.
Something fresh and easy like radishes (she can eat them with the salted butter) or a box of strawberries or even just six perfect apples.
A special treat for just your friend, like a teeny box of fancy chocolates she can hide near the changing table or under the crib for desperate times.
You could also bring: packets of drink mixes or a brainless pre-prepared meal she loves from Whole Foods; a fancy tea from Mariage-Freres (include sugar cubes); or even a collection of cakes and tartlets alongside the more practical things, if you’re the lavish sort.
If you need to do something extra special for her (for whatever reason), you could also bring another smaller paper bag with:
a special scented candle (Diptyque makes more affordable small ones of their most popular scents - pictured) - Space NK
new slippers for around the house (pictured) - Zara Home
a small beauty product for her Olympian self - a face mask she can put on at 7 pm and fall asleep in (Avene - pictured), a hand cream (Sta Maria Novella), a beautiful soap (Claus Porto - pictured) or even a face spray (like this one from Caudalie - pictured) that will make her feel a bit better when she remembers to use it.
It's best to keep all this casual and NBD, hence the paper bags - don't make it an event with ribbons and paper. Even cooler would be to just hand her the bags as you leave, so she can open and delight in your prezzies alone.
Other than all of that, however, it’s most important to just be yourself. A slightly more sensitive and generous version of yourself, maybe, but just yourself. She won’t forget your enormous kindness, and we promise she’ll come back to you… eventually.