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Too Many Visitors During Pregnancy

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

I’m feeling a little bit frazzled (maybe being 27 weeks pregnant has SOMEthing to do with that). My issue is visitors, a topic that I know you’ve covered eloquently before, but I’m hoping you can help me (and other mommies-to-be) figure out if I’m being unreasonable – and also direct me toward some tips for how to say “No” gracefully.

My husband and I live in a small-ish home with one bathroom and an extra guestroom/office. Both of our families live in different cities that are a plane ride away. Over the past year, it’s just somehow transpired that we’ve had a LOT of visitors to our home… about one person or family every 3 weeks or so. I got pregnant during this time (surprise!), so it also happened to shake out that we had a visitor about every 2 weeks during my first trimester. These were all pre-planned visits by people we love very much and WANTED to see… but it quickly started to feel like I was running a bed and breakfast – and I’m now feeling at the end of my rope.

As I begin my third trimester, the requests for visits have continued. No one has been pushy, and no one has requested a lengthy stay. They all want to come out of love or to “help us get set up for the baby”… but I’ve just… had it. I’ve had it. We’ve had a revolving door to our home (including throughout some of the difficult times of my early pregnancy) and I just don’t want to see anyone right now. Is this abnormal? Maybe the hormones are making me antisocial? I am generally a private, introverted person and visits take a lot out of me. I’m always a little stressed about entertaining, and even when my houseguests are wonderful/low maintenance, I still feel concerned about making conversation, whether they’re enjoying themselves, what we’ll do for dinner, etc. The thought of hosting any more people in my last trimester makes me want to weep.

But how can I say no? I really do love everyone that has come – they’ve been dear friends and our closest family. And some of the people that want to come in the next couple of months have even offered to stay in hotels or with other friends, which is very considerate, but the truth is… I still feel over it. I’m working until my due date at both a full-time and a freelance job, I want to spend time with my husband, and he and I have a lot to do with readying our home, making a new budget and talking through this upcoming development in our lives. I just don’t want to devote my last remaining weekends to visitors – even “helpful” ones. Is that selfish?

Amy (and community), first of all: am I being oversensitive here? I know having many people that love us and want to support is a wonderful problem to have – should I just suck it up? And second: how can I say no to future visitors while really, really expressing how much I love and appreciate them?

(And in case you were wondering, we’ve already been working at setting boundaries for AFTER the baby is born by putting out a 2 week “no visitors” buffer after delivery. That one has been hard too – but it seems like people understand it a little better.)

Many, many thanks,
This hotel is closed.

Say no! Say nooooooo. Say no thank you, but no.

You are not being unreasonable or oversensitive. I’m not even pregnant and reading your first couple paragraphs stressed ME out. It sounds exhausting and NATURALLY, anxiety inducing, because I’m like you: Even hosting/entertaining the most fun, easy-going people who I love more than anything still requires mental and physical work and energy. Do they know where the towels are? Do we have clean pillowcases? Are they bored? Is it rude if I sleep in a little instead of rushing downstairs to make coffee/breakfast? How late are they going to stay up? Are we going to run out of hot water? What diet restrictions do we need to work around?

(And knowing how pregnancy works, I bet you end up craving the exact thing your guests can’t or won’t eat and gaaaahhhh rage.)

So. It’s okay to say no. You don’t even need to make some big “NO VISITORS ALLOWED GO AWAY” announcement or rule. Just tell people you’re busy.

For people offering to stay elsewhere, with other friends, you can — if you WANT to see them just not in a full-weekend hostess/city guide capacity — manage expectations: “We could get dinner together one night that weekend, but that’s probably all I’m up for at this point.”

But otherwise, just tell people you’re booked up for the next couple months, or be honest and tell them you’re just not feeling up to visitors and entertaining, and that you guys really don’t need any help “getting set up” for the baby. The “busy” line is actually true, because you’re busy CREATING LIFE, life that is getting kind of big and pokey and heavy at this point. It’s okay to shut down the social calendar and take some mental health weekends. It’s totally okay to want to spend your last pre-parenthood weekends with just your husband. What YOU want and feel like your body/brain needs right now takes precedence over everything else.

And you know what? If all these dear friends and wonderful family members are as dear and wonderful as you say: They will understand. They will not need you to word everything perfectly, or immediately reassure them that your saying no to a single weekend visit means you don’t love them or ever want to see them again. You’re in your third trimester and need to take it easy, so it’s just not a really good time right now. The end! Understood!

Anyone who would get pissy or pushy after being told, “sorry, now’s not a good time” is not a dear or wonderful person, and definitely doesn’t deserve a spot in your office guestroom. (Or weighing on your people-pleasing conscience. Forget them.)

You can also tell them — if it’s true or doable — that you guys are planning to make trips to each side of the family’s cities with the baby as soon as you can. Maximize your time by seeing as many people as possible and (hopefully) stem the rushing tide of everybody coming to see you (and your ONE BATHROOM) individually, week after week because BABYYYYYYY.

But for now: Just say no. It’s okay, really.

********

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • Nancy

    Oh gosh, I wish someone had said this to me in my 7th month of pregnancy. After a weekend visit from my parents AND my SiL and her husband (who announced their visit a few days before and how could I say no?) And then once they left, my oldest friend showed up “SURPRISE!” and I… sort of lost it? And no one could figure out why. And it’s because I lost the ability to say NO loudly and clearly. 

    So, please, SAY NO. If you need an excuse, say you’re tired and overwhelmed with the pregnancy. Say you need some one on one time with your husband. Don’t say anything at all. But do say no and feel confident in it. You are completely not overreacting.

  • Dani

    I feel for you! Pregnancy is stressful enough without having to play hostess to (even the most well-meaning) visitors. I stress out about these situations too. How do you say no without offending or hurting feelings? So hard. When the conversation is breached I would explain exactly how you feel, including the fact that you feel terrible about the whole thing. It might be awkward, but at least if you say something like, ‘I feel like a terrible friend, but I’m really craving some alone time with my husband before this baby comes. I’m so sorry, I hope you don’t think I’m being a huge jerk’ would be good. [Ahem. Run-on sentence.] I’m a chronic over-apologizer though, so maybe that sounds crazy to everyone else. But in my experience, honesty works pretty well to smooth things over. Good luck! I hope your remaining weeks are spent on your couch, in your jammies, enjoying time with your husband, and watching episodes of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (priorities!).

  • Kerry

    I would really play up the wanting to spend some time with your husband before the baby comes. The whole point of getting married is to force other people to respect and support your relationship, and the fact that it sometimes needs to be a priority. 

    • April_S

      Yes!! I love the importance of alone time with your husband. I really cherish the dinners and walks my husband and I had during my last few weeks of pregnancy. (Also. 2 weeks post partum is not that much time. I hated all postpartum visitors until at least 2 months. 

  • Jessie

    You don’t owe anyone any lengthy explanations and you certainly don’t owe anyone any apologies. Hosting people can be tiring and challenging when you aren’t pregnant. You are only going to get more tired and uncomfortable as the weeks go on. These last weeks alone with your husband are precious, and it is time you won’t get back. A simple “now is not a good time” rinse and repeat is all that is needed here. As Amy said, if these people are as lovely as you say then they will totally get it and if they don’t, now you know they are boundary stompers.

    When you offer a lot of excuses/apologies certain types of people take that as a challenge and an opportunity to negotiate. “We need to work in the nursery that weekend” “oh really? I LOVE to paint/clean/organize” or “I’m just too tired for company” is met with “you rest while I oversee this task that you actually want to manage yourself!” And so on. Keep it simple, just this doesn’t work for us.

    There is a dealing with inlaws/family of origin board at babycenter. I’ve learned a lot about setting boundaries unapologetically. It might be a useful resource for you.

    Congrats on your little one and good luck!

  • Rachel

    At the end of my pregnancy I also wanted to stay home with no visitors.  Physically I felt great, but I still just wanted to be left alone.  Maybe hormones had something to do with it, but you are still entitled to time alone.  Don’t be afraid to say no!

  • S

    Someone said it above, but 2 weeks post partum?! Oh no, dear. Whatever anxiety you’re feeling now about intrusive or even super “helpful” visitors will be infinity times worse after birth. Say no to visitors and use this time to plan for how to say no to hospital visits and at least 6 weeks at home. If you’re planning on breastfeeding (and it’s cool if you don’t, it’s just info), your nipples will be bleeding and wearing shirts will be excruciating for several weeks. All visitors will see your boobs. You will be bleeding profusely from the lady bits (even if it’s a c-section) for weeks, literally using puppy pads stuck in your sweatpants for a few days.) And all that time you want with your husband now? You’ll feel a biological imperative to hold your kid but visitors will try to take it from you. No to visitors! (Unless it’s your mom after birth, that’s different…)

  • KR

    Yes to honest, gracious, firm No’s!  It sounds like you are the kind of person who won’t be unintentionally hostile, so I agree: just explain that you love them but are exhausted and need some husband time.  
    I have a contrary opinion about post-birth visitors, though – I think after 2 weeks is a totally reasonable time frame, IF they are the kind of visitors who will really just help and not expect things from you.  You certainly shouldn’t have the be super-hostess after 2 weeks, but if you have family/friends who you trust to do things like make a dinner appear for you (without any decisions or help required from you), walk your dog, listen supportively during the inevitable crying breakdowns, take care of baby while you sleep (or just have alone time!) for a few hours . . . I found that kind of visitor invaluable after having a kid.  A good litmus test is: if you trust them to (and don’t mind having them) clean your one bathroom while you nurse/sleep/cry, invite them! If you’d feel compelled to clean your bathroom for them, don’t invite them.  

    • IrishCream

      Agreed–we had one week to ourselves post-partum, and then we were eager to show off the baby! I was not thrilled about overnight guests (but endured it for the sake of the faraway grandmas who could not wait to meet the baby), but was very happy to have other family and close friends drop by for a few hours. I wouldn’t have wanted to entertain work friends or acquaintances, but I didn’t care that much about close friends seeing my boobs. And the bleeding was not that bad for me–it varies for everyone but it was not the horror show I was fearing.

  • Lilly

    You might want to turn that guestroom into a lovely nursery, and have a really uncomfortable couch. Then, I like the “this is not a good time” rinse and repeat response mentioned above.

  • MR

    You aren’t being oversensitive and you aren’t being irrational. Your feelings are what they are and you don’t owe ANYONE an explanation or excuse. Just simply say, “While we would love to see you, we already have plans for that weekend.” It is totally ok that your plans are self care and rest.
    If you feel like giving an explanation, you can say, “We’ve had a lot of visitors, and I am tired and need a break.” Period. ((hugs))

  • KIm too

    Yup to all of the above.  Your body, your pregnancy, your rules.  My pregnancies took a lot out of me – they weren’t high risk, but they were rough.  I couldn’t even handle watching Amazing Race – other people’s stress would get my adrenaline pumping. I need lots of peace and quiet.  

  • Lydia

    Yes to what Amy said!  You ARE BUSY already.  Busy making a baby in your body.  

    I was a recluse in the 3rd trimester.  I occasionally saw friends because I felt I had to see them before the baby came, but I did not want visitors.  I sent my husband out to socialize alone a LOT. I hosted my best friend in the whole world’s bachelorette party at 30 weeks pregnant and it nearly killed me.  I was so so so so tired.

    Just. Say. No.

    Also, some of those super helpful visitors might be AMAZING post-partum host guests.  I had wonderful friends come and be totally self-sufficient and even cooked me meals and cleaned up everything all the time.  It was wonderful.  And I felt no shame going to bed when I needed too and napping while they were there.  Just keep it in mind if these are dear loved one for AFTER.

  • Lauren

    I have to echo what others are saying about the 2 weeks postpartum not being long enough for the “no visitors” request. Having some family help out with the baby so you can rest a bit is one thing, house guests are  quite another. And you can’t imagine how small your house is going to suddenly feel when you bring home the baby…so the thought of packing more people in there??? You could be setting yourself up for a TON of additional stress that you don’t need!

    I would tell family and friends to WAIT until you and your husband decide you are ready for visitors. It might be two weeks, it might be a month, but it’s your decision and don’t let anyone pressure you into having people stay with you before you’re ready. It might sound ok now, but once you have the baby, all bets are off trust me. Good Luck! 

  • Dawn

    You are not being unreasonable. Also, some may disagree, but I firmly believe that it is OK (now and post-partum) if you want your parents but not your in-laws. 
    A breastfeeding note: If you’re breastfeeding, you will be exposing your breasts to whoever is in the house. But plenty of people don’t ever have bleeding raw nipples and a resulting need to be shirtless.

  • Sarah

    Hi there, 
    no you are not being oversensitive, no you do not just have to suck it up, and no its not selfish to want to spend some time with your husband before the baby comes. 

    I was in a pretty similar situation in my first and second trimester with excessive requests for visitors (or my mum just randomly calling to say she’d booked flights) plus the stress of working, finishing a masters degree and moving interstate. Luckily for my husband and I, my parents and mother in law decided that the Christmas day breakfast table (before I’d had coffee) was an appropriate time and place to start lecturing me about how I needed to ‘rest more’ and asking again if I had made any decisions about those 1000 frankly quite non-urgent in the grand scheme of things baby matters which they all knew I hadn’t done because of above causes of busyness. In any case, I snapped, turned to my mum and said to her ‘you know, you are right, I do need to rest more in fact I think that I’m just going to put a ban on any more visitors between now and when the baby comes’. 

    Apparently my MIL was quite disappointed, and my mum perhaps a tad offended, and most weekends I feel a little guilty still…. but then I get to saturday afternoon or sunday morning and the house is clean and quiet and I’m spending some quality time with my husband and I feel a quiet sense of calm and happiness and gladness for putting my health and our relationship first. 

    In practical terms, there is no really nice way to say no to people where they are not going to feel even a little bit rejected. But it was helpful for me to think about the fact that as a mum, one of my jobs will be protecting my family unit and doing what is right for them, so I decided that I would look at this boundary setting as practice for that time. It may be selfish, but that doesn’t mean its not ok to prioritise the needs of your immediate family unit over the expectations of your broader network of friends and family at times; and I think, if you asked them what they thought, they would agree. 

    Good luck!

  • Lindsay

    Lots of good advice from Amy as usual. One more thing, as with lots of boundary setting pre-baby, it will be be good practice for what comes after! With our first kid we had a similar set-up of two sets of excited grandparents who each lived a plane ride away. The trouble came up after the kid was born. For her first two years, we negotiated grandparents who each wanted to come once a month, meaning we had “helpful” house guests at least twice a month, plus any visits from our siblings, friends. etc. Finally after more than a year, we told them we needed at least 6 weeks between their visits, so that now we host every 3-4 weeks,but not every other weekend. I felt super guilty about this because their relationship with their granddaughter! She loves them! But it drove me and my husband crazy, and the grandparents eventually were ok with being told no sometimes, she still loves her grandparents, and it all reached a new much saner equilibrium.

  • praepes

    Excellent advice!
    Gosh I wish there was a follow up post for these advice smackdowns, I’m always curious if the advice was taken and if it brought the positive results anyone would expect.
    For instance, every time I open this site after the Post-Baby Foodshaming smackdown, I wonder what happened with the lady…
    Props to Amy for doing it all btw! (work, blogs and life)

  • Lucia

    Thank you so much for this. I’m 31 weeks now and just moved to a different state with my husband. We are struggling a little with setting up the apartment and my mother in law and her husband keep coming a spend days with us and i can’t do it no more. Not only i feel uncomfortable because i feel like i have bot privacy at all, they are very nosy, they wanto to go with me to the doctor, to the grocery store, to my walks, or they want me to go with then wherever they go. They live 2 hours away from us. We moved to the apartment 6 weeks ago with they already have been here twice first time the stayed 3 days and last its been 1 week already. Whta really pissed me off was that I talked to my husband about it…well maybe i wasn’t 100% honest because i didn’t tell him that i just didnt feel like it instead i gave him a reason that they pretty quick find a solution for so they still came.like one of the ladies said, they look for excuses like we’ll help you with this and that. Not only that but my apartment is not that big, we have small porch outside wich is the only outdoors i get while inside the apartment because i’m in a 3rd floor and i when they are here i can’t go out there because they are always smoking wich i find it very very very disrespectful now I’m limited to be inside with all my doors closed because of that and I also concern about how is gonna be like when the baby arrives because they are constanly smoking i promise im not exaggerating. So the always smell like cigarettes and washing their hands i dont feel will be enough before they hold a newborn baby. I feel like my husband doesn’t understand me. Well maybe if i was honest with him was gonna be different i just feel so horrible to tell them i dont want anyone now. I definitely gonna talk to him about it as soon as the in laws leave. Thank you because now i don’t feel so bad and is very normal to feel like this. Thank you