Finally, I can almost say that I’m ready to bring Little Bean into the world. I have finished up some DIY that needed doing in the house, thanks to my awesome Dad. Ok, so the DIY didn’t necessarily need doing, but my head and shoulders are a lot more relaxed knowing they are done. I have my hospital bag packed!! I did it, finally, with just two weeks to go. For some reason I kept putting this one off, probably because the reality of the looming and large bump only hit last week. I have Little Bean’s clothes all washed, iron and sorted in little Ikea drawer sorter thingys and I feel so accomplished knowing where all the nappies, wipes and scented bags are. I have five sets of clothes ready for A, for when I’m in the hospital so B doesn’t have to stress about what to throw on the cute three-year old. I have action plans in place if I go into labour, and plans are in motion if all goes to schedule and I get to walk into hospital for the elective C-section. You may have gathered that I’m a planner, an organiser, I like and need to keep control of my personal situations and that of my family. The same goes for the weeks after me and Little Bean get home. For myself, for B and A and of course our new Little Bean, to settle into our new lives together I have rules and plans.
When A was born, B and I felt the intense change in our lives instantaneously and wanted to breathe it all in. Yes, we suffered a Siege Mentality in those first few weeks and months but now that I understand why we were so closed in, I can prepare myself and our soon to be family of four, for those initial baby days.
And so, there will be rules. Rules for visitors mostly. Rules to keep us focused on looking after our two kids and our own mental health. I had considered writing an apology to anyone who may be offended by these five rules which myself and B will insist on in the first few weeks of our upheaval into babyhood, but if someone can’t understand why we have these rules or to be more polite, requests, then you really need to consider and remember how hard those first few weeks are after bringing a newborn home.
- There is exhaustion. Complete lack of sleep as night feeds take over. But we will get through this and open the door soon.
- There will be emotions raised and confused. B and I need time to focus and support each other in this change.
- And there will be pain. C Sections are fricking painful and no matter how many drugs I’ll be on, I’ll be in pain. I need time to recover and rest without talking or entertaining guests.
And so to the rules. They are not necessarily my rules, or rather considerations. And I’m not alone in hoping friends and relatives will appreciate how we’ll feel in those baby days. Mums everywhere are thinking the same thing, but many don’t actually speak up and say it. Well, let me say it for you.
Visitors, as grateful and happy that we are for you to come and meet your niece, nephew, cousin, grandchild, future husband or wife of your little mischief-maker, please think about how hard those initial days and weeks are at home.
Please don’t be offended that we would rather not have your company just yet, until we are back on our feet and feeling more together with the world.
Please remember, we are grateful for your love and eagerness but we are also transitioning and that is not always easy. So before you load the car up with your kids and a pot roast, think about how Mum is, how fragile the beautiful newborn is. Before you visit a new Mum who is recovering from, let’s face it, one of the most dramatic events of her life, think, is she ready? pick up the phone, text her and ask. And Please…
5. Give Us Time
Chances are, in those first few weeks, Mum and Dad will have a no visitors policy. I know we do for the first week. And by the first week, I mean the first seven (minimum) days that Mum and baby get home, not from the day she was born. For me, a c section is inevitable so four nights in hospital for Mum is not a rest. It’s a doped up, needles being stuck in your legs at 4am, blood tests and monitoring at all hours and of course caring for a newborn while pulling herself through the pain of a C Section. So, let the postpartum Mum heal. Emotionally and physically and remember that it takes time. When she is ready for your company, she will let you know, but a week at home with the door closed is usually helpful.
4. Please Don’t Just Show Up
or be offended if we ask you not to arrive on our doorstep, just yet. For every reason I’ve talked about before, unexpected visitors can be very difficult for a new Mum and Dad. All they want to do is curl up with that newborn smell and probably sleep. If you want to show you care, bake a lasagna, leave it on the doorstep, ring the doorbell and walk away! When we are ready, we will open our door, far and wide, to you but it will be on our days not yours.
3. Please Don’t Bring Your Sick Kids With You
actually, don’t be offended yet again, but perhaps, when you do visit that first time, please don’t bring your kids at all. Sick kids will not be allowed across the threshold because lord knows an unvaccinated, fragile newborn does not need infections, viruses and bugs. In fact, a recovering Mum, does not need your little darlings, because we do really love them, but we don’t particularly need them running around the house when we’re trying our best to heal through the exhaustion of new family life.
2. Do Not Pick The Baby Up
without asking Mum and Dad first. And if you are a smoker, you can expect to not hold that newborn, so please don’t ask. Nothing enrages me more, than a newborn or young baby being passed around like a salad bowl. If the baby is asleep, simply don’t touch her. If the baby is comfortable, simply don’t touch her. If Mum or Dad is holding the baby, don’t take her or ask to hold her. Mum and Dad need those newborn cuddles more than you do. And if Mum or Dad are happy for you to hold the little bundle, all swaddled and cosy, they will tell you.
1. Lend A Hand
and finally, if you are one of those people who have been privileged to walk across that door threshold in the first few weeks, we’ve probably let you in because we know you will help our worn, tired, emotional and sore bodies. We know you will unload the dishwasher or run the iron over those countless babygro’s that seem to be on a never-ending wash cycle. Everything you do for us, we will remember. We will never forget the dinners you brought up without asking (because clearly we’ll say no every time), the endless cups of tea you made Mum who simply couldn’t get off the sofa for pain and tiredness, for taking Little Miss out for the day so Mum and Dad could take turns sleeping in between feeding Little Bean.
There are probably more rules, but these are the basic ones. Considerations that are so simple but often overlooked. Perhaps one of the worse things someone can do when visiting a recovering Mum and newborn, is to walk in and take a seat, reminding Dad that you take two sugars. While your company is beautiful, and we will most certainly want it somewhere down the road, right now we don’t need a house full of guests as the newest, freshest and smallest newbie to the house takes precedence. The quicker Mum and Dad are allowed to get into a new routine, balance this new life, the quicker you will all get to meet the little bundle who has thrown a spanner in the works, of this family of three turned four.
Have I forgotten any golden rules for visiting a postpartum Mum and newborn? Leave your rules or considerations in the comments and I might have to add them to my list.