There’s no baby stuff on this list for a reason – this is a reminder to not forget about the mom, who probably feels like she just pushed an enormous cheese grater out of her delicates. I say get, since some of these would be rather odd gifts. Unless you have a sense of humor like my sister and I, (on par with that of a 5 year old), in which case, buy nothing but hemorrhoid cream and dark chocolate.
1. I don’t care who you are or who she is, just do this. Frozen meals. Casseroles that can be eaten for days. Food of any and every kind. I guarantee you that even if they are vegetarian, they will dig into spaghetti and meatballs like it was the last food on earth. Cooking is the last thing you want to do when you are up to your eyeballs in diapers and hallucinating from the lack of sleep. (Unless you’re my husband, who decided to make 3 dozen home-made english muffins 2 days after we came home. People deal with stress in different ways. Also, yum.)
2. Is she a friend? A cozy yet stylish set of *matching* pajamas. Button up front if breastfeeding. There were so many times that I felt so much better about myself – even though I didn’t get dressed I at least had on something that matched. The early days are a total mental game. A word to the wise – buy a size larger than you think you’ll need! Milk boobs are no joke.
3. Do you know her really well? Make a bathroom box. Sitz spray, overnight pads, tucks and stool softener. Get a pretty box from the local craft store and go nuts. Bathroom shit sucks for a long time, at least this way she’ll have something sparkly to look at. Because lord know she doesn’t want to look anywhere else.
4. Care a lot but can’t spend a lot? Chapstick and a great water bottle that can be used with only one hand. The thirst is real.
5. Big spender? Get her a tablet or an e-reader. Nights are long and lonely with a newborn. Even better if you do this in the first trimester of pregnancy when all she can do is lay on the couch and moan about how sick she feels. My husband gifted me a Kindle Paper White really early on, and the thing has paid for itself over and over again. Just be careful – I couldn’t read (or watch) anything that wasn’t fluffy as hell for months postpartum, because I’d lose my shit and bawl all over the damn thing. Even if it was suspense, it was too stressful. So maybe stick to some chick-lit and rom-coms.
6. Acquaintance or someone long distance? Amazon Prime. Because you know she is going to need everything that she didn’t buy, and not need everything she did. Two day shipping is two days too long with a newborn, but it’s better than nothing. Plus, you can buy things at 3am.
7. A REALLY good friend? Come over and sit with her. Hold her baby so she can go cry in peace. Clean her kitchen, do the dishes. Strip the bed and do the laundry. Don’t speak unless spoken to, and don’t make a fuss. Just be proactively helpful. Circling back to #1, bring food. Don’t bring expectations.
8. Husband? Partner? Wife? Change the diapers. Let her cry. Do everything possible to make things okay, even if that means baking english muffins like a madman. Be there, and be as helpful as possible. Don’t freak out when she tells you she hates you and that this was a huge mistake. Love her. Tell her she is beautiful even when she has fluid leaking out of every body part. Tell her it will be okay. Believe it. My husband was there for me, and he was my only rock, keeping me from floating away in the tide of tears. It made all the difference in the world.
9. Other Family? Give time and space. Don’t push babysitting the new grand baby until she is ready. Bring food and coffee and more shoulders to cry on. Be open without pushing the boundaries. Give the new family some time, and you will be on speed dial for babysitting before you know it. Old family recipes for pie help too.
10. Everyone – support. In all the ways listed and all the ways I haven’t thought of here. Answer the phone calls, be supportive, tell her you love her and tell her over and over and over that it WILL get better. I called my mom 3 days in and said “I love you very much for having me but I really don’t understand how I exist because I have an older brother and HOW CAN ANYONE DO THIS MORE THAN ONCE.” She laughed at me. And told me it would be okay.
A Quick DON’T GET List (At Least Not Immediately)
Necklaces. Those little silver engraved initials are so cute until the kid decides to tug them off your neck and break you or the chain. (or both). This, like everything else in the early days, is followed by tons of crying by everyone involved.
Spa Certificates. (Unless they can be used months later.) A massage sounds awesome but there is no way that you can lay face down on a table with milk-boobs. In fact, even if it wasn’t painful as hell, I would just have anxiety the whole time that I was causing a clogged duct.
Fancy pretty clothes. This is just insulting. Even if she was able to fit into whatever size was purchased, she’d likely leak milk and sweat (hormones are real) all over everything. (If she really likes clothes, go with a comfy sweatshirt instead.)