Avoid what-not-to-say moments with new parents
FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo Britain's Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge waves as she leaves after a visit to Hope House, in London. It was announced on Monday, July 22, 2013, in London that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and her husband Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, gave birth to a boy weighting 8lbs 6 oz. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Your sex life will never be the same. In my day. What, not breast-feeding?
From diet tips to "little baby, little problems," sleep-deprived and super-stressed new parents have heard it all. And they want you to stop it.
As Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, move along on their parenting journey, it seems even the queen has had a what-not-to-say moment. According to a special edition of Us magazine on raising royals, she exclaimed soon after William's birth: "Thank goodness he hasn't ears like his father!"
Most every new parent has a greatest hits of lame advice and annoying remarks. For fitness buff Brook Benten, mom of 4-month-old Hayes, her list included her post-baby body.
"My swollen uterus made me look like I was still five months pregnant," said the Round Rock, Texas, mom. "I was elated to be a mother, but I knew good and well that I looked baaaaad. Well-intending visitors would look me once over and say, 'Wow! You look great!'"
And how SHOULD that have gone? "Compliment our baby. Tell us he/she is the cutest baby you've ever seen. But don't compliment the body of the new mother."
Devon Clement is a postpartum doula in Princeton, N.J. Basically, her job description is to be helpful to new parents. She has overheard some doozies and made up a facetious script for clients to hang on their doors. It covers a lot of ground:
Thank you so much for coming to see our new addition(s), and for bringing your smiles, gifts, and good wishes. Thank you, also, for leaving your germs at home! If you think you may be sick, we'll have a visit by waving at each other through the window. We also greatly appreciate the hot or easy-to-heat-up meal you've brought us, and the fact that you plan to keep your visit nice and short.
We've had a busy few days/weeks around here, so please excuse the mess in the house and the fact that I am still in my pajamas. ... I may need to breastfeed while you are here. If this offends you or makes you uncomfortable, I keep some blankets close by for you to put over your head.
While we find it very interesting to hear your stories about what things were like when you had your babies, please keep your advice to yourself unless asked, especially if it comes with an air of judgment. We have enough information coming at us, and we are doing OK, thanks."
Perhaps most acutely distressed in the very early months are the parents of preemies.
Megan Lubin of Philadelphia gave birth three months early to her now-2-year-old and spent that time in a hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. Once he did come home, during winter, she and her husband didn't host many visitors or go out that much.
"When we did interact with the outside world, the comments and questions flooded in," she said. "We certainly didn't mind if people were curious or genuinely interested in our son, but it was hurtful at times when strangers would compare their child to ours."
Things not to say to the parents of a preemie?
"'Well, my child is the same age and much bigger!' Or, 'Your son is awfully thin,'" Lubin suggests. "The worst was when they would compare what their child was able to do."