A little over four years ago, my husband and I made the early morning drive to the hospital where I would give birth to our son later that day. I didn’t text or call anyone or post to social media. I was in quite a bit of pain, but being a first time mom, I wasn’t even sure if I would be admitted, so I wasn’t ready to deal with a barrage of questions and congratulations from friends and family, well-intended though they may have been.
Once we knew that I was indeed in active labor and going to be admitted, we called parents and immediate family members to let them know the good news. At the time we were living five and six hours from our parents, so my in-laws decided to make the drive up immediately and my parents chose to wait until the following day.
I figured by the time we were moved to our recovery room I’d be ready for visitors. I was wrong. Between learning to breastfeed, getting cleaned up, trying to eat something myself, check-ins from nurses and doctors, uterine massages, “resting”, and visitors, the entire experience felt like a circus. When I left the hospital two days later, I was holding a hungry baby who still wouldn’t latch and running on 5 broken hours of sleep for the past 36 hours. It’s no wonder to me now that I quickly spiraled into a pit of postpartum anxiety.
This time around, we are doing things a little differently. The only visitor we will welcome in the hospital when baby #2 debuts is his or her big brother, and even that will likely be a brief, one-time introduction until we get home. Other than that, the entire (hopefully) two-day stay will just be my husband, our new baby, and me. Here’s why we won’t be having any other visitors when baby is born:
- I’m recovering. I know the excitement that comes with bringing a new life into this world can be overwhelming and there is nothing better than snuggling a fresh newborn, but birth is a big deal for baby AND mom. Babies don’t just waltz out of the birth canal on their own–there is a great amount of work involved on the mom’s part, and with a great amount of work comes a great deal of recovery. But more often than not, mom’s recovery tends to be overshadowed by the presence of the new baby (and why not? They’re adorable!). I’m pretty fortunate to have had what I consider a fairly easy vaginal birth, and yet I still kind of felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was exhausted, sore, bleeding, hormonal, sweaty, and stitched. The last thing I wanted to do was slap a smile on my face and make small talk with visitors.
- I want this time to bond with my baby and husband. Once we arrive home, we will be diving into the chaotic life that is caring for a 4-year-old and a newborn and figuring out our lives as a family of four. So please, allow my husband and I these first couple days to get to know our new baby in peace, before he or she inevitably falls victim to second child syndrome.
- I need to get the hang of being a mom (again). Breastfeeding my first child was an amazing experience, but one that started out extremely rocky. I have no qualms about nursing in public, but learning how to breastfeed was, for me, incredibly awkward. I could only successfully latch my son while completely topless with a minimum of five helping hands (thank you, lactation consultant and husband). Between that and the fact that I looked like an adult film star once my milk came in, there was nothing “discreet” about the process and breastfeeding in front of visitors was just not going to happen. And having to ask people to wait in the hall while I attempted to breastfeed was plain stressful, as it is not a process that can be rushed. Also, I want to change the diapers and do the swaddling and rock the baby and all the other stuff new parents should get to do if they choose. Don’t worry though, visitors, there will be years of poopy diapers for you to deal with once I’m over it.
- GERMS. Hospitals are germy enough, but at least with doctors and nurses I can be sure they are up-to-date on vaccines and aren’t going to be kissing my baby on the face or holding them for hours on end. Being due in the middle of winter means being due at the height of cold and flu season, and I really don’t want a revolving door of germs greeting my baby when he or she is only a few hours old.
- I don’t want to share this moment. Call me selfish, but I share enough of my life with other people. Being a blogger and active user of social media has allowed us to keep our friends and family up-to-date on all of our son’s biggest milestones and latest happenings, and while I love having everyone there for us and in-the-loop, there are some very special times that I’d like to shut the world out so that I can keep them for myself. A brand new baby is one of those times. In the early days of their lives, babies seem to change by the minute, so please give me the space to soak in all of his or her newborn glory. Because before I know it, I’ll blink and that squishy baby will be four.
It’s not you, visitors, it’s me. I know you mean well and you’re excited and you want to be a part of this child’s life. And you will be! Once we are home and settled I would love nothing more than for you to visit and hold our baby while I shower or eat or spend some time with our other child. Until then, please allow our little family some time to get to know it’s newest member.