Congratulations! Your little bundle of sheer terror joy has arrived safely. Now it’s time to bring him or her home from the hospital and into the arms of the army of visitors who will insist on calling in to meet them. Whilst many of these visitors will be welcome, there’s always one Uncle / Mother-In-Law / Elderly Neighbour whose visit you will dread because you know the conversation is likely to take at least one awkward, if not inappropriate, turn. Fear not, here’s a handy guide of how to respond to some of the worse comments.*
Disclaimer – Mumblog can’t be held responsible for any consequences that arise from using these responses.
“Is he / she good?”
This phrase seems to be used time and time again when discussing new-borns. But what does it even mean? Babies have a limited number of abilities. They poop, sleep, eat, and cry – that’s pretty much it. How can a baby be considered good? And, if they are not good, is there something that we should be doing as mothers that no one has told us about?
Polite response: “Well, he has his moments, haha.”
Less polite response: “No, I’m thinking of enrolling him in a young offender’s institute.”
“When are you giving me a Granddaughter?”
This was actually said to me by my mother-in-law the first time she saw me after I had given birth to my son. Just a couple of weeks after I gave birth, in fact, when I was still bleeding with afterbirth and in a complete state of shock over son’s arrival. This preceded any “Hello” or “Congratulations.” Other versions include, “So, when are you going to have another one?” and “Are you going to be giving your child a brother or a sister to play with?”
Polite response: “Well, it’s still early days and we’re just focusing all of our attention on this little one at the moment.”
Less polite response: “Well, if you wouldn’t mind holding baby, husband and I will pop upstairs and get right on it if that’s ok?”
“So, I take it you ARE breastfeeding?”
Again, said to yours truly, this time by a colleague I barely knew when I popped into the office. We all know breast is best, but formula feeding should not be demonised in the way it so often is, and both methods of feeding are equally valid choices, no matter what the reasoning may be. Interrogations such as these on such an emotive topic are not helpful.
Polite response: “Yes” or “No”. You don’t need to explain yourself any further.
Less polite response: “Sure, would you like to try some? I can just whip out the boob right here.”
“Do you still have a bit of a belly? Let’s have a look?”
This one, unbelievably, was from mother-in-law and father-in-law combined. Unlike some celebrities, most of us don’t want to think too much about our weight in the days following the birth. Exercising results in increased bleeding and chocolate is one of the few comforts we have when battling sleepless nights.
Polite response: “Erm, it’s getting there, I think?”
Less polite response: “Well, it’s a lot smaller than yours now.”
“You look really tired. Are you sleeping when the baby sleeps?”
Uck, firstly, of course, we look tired; we’ve just gone through labour and now we are responsible for feeding a guzzling monster every two to three hours or else all hell breaks loose. Secondly, sleeping when the baby sleeps sounds like a wonderful idea, but in reality, it’s not always possible with visitors, household jobs, and disturbed sleep cycles.
Polite response: “Well, I try; it’s not always possible.”
Less polite response: “That sounds like a great idea. Since the baby is asleep now why don’t you f**k off so I can catch up on some much needed rest?”
Other favourites include comments on the baby’s appearance outside of “your baby is cute”, such as “wow, your baby is huge, are you over-feeding him?” (Yes, I give him a full roast dinner every evening followed by chocolate pudding). And, we can’t forget comments about your future plans regarding your job. Be warned, if you go back to work then you are “abandoning your baby at a crucial time” and if you stay at home then you are “putting your career at risk”.
And, of course, a special mention goes out to those who will question you about the details of labour: “Did you tear?” and “Did you have an epidural?” It’s pretty unlikely that they really want a full account, such as a description of how you had simultaneous diarrhoea and vomiting whilst in stirrups or the buckets of blood that appeared, but, if they insist on asking…