Motherhood has been tremendous. I had a quick and easy labor, a fast recovery (save for some lingering hip bursitis… ouch) and, so far at least, have evaded postpartum depression and anxiety. My baby is a joyous baby, who is quick to laugh and quick to calm down when the evening crankies, teething pain or a loud sneeze from Dad sends him crying.
But in the midst of all this, I’m trying to find my footing during this big move, adjusting to life as a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, and wrestling with the mountains of self-doubt and fear that accompany all of these life changes at once.
Even in the best circumstances, motherhood is a tough gig, which is why it’s so important to connect with other (supportive) mamas.
A few days before we moved, even though I should have been packing, I instead hosted three of my good friends who have joined (or are soon to join) me in becoming moms. I feel really lucky that so many of my existing friends are taking the leap around the same time as I did–it makes it easier to skip ahead to the boobs and poop discussions when you’ve already covered the getting to know you stuff.
(Also, I can now relate to Jim Gaffigan in Dad is Fat: “Parenting is a cult. And as a cult member, you can try to explain it to other people, but we just appear like lunatics.” Because even though parenthood is tough as shit, I want everyone I know to join me because it’s also amazing as shit. Do it. *Make a baby. You’ll love it.)
Anyway, It was great to be able to put the babies on the floor, pour some wine and feel the great psychic hug of women who are in the same boat. Three of us have already gone through childbirth, and we cover almost the full spectrum–from intervention-free, to epidural and vacuum, to emergency C-section. While we run the risk of scaring our friend who is due in 8 weeks or so, I remember starting to become obsessed with other people’s birth stories as my due date loomed, so I hope our conversation was empowering instead of scary. (And to those of you who tell birth stories with the intention of frightening others, BOO.)
Naptime is short and my to-do list is long, so here are a few quick tips for hosting a low-key baby party with your mom friends.
Host your mom and baby friends
- Find a big, clean blanket (an old quilt or comforter works great) to spread on the floor. This will be your baby depository and will create a safe space for the babies to kick, babble, spit up, etc. while the moms gather round and marvel at them and have a glass of wine.
- Put your pets in another room or block them from the baby depository. Even if you know your dog is a saint who loves your baby and will lick him clean if you let her, you can’t guarantee perfect behavior, and it will put the other moms more at ease. Nothing stops a fun baby party like a baby getting stepped on by a dog.
- Gather up your baby gear and put it within easy reach of the baby depository — your bouncer, your activity center, your playpen, etc. It’s also a nice idea to put a baby changing station nearby with a designated trash can, wipes and a pad.
- Make food that can be eaten whenever a mom is free, without you having to serve. I made a big Greek-style salad and a white pizza, and laid them out in my dining room with a pile of plates and silverware and dishes (and wine and water). That way moms could serve themselves whenever they weren’t nursing. This makes it easy for everyone to relax, including you, because your own baby isn’t going to necessarily make a lot of time for you to run back and forth to the kitchen to pour drinks and stir pots.
- Practice mom etiquette:
– A boob out is NO BIG DEAL. Outside of their own houses, moms generally have to be on high alert for a nip slip. Let everyone drop their guards so you can all feed your babies without feeling like flashers.
– Also on a very closely related note, NO JUDGING. No judging if a friend is using formula, or holding her baby through the duration of every single nap, or gave her baby a middle name you think is sheer lunacy, etc. I would say even if you think something she’s doing is borderline dangerous (like cosleeping), tread lightly. Pediatricians, books, online resources, her other friends and family all have opinions about what she’s doing. Why add to the cacophony of doubts that she’s doing things right? You can relate, right? So lay off. Be supportive. Everyone tell each other you’re doing a great job. If something really throws you for a loop, and you really can’t keep your mouth shut, send a carefully worded, just-to-her email with helpful resources and reiterate she’s doing a good job.
– Try not to compare your babies, at least out loud. Everyone’s watching their offspring for signs of genius. And all babies develop at different rates and hit different milestones at different times. Be positive. Again (and again, I reiterate), a mom-and-baby hangout is all about relieving stress and anxiety (yours and your friends’), not adding to it. Remember: Comparison is the thief of joy.
– Take lots of photos, but ask permission before you post them anywhere. Some nutjobs keep their baby’s photos offline. Don’t assume everyone will be happy to see their beautiful offspring on Instagram.
The baby is awake. Still trying to work out longer naptimes, but he’s just officially four months old today (squee!) so I’m trying not to freak out about it too much, but a longer-than-45-minutes nap is a rare treat. So this is where I leave you.