To try to make everyone happy and avoid family conflict, my husband and I decided to let the chips fall where they may, despite repeatedly making it clear that we’d really appreciate a little space. But it seems like space was definitely not in the cards.
Now, on the other side of that experience, I know that we should have stuck to our guns and set visitation boundaries that we were comfortable with. As a new mum I really could have used an extra couple of weeks to get my footing before being bombarded with guests. So if you’re struggling with the same problem, let me talk you into sticking to your guns, with a few reasons why you’ll hate having out of town visitors with your newborn.
1. They can’t (or won’t) “help” with the baby. Sure, everyone says that they want to come help with the baby, but that’s not what you’ll need. Your baby will need you to be feeding her and rocking her to sleep. The help you’ll need is with meals, dishes and other mundane stuff that guests usually don’t want to do. My mother-in-law kept asking and asking for “hold time,” where she just wanted to sit and hold the kid. So after I fed, burped, changed, changed again and rocked the baby into a calm state, she would sit and coo at him while I made her coffee and cleaned the kitchen.
2. The baby won’t be doing what they want it to do. Newborns don’t do much. They sleep. They wake up. They eat. They poo. Then they go back to sleep again. Our guests were disappointed that our baby wasn’t interacting or awake more. Ummm hello? This child has been alive for five days. He’s not walking and talking yet, people.
3. You’re breastfeeding constantly. If you’re breastfeeding, and if it’s a new experience, you do not – I repeat, do not – want an audience while you’re figuring it out. Also, if you’re bashful like me and you have people in your home, you’ll be stuck alone in the back room any time the kid needs to eat. Which is always. Every time the little one was hungry, I trudged to the nursery and closed myself off from the rest of the house — sometimes for hours (our baby took a quite a while to eat in the beginning).
4. Your hormones are raging. There were times when I would almost let loose on my husband for looking at me the wrong way, or want to cry because I was sure my baby hated me. But with outsiders around, I stuffed it all down, which made things even more stressful.
5. You’re healing from the birth. Babies enter the world in one of two ways, so you’ve either got a painful incision on your stomach or your undercarriage is all torn up. I happened to have the latter, along with the sore muscles, the achy boobs, and the litany of other stuff to deal with postnatal. I couldn’t even sit comfortably for a few days, and I resented having to add more to my plate while I was healing.
6. It’s stressful to host people. Yes, our visitors said ahead of time that I wouldn’t need to play hostess, but when someone’s in my home that’s what I am. And it was stressful to not have the time or ability to host people well because I needed to spend time with the kiddo. When normally I would have the house clean, great food and drinks, and be plenty perky for my guests, it was all I could do to squeeze in a daily shower and brush my own teeth before caring for the little one.
7. You’ll get unwanted advice. Thanks Aunt Mary, but we put babies to sleep on their backs these days.
8. You need quiet time. Nap time for baby should equal nap time (or at least quiet time) for you, right? Yeah, that’s what I was hoping too. Until we’d put the baby down for a nap and our guests would expect to have “grownup time.” At that point, I didn’t want to sit and chat. I wanted to close my eyes and be silent.
9. You shouldn’t have to accommodating to others. While you’re helping your newborn make the transition into the outside world, it’s nearly impossible to accommodate any other schedules. We had one well-meaning guest try to schedule a dinner out with us, and she couldn’t quite understand why we weren’t able to give her a specific time. Newborn clocks just don’t work like adult ones.
So unless your family and friends are the drop-off-a-casserole-and-say-hello-for-10-minutes-then-scram type, you might want to rethink the decision to welcome long term guests while you’re getting used to your baby. From one new mum to another, it might just be worth it (read: save your sanity) to protect those first days or weeks with your new family.
More from The B*tch Board:
- Dear ‘Friends:’ It’s Never OK to Discipline My Baby
- Infuriating Things My Husband Says After I’ve Been Up All Night Breastfeeding
- Dear Mums: Stop Letting Your Kids Treat You Like Crap