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New-Baby Boundaries

New-Baby Boundaries

By Amalah

Helloooo Amalah.

I just want to let you know, I <3 you so much because you help me get through pumping sessions at work- I’ve even started reading your excellent archives to help keep me from quitting before my boobs are empty ( I ABHOR pumping, love you and why can’t I just bring my baby to work).

Anyway, I kinda have a 2 part question. First, my mother (who has no feelings really, so why am I listening to her) is convincing me that I have postpartum depression. I work in a hospital and don’t like to bother my doc unless I HAVE to because I could have to work with them at anytime and don’t want them thinking I’m crazy. Anyways, I’ve cried 4 times since having the baby….er okay like 6. Twice the first week because my body was gross and I’d never look good again, and because my mom was going on and on about how I was holding my WEEK old baby boy TOO MUCH wtf. And then again when I went back to work because I was worried that he would laugh for the first time at day care, and because my baby was going to be away from me all day. Well, on the last day of my second week back at work I literally cried the last 3 hours of work. 5 days in a row away from my 10 week old was just too much! I wanted him in my arms so bad. I could not stop crying. Is that normal? Or am I depressed? I thought postpartum depression was more, I don’t want to be with my kid, not I can’t stand being away from him?

Second, so haha Mr and Mrs we’ll never bring our baby into our bed, are cosleeping because hey, one night I fell asleep breastfeeding laying down and we slept 6 HOURS omg. And now my husband tells me he secretly loves it and wants the baby to keep cosleeping with us for a long while. Well, next month we are traveling to see our families and will be staying at their homes. I’m sooooooo worried they will discover our little cosleeping secret and we won’t ever hear the end of it (both sets of parents already warned us prebaby to never bring the baby into bed). Any advice on what to say besides its our baby and we will raise him as we will? Plus I’ve already kinda said to my mom yeah sure he sleeps all night in his crib…. I thought about printing the benefits of cosleeping pamphlet my lactation consultant gave me and waving that around….

Thanks so much!

Ugh. I am so sorry your family is butting into your life and business so much right now. Because that’s exactly what they’re doing. There’s a line between “helping the first-time parents” and “completely overstepping,” and…that line has been crossed. Your baby, your family, your choices. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you’re doing things differently than they think you should — or differently from how you THOUGHT this parenthood thing would shake out — and I really don’t like how you’re basically being made to question yourself, your mental state and the choices you AND your husband have made, to the point that it’s clearly causing anxiety. (To which your mom would say, OMG ANXIETY OH NOOOOOES, I’d imagine.) Not cool, parents.

While I am sure your mother genuinely believes she has your best interest at heart, and while I am absolutely not qualified to diagnose PPD over the Internet…you sure sound pretty darn normal to me. I cried a lot the first week or two after my babies were born. I cried because breastfeeding didn’t work out very well with my firstborn and I cried when I went back to work and left him at daycare and I cried after my secondborn because I kept getting colds and sinus infections and he wouldn’t ever let me put him down and I was tired.

But postpartum depression is more than the occasional crying jag. It’s a lot more. It’s a persistent, pervasive feeling of hopelessness. Emptiness. A loss of pleasure, joy or happiness in everyday life that you just can’t shake away or explain. Intrusive, nerve-jangling anxiety that interferes with your life on a daily basis. A significant change in appetite or weight (loss OR gain), and trouble concentrating and sleeping (even when you are given the chance to sleep without baby-related interruptions). Some women report OCD-type symptoms (often related to toxins or a compulsive fear that you aren’t keeping things clean or “pure” enough for your baby). Then there’s postpartum psychosis, which tends to be the one we hear about on the news the most, after a new mother has harmed herself or her child in some way.

If you have any of these symptoms, then, yes. Talk to your doctor. But a couple hormonally-charged crying fits that you can easily pin on a specific, external reason? Really not sending up any red flags for me here. There’s a wide, wide (and normal) medium between postpartum depression and being Miss Postpartum Susy Sunshine Everything Is FABULOUS, you know? Even the extended crying at work still doesn’t really doesn’t wig me out, personally, because going back to work full-time that early (10 weeks!) is ROUGH. Of course it didn’t feel “right” to be away from your baby that much, that soon! Hell, for some women, it NEVER feels right. For others, it gets easier — much easier, even — but just because you wrestle with and second-guess your work decisions for awhile doesn’t immediately mean you’re depressed and hopeless and find no joy in work or home and woe, etc.

Perhaps your mom feels like she suffered from PPD without any support and she’s projecting. Perhaps she’s really tone-deaf to the fact that a lot of her “support” comes out sounding so accusatory and undermining. Maybe she just needs to hear you say, “Mom, thanks for your concern, but I am fine. Let’s not talk about this again.” and butt the hell out.

As for the second part of your question…well, it’s really the same situation dressed up in another hot-button topic, isn’t it? Your parents and in-laws have no jurisdiction over what goes on in your bedroom and it is just soooo not their business — whether it’s your baby or a swinger you found on Craigslist you’re bringing into your bed. But since you’re clearly stressing about this (and the fact that the topic was already discussed in such a passionate, almost-politically-charged fashion BEFORE you even had the baby), I’m guessing you guys just don’t have good boundaries set up with your families about what is your life, your call, your business. (AKA NOT THEIRS.) And it’s time to start building them, one brick/issue at a time.

The simple way to handle the co-sleeping thing is to simply drag a Pack-n-Play or something with you and set it up in your room, then lock the door. No one needs to know whether or not your son slept in the thing or with you or what. It is completely understandable that you want to pick your battles, and if this one ain’t one you particularly feel like fighting.

However…you’re only, what? Three months or so into this parenting thing, and your biggest struggle seems to be a never-ending wave of Opinions From Family Members. That’s not something that just magically goes away at any point. People don’t suddenly stop and think, “Oh look! They successfully kept their child alive and well until his first birthday! My work here is done.” It keeps happening. About sleep, food, milestones, school, holidays, haircuts, YOU NAME IT.

So you absolutely have my blessing and encouragement to tell everyone that yes, actually, the baby WILL be sleeping with you during this visit, because that’s what works. And because he’s your baby, and it’s your lactation-consultant-approved call, end of discussion. And then really, truly MAKE it the end of the discussion. Put your hand up and shake your head if they try to push the issue, and hold your ground. Because I sense the practice will come in handy for you guys, unfortunately enough.

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If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

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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 [email protected].

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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Olivia
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Olivia

On co-sleeping, I think a list of benefits and a run-down of how it’s done safely will be good to have, but you may want to start simply with just, “This is what works for us and we enjoy it/get better sleep with it.” Then, if they push any more whip out the facts. Also, if you have friends/co-workers who you know have co-slept you could use those perfectly well-adjusted children as examples that sleeping in the same bed with their parents did not mess them up. In addition to setting up boundaries, I suggest working on owning your parenting choices.… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Please. The crying! My vivid recollection is that I did A LOT of pp crying. Like, had to take the hubs to the pediatrician’s office becuase I couldn’t say the baby’s NAME (“hi, Baby X is here for his appt”) without crying. I felt ridiculous at the time. But it ended after not too long. Then reared it’s head again every once in awhile over 8 or so weeks. I actually remember sobbing around 8 wks pp becuase, in one measly month I’d have to go back to work and I’m not reeeeadyyy! So, yeah. You’re mom needs to cut… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Oh jeez, my grammar: “your mom.” oops

Jeannie
Guest
Jeannie

I agree, the crying does sound totally normal to me! With other symptoms, sure, maybe you might want to check it out. But ten weeks pp is still crazy hormonal and being away from your baby it’s normal to be sad. And the co-sleeping. Oy, I’ve been there. I’m the only co-sleeping parent from a long line of die-hard crib-in-own-bedroom fans, so admitting I was doing it and sticking to my guns was HARD. (also I got a lit of “put the baby down!!” comments too.) What worked for us? Not discussing it. If questioned, say matter-of-factly that yes, he… Read more »

Stefanie
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Stefanie

If you are at all concerned about PPD, take this questionnaire: http://www.aap.org/practicingsafety/toolkit_resources/module2/epds.pdf. I did have PPD and I took that same questionnaire at my psychiatrist’s office every week during treatment. But, from what you have described, your reaction to leaving your baby sound pretty normal to me! I cried when I left my daughter for the first time at daycare and she was 12 months old. And, five months later, at the end of the day when I’m walking to get her, my arms just ACHE at the thought of picking her up. As for the co-sleeping, I think this… Read more »

Operation Pink Herring
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Hey Amy, is there a way I can subscribe to just your posts on AlphaMom? I keep adding the links I think should work for your columns, but it ends up subscribing me to all of AlphaMom.

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Here’s how you do it: https://alphamom.com/author/amy/feed/

Kellie
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Kellie

Oh, the crying!  Dear lord.  I cried SO much.  Your crying seems completely normal and like you are crying for actual reasons.  I cried for no damn reason and my doctor still declared me perfectly normal.  And for co-sleeping, isn’t it awesome?!?  I never in a million years thought that I would have an 11 month old sleeping in my bed, but let me tell you how much I love it.  We all sleep!  I used to set these completely ridiculous timelines on my co-sleeping…like “when she is 5 months old, she will sleep in her own room.”  But 5… Read more »

Hillary
Guest
Hillary

This sounds so familiar – not the issues themselves so much as the way my mother and MIL made me feel in the few months after my daughter was born. I shouldn’t say ‘made me feel’ but rather ‘I felt whenever they opened their mouths and offered their unsolicited opinions.’ My issues were all related to breastfeeding – I had a lot of trouble with it and complained about the trouble and kept getting told to just stop and use a bottle and she would be fine, etc. etc. I FINALLY was able to articulate why their words were so… Read more »

Leslie
Guest

Amen to what has been said about postpartum waterworks!  I cried a river, most often over nothing at all, for the first several weeks.  Your hormones are wacky, you are experiencing major life changes, AND you’re putting up with junk from your family…lots of normal reasons for tears!  I actually had a little return of the emotional roller coaster this past week as my son turned one and we taper off from nursing.  Hormonally and experientially, motherhood is just an emotional roller coaster and that’s because we love our kids to pieces.  I think a few tears are a natural… Read more »

Emoly
Guest

My advice is to find a group of like-minded mamas.  I like the Kellymom.com forums where cosleeping is definitely the norm.  They help when you’re getting so much discouragement from the grandparent-types.

Sara
Guest

I’ve yet to have babies of my own, but I’ve stayed with my sister for a few weeks after she had her… and I would just like to say, the fact that you can COUNT how many times you’ve cried over ten weeks, you are GOLDEN. Everything your cried about… completely understandable, even not considering the hormonal roller coaster. Amen to Amalah’s advice though – I think stand your ground if you can and that doesn’t stress you out too much, tell them to butt out and go on doing what works for you. If that does seem too stressful,… Read more »

Caitlyn
Guest

The crying doesn’t sound like PPD to me either, but even without actual PPD it really does help to have someone to talk to.  If you’ve got a friend or sister or someone who is supportive and has been there and is available to talk, definitely find time to talk with her.  If you’re feeling very alone, a therapist-type person can actually be a great deal of help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Julia
Guest

Seriously? Lie. Bring a Pack N’ Play (or whatever sleeping surface) along for the ride and do whatever works for you. Unless said relatives are offering to take over at 3AM, they don’t need to know what (literally) gets you through the night. Just refuse to discuss your sleeping/feeding/crying arrangements. I found this very helpful: http://goybparenting.com/?page_id=27 The key takeaway is this: “In setting boundaries, we don’t need to convince the other person you are right and they don’t have to agree about the boundary. We just need to be prepared to enforce the boundary, at any cost, using progressively more… Read more »

Tracy
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Tracy

This doesn’t sound like PPD to me. Crying 6 times just sounds very normal. However, and I cannot underscore this enough, PPD is NOT always experienced as “a persistent, pervasive feeling of hopelessness. Emptiness. A loss of pleasure, joy or happiness in everyday life that you just can’t shake away or explain.” Initially, I felt fine. I went back to work when my baby was 8 weeks old. But suddenly, when my baby was 4 months old, my occasional crying turned into crying EVERY DAY at work with my office door shut. I missed the baby so much I couldn’t… Read more »

Cara
Guest
Cara

I agree with all the people who said ‘been there, done that and wasn’t depressed.” Hormones are crazy for a long while after baby is born. Life is crazy for even longer. Cut yourself some slack… But, if it will make you feel better, go ahead and check in with your doctor. Your main concern is not seeming professional, but my (wonderful) OB told me that I should call any time I was bothered during my pregnancy and that there was no way I was the first expectant mother to call with the same ‘crazy’ question. The same applies after… Read more »

Jessica
Guest

I’m 28 weeks pregnant with my first, so I read your question and Amy’s answer with a lot of interest. While I don’t think (based on past experience) that either my or my husband’s family would pull the kinda crap yours seems to think is okay, I can relate to a desire for their approval, and maybe that’s what’s been keeping you from (rightfully) telling them to SHOVE IT. As a soon-to-be first time parent, I have a really strong need for validation, especially from my own mom. That I’m doing things right, that I’m not going to kill my… Read more »

Grammy
Guest
Grammy

I’m on the other end of this problem — I’m the grandmother who had never heard that co-sleeping is the great “new” thing for all you young moms. So, when my daughter complained about never getting any sleep because “taking care of the baby” kept her waking up all night I offered advice about how to move him into the crib. Ditto her mother-in-law. She never told anyone that they had the baby in their bed because it was their choice and she was just working through it and seriously NOT asking for advice. So everything the grandmothers said was… Read more »

professormama
Guest
professormama

the pack-n-play lie is a great idea, especially if the in-laws have already bought one to be helpful- just don’t say anything! But if you WANT to be open about it, what always worked for me was to tell whoever was asking/judging that for most of human history we have co-slept with infants, it’s the only way to feed a new baby on demand when they are growing so fast, and to be sure they stay warm and safe, you know to ensure survival.  Just like diapers, crib sleeping is a relatively new invention and continues to be an option… Read more »

Irene
Guest
Irene

Ok, I got some advice for you too. I totally feel where you are right now. I am sorry that you are going through all that. I went through it too. I cried a LOT more than 6 times, only I’m sure I was not depressed/I didn’t have post-pardum. It was riding the hormone waves and being away from my kid that did it. So, I think this will be a pretty emotional comment for me. Here’s what I got, part C is totally different from what everyone else said so far. A, you are not gonna roll over on… Read more »

Irene
Guest
Irene

This may not be a possibility for you, but – some different advice… I went back to work after my baby was just 7 weeks old… and the first 2 weeks of her life were spent in the NICU. So, I had like 5 weeks with her at home, and during that time I was also training the nanny, etc. It totally sucked to go back to work. All I wanted was to be with that baby. I had the same worries you do. Now, my job was UBER flexible, most people would be telling me that I’m out of… Read more »

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Love all of the advice so far, but two other points to consider: * Depression of any kind can be extremely hard to self-diagnose, and one of the side-effects of depression can be not wanting to bother people to get help. Sometimes another person close to you is really noticing something valuable. Not necessarily crying, but lack of enjoyment, lack of feeling anything, etc. Check out the online form or another questionnaire if needed, and perhaps ask your husband to keep an eye on you and let you know if HE thinks you are having an issue. * It sounds… Read more »

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Rebecca
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Rebecca

Just FYI, the feed link in the sixth comment didn’t work for me – the correct URL is https://alphamom.com/author/amy/feed/
(“amy” instead of “amalah”).

I happened to be trying to figure out to add AdvSmack to my Google Reader – with no luck – when I read that comment, and then played around until I figured out how to get it to work.

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Isabel: Thanks for that! I fixed the link.

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Stacie
Guest
Stacie

Oh goodness the crying. It didn’t last long but absolute SOBBING is more like it.  I would nurse my son and afterward he would be asleep on my chest and I would just cry cry cry.Those who happened to wander in upon this silly scene got to hear “He’s just so sweet..hrrmph…waaaahhh” Its so corny but I was literally melting into a big fat puddle of mush because of this baby.  Its not quite the same but I can tell you that if I had to go back to work at 10 weeks postpartum I may have been worse.  Your… Read more »