If you’re in your late twenties, then you already know…babies…they’re everywhere…
Your neighbor has one. Your coworker has one. Every person on your goddamn Facebook news feed has one, and by God, soon one of your buddies will have one.
What will you do? Should you call? Should you visit the hospital? Should you buy the baby a rattle? A lolli?
Oh good Christ, are you expected to hold this baby?! Babies are fragile. What if you drop him? Or crush him? You’ll smash his bones, you will.
Remember all those weddings last summer? Babies come next. Babies are the thing now. A big thing. But just relax. Take a breath. And take four minutes to learn all there is to know about visiting a newborn.
Express interest in seeing the child. Don’t make your buddy BEG you to see his kid. Even if you’re not big on babies, congratulate him on his major milestone and express interest in seeing his baby, once he and the new mother are ready.
Be patient and flexible. The labor and delivery experience is a lot of things (emotional, terrifying, bloody). One thing it is not, however, is something to share with a shit ton of visitors. Unless you have prior arrangements, leave the hospital visits to immediate family. And since even the first few days back home are spent adjusting to, well, everything, let the new parents schedule the visit.
Be healthy. If you have a cold, don’t go rubbing up on the new babes, man. Exposing a baby to a virus is dangerous, for both of you. For him because his immune system isn’t at full power yet, and for you because if you get this kid sick, his hormonal new mother might just carve your eyes from their sockets.
Bring a gift. If you’re a single guy, then bringing a gift probably seems reasonable. If you’re married, and this gift is in addition to a shower gift or pregnancy gift or any many other gifts your wife has likely already given the child and/or soon-to-be mother, this gift will seem like overkill.
Earlier this year, I protested the ‘baby visit gift’ when my wife wrapped what was, I swear to God, the tenth item we had given to the child of two friends of ours. My wife’s response was, when friends have a baby, you bring a gift; it’s what you do.
And to her credit, of the many visitors we had after our girl was born, all of them brought gifts. Every single one. So if you decide that you’ve already given enough, I concur, but you’ll probably look bad by comparison.
Anyway, if you’re not up to date on the latest baby stuff, why not bring something for the new parents? A buddy of mine brought my wife a bottle a cab and me some bourbon. Well done, Greg. Because of you, I remember nothing from my first week of fatherhood.
Bring (homemade) food. Wanna hear about the best enchiladas I’ve ever had? No? Well too bad.
So my wife’s labor lasted three days, and we spent two more in postpartum. During this five day birthing marathon, my food options were a) the hospital cafeteria and b) Davanni’s across the street.
The hospital cafeteria cuisine was everything you’d expect hospital cafeteria cuisine to be, so by default I was stuck with some variety of spicy lunch meat hoagie from Davanni’s. Twice a day. Everyday. By the time we were finally discharged, I had acquired a baby girl, ten pounds, and type 2 diabetes.
Upon returning home, our first visitors brought with them two pans of homemade enchiladas and OMFG. Seriously, preparing a meal as a new parent is the worst. It requires time, energy and the willingness to create and clean another mess. To have someone cook for you…it’s magic. Those enchiladas changed my life; they must be commemorated and eternalized. I shall name my daughter after them.
Expect a newborn. If you arrive expecting the goddamn Gerber baby, then you are going to be puzzled because a newborn looks nothing like the giggling infants used to peddle baby food. His entire 7 pound body was just forced from a birth canal, and it shows. His head is misshaped. He has no neck, and his swollen face looks like it just collided with Holly Holm’s left foot. When my daughter was born I had no idea newborns looked like this. Prepare yourself.
Wash your hands. Again, to keep the vulnerable baby healthy.
Hold the child. My advice to the guy horrified of baby holding: just hold the damn child. While wrapping your blundering man hands around a precious newborn may seem borderline negligent, babies are tougher than you think. More importantly, it’s easy. Here’s your guide:
Help out. My daughter was born twenty days early. At that point, my ‘before baby to-do list’ was about 80% complete. Any item that was unchecked on her birthday…still unchecked today. A newborn demands a shocking amount of time. You can’t prepare for it. So ask your buddy if you can help with something. Anything.
Keep it short. One of the biggest challenges as a new parent is establishing and adhering to any sort of schedule. In the early days, baby eats every 1-3 hours, sleeps (or doesn’t) whenever he wants, and pisses and shits himself seemingly on a continuous loop. Ten minutes after you satisfy all baby’s basic survival needs, the cycle resets and you do it all again. When you visit, the new family will be right in the middle of this bullshit. Don’t overstay your welcome.