DEAR ABBY: We're proud parents of a new baby girl. She's adorable, and we feel lucky and blessed.
Although having a new baby is an exciting, magical time, it is also very stressful. Sleep deprivation, difficulty with breast-feeding, plus endless visits and phone calls can wear any new parent thin. Also, if Mom had an episiotomy or C-section, she may be in pain. In addition -- or perhaps because of these things -- some women also struggle with postpartum depression.
Friends and family don't always realize everything new parents must cope with. I compared notes with other parents and came up with a short list of guidelines for friends and family of new parents:
1. UNLESS YOU ARE IMMEDIATE FAMILY OR VERY CLOSE FRIENDS, WAIT UNTIL THE THIRD WEEK OR SO TO CALL. Keep in mind the first two weeks are often the toughest. If you would like the new parents to know you're thinking of them, send a card.
2. LIMIT VISITS TO 20 OR 30 MINUTES. Unless you are staying to help with the housework, or know your presence is wanted longer than this, keep your visit short.
3. IF YOU VISIT, BRING FOOD! A simple casserole or some takeout will be gratefully accepted by the exhausted parents.
4. WASH YOUR HANDS IMMEDIATELY BEFORE TOUCHING THE BABY. While it's unlikely that you would unwittingly pass a cold or sore throat to the baby, seeing you wash your hands will make concerned new parents feel better.
5. LEAVE YOUR SMALL CHILDREN AT HOME. Even if you keep a close eye on your children, their high energy level can be too much for already stressed-out new parents.
6. BE SENSITIVE ABOUT MOM'S NEED TO BREAST-FEED. If Mom had a surgical birth, moving around can be an effort for her. If she needs to nurse, offer to leave the room. -- NEW MOM IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR NEW MOM: Congratulations on your new arrival. Your guidelines make sense, and I'm pleased to share them. However, as sensible as they may be, do not be surprised if most of your visitors don't abide by them -- because if my mail is any indication, the majority will think they are the exception to the rule.
DEAR ABBY: My husband drinks milk straight from the carton. He says it's OK because he's the only one in the house who drinks milk. (True.) I have told him I find it disgusting and that company often drinks milk, having no idea that he drinks straight from the carton.
Isn't this unsanitary -- not to mention rude and selfish behavior? I'd love to know how to get him to stop. -- GROSSED OUT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR GROSSED OUT: I'm sorry you are grossed out, but what your husband is doing isn't a federal offense -- particularly since he's the only milk-drinker in the house. However, a solution to your problem might be to separate a portion of the milk into another container, so that it will be available for guests should the need arise.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)