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The Postpartum Visitors of Doom: when you have too many visitors and/or they won't leave

The Postpartum Visitors of Doom

By Amalah

Amy,

We have the sweetest little week-old baby. He’s so wonderful, so perfect. We didn’t think we’d get to have kids because of my health, and a previous miscarriage, yet here he is. We’re beside ourselves with how much we love him and really can’t bear to be away from him quite yet.

We’re also exhausted. Recovering from a cesarean, round the clock feedings, pumping every 2-3 hours, Dr. appointments….

And then the goddamned visits. Well-meaning friends and family keep calling. Some have never been to our house before but need to stop by, getting annoyed when we don’t call back right away. Overstaying welcomes, ignoring when I say baby needs to go down, I need to sleep, or I need to pump. My own mother had interrupted my pump schedule- I went to clinic for exhaustion the next day. And all these assholes tell me to sleep when baby sleeps, while holding my sleeping baby.

How do I get these jerks out of my house without fatigue-induced raging at them and burning bridges with family who are nevertheless important, and who do love this beautiful baby very much?

Thank you,
First-time mom with boundary issues

God, these people are the worrrrrrst. What are these people thinking? It’s been a damn week! Settle down! Let the new mom have a damn minute!

Establishing postpartum visitor boundaries for friends

Okay, so first of all, you’e going to put a moratorium on visitors, starting now. I don’t care if people get annoyed or whine that it’s unfair because so-and-so got to see the baby already. The baby isn’t going anywhere, but your sanity certainly could. Put your partner on bouncer/guard duty, and embrace the glorious world of SAYING NO.

Please please please know that you are 100% entirely entitled to some freaking privacy right now.

“Thanks so much for thinking of us, but turns out we’re really not quite ready for in-person visits just yet. We’ll let you know when we’re all a bit more settled in and recovered!”

“Sorry, but FTMwBI is still recovering from her surgery and isn’t up for visitors right now. I’ll reach out when she’s feeling better and things calm down a bit with the baby’s schedule and appointments and all that. I’m sure you understand it’s all a bit much right now.”

If you can keep people from entering your house in the first place, you’ll preemptively solve your secondary problem of people who won’t LEAVE your house. And while I know you’re bleary-eyed and overwhelmed right now and are terrified of offending, please please please know that you are 100% entirely entitled to some freaking privacy right now. No one — NO ONE — is entitled to barge in on you right now without your expressed permission and consent, and you are well within your rights to withhold those from people, for now. Stop worrying about annoying people and start saying “No, now is not a good time, we aren’t accepting visitors just yet, thanks for your understanding and patience.”

Anyone who continues to push or pressure you after you (or your partner) make this entirely reasonable request for privacy and time is indeed, a massive clueless idiot. View them accurately and accordingly going forward.

Consider setting up a future group event

If you see a spot on the horizon where you might be up for something a bit more organized/ambitious, you can tell people who you turn away now that you have plans for an open house/potluck/sip-n-see sort of event in six weeks, two months, whatever. That way you can keep all the visitor craziness more or less confined to one day, or even just a few hours. Anyone who calls now can be given that date in the future; anyone who says they can’t make it can get a “okay, we’ll take a look at our schedule after the party and see if we can make something work. We’re just not up for visitors quite yet, given the surgery complications/sleep issues/HI WE’RE TRYING TO ADJUST TO LIFE WITH A NEW HUMAN OVER HERE, SLOW YOUR BABY-GRABBING ROLL.”

Establishing visitation boundaries for family

All that said, it’s much harder to bar people like mothers from visiting, because of course in their minds they’re nothing but helpful and their mere presence is a blessing and a given. Here I again recommend going for polite-but-firm honesty, and remembering that even though she might be in your house, you have NO OBLIGATION to act like a good hostess and entertain her.

“Mom, I need to pump. Right now. Please give me X minutes of alone time.” (Take pump to a room with a door, and close and lock said door.(

“Thanks for coming by, but I think we’re all going to go lie down and try to rest now. No, we don’t need anything else today. I’ll call you tomorrow.” (Pick baby up, signal partner, everybody exit to your bedroom and once again, close the damn door. Mom can show herself out.) 

“We’re trying to get the baby to sleep in his crib/bassinet/co-sleeper and not get too used to being held while sleeping. I can tell he’s getting sleepy so I need to take him from you.” (Get up, walk over, take baby, because you’re done dropping hints; you tell people you or the baby need to do something and then you get up and do it.) 

Final thoughts on postpartum visitors

Point is, speak up. Your wish for a little privacy and peace and quiet right now is entirely justified and reasonable. It’d be NICE if all these “well-meaning” but clearly pushy people understood that their presence might not be welcome or wanted right now, but obviously not. Without explicit boundaries from you or your partner, they seem perfectly okay walking all over you like you’re a giant welcome mat. Start saying no, and turning people away. Be clear it’s simply just a “NOT RIGHT NOW/NOT YET” sort of thing, nothing personal, you just aren’t up for visitors right now, but you’re grateful and touched by their enthusiasm. You can’t wait for them to meet the baby “soon,” in the meantime we’ll be sending out pictures via email or posting them on Facebook (or whatever).

Photo source: Depositphotos/Feverpitch

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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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