There are lots of things that you should say to a lady with a newborn baby. "It's beautiful," for example. Or: "Here's a cocktail." So why do so many people opt instead for stuff like...
1. “Come and sit down on this very hard chair.”
I knew I’d chosen the right person to have kids with when I brought my daughter home and my husband went straight out to Asda Home to buy me a rubber ring to sit on.
2. “The best advice is to sleep when the baby sleeps.”
The only time the baby is guaranteed to sleep for more than 20 minutes is if it goes out in the car. Are you suggesting I should sleep at the wheel of the car?
3. “We’re actually free this morning! Would it be OK to come over for a visit?”
Not unless you are bringing enough coffee and snacks to stock a branch of Starbucks, and sending over a team of professional cleaners to arrive at the house one hour before you do.
4. “You do look tired.”
I already feel like the most repulsive woman on the planet without you drawing attention to my eye bags.
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5. “Enjoy every second of it, won’t you.”
Enjoy? Enjoy? Somewhere in the dim mists of my shattered, sleep-deprived memory I remember this word… oh yeah! Enjoyment! Something I used to get out of seeing friends, watching a movie, eating a quiet meal with my husband, going for drinks… You’re saying I’m meant to feel like that every second of every day that I’m trying to keep this tiny, angry stranger alive? OMG WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHY AM I NOT ENJOYING THIS?
6. [With broad grin] “And it only gets harder you know!”
Please excuse me while I go and kill myself.
7. “Would you be more comfortable breastfeeding in the other room?”
Actually, until you made it clear that you were uncomfortable with me sitting here with my waps out, I was fine.
8. “Have you tried your breast milk in a cup of tea yet?”
Hmm - perhaps I would be more comfortable in that other room. Or even better, if the person who just asked me this went into the other room and we locked the door from the outside.
9. “Oh. You’re not breastfeeding.”
Basically, whatever you do about feeding is wrong for someone.
MORE GLOSS: The biggest lies mums tell non-mums (sorry)
10. “Is s/he sleeping through yet?”
Look at my face.
11. “When are you having another one?”
LOOK AT MY FACE.
12. “I guess it’s different for everyone. I’d lost all the weight by the time I left hospital.”
Don't worry, I should lose at least 1lb when I puke after this conversation.
13. “Yes, my cat/dog does that as well.”
Pet owners, it’s nice that you’re trying to empathise but this is not the same as that. Sorry.
14. “That baby needs feeding up!”
Is there any other way to read this than "You're starving your baby"?
15. “What an unusual name.”
She knows that behind your frozen smile you’re thinking, “Congratulations, you’ve just guaranteed little Balustrade Urea a lifetime of bullying”.
16. “What a lovely... boy?”
I know those baby headbands with the bows on them are probably very tacky but I put one on my newborn in desperation because I knew she looked like Danny DeVito after a bar fight. It didn’t do any good, of course - my next-door neighbour still called her “him” for the first 13 months.
17. “Have you tried hand expressing?”
The health visitor who asked me this was also kind enough to demonstrate the best way to milk oneself - and recommend that I do it every hour to keep my supply up. Setting aside that my baby was six months old, I was already back at work and owned an expensive electric breast pump... WHO WOULD DO THIS?
18. "Is that yoghurt I can smell?"
No, I just need to change my breast pads, alright?
19. “I’m just getting over a bout of diarrhoea and vomiting, but don’t worry - I don’t think I’m contagious any more.”
And you’d like to hold the baby? Of course! No problem!
20. “When is it due?”
Three months ago, you bastard.