Baby’s first visitors and accepting help

I have a pretty selfish dream for the first 24 hours with baby. I want that time to quietly and calmly adjust to parenting with just my wife and I. If we are in the hospital, I don’t want a waiting room full of family waiting to come in to the room where I am likely going to be emotional and sweaty and bleeding. I have been respectfully breaking it to people over the last several months that we will call them AFTER the baby is born and we will schedule some short visits.

I know that people often give the advice to take any and all help that is offered to you, but I am an independent and stubborn person who gets frustrated by people trying to help me do things, and I get anxious when people try to offer advice that I don’t want to hear. I want to be able to learn to take care of the baby on my own – I don’t want people looking over my shoulder suggesting this and that for breastfeeding, diaper changes, what this or that cry really means, etc. I want to feel like I can awkwardly learn how to care for the baby without being observed and scrutinized by those who have done it before with their own babies. My wife is also only taking a week off, and I want that time with her to properly bond as a family and just be together. I don’t want that to be interrupted by a steady stream of house guests.

I think I’m more stressed about managing visitors after the birth than I am about the birth itself!

21 thoughts on “Baby’s first visitors and accepting help”

  1. My folks came and stayed with me the week after Evelyn was born and it was a godsend. During my pregnancy I fretted over whether or not they’d get in the way, but they were very respectful and let me hold the baby 99% of the time and get to know her.

    It sounds to me like your mom needs extra work and wouldn’t be a help, so I don’t think you should feel bad about saying ‘no’ until later. Anything that will add stress or more work to your life for the first weeks postpartum is a big ‘no’.

    Also – guests raiding the cupboards? They’re supposed to bring food, not eat it! Good lord that is rude to show up at a new mom’s house and expect to be fed. I think most folks will bring you food.

    In any case – I think you need to do what you feel is right. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting that week for just your little family. Don’t feel bad about it – this is your time with your baby and your wife and it’s time you’ll never get back…so if you want it alone, then take it alone. People will meet the baby eventually and you’ll appreciate the visitors more once baby is a few weeks old, too.

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    1. Thanks for the validation 🙂 maybe we can test out the visitors for their helpfulness, and if they aren’t helping we can just be bold and say “ok, time to get going, we need our rest”

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  2. Visitors were the thing I struggled with the most after Charlotte was born. In the hospital, we made it immediate family only–just our parents and my brother came to see her. After that, we let people come visit at home, but it was overwhelming. Too many people. Some of them stayed too long. I wanted to nurse in private, but they wanted to be with the baby. I wasn’t feeling great with my stitches and soreness. Using the bathroom was an ordeal and it sucked having a house full of people. Plus there was one day that my wife’s grandmother showed up SICK. I wanted to MURDER HER. (Postpartum hormones are no joke.) We got to the point where we were very strict about visiting hours. We’d tell people they could come visit between 10-11am. That way they knew their visit was not open-ended and they needed to LEAVE. One friend actually pitched a fit and said that wasn’t enough time and she would just come visit later on when she could have more time. Ummm… I haven’t spoken to her since. Make sure you give yourself lots of space between visits so you can recover from them. If you schedule a few visits one day, maybe wait a day or two before anyone else comes by. Everyone is so desperate to meet the baby, but the baby isn’t going anywhere and you need time to bond and heal. I had the WORST anxiety if I wasn’t holding my baby for those first couple of weeks. It literally made me twitchy. I needed her with me and it physically pained me to share her with anyone (except my wife). OK, I know this is a novel… you just touched on the one part of my postpartum experience that really sucked!

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    1. Thank you for your honest account of your experience. It actually makes me feel better to know that others feared and experience what I fear. Validates my concerns! I like the idea of giving a specific time frame. I hope that my post partum hormones will make me assertive so I can actually tell people that visiting hours are over.
      I remember my sister-in-law breaking down in tears when her mother-in-law would grab her boob and put it in baby’s face like she had all the knowledge and my SIL was doing it wrong… In front of everyone… Serious deep fear of mine, even though I don’t think I have anyone bold enough in my family to try that move…

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  3. We invited way too many people into our little world when Bingo was first born. As far as I can remember, we had seven visitors in our three days in the hospital alone. Then Sea’s mother visited a week later, and I felt like I needed to be up and okay: I walked 1.5 miles to the nearest Target, a week post c-section, with the baby, just because it was what I felt I was supposed to do for our guests. Looking back, I can see how inviting so many people in hindered more than it helped.

    BUT, Sea’s mother also helped with chores, held the baby, taught us some basic skills that we really didn’t know. And we had a friend living with us at the time (not because of the baby, but because of her own relationship struggles) and her help, that third set of hands, made life so much easier. It can go either way.

    So think about whether the people who want to show up will help or hinder and, if you say yes, whether you’ll be inviting them in for them or for you. If it’s about them, then make them wait– hurt feelings will subside. If it’s about you (which it doesn’t sound like it would be…) then go for it! I’ll be taking my own advice to heart this time around.

    Also, feel free to change your mind by the minute, hour, or day. As Molly said, postpartum hormones are no joke. Neither is life with a newborn. You get to call the shots.

    (Good luck, with the mom situation especially… that sounds more than a little tricky.)

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    1. Thanks, I will definitely consider which guests are likely to be more helpful versus not helpful. The problem is, closest family is probably going to be less helpful (my mom with lupus and my SIL with her own small baby with her) and the distant family more helpful, but my mom has already expressed concern that my extended in-law family will get more time than her… Yeah… that’s cuz they are natural and able caregivers who will do laundry and make food and be happy doing that instead of holding baby…

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  4. I didn’t want the visitors interrupting us either. My wife’s parents came to the hospital and stayed for about 5 days and all I needed was PRIVACY. The emotional roller coaster after birth is HARD. I wanted to space and privacy to awkwardly learn to parent and openly weep (often for no reason at all). We told everyone that because our baby was early, her immune system still needed some time to develop so we couldn’t have visitors for a week or two. It worked. On one hand, it was hard, because we wanted to celebrate her with loved ones, but on the other, it really gave us a break before the flood of people who want to hold and touch the baby. You’ll want to hold the baby as MUCH as possible, and visitors take away from that – some of them don’t get the hint that it’s time to give her back to you. Consider making up your own “white lie” to buy yourselves a week or two.

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      1. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking. Maybe if I am brutally honest with people and tell them I want to bleed/poop/cry/ache/lactate in private, they will get the picture and not WANT to be lurking around.

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  5. We were pretty up front this time around that we were not hosting any overnight visits, so out of town family would have to stay in a hotel. We learned the hard way with Darwin that hosting while learning what it means to parent a newborn is just too much.

    I think saying yes to help isn’t the same as saying yes to whoever wants to come visit, and while I don’t have much advice regarding how to talk to your mom, I don’t think you’re being unreasonable in needing to draw a line.

    If you have anyone in your life that might be able to be a quiet background presence to help with cleaning or cooking or whatever without needing to hold the baby for hours on end, that’s the person your want to allow in. When Darwin was new, that was Rachel’s mom, now with Linnea it’s our postpartum doula. In both cases, they were/are a background presence rather than an in-your-face visitor, and serve the additional purpose of acting as a bouncer, gently encouraging visitors to leave when they have over stayed their welcome. If you have access to someone like that, enlist their help!

    You’ve been in my thoughts a lot this week, I sympathize with the anxiety and pressure of these last few weeks of pregnancy! Wishing you all the best, and hopefully even a little rest. ♡

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  6. I think it is so hard to know what you’ll want – our fears and expectations were quite out-of-step with how things went. We were in the hospital for three nights, and since we didn’t anticipate that, we didn’t make a plan for visitors. We ended up having about ten visitors in the hospital, and for the most part they stayed for a decently short visit. Our mothers made sure that everyone else knew to leave us be. D and I had both been so scared of having to stay in the hospital, but it actually gave us the right kind of support – nurses who were well-trained in lactation but not pushy, a quiet atmosphere to focus just on J. It was nothing like my previous hospital experiences.

    When we got home, we had two sets of grandparents around. I made dinner for everyone most nights, and found that to be a lot. But other than that, it went well. I think they were all aware of the fact that they had babies a LONG time ago. Different babies, different bodies, different time. Everyone seemed to sense our ‘back off’ vibes and gave us a lot of space to just hang out with J in our bedroom. None of our parents tried to give us advice in that time – they waited until she was a few months old before overstepping 🙂 Di’s mom was helpful with laundry and stuff like that, and her dad did ALL of our dishes for the first week. My parents ran errands for us. I had been horribly anxious about having people around and really just wanted time to bond without visitors, but they stayed in the background, and we were so inwardly focused on our new three-person family that it all felt fine.

    It makes sense to plan according to what you think you’ll want. I think being clear about what you want is important, but maybe keep your options open. Everyone wants to hold the baby, but that’s not generally that helpful – be specific about what you need, and try not to feel guilty.

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    1. I will try not to feel guilty if I have to tell people ‘thanks but no thanks’. That will definitely be one of the hardest things for me.

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  7. I obviously have no experience yet… But I think it’s absolutely reasonable to want time alone with just your wife and new baby! You decide what feels right for you and hopefully everyone will come to respect that. They will have plenty of time to visit the baby 🙂

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  8. We had a ban on hospital visitors too and I’m so glad. It’s already overwhelming and visitors would have just added stress. Afterwards, house guests were limited to a couple of hours at a time and we spaced them out so we were bombarded by everyone at once. I am so glad we had the first week to just be a family and bond. Afterwards, I am so glad we had visitors who knew how to help – doing our dishes, laundry, bringing food etc. there is nothing wrong with asking guests to bring their own food or to help out in some way.

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  9. I’m worried about this too. When Roo was born my mum stayed with us for a week, and then my sister, which was wonderful. Especially when B’s mother past away 10 days after the birth. It meant that I wasn’t alone. However, now B’s family is coming to our city for Christmas (12 days after I’m due). I’m not sure that will be as helpful…. We are planning to have a list of chores on the fridge and ask everyone to do one each time they visit. I also asked everyone to bring food last time. Having baking to eat while breastfeeding at night was very helpful. I certainly don’t want any visitors at the hospital, we only notified people after we were ready for contact and visitors.

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  10. I’ve been waiting to add my two cents until I could sit down at my computer – too much to say on my phone. 🙂
    First, I will readily admit that one of my absolute favourite things about our international adoption is that we had no visitors for the first 3 weeks. We had time to learn to become parents without an audience and “help”. We did have some people want to fly to meet us in the USA and we said no, absolutely not. Also, I’ll fully admit that we basically didn’t tell anyone we were leaving the country, and no-one knew about the actual birth – so no-one bugged us at all when we were at the hospital. It was glorious! But, I realize pretty impractical for people who are expecting a baby the “traditional” way because people know you are pregnant with an estimated due date.
    When we got home people were asking if they could visit ASAP. We said yes, at that point we were ready for visitors. We were ready for people to stop by. We did have a freezer full of food, which we were absolutely grateful for on days when no-one visited. Because whenever someone visited they brought us food. With one notable exception Mr. MPB’s parents who visited for multiple days and didn’t even help cook a meal or even empty the dishwasher, in fact they expected us to make meals and desserts for them! It drove me mad and I was thankful when they left! They are fully capable and healthy individuals so having to take care of them plus an infant is nothing short of insane. And I was ready to kick them out of my house after 2 days of it – thankfully I worked day 3 and they left on day 4. Otherwise I probably would have exploded.
    So, I guess what I’d say is do whatever you think is best. I wouldn’t change anything about how we handled telling our family – we did what was best for us and that’s all that matters. You are are going to be responsible for this little life, so do what will make your life and your child’s life easiest. At the end of the day you may have some people annoyed at you, but they’ll get over it and if they don’t that’s their problem.

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    1. Thanks! I just wish I could know in advance who would be helpful and not intrusive, and who would get in the way and make things less enjoyable…

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  11. I had my wife send folks a letter asking that we not have out-of-town visitors until (I think) around 3 weeks after my due date. There was some snark in response to that, but I’m glad we did it. I wish I had insisted more that guests not stay in the (small) house with us, but it’s hard to say no to some folks. We did say no this time, and (for a number of reasons, not all related) we have not had any out of town visitors to meet Nea. What I have come to is this: you will have this time with your first only once. It will have ups and downs. If there are people who you *know* are going to be more work than help, tell them thanks but no thanks, even if it’s hard. Also, unless you’re close to an airport, request that people make their way to your home on their own. Putting the baby in the car can be the most stressful thing in the world in the beginning, even if overall they’re good in the car seat. Ten minutes of crying will have your teeth on edge and feel like an eternity.
    All to be taken with the grain of salt that comes with the reality that everyone has their own experience, and you should do what you feel you are able to do! Good luck!

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