Having a baby is life-changing. Truly. Absolutely everything in your life changes. Everything. Including your friendships. Some of your friendships will be strengthened, some will just change a bit, some will be challenged, and some might end. They say a true test of a friendship is how it withstands major life events. And not many life events are as major as having a baby. This is especially true when you have friends who don’t have children. Some of your friends will embrace the new you and love your child and become an aunt (or uncle) of sorts. Some may stay in your life but be a bit more distant. And some may flat out bail. I had all three happen to me. I have to say, I never thought that having a baby would result in the end of a friendship, but for me, it did. I think it’s hard for women without children to relate to what one goes through with a baby, and some just don’t want to. It got me thinking-if I could say something to a friend like that, what would I say? So I wrote a letter and it went like this:
Hello, friend. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve talked. Or gone shopping. Or gone out for cocktails. Or coffee. Or anything. I really do miss doing all those things. Really. But the truth is, having a baby is like nothing I ever dreamed of. It’s wonderful, my baby is precious and I know how lucky I am. But holy shit, is this hard. No one can prepare you for just how hard it is. I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than an hour. Showering? Can’t remember the last time I did that either. I’ve been wearing the same t-shirt for 3 days and it’s completely covered in spit-up and I’m pretty sure there’s some poop on there too. I think I had dinner yesterday, but yesterday is pretty much a blur since the baby’s colic is at an all time high and she pretty much screamed all day long. My husband and I are both so strung out and tired that we seem to be bickering nonstop. I don’t think we’ve had a civilized conversation for weeks. We sure do have a lot of conversations (if you want to call it that) in the middle of the night as I frantically surf the internet typing things like “how to get your newborn to stop screaming.” I’m also pretty sure that my house is fit for an episode of Hoarders. There’s at least 3 empty pizza boxes on my kitchen table right now and the same dirty dishes have been in the sink for about a week. But I really do miss you and I’m hoping this gets better soon.
I saw that you called last week. (or 2 weeks ago? I’m not sure). I went to call you back-I was dialing your number, and then the baby had explosive diarrhea that was so amazingly disgusting (how such a little thing can produce such foul excrement, I’ll never know) and I had to run to clean it up. I was going to call you after I gave her her bath, but then I had to feed her, and that took forever because she kept screaming during her feed, and I was crying because my one boob has contracted mastitis and I’m in so much pain I want to cry every time she latches. (Honestly, I’ve been crying a lot these days.) After that was done, it was 2AM and I didn’t want to wake you.
But thinking about it, it was Saturday night, and you were probably still out having a great time. I hope you were wearing those amazing shoes and that hot dress you bought last time we went shopping-that outfit looked amazing on you. I’m afraid the dress I bought that day won’t fit me for a long, long time. It’s ok, I bought few dresses (in a MUCH bigger size) from Target that should get me through the summer. They’re not very cute, but right now I’d be happy with anything without vomit. We’ll be rocking our outfits together again soon.
I know that you can’t relate to any of this. And that you don’t want to talk about breastfeeding, poop, spit-up, or diapers. I get that. A year ago, I didn’t either. I will try my best to not go on and on about all things baby, but please understand that it’s hard. My baby is my whole life right now, and right now I don’t know anything else. I live and breathe baby 24/7. Please forgive me if I go on about how cute my baby looked in the new outfit I bought her (at least someone around here looks cute), or how she smiled at me for the first time the other day, or how hard I’m working at breastfeeding. Please bear with me. It is where I am in my life right now. I know it changes our friendship, but I value you so much as a friend and I truly hope you will hang in there with me. I wish I could say that I’m the same person you’ve always known, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m a mother now, and that does change things. It changes everything, actually. I now have this little person that my world revolves around. I would do anything in the world for her. I would die for her. And her needs come before everything else. So even though I might not be able to spend hours at the mall or at Sunday (champagne) brunch, I hope you still will want to be in my life. If I forget to return your call, please know it’s not that I want to talk to you. If I can’t make it out for cocktails at the latest trendy bar, it’s not that I don’t want to. I just can’t right now. To be honest, I won’t be able to do those things a lot in the future, but when the baby is a little older and I can leave her with my parents, I would love to go out. And when I do make it, I will really, really do my best to not talk baby all night. I probably will a little, but I’ll keep it at bay. Because I really do want to hear about the new guy you’re dating. I’m sure he’s great. If you like him, then he must be great because you’re pretty amazing. And when I can, I would love to meet for coffee. I hope you don’t mind driving up to my neck of the woods so I can be closer to home in case I need to get home quickly; I know it’s a little further, but I really would appreciate it.
I know things will never be exactly the same. Having a baby changes everything. I’m struggling right now and it must feel like I’ve totally forgotten you, and also like I’m completely unrecognizable. Just know that I love you, my friend. And I’m still here.
I had some major baby blues after both of my children were born. Although I was never officially diagnosed with post-partum depression, I am positive that I was suffering from it. It made every day difficult. I cried a lot. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling. It was like I was in a fog. Or like I was in the bottom of a really, really big hole-and I just couldn’t climb my way out of it. I’m sure that as my friend, this was challenging to deal with. I must have been hard to relate to, or understand, or even be around. But a true friend hangs in there with you. A true friend will see that you’re in a hole-and throw you a rope.
Friendship is give and take. Sometimes you need to give a lot. And sometimes you need to take a lot. True friends will do both. And those are the ones you’ll want to keep forever.