There is no nice way to say this, so I’m just going to spit it out: please don’t come to visit me in the hospital after I give birth this time around. Seriously, just don’t.
This third trip around the pregnancy merry-go-round will be my last and I already know how I want the experience to go. See, I can predict how chaotic everything will be in the first few days after my baby is born, based on what happened after I delivered my other two children. I have this fantastical idea that this time I will actually rest while in recovery, at least that is the plan. And I need you, dear friends and family, to be on board with it.
Having a baby is incredibly emotional and physically painful. I’ve birthed naturally and via c-section and in both situations the end result was the same. I had a beautiful child, a banged-up body, and no time to sleep.
While in those “blissful” three days of “rest” at the hospital there is a steady stream of nurses and midwives pumping me full of pain killers, poking and kneading at my belly, and looking at my lady bits to check for excess bleeding or infection or god knows what else. The doctors come in and ask me 6,000 questions and give me every shade of new mum advice. A lactation nurse comes in to give me a 60-minute session on the ins and outs of breastfeeding (even though I have been nursing for years, literally). Later, another nurse will come in with a video about purple babies screaming and how to handle it (OMG, seriously, I have seen this video too many times) and refuse to leave until I sit patiently and listen to her spiel.
By the time all of that is over it is 2 a.m. and I am dead tired and desperate for sleep. So, I drift off for a few very short hours. But as soon as the sun is poking through my window blinds and the nurse shift flips over for a new day, the whole process starts all over.
For all the jokes we mums make about not having time to take a shower with kids at home, there is even less time to do so in a hospital recovery room where, ironically, my only job should be to rest.
A lovely older lady in a hair net will show up promptly at 7 a.m. with a breakfast tray of stale toast, rubbery eggs, and a coffee that looks like the right colour but tastes like someone recycled the grounds from last Thursday. Then the room phone will start ringing…the family wants to come visit.
And how can I say no?
Aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents all show up wanting to see the baby. Of course, they do. New babies are so exciting and beautiful and they fill us with hope and love. I get that. And when they do come they bring gifts that pile up in the corner of the room, which is very sweet and thoughtful.
The problem, though? And please, don’t hate me for pointing this out. All of those visits are cutting into my ability to get rest in those precious moments when I’m not being interrupted by medical professionals. For three days, I have access to a staff of people who will clean my room, cook me meals, and watch my child and all I have to do is ring a bell. CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW AMAZING THAT SHOULD FEEL?
But not only that, I look like absolute sh*t because I just gave birth to a human being. I haven’t showered, I don’t have comfortable clothes, and my body is doing a whole lotta weird sh*t, so do you really think I am up for hosting company? No. The answer is no.
My dream recovery experience looks like me sleeping for three days and having the ability and the time to bathe in peace and quiet. I want those first precious days to be alone with the person that I spent nine months growing. I want to count those toes and fingers a million times and smell that baby head without having to share. There will be plenty of time for sharing and picture taking when I get home.
And finally, speaking of getting home, how in the Lord’s name am I supposed to get home when I can hardly walk, I have a 3 kilo child in a car seat, my hospital bag, and now 17 gift bags and balloons and bouquets to finagle into my car? Don’t get me wrong, I truly do appreciate this loot of good will, but the timing is way off.
So, please, I beg you, don’t visit me in the hospital this time. Wait until a few days after I get home and am settled so that I can take a much-needed deep breath with my new child and other kids and husband in private.