The small talk (and big talk) in the early days with a baby can feel like a labour in itself, but Sheen Horton has a few tips on dealing with the onslaught of “well-meaning” advice…
“Are you sure you’re doing that right?” After spending 24/7 with this child, people will come in and question your methods. Take a deep breath, turn to them and say, “yes, I am”. Who can question that assured a response? And it looks a damn sight classier than screaming “naff off to hell!” in their general direction…
“Wow! You still look pregnant!” An actual sentence uttered to me the day after I gave birth. Simply reply ‘well, I still have at least four weeks of bleeding to get out all the after birth’. Extra points for doing it in an over-cheery manner.
‘What do you think we should do…?” What am I now, a baby expert? Yes, it’s all very well knowing your baby, but things tend to change as babies have off days and growth spurts and teething so just when you think you understand them, you’re back to square one. At times like this, just hold your baby and take a moment. Instinct should kick in. And if not, dirty nappies, hunger or tiredness are usually the three foundations of a cranky baby. Sssh, don’t tell anyone it’s that simple…
“I had a great night’s sleep!” Oh did you now. What a great phrase to say to someone who has been robbed of slumber by a sleep thief. Perhaps point out how many times you were up in the night and watch those well earned brownie points stack up.
“What do you mean we can’t have sex for a while?” Explaining the sensation of how you feel “down there” might seem a tad gauche, but will make it clear in an honest fashion on how long it takes to heal (especially with stitches or tears). But if you’re in any doubt as to if the pain levels you’re feeling are too high, please talk to a GP. That’s what they are there for.
“I think you should implement a routine…”. When and which one, and even if, to implement a routine is a minefield of a subject. Remember, it’s what suits you and your totally unique and ace little miracle. Don’t be swayed by what others are doing. You haven’t got their baby, and vice versa. So give yourself a break and simply reply with a vague “thanks for the suggestion, we will consider it”. Sounding like someone who works in a call centre means they can’t see the sarcasm dripping off every word. People do mean well, but you know what’s best for your baby. And with routines, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
(Overhearing your other half saying..) “No, our lives haven’t really changed at all”. My husband actually uttered these words and they floored me. Being in possession of something that doesn’t let you go out of the house without it, demands your every attention and energy round the clock and doesn’t give anything in return for the first few months means your life has most certainly changed. See it from their point of view, but perhaps plan to skip out the house one weekend for an hour or two, just so they realise how tough it can be.
“You’ll get over the sadness of leaving them with others…”. Leaving the child I’m innately bound to by genes and maternal instinct, you mean? No I don’t think I jolly well will. It’s nature working at its deepest level here, folks. We’re hardwired to look after this child, up to even sacrificing ourselves for it, so the pang felt whenever leaving it with others, even if it’s while you nip to the corner shop, will never go away. And it doesn’t end. Just ask my mum as she sadly waves goodbye to her 34-year old daughter every time we part.
“Isn’t she pretty/he handsome?”. Er… She’s a he/he’s a she. Delete as appropriate. I gave up in the end, with my bald-headed girl, dressed in hand-me-down boys clothes, and joined in with compliments. I made it more fun by renaming her every time. Yes, little Larry takes after his dad so much… Life’s too short to have to correct a passersby who you’ll never see again.
“I’m so tired.” This one’s a battle no partner will ever win. They know it, and you know it. But we all need to test each other and think back to the time when you came home from work shattered, that’s the tiredness they speak of, and not the insane tiredness caused by getting up 3+ times every night.
“In my day, we…”. Well, times change. And methods change. Remember when hypercolour tshirts (which changed colour when they went hot) were all the rage, and now we realise that wearing something that points out your sweat would be socially insane? Yeh, that. So be patient and listen to their advice, sometimes a gem is dropped in there, and say thank you. People have the best intentions, and their past knowledge is the only way they know how to do things, after all.