When Friends Have Babies
My friend Steph recently had her first baby. Steph and I lived together during our twenties, when we made similarly half-assed attempts to become working actresses in New York. We were both grossed out by discussions that involved the words “hone” and “craft,” and had little capacity for schmoozing. We were pretty much dead on arrival.
But we had a great time temping, waitressing, and doing the whole “being young people in NYC” thing. We’d text each other from bed in the mornings. “Hi.” “Come here.” We’d crawl in together, and chat over our morning coffee (or in my case, tea) while criticizing celebrities’ shades of blonde in US Weekly. We’d order everything whole-wheat bagels when we were hungover and binge watch reality TV to nurse our dehydrated bodies back to health.
And of course we talked about everything. Talk, talk, talk, all the time. One of the best things about living with one’s best girlfriend is the talking potential. I mean, my husband is a perfectly fine conversational partner and all, but there are limits to just how much talking he can handle. Not so with a bosom bestie.
Steph and I speak to each other in a type of shorthand. I’ll ask out of nowhere, “Thoughts on Marion Cotillard?” And Steph will know exactly what I mean. I’m not asking about Marion Cotillard’s acting abilities, or even physical appearance, but about Marion Cotillard’s overall whatever. Steph’s response: “Obviously obsessed.” I’ll hold up a jar of Nutella and shake my head with a grim glare, and Steph will nod sympathetically. She gets it. Every time.
We’re incapable of shocking each other, and skip around topics like squirrels leaping from branch to branch. Our conversations are typically disjointed and chaotic, but we’re always on the same branch.
Steph never left New York (she’s in Brooklyn now). After moving to New Hampshire and having kids (and experiencing a severe lost of personal freedom and a severe distaste for traveling more than 15 minutes with children in my car), my visits to NYC have become far and few between (or is it few and far between? I can never remember).
But when Steph had her first baby, I knew I had to pack my posturpedic pillow, my mouthguard (which I actually forgot and turned around for) and the rest of my high-maintenance sleeping accouterments, and make the trek to the land of artisanal donuts and small-batch everything.
I was the first of my cousins, sisters and close friends to have kids, and I waded through the sludge of postpartum shock relatively alone. Moms are the absolute best when you have a new baby, but their memories have been washed out with rosy shades of amnesia [“I don’t remember you or your sister ever crying like that.”] and they’re too far removed to really reassure you that things are indeed hellish but will improve. New parents really need to commiserate with people fresh from the trenches.
Steph immediately impressed me. I think she might even have had makeup on when I arrived. And she was definitely wearing a bra. I LOVED being the well-rested helper-bee instead of the fried mama-bee. I loved doing Steph’s dishes, rearranging her kitchen, and whisking away her little bub whenever she’d let me. I loved knowing that a secure swaddle, a dark room, a full tummy, and white noise were pretty much guaranteed to lull a baby into submission. I loved telling Steph with absolute certainty that she’ll never be the same, but she’ll wake up one day and feel less like a round peg trying to fit into a square hole, and more like a new, totally normal version of herself.
I drove back to my two little tots loving the fact that I could help Steph in such an important way during such an important time in her life, loving the fact that she’s joined me as a member of the most hardcore club on earth (parenthood), and also loving the fact that both of my kids are no longer newborns. Love, love, love all around.