@piglet_625: i just returned to work after a 4 month maternity leave so i can speak from personal experience. after spending every waking (and sleeping) second with my baby for the past 16 weeks, it is super hard to be back at work. i love my career and never planned to be a Stay-At-Home Mom (wouldn’t work financially anyway), but there is a big part of me that just wants to have him closeby, safe and in my arms, all the time. i guess that’s pretty universal.
i would say the best thing you can do for your friend is to just be available and listen. it has made a HUGE difference to have great friends who empathize with what i’m going through (even the ones who don’t have kids…they can still imagine and just listen) without passing any judgement on my and my husband’s decisions. It’s also great to have friends who are okay with you being upset or crying when you need to, but also take the time to keep you busy (lunch dates, etc.) when you can’t be with the LO to help keep your mind off the transition.
another big change is that if your friend is breastfeeding, she will go from nursing all day and night to pumping several times a day. i’m going through this now and it’s a much bigger change than i expected. even in an extremely supportive office with lots of new moms, private offices perfect for pumping, an awesome pump that makes it super easy to keep up my supply, and refrigerators dedicated to nursing moms, going from nursing to pumping is hard – it’s time consuming, kind of uncomfortable, and the logistics of cleaning parts, storing milk, and dealing with clogged ducts, etc can be tricky…nothing like just nursing your sweet LO on demand. if she is bfing, encourage her to keep it going and let her know how awesome it is that she’s keeping it up. it really helps. also let her vent and complain when she needs to, knowing that that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s ready to throw in the towel…there’s nothing like having other ladies to talk and vent about boob drama with! lol.
there isn’t really much you can, or should, say about their personal decision to have kids when they did. agreeing with her regret won’t really help her, and convincing her that is WAS the perfect time sounds like it would bea lie. just listen and understand. remind her of her beautiful, healthy baby and praise her for being a thoughtful, loving, mommy and provider, that the first few weeks are the hardest but it will get better. also, her time with her baby will be more special than ever now. she can make up some rotuines or traditions – like singing the baby certain songs in the morning before work, reading him/her stories when she gets home, a long bedtime routine with a warm bath and baby massage, trips to the park every saturday morning…etc. just some ideas. the important thing is that she has you to listen and focuses on the positive aspects of her situation.
oh, and the pressuring to have kids thing…that’ll pass. she’s just trying to find her own ways to cope. sounds like you are being a great friend already 🙂