Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Preparing Family Visits After the Baby

Someone posted this article on Facebook and, for the first time, I didn't feel alone.

Those first few weeks with a newborn are crazy. They are wonderful and crazy and I cried every single day because of how perfect she was - so I know I was a little crazy too. 

We had my parents come for two visits. And then Dans family, being all over the U.S. with different schedules, came in and out - that the first 5 weeks we had someone staying with us or in town to see us almost everyday. 

I was so thrilled to introduce everyone to Olivia - for them to see (and maybe cry over?) how perfect she was. I couldn't wait for people to come in town. But there was always this anxiety. 

Our house was a disaster, and, even though no one cared at all, I thought about it while they were here. 

I was happy eating a protein bar at 9 pm and calling it dinner, but they needed a real meal at a real time. And many were happy to cook it themselves, but kitchen still needed to be cleaned, or, incredibly selfishly, I didn't want to share freezer meals that friends had made, with people who came over. 

I felt like I would get her fed, nursed, changed, finally calm, and then have to hand her over to people who would "hold the baby so I could get showered and some cleaning done." But I  wanted to hold my baby. And I really didn't care about showering. 

The best was the day I showered and washed my hair AND put on make up - and someone said "let me take that baby so you can go shower." Ummm.

I nursed Olivia and would have to take her upstairs and sit alone in the dark nursery trying to keep her calm from all the noises downstairs, while people were watching TV and having dinner. Dan would bring me a plate. I would cry in the dark feeling more lonely than ever. 

I know that hormones had a huge part in how I was feeling - but it was how I was feeling. 

This was my time to sit with my husband and coo over our sweet newborn. To talk about what she would be like (we'd never have guessed all that dark hair would turn so blonde!). But instead, his after work time was spent entertaining people, cleaning the house, throwing in laundry - and then he needed his sleep so I handled all of the middle of the night duties myself.

She would cry and people would question whether I should give her formula, whether I was feeding her correctly, whether we should hold her a certain way - everyone was being super helpful with their advice, but it really just added to my anxiety.

I regret not having told people how I was feeling. I know they all wanted to help - and would have accommodated if I just spoke up. I'll never have one newborn again. Life will be crazy because we will have Olivia and another little one, and that peaceful evening cooing over a newborn will be rare. I feel like I missed out on that chance in my life.

This go round we have so many of the same caring people offering to help with Olivia - help make dinners - etc. And with a toddler, I might be crazy in thinking that I don't want the help. But with those offers came that flood of anxiety. 

This time, we have told everyone that four days is all we want to plan for. That maybe we'll call them saying "nevermind - SOS - come back!" And I know I will be so thrilled to introduce her to everyone - and let them hold that sweet bundle - and will probably take them up on a shower offer whenever I can. 

But there will be time for me, Dan, AND Olivia to coo over baby sister. And for me to sit there in sweatpants in our disaster of a living room, crying over how perfect she is - with Olivia looking at me concerned saying "mama, otay?"

I had friends who wanted their families to stay for months. That with all of these offers of help, I thought I was the crazy one who wanted to turn it down. This article made me realize that everyone is different. Everyone handles the crazy newborn stage differently. And  what is 'helpful' all depends on the individual.

But telling them what I need - what is most helpful - has been the biggest relief of all. That I will get time to settle into life as family of four - sweatpants, dirty living rooms, and fruit snacks for dinner. And that we do have wonderful family members who will drop anything for that SOS call when we just can't handle it anymore. 

Was anyone else in a similar boat, or did you all just want all the help you could get?


  1. What a great post! I could definitely relate to having to entertain when you're just trying to survive. We had one week of alone time with just the three of us before my parents arrived. It was wonderful. Then when my parents got there I felt like I had to entertain, plan and host to make sure they had a good time. They were happy to do whatever and thrilled to meet Olive, but I felt the need to make their trip fun. They stayed for 5 or so days and then we were alone again. My MIL came out next and Olive was several weeks old and we were working through milk supply/formula issues/appointments. I think I would have been better off setting clearer expectations, asking for help with specific things - cooking meals, grocery shopping - and not worry so much about taking care of everyone else. So I'm definitely thinking ahead this time and making sure to make my wishes more clear. I'm not 100% sure what they will be once Fletcher jumps onto the scene, but I'm hopeful that meals will arrive, we'll have lots of down time at home and just get to enjoy being together. I like that you've set tentative plans with a back up SOS option just in case :)

  2. Yes!! I will have to send you an email about my experience. Don't ever feel bad about doing what's best for you and your family. ❤️

  3. Excellent post, Sweetie. Bags are packed and sitting by the door for that initial phone call! But you know us...cook, clean, garden, leave. :-) Love you for being so honest.

  4. I just want to give you a hug, reading this. Fortunately for us, our families both live within 1.5 hr of us so overnight stays weren't necessary, and therefore not a factor for us. I would have hated that though and my heart goes out to you for dealing with that. It is most definitely a time for privacy, and of course a little help. Our overcrowding issue was brief, as it was at the hospital. Our hospital is 1.5 hr away, where most of Anthony's family and many of my friends and some family are and people were excited to visit us in the hospital because it was right there in their backyard, so we didn't have a moment to ourselves until we got home. Good for you for speaking up about your wishes this go round!