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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.

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

Amazon Mom

Published May 2, 2011. Last updated October 29, 2017.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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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