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Postpartum Company: Who, When & How Long?

May12

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When people inquired about my immediate post-birth plans with Noah, they were always shocked — shocked! — to hear that my husband and I were deliberately asking family to NOT stay with us for the first two weeks. A visit here and there was fine, and I really wanted my mom to at least come see me in the hospital, but once I was discharged, my mind was made up: no overnight visitors for two weeks.

You seriously would have thought I had announced plans to birth the baby among the dolphins, or to bring the placenta to the next company potluck. The idea that my husband and I wanted to be ALONE with our newborn was clearly a sign that we did not know what we were getting into, and/or had a really lousy relationship with our family.

Neither of which were true, or had anything to do with our decision. We lived in a tiny, one-bathroom condo. We had no guest room, only a sleeper sofa directly underneath our open, loft-style master bedroom. Being home with a crying newborn in the middle of the night seemed stressful enough without knowing that we were keeping someone else up beneath us, someone who could hear everything we said, someone I’d have to trudge by every time I needed to walk to the bathroom to change my maxi pad. I didn’t especially want to learn how to breastfeed in front of anyone. I would have probably loved if my mom could come, but she was still recovering from a recent mastectomy and couldn’t really “help” with much. So our plan was for Jason and I to figure stuff out on our own for two weeks, and then once he went back to work, our mothers would each come for one week (or so) to help me out and keep me company.

Noah was almost five weeks old (or so) before I had my first true stay-at-home maternity-leave day with him, and let me tell you, I was READY. I was…yeah. I was ready. My mother-in-law’s visit was open-ended, and by day seven or so I had to put my foot down and announce that it was time for me to do this parenting thing on my own. I wanted my house and my privacy and honestly didn’t want to share my baby with anybody else anymore. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this and make it through the day and if making it through the day included watching The Price Is Right in our pajamas, so be it.

(I also wanted to eat a hot dog for lunch, if I wanted to, without having to first turn down my mother-in-law’s offers of salads and wheatgrass shakes.)

We had noooo such company rule before Ezra’s birth — quite the opposite, in fact. We knew we would need help. Someone would have to watch Noah and get him to and from preschool and help with his meals and bedtime. Jason’s time off from work would not be so truly “off” this time either, so we had no grand plans for being on our own from the get-go. (While insisting on our privacy with Noah may have come across as a little selfish, that was probably nothing compared to enlisting the aid of relatives to come stay with us just so we could pawn a kid off on them.) My father’s health meant my parents couldn’t come, so my in-laws stepped in.

They were very helpful.

/clenched teeth.

No, they were, really. I don’t see how we could have survived otherwise, especially since we all kept getting one illness after another and no sleep and helping Noah through the new-sibling transition was DIFFICULT and GAH. I go back and read the stuff I was writing through that phase and clearly I was having some kind of major mental break with reality because I could only talk about how HAPPY I was, and I guess I was happy, but I was also sick and tired and sneaking down to the kitchen at night to get the junk food that my mother-in-law hadn’t thrown out in a fit of raw-food veganism and worried that they just didn’t really understand how to deal with Noah and I don’t even remember how long they stayed. It was awhile, for an in-law visit, but I still asked them to stay one day even longer so I could make sure that I was really and truly healthy and okay with being alone with both kids.

If money hadn’t been an issue, I would have LOVED to have hired a postpartum doula — particularly one who could focus on Noah. Having family — even family expressly staying with you to help — can still feel a bit like having company. I’d fret about whether we had enough clean towels and worry about the crumbs in the sleeper sofa cushions and wanted to make sure everybody enjoyed dinner. Every time I breastfed the baby my father-in-law would get up and bolt from the room, even if I used a cover. We’re still trying to track down stuff that got helpfully put away in closets and the kitchen during the visit. If I have another baby — HA! HAAAA HA. HA HA HA! — I think I would do a hybrid of our two postpartum company policies: no family staying overnight for two weeks, but a postpartum doula on hand to help out in any way possible, and then family could come down for reasonable, non-open-ended visits.

What was your postpartum company policy, if you had one? Would you do things differently or the same, if you had to do it over again?

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
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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29 Responses to “Postpartum Company: Who, When & How Long?”

  1. Linda May 12 at 11:24 am Reply

    I hope we’re not crazy, but this is what we want to do postpartum:
    • No visitors in the hospital. I almost lost my sanity being in the hospital for surgery and trying to “entertain” my hospital-phobic family, so I’d like to avoid the awkwardness this time.
    • My parents have said, yes, they are coming to visit—however, they realize (A) they won’t know about the birth until afterward as they live 2K miles from us, and (B) we have no guest room. They know they’ll have to get a hotel room, and I am very grateful that I’ll have a few days leeway with just the baby and my husband before they’ll show up.
    • Good friends can come by on a limited basis. I have a couple of friends who wouldn’t blink if I looked like a walking zombie among my disheveled belongings, so they are on my “good” list :) Anyone who’s going to potentially critique my post-baby cleaning skills or try to educate me on how to take care of my baby—”I worked in a nursery/school/I babysat, so I know how to do this!”—is going to be waiting a long time to get an invitation.
    • I’m not tolerating people dropping by to visit.
    I hope these don’t sound rude, but I’m due right before Thanksgiving, we have three pets to take care of as well, and it’s our first kid. We don’t want to lose most of our time to people using the upcoming holidays as an excuse to visit.

  2. PaintingChef May 12 at 11:36 am Reply

    When Patrick and I FIRST started trying to have children (and for the record… that’s still unsuccessful so yes, this is being written by a childless person) we lived 5 hours away from anyone related to us. And so when I very matter-of-factly informed him that NOBODY was going to stay with us in our house for an extended visit when our child was born for at LEAST 2 weeks he was… shocked. But they will want to see the baby! They will want to help!! We will make them all mad!!!
    Fine. I said. They can come see the baby. And stay in a hotel. I pleaded my case with things like we would need the time to figure things out. Neither of us would know what we were doing but that didn’t mean that I wanted our (read: HIS) mother(s) telling us everything we were doing wrong. And when all that failed to convince I screamed that I was the one giving birth and this was just the way it was gong to be.
    We’ve since moved back to the same area as all our family and so that rule has relaxed greatly because there is no longer a need for people to have somewhere to stay. They can go home at night and they “drop-in” rules have been well-established and written in stone. I just realized that as I’m sitting here smack dab in the middle of the “two-week-wait” that maybe I DO need to start thinking about some rules again…
    But no, I think your approach was perfect. I can’t imagine anything more stressful than someone just wanting to “help” with the advice and the “helping” when it comes to your first child. You need to figure things out. Yes, with a second child the logistics are different but you’ve also already established yourself as a parent.
    As far as the hospital visiting goes… I don’t mind that there will be visitors, I think that will be nice. All I’ll ask is for some warning before they show up.

  3. mrsnovak May 12 at 12:17 pm Reply

    Well.. my daughter is almost 2 months old now, and wow. Her birth/newborn-ness was the single most dramatic experience for the dynamics of my family. Ever.
    Our policy from the beginning of the pregnancy was that no one was going to know about me going into labor. I was planning on a natural birth, with a midwife, at our Birthing Center and no one. NO ONE. Was going to accompany us there except our midwife.
    Well, as luck would have it I ran 3 days past my due date and on the day when we had invited the entire family over for a St Patty’s Day Celebration (on a Sunday, it’s a big deal) I was busy all day putting together Sheperd’s Pie casseroles, cleaning, generally being anxious about having 15 people over and being 40+ weeks pregnant… well the anxiety must have triggered my body cause – you guessed it – I went into labor that day.
    So instead of a middle-of-the-night Babe, It’s Time NOW moment… it turned into an episode of “Friends”: my sisters, in-law siblings, nieces and nephew, dad, and family friends were rushing us out the door, helping pack our bag (yes, I still hadn’t packed “the bag”) and waving good-bye from our doorstep, while I’m screaming at them to shove THIS and THAT in THERE and THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SECRET NO ONE WAS SUPPOSED TO KNOW I WENT INTO LABOR DON’T BUG US.
    Well, the entire family knew. Thank goodness we had already warned everyone that no one was going to stay with us, no one was going to “drop by” without a forewarning (and by forewarning I really mean.. ASKING), and no, I don’t need you to change my daughter’s diapers or give her a bath, I’m perfectly capable thank you.
    It might have been stubborn, but as it was our first kid I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to experience parenthood with just my husband. Some members of the family were upset and put off that they weren’t “needed” as they NEEDED their moms or family members to stay with them SO WHY DON’T YOU NEED ME TO STAY ARE YOU SURE YOU DON’T NEED ME TO STAY CAUSE I TOOK THE WHOLE WEEK OFF FROM WORK FOR YOU AND..? But I had to prove to myself, and my family, that I could do this mothering thing.
    It’s going well so far. Only been pooped on once today, and it’s before noon and I’ve already got my teeth brushed. Shower? I brushed my hair yesterday…

  4. Marnie May 12 at 12:18 pm Reply

    We had the same rule as Amy, with the same reaction. “They have no idea what they’re getting into.” “They’ll really wish we were there when they get home.”
    My answer back to my mom and MIL was partly to make them feel better, but partly true: You’ll be a bigger help to me after I know what I need help with. Once we’re home and settled, then I’ll know what I can and can’t do, what I do and don’t need help with, and then your visit with us will be much more pleasant for all of us. (Of course, it helped that both sets of parents were thousands of miles away and both sets were still working, so couldn’t really take off indefinitely, and couldn’t possibly get here until after the baby was born.)
    And it was better for everyone. 3 weeks post-partum, and I was ready for a night out – a whole 2 hours – with my husband. I was ready to go the grocery store by myself. And I knew which things weren’t getting done because they were so low on my list of priorities (laundry, vacuuming).
    And, honestly, I really relished having her all to ourselves those first few weeks. I loved showing her off, of course, but I could just sit and watch her for as long as I wanted, without making conversation, without sharing her breathing and sighs with anyone else. I could nurse without having to cover up, without being embarrassed about not being able to manipulate my nursing bra without completely unbuttoning my shirt. And I learned what worked and didn’t work for us. After a few weeks, yes, I was more than happy to share her, and still am! With anyone who will take her! ;-) But I wouldn’t change my decision about not having anyone stay those first few weeks.

  5. Michelle May 12 at 12:34 pm Reply

    Ugh! We are so doing things differently this time around with visitors and such. Last time, no one came to see us in the hospital (well other than a lady from my office) and frankly I was bored especially since I had a c-section and a longer hospital stay. Granted my dad had just been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing radiation so we all agreed that my mom shouldn’t come out (dad was NOT happy). Anyway, I did put my foot down that no one be at our house when we came in so we could have a chance to get settled in. Fab idea!
    Except, I should have could extended that to the next day. My son was jaundiced so we had to take him back to the hospital for a blood draw. Then my SIL and her family wanted to come by and see the baby. Ok, fine….except they showed up nearly 2 hours late as she decided to go grocery shopping first since and I quote “it’s not like you were cooking a meal or anything for us.” WTF? No, I wasn’t cooking for my damn in-laws…I just had a baby. Grrrr! By that time, I was achey and tired and wanted a nap. Plus SIL and her family definitely over-stayed their welcome. Then another friend and her hubby stopped by but they were lovely…brought food and only stayed for a short time.
    So that evening, when my milk came in with a venegance? Yeah, I think that coupled with all the stress was just too much for my body. I spiked a very high fever (106) and my OB was worried about all sorts of horrible things so I was rushed back to the hospital for another 36 hours. Luckily, no infection or sepsis was found so they did a course of iv antibiotics and let my baby room in with me.
    When I was finally released, my mom flew out to stay with us for a week. Which was just long enough because any longer and she would have gotten on my nerves. Plus we knew my husband was getting downsized a mere 3 weeks after the baby’s birth so I only had to manage a few days on my own before I had him home to help out. Although frankly I insisted on doing most of the baby stuff and mom did things like wash and fold all of our laundry. Which was so awesome!
    My husband’s mother passed away shortly before we were married and his dad’s new wife is um, less than helpful. But they are local so my FIL did bring by food several times and stay for short visits which was very much appreciated.
    This time, I am doing a repeat c-section and my mom will fly out for a week to basically help wrangle my now 3 yr old. Family is welcome to visit while I am in the hospital but only brief visits for the first couple of days home (other than my mom). We have a teenage girl who lives across the street who is willing to be a mom’s helper and keep the preschooler occupied for that first week or so when I’m on my own.
    Luckily my husband’s job is much more flexible now. He can work from home for several days if needed. And the summer is his slow time so taking leave isn’t an issue.

  6. Melissa May 12 at 12:37 pm Reply

    Both our families live 5 plus hours away. We would call when we were going to the hospital, and then you can come down later (MUCH MUCH later) to visit. Well, as luck would have it, I was late and had a scheduled induction. So BOTH sets of parents made the trip down to our house, to come to the hospital the day I gave birth. But my rule – you MUST CLEAR OUT before I get home from the hospital. I could not handle new baby and company in my house at the same time.
    And I am SO glad we decided to do it that way. Still now, at three months, having the family come down for a weekend just stresses me out. What if the baby cries in the middle of the night and wakes someone up? What if a floor board creaks when I get up to feed at 5:30 AM and I wake someone up? Plus, we have a small house so when family comes the baby has to sleep in our room. And she is LOUD. Which means I don’t sleep. Which makes me grumpy.
    So don’t feel bad AT ALL telling your company that you’d rather not have to disrupt your whole house for them. Have them stay at a hotel. And have them HELP. Which I was not so good at doing. If we have another child, visitors shall be making their own meals, and cooking for ME, thankyouverymuch. It shall NOT be the other way around!
    Local friends, however, who came bearing gifts of food? They were welcome any time at all. How come the friends completely understand the “rules” but the family just doesn’t get it?

  7. Michelle May 12 at 1:14 pm Reply

    We decided early on in our first pregnancy to establish what we jokingly referred to ask “Lock Down.”
    We asked that friends and family not bother to visit our home within the first week after baby arrived. We were ok with them visiting at the hospital that first night, but not once we brought the baby home. We didnt want to get to know our new baby on anyone elses terms or schedule. We knew we could handle it together, and didnt want to have to work feedings and naps around visits from well-wishers.
    We got plenty of comments from people who didnt understand, but that didnt bother me. It was a choice we made for our baby – she had her whole life to get to know everyone.
    The beauty of Lockdown is that we were in complete control, no surprises when breastfeeding, no door-bells during naptime etc. BUT – – – when I felt up to a visit on day 2 we called our parents to join us for breakfast. They were thrilled to come, and we were thrilled that we felt up to it so soon!
    Lockdown worked so well, that we went ahead with it again for baby #2. It was even more effective the 2nd time around. It allowed our oldest a chance to get to know her baby brother, and a week for us to ensure that our oldest was able to stick with her normal routine. We didnt have to worry about her getting jealous when visitors came to spoil the new baby. By the time we had people coming over, our oldest was so in love with her brother she couldnt wait to show him off to the world!

  8. Loukia May 12 at 1:54 pm Reply

    With my fist born, I didn’t want any visitors at all for the first 6 weeks – except for my parents, inlaws, grandparents, sister. I needed their help and support, so that was great with me. I didn’t want ANY visitors in the hospital, aside from my direct family, but of course, the day after I gave birth 15 family/friends came in at the same time. More or less. I was freaked out completely. I insisted everyone wash their hands and I didn’t even let anyone hold my baby.
    With my second baby – I was much more relaxed. I only wanted a few close friends to come visit me in the hospital, and I was cool with that. As for the visits from friends at home, I still waited a few weeks.

  9. Beth May 12 at 1:57 pm Reply

    We decided on no visitors at the hospital till after the baby arrived; we called our parents to let them know of the labor and where we were headed, but we didn’t want anyone hanging out with us while I labored. At all.
    My parents came the next morning during the earliest of visiting hours – our daughter was 5 hours old. And that was just fine. They gave my husband someone to have lunch with, they gave me a chance to show off the baby, etc. It was fine. Thankfully, my in laws live across the country so they got a phone call. And then they planned their visit.
    They arrived when she was just under 2 weeks old; they made no offers to prepare meals or buy take out. In fact they expected us to entertain them. It got to the point that my parents drove back down (they live about an hour away) and brought a huge meal that my mom had cooked, with plenty of leftovers to get us through the next days of their visits. THe idea that they would stay at a hotel was offensive to them.
    It really would have been better off for all involved if they had done so but they are unwilling to do that. (side note: it seems like I’m complaining about their unwillingness to spend money but the fact is, they have it to spend; it’s a different situation and I’d be more understanding if they were broke but they had recently purchased their 3rd home with cash at the time – they could afford a stop at mcdonald’s at least once while they were here).
    I had to learn to breastfeed by shutting myself into my bedroom and then hearing remarks about “over-feeding” my newborn because she nursed every 2 hours or so.
    Luckily, my husband was home at the time having been able to combine vacation time with paternity leave.
    We are expecting our second in about a month. We already have plans that my parents are going to come down and take care of our oldest while I’m in the hospital. We are hoping against hope that the baby arrives on time and it gives us a month to get used to the newborn and a family of four before his family arrives to meet the baby; they have an already planned trip to this area for a month after the baby’s due date and there is no way in hell they are going to spend the money to come out here twice in one month.

  10. Kim May 12 at 2:13 pm Reply

    Ugh. I got convinced that we would NEED help, so my Mom was set to come up after our son’s birth. Then, because the boy was 11 days late, my MIL ended up coming the day my Mom left. 2 solid weeks of Grandmas, starting 3 days after the birth. Also, my husband was able to take 3 weeks sick leave, but it had to be the 3 weeks directly after the birth.
    This arrangement SUCKED. The Grandmas, supposedly ‘here to help’, helped by holding the baby while my husband and I did the housework, cooked, etc. They were both baby-hoarders, insisting that he really wasn’t hungry when I thought he needed to feed, so that they could continue holding him. I wanted nothing but to hold my baby in silence and I instead ended up watching them hold my baby while I chatted with them politely. I ended up leaving the room suddenly to go cry all the time because I didn’t feel like I could ask for him back except to breastfeed (blame the baby blues for that particular delusion).
    In any case, I ended up really feeling like it interfered with bonding. And my poor husband didn’t get to hold his son AT ALL between me and the Grandmas. Ultimately we didn’t need any help at all (mostly because my husband is AWESOME and takes care of everything).
    So, next time, no Grandmas until after my husband goes back to work, after the initial bonding period, and after my post-partum emotional fragility has passed. As for guests that stay an hour or two, so long as they don’t care how gross I am or my house is, they are totally welcome.

  11. Cerise May 12 at 2:14 pm Reply

    For my first (and 1st baby for both families) I was firm about not wanting anyone to come while I was in labor at the hospital. Luckily we lived 45min away, because in the middle of getting my water broken my MIL called to say she was 5mins away. I made my husband go call her from the hall and INSIST that she go back home. The baby came late at night, but the next day EVERYONE came to visit at the same time, so it was a zoo. Luckily other than a little help with cleaning and bringing some carryout those first few days, we were given some space after that.
    Baby #2 arrived over 2 wks early and we were ok w/quick hospital visits the next afternoon, but we came home the night before Thanksgiving and EVERYONE wanted to come by on the holiday (even if they’d already seen the baby) and it was really annoying having guests all day our 1st full day at home.
    Baby #3 is due in a few months and I’m hoping everyone will respect that we’d like our kids to be the first visitors at the hospital and stagger visits & keep them short. I’ve found a few weeks after, when you’re sleep deprived, the house is a mess & you need 5 min to yourself is when the help is needed, not the moment you’re walking in the door from the hospital trying to get your bearings.
    I think the families MAY get it this time around, but I belong to several mom groups who like to make & deliver meals for new moms. I’m trying to figure out a diplomatic way of saying thanks for the offer, but no way. The thought of a bunch of acquaintances ringing the doorbell all week with food to drop off (and of course they’ll want to see the baby and chat), has me running for the hills!

  12. Emily May 12 at 2:19 pm Reply

    We’re just into the starting phase of planning for life after the birth but I definitely don’t want people staying for the first 2 weeks (aside from my best girlfriend who would do anything for us and makes me calm when I’m not so she’ll be a godsend). But I would never say NO VISITORS at all. I will limit their time but most of our friends already have kids and understand but seeing their kids at 12 hours or 3 days old and just the whole real-ness of a new baby is part of our bond of friendship. We’ve always visited during the 2 weeks but we took food and kept it short. I would feel weird keeping my closest friends away!

  13. Sarah May 12 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Well, my mother is a doctor who delivered a great many babies back during the 80s and 90s, so I WANTED her at the birth. She is an incredibly calming presence and, as a bonus, she speaks the labor & delivery language.
    Afterwards, she and my father stayed for a week. They were incredibly helpful. My mom’s philosophy is that a new mother should rest, recover, hold the baby, and make milk. She took care of everything else – cleaning, cooking, EVERYTHING. WIN.
    However, the MIL came the next week and SHE just wanted to hold the baby and offer unwanted assvice while one of us cooked her meals and kept her entertained. That pretty much sucked.
    I guess it all depends on the TYPE of people who visit. Helpful people are invaluable. Not-helpful people should be banned for at least 3 weeks.

  14. Jenn May 12 at 4:16 pm Reply

    I have never had family come stay with me when I’ve had my babies. In fact, I never received an offer of help from my family, even though both sets of my parents live less than an hour away. When my second son was born and had to stay in the NICU, my family did step up a bit to help with my older son, but it was still mainly my husband and me trying to do everything with help from his mother, which made me feel so guilty since she was also caring for her husband who has Parkinson’s. I’m pregnant with my 3rd and due right when school starts for my older two, and find myself in the awkward position of trying to solicit help, which will probably come from my neighborhood, since my dad and step-mom will be in Italy the week before and after my due date (I was told it would be very convenient for them if I could have the baby, their first granddaughter, about 10 days overdue) and my mom is, well, she is herself which means she won’t be helping. I hate calling on my mother-in-law again, since she is caring for not only her husband who is in a nursing home (she visits him daily for hours), but also her 90 year old mother.
    I understand the annoyance of family who are the WRONG kind of helpful, but be grateful they are willing to help, even if you have to turn it down or set rules so you aren’t driven up the wall!

  15. MomOf1 May 12 at 8:14 pm Reply

    My first child is 3 months old. I was a high-risk pregnancy and at 37 weeks found out I was going to have to alter my birth plan to have a c-section under general anesthesia at 39 weeks. I told my husband that I didn’t want anyone at the hospital until the day after the scheduled c-section because I’d a lot of surgeries in the past and I knew I’d wake up feeling like crap. Also, we had waited to be surprised about the baby’s gender and call me selfish, I didn’t want anyone else to know the gender before me (except my husband and the doctors, of course).
    My mom fully respected this. She lives out of state and we had already decided it would be better for her to wait till we came home from the hospital before she came to visit. My MIL (who is at the other end of our state) pitched a fit! She complained about the arrangement and tried to find a way into the hospital up until the morning of my delivery. [This included telling my husband to let her show up while I was in surgery so I'd never know...]
    As it were, my son and I both had complications and were separated that first day. My in-laws were at the hospital FIRST THING the next morning, before baby and I were even re-united. Within an hour or so of them arriving, they were already picking arguments with me. My MIL is a formula feeding, keep the baby in a separate room from the get-go kind of mom. And that’s fine. But I wanted to breastfeed and we use a co-sleeper bassinet, and (heaven forbid) pacifiers, etc.. She is vocal about her disapproval. She kept telling me that I couldn’t possibly know when my son was hungry and wouldn’t allow me to feed my baby. I was having heart trouble and hooked up to all kinds of IVs so I couldn’t take the baby away from her and had to wait until my son was a screaming mess. My MIL thought that was funny.
    My in-laws were there EVERY DAY I WAS IN THE HOSPITAL. My doctors and the nurses could tell how stressed out I was, so they would periodically kick the in-laws out of the room by saying they needed to run tests on me. I was SO grateful. My in-laws really resented any time they had to leave the room, even though they knew I was very sick.
    Things were much better when I got home. My mom cooked and cleaned and helped stay up with the baby at night so my husband and I could get some sleep. We had visitors every single day. Normally I wouldn’t have done that, but we were moving across the country when my son was 2 1/2 weeks old, so of course all our friends and family wanted to meet him and say goodbye to us. For the most part I didn’t mind these visits. We scheduled them around naps and asked people not to stay long.
    In the future, I am really going to regulate who comes to the hospital and for how long. I may not allow anyone at the hospital. Now that we’re on opposite sides of the country from our families that might be easier or harder, we’ll have to see…

  16. mrsgryphon May 12 at 10:42 pm Reply

    Oh, what a timely topic!!
    My c-section is booked for May 20th, and my FIL (who lives 4 provinces away) bought my MIL tickets to a concert in our city for May 25th as a Christmas gift (original due date was May 28th). Hmmmm… suspicious, considering our “no visitors for 2 weeks” rule with the first baby was also in effect for this child and he somehow thought it was cool to basically guarantee that they would be here for the delivery. WTF?
    We’ve since been informed by the IL’s, that they’ve booked a trip out here for the EXACT same time that my husband has off from work (starting May 18th) and that they intend to come to the hospital to see the baby even though the LAST person I want to see me hours post-c-section is my FIL! Anyway, it’s been pretty much an ambush and while they ARE staying in a hotel and not at our house, it’s still frustrating to have your wishes ignored. It’s also not really like them – any other trip they would check with us first re: dates and timing, but for some reason this time they decided to book concerts/flights without even asking us! Blatent disregard for our wish to spend some time alone with both our kids and make sure our older daughter doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of visitors. ARGH.
    My mother, on the other hand, has completely respected my wishes both times which is actually very shocking, considering her desperate need to be involved and stake a claim to the event! She and my Dad will be arriving from across the country the day after the in-laws leave (2 weeks after baby arrives) and they WILL be staying with us, with the understanding that if it gets too crazy, there’s a nice hotel just a few blocks downtown. It’s really just the first 2 weeks that I wanted on my own – I know what a c-section recovery is like, and I wanted to do that in the peace and quiet of my own home. After that, it’s fair game for visitors!
    So, next week should be interesting… and I won’t hesitate to let my post-partum hormones do the talking for me if MIL/FIL are over-staying their visits. As far as I’m concerned, if there is one time in a Mother’s life that she gets to be selfish, it’s when her babies are born.
    P.S. Yes, Husband has talked to his parents. I’ve tried too, but have been pretty much ignored. It’s so unlike them, and I’m disappointed. There had better be some laundry/dishes/meal prep in their plans because if they think they’re just going to come over and hold the baby or spoil the 3 yo for 2 weeks, they are SORELY mistaken!!

  17. cindy May 12 at 11:44 pm Reply

    When my husband and I had our daughter we had anyone who wanted come to the hospital — ended up w/ both sets of parents as well as several friends. Ended up with about 8 hours of true labor, and then a c-section, so although intentions were good, it was a LITTLE too much for me. (my husband, however, ate his way through the entire labor, since everyone did bring food!)
    Then we had anyone who wanted come to the hospital, as long as they realized that I was not changing anything about what I needed to do. It actually worked out quite well, and the Percocets (I’m allergic to Motrin!) really kept me not caring about who I was breast feeding in front of! The nurses joked that it was always one big party!
    Once we got home, we spend another week just my husband and I (he had to use vacay time), and then my mom came down to stay for a week (about 250 miles away) and my dad joined her over the weekend and then to bring her back home. It worked quite well, because my mom really just wanted to be here to help, and I got more and more comfortable asking her to do stuff.
    With my son (now 3 months, and my daughter is 3 years), I had a scheduled C. I asked everyone to wait until we called (just to make sure that everything went well, and wasn’t delayed), and then my parents (who came down to watch my daughter when I went in) brought my daughter down to meet her brother.
    Once they came, we had anyone who wanted come down, and again, it was like a party for 4 days! I was tired, but since everyone cleared out at around 8pm, I had plenty of time to rest. The first night was really rough, but that was mostly due to inadequate pain control (the “astromorph” wore off, and Dr. didn’t leave any info on additional strong meds, because they expected it to last until the morning. No such luck …. especially since what they normally use to take the edge off if that happens is an NSAID — and I’m allergic!!)
    After I came home, my parents went back north and my husband and I were again home with the kids for the first week and a half. Then my MIL helped out for a couple of days (came by the house to help with my daughter, and took my daughter for a sleep over). After that my mom came for about a week, with my dad joining her again on the weekend.
    That seemed to work out quite well for us. As long as I have one other person around I can get through the recovery and take care of the little one — so I figured each time, since my mom could really only stay for about a week, if my husband was home I’d rather wait to have her come until I needed her.
    For baby 2, it was definately important to have someone around to help take care of and entertain our daughter. Everyone was very good about making her feel special, and brining a small “big sister” gift if they were bringing a baby present. She really adjusted well, and I made sure that she got the chance show off “her baby”.
    My mom was also great about taking care of as much around the house as possible. And my MIL was great about spending time with my daughter and having her over whenever possible.
    We also kept my daughter in preschool, so that her routine wasn’t changed, and it gave me time with the baby without it interfering with her time.

  18. Luisa Gioffre-Suzuki May 13 at 12:32 am Reply

    Well, my case was this;
    I live in Japan with my hubby, my family is from Australia. My mum wanted to come for 2 months to see her first grandchild. Fine. Ok. She came, but I was 4 days overdue. I expected to have given birth already, but as it turned out, I went into labour 4 days after she arrived. She insisted on coming to the hospital when I was in labour. I said NO..and Im so glad I stuck to my guns. It was a 10 hour labour (no meds) and was told it was relatively short for my first.
    Got home to a very helpful mum, albeit hard as she didnt speak Japanese so had to walk her through everything from answering the phone to going to the supermarket. Stressful. Then my MIL decided she wanted to come to see the baby and stayed for a week. A mum and a MIL…lets just say not the best idea in the world.
    Next time, don` t know- I think everyone visiting would be great, but people staying is just too much.
    Things became a lot calmer after everyone finally left 2 months later (my dad came for a month too)..and finally I felt like a mum..not someone who was fumbling through it all with two `veterans` looking over my shoulder and offering me `advice`.
    ahhh…live and learn xx

  19. Rochelle May 13 at 3:16 am Reply

    My policy on visitors was pretty lax when my son was born. My parents live a mere 8 miles from us and my in-laws live right across the street. Yeah thats right, I can see their house from my window. So my going into labor could not have been hidden. As soon as my MIL noticed that we were leaving the house at 10pm two days after I was due, she called immediately. I informed her that we were going to the hospital but I wasn’t even sure they were going to admit me so I’d call her when I knew more. I also called my mom because I wanted her to be there for the birth. So I’m at the hospital waiting to be checked and in walks my mom…with my entire family. My dad, my sister, my in-laws…everybody. Great. So they are all excited because everybody thinks this is going to be the world’s fastest labor because both of our moms almost didn’t make it to the hospital…yeah, except not. A lovely 26 hours later and my beautiful baby boy decides to make an appearance. And nearly the entire family is still chilling in the waiting room. The in-laws were even giving the impression that they would really appreciate it if I “hurried this up a bit”.
    The rest of my hospital stay was great minus the 9:00 visit by my FIL the day after my son was born. We didn’t get settled into the room until after 4am, and I had no prior notice to his dropping by. Thanks.
    After we got home I was dreading the inevitable “just dropping by to see how everything is going, oh I noticed you have that tired look in your eye let me take the baby and-oh what’s this… his diaper is slightly crooked, and he has spitup on his sleeper why haven’t you changed it yet? blah blah blah. But surprisingly enough my entire family was Fan-freaking-tastic.
    They brought us food, and cleaned my house, and folded my laundry and let me just sit in the recliner and bask in my new found mommyness. They also knew when to Go Home.
    The moms were at the ready because I have had some prior issues with depression and was afraid that post-partum would be an issue, (I feel blessed that it wasn’t)and they were both willing to come over and help out at any time, day or night.
    I never needed to call them, but it was amazing just knowing that they were there for me in case I was feeling overwhelmed.
    So to end this long and rambling comment, my family rocks, and knows when to back the eff off. :o)

  20. Melissa H May 13 at 10:28 am Reply

    When my daughter was born we didn’t have any one come to help…. of course no one offered. It seemed like everyone in the whole world visited me in the hospital though and it was tough to get any rest. Everyone kept telling me to rest while I could… but there was not a full 1/2 an hour where I didn’t have visitors. It was exhausting. My husband didn’t take any time off of work either. He took off the day she was born and the day that she came home. We are 30 weeks along with our second pregnancy and this time my husband is going to take time off of work. This will be my second C-section and I will need help with a 20 month old and a newborn. It looks like he will get 2 weeks off… still no family that has offered to stay with us to help… and we won’t be asking. Thinking about limiting the visits at the hospital though, it would be nice to actually get the chance to REST like every body suggested.

  21. cassie May 13 at 12:12 pm Reply

    How timely! My parents live 6 hours away and I’m due smack dab between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m already having nightmares about how to tell them they are welcome to meet their grandchild when the kiddo is still brand new but there is no way in hell they are staying here for a month!
    The Hubby and I and have already decided that Thanksgiving is just going to be the two of us, no family or anyone else, so we can enjoy quiet before the chaos of the rest of our lives. But I still have to find a way to tell my mom we’ll call her when I go into labor, she can come up for a few days and then she has to go home and can’t come back until Christmas. I’m terrified of the pouting/outrage/unhappiness that is going to occur, but know that as much as I love her, and even if she’s helping, I can’t take that much time with her.

  22. Wallydraigle May 13 at 12:32 pm Reply

    I practically begged people to come visit both during the hospital stay and in the weeks after we came home. At first it was just because I wanted to show off the baby, and then it was because the only time I felt happy and not trapped and sad and alone was when I had other people around.
    After one email from me a few days after we came home, my sister flew in from halfway across the country to help me. She saved my life. I’m only exaggerating a little. She taught me how to swaddle, how to help the baby sleep longer, she cooked and cleaned, and she kept me company. She was (and is) awesome. My mom also came to help out. She cooked and cleaned my floors and held the baby at 5:00 in the morning when I just needed a few more minutes of sleep.
    I’m sure if my husband had taken paternity leave, it wouldn’t have been as hard, and I might’ve wanted less company, but neither of us wanted him to take more than a few days off.

  23. Jo May 13 at 2:20 pm Reply

    I recommend only having the type of people around right after the birth that you don’t mind seeing you bare-breasted, sobbing, un-showered and extremely puffy. That, for me, was my parents (and husband, obviously) and no one else. But I might feel differently the second time around. I did feel even a little bit relieved when my parents left and it was just the three of us. Something sweet about having your own, little family for the first time. That said, I’m soooo grateful for the cooking and cleaning and soothing screaming baby to sleep stuff that my parents did.
    You know what’s not cool though? When some random chick your husband was friends with in college drops by unexpectedly at 10:30am when you haven’t showered and are right in the middle of trying to learn to breastfeed and she proceeds to hint how she was hurt about not being invited to your wedding and then talks about husband’s ex.
    Yeah. Not cool.

  24. paranoid May 13 at 2:46 pm Reply

    With both kids, we had our in-laws involved from the beginning. MIL sat with me through the 30-hour labor with M, and tried so hard to help me make it through without the c-section.
    With E, we called the in-laws as soon as my water broke, and they took M home with them while I headed to the hospital. They brought M to visit the next day, and it was nice.
    Both times, the in-laws stayed with us for the week or so following the birth. And while I was very grateful for their help (and MIL, who rocks, was super-helpful), both times I found I was really ready for them to leave so I could have some privacy and get on withe the business of parenting. I just find myself really wanting to nest on my own without having to worry about things like MIL seeing how much tv I let M watch.
    By the time E was two weeks old, I was dying for company. I practically begged my friends to come by for playdates.

  25. Amanda May 14 at 8:12 pm Reply

    When I was pregnant the first time we lived in London, England, and all my family lives in Canada. My mom and my MIL (whom I adore) flew in on my due date. I had my baby two days later. Perfect timing. While I was in the hospital they made sure our 2 dogs and cat were okay, and they stayed at our townhouse.
    When I brought our daughter home I was so tired, I’d been in labor for 40 hours, and I was spent. They new grandmas stayed for 14 days, and it was just the right amount of time for us, I learned the ropes, got enough sleep, and they took care of us, but they left before I had enough of them. We flew to Canada to introduce our daughter when she was 8 weeks old, so they saw her again soon enough anyways.
    With our second, we were living in Canada, on the same block as both my inlaws and my parents, and it. was. hell. Not because of the grandparents, but because other, more distant family kept dropping by unannounced at the grandparents house, and using the excuse, “while, we might as well stop and see the new baby while were here” to see us. I by day 3 of being home i told the grandparents to tell people they couldnt go visit. problem solved.
    With my son, I had him on Christmas day, I had been through 29 hours of HARD labor, 7 hours of pitocin induced contractions, all with back labor, and no pain meds because the epidural stopped working after 2 hours of labor. He weighed a huge 12 pounds, and his head was 36 around. I had major tearing.
    3 hours later both sides of the family, their children, and their babies were all in my room. I was barely on pain meds, and I just wanted to hold my baby and go to sleep. I kicked everyone out after 8 minutes and held my baby for a bit in private, just me, my husband, and our two girls with our new son, before giving out instructions as to who could and couldnt hold the baby and then I gave him to my husband and went to sleep.
    My husband said some relatives were pretty upset at not being able to hold the baby, but seriously, when they’ve just had a cigar in celebration and they had pneumonia a week before? Stay the hell away please and thanks.

  26. jessica May 14 at 8:22 pm Reply

    ours was different.
    – my sister was our other person so she came in the wednesday declan was born and stayed through sunday. she cleaned my house, cooked for us, bought us curtains, and registered all of our baby items online that we hadn’t had a chance to do (like the stroller). she can come next time and stay as long as she wants!
    – my parents came down that saturday and stayed a week. my mom cleaned my house, bought us groceries, cooked for us and our friends, helped me get breastfeeding figured out (thank goodness for natural mom) and was comforting when i went into the pantry for poptarts and came out crying. i definitely want her here for a week or two after our next one. my dad fixed my computer, bought us food a lot, and i only yelled at him once. he can come too next time :-).
    – my MIL and her twin sister came down three days after my parents left. they stayed for 10 days. they sat. my MIL followed me around and stared at my son a lot. her sister did stuff when i asked (i hated to ask). they were bold enough to make cabbage in my house and were very very lucky it didn’t smell like it at all when i got home (had to go in for work days at school to make sure i got 12 month pay). they pointed out the obvious a lot and gave unsolicited and irrelevant advice. they had to be asked to leave after a friend of mine asked them how long they were staying and they replied, “oh at LEAST until sunday” and i texted her after she left with “the hell they are!”
    i would prefer she doesn’t come for a month or so after the next one. since she did, every visit MUST have a set start and end date and cannot last more than a week and my husband has to take vacation days at work.

  27. geek.anachronism May 15 at 4:18 am Reply

    Very timely this is – I’ve just gotten the news that if my blood pressure doesn’t spike, I’ll be induced at 37 weeks. Which is when my parents were originally planning on coming to visit. Since they, and the rest of our families, live on the other side of the country (sort of – 2 day drive/2.5 hour flight) planning visits is paramount.
    I’m mostly grateful that my parents and siblings, and his siblings, understand that when I say ‘no visits for 2 weeks’ I mean it. And the one person who would be a dick (and was indeed a total dick for the first grandchild) lives in another country. So apart from worrying MIL is going to turn up for 8 weeks like she did with my SIL, I know everyone is going to respect the whole ‘2 weeks thing’ simply because they aren’t about to spend the money on a plane ticket and find out I’ve locked the door. Having proven I mean what I say (they didn’t believe I honestly didn’t care what they wore beneath the matching bridesmaids jackets until they saw my best friend’s green and black striped stockings and docs…) they know they risk being stuck in a strange city with no guides and no baby to spoil.
    At the moment though, good friends are cooking up an incredible amount of food to freeze for after the birth and my mother + grandmother are planning on staying for a bit once my partner has gone back to work.
    I think my biggest advantage is that not only do I automatically stay in hospital for a week recovering/learning to breastfeed, my partner is taking two weeks after that off and he is actually helpful.

  28. Michelle Pixie May 15 at 4:35 pm Reply

    I didn’t have a plan with any of my three girls but I lived in the same town as family with my first two and anyone who came over was only there for a few hours and then on their way.
    With my third daughter I live about 400 miles from the nearest relative. So my mom came in for the first two weeks and was a huge help. But my mom never feels like company when she comes by herself and my girls keep her very busy so no entertaining needed. After my mom left my best friend came into town for a week with her two daughters and after three weeks were up I couldn’t get everyone out of my house fast enough!!!
    I know people just want to help but sometimes it’s more work to have them there then anything else. I am done having babies but if I were to do it again I would only have my mom here to help with the other kids and no one else would be allowed to come for a few months or at least until we felt like we were on some sort of solid ground!

  29. Florrie May 18 at 9:00 pm Reply

    I felt very lucky, because my parents live around the corner from us. My mom was there when I needed her, but when we were ready for some alone time, she’d go home. My in-laws came from out of town as soon as they heard I was in labor, but they didn’t stay with us. My husband’s two younger brothers share a house and happen to live 5 minutes away, and they put up hubby’s mom for a week. She would come over each day at 11 a.m., do all the cooking and cleaning baby-cuddling that needed to be done, and then go home around 4 or 5 p.m. It really was lovely.

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