Monday, July 23, 2012

House Rules for ALL Post-Partum Visitors

We're in the home stretch as far as this pregnancy is concerned, so I wanted to fill everyone in on how Nick and I feel about a few things before the little one arrives.  Placing our house rules in a place where all of our loved ones can access it seemed like the simplest way to make our feelings known.  It is not our intention to exclude or offend anyone, but this is a very new and challenging time for us. We know everyone is excited to meet our new addition, and we're just trying to be sure that our household will have the opportunity to adjust without its members getting lost in that excitement. Love it or hate it...this is how things will be going down:

·        Unless expressly invited to the hospital, don't show up there!  Mommy doesn't want an audience during birth and she feels pressure to entertain guests who are in the waiting room. While still in the hospital after birth, Mommy will be making a hearty commitment to sleep, recovery, and adjusting to the needs of a newborn.  Please do not interfere with this plan! If you're not immediate family, please plan your visit to take place in our home, ideally a couple weeks after baby's birth. Additionally, please refrain from using our door bell when you do visit.  It drives the dog into a barking frenzy that is not easily calmed.  Instead, give Nick or I a quick call to tell us you're outside.

·        If you are ill, have been ill recently, or even *think* you will be ill- DO NOT COME TO VISIT.  Let me repeat that.  DO NOT COME TO VISIT!! Mommy and baby will both be recovering from traumatic physical events to our bodies.  We do not need to deal with your unwanted germs on top of it.  Trust me, if it exists, we will most likely catch it. (The hospital stay will be bad enough.) I'd also like to remind you that newborns have not yet developed full immunities to common diseases, which means that your small "cold" is actually endangering my child. Just stay away so I don't have to kick you out.

·        Baby's room is OFF LIMITS when the door is closed.  She is either sleeping, in which case I don't need you to wake her -or- she is eating, which involves awkwardly learning to breastfeed.  No matter how much I love you, I guarantee you are not on my list of approved people to see my boobs, so don't make it more awkward by trying to be in the room.  In addition, do not be offended if the 2 of us pack up and retreat to this room at a moment's notice.  It means something needs to be addressed and I wish to take care of it on my own.

·        It's not your place to second-guess our first parenting decisions. We're breastfeeding, we're cloth diapering, we might be doing something else you wouldn't do in a million years.  If you can't be supportive, keep your 2 cents to yourself!  A tip here and there may seem welcome to you, but to sleep deprived parents who've spent the past 9 months weighing the pros and cons of these options it may come off as snarky and judgmental. Some of these decisions might be great for our family, or they might be great failures.  We won't know until we try, and we shouldn't have to defend ourselves constantly.  If you don't like it, pretend it's the greatest thing in the world until you leave my house.

·        Don't expect to be entertained.  As stated earlier, both Mommy and Baby will be in a state of recovery.  We will be exhausted, sore, cranky, and generally not in the mood to be perfect hosts to our guests.  We will do our best to be polite and exchange some conversation, but please keep your visits brief so they don't become overwhelming.

·        If you are willing, feel free to lend a hand around the house. (And if you aren't willing, don't create more stuff for Mommy to do!) Some items we would appreciate help with: Loading/Unloading the dishwasher, Sweeping the floors, De-cat-hairing the furniture, Cooking us a meal or preparing a snack, Taking the laundry to the basement so Daddy can wash it, folding laundry that has already been washed, and taking out the garbage. Furthermore, we want to be especially clear that the first few weeks are an important time of bonding between Mommy, Daddy, and Baby.  That means we will be the ones to hold her, while you will be the one doing the housework if you volunteer...not the other way around.

·        Our pets do not enjoy visitors (and that's putting it mildly). They will also be unsure of the tiny screaming human that has just become part of our household, who is monopolizing all of mommy's time.  (This will be especially true of the dog.)  Mommy and Daddy also are unclear about how they will react to baby, as they have never been around small children before.  Please do not antagonize them. We're learning how to be a new family together and everybody is stressed out.  Unless they show interest in you (wanting to play, rubbing against your leg, etc.) please ignore them. Another note about the dog: Even before baby, Moose is extremely protective of Mommy.  He has never bitten, but has shown aggression when he has felt someone is too near to her, so the potential for a bite is there.  DO NOT PRESS HIM as he gives little to no warning about where his breaking point lies.  If he starts to get rowdy, Mommy or Daddy will remove him to another room.  In general, he is more comfortable with women than men, and he seems to do better when men are seated in our home rather than standing or walking through rooms.  Please listen if we tell you to back off.  We have enough medical bills to pay now, we won't be paying yours too. 

·        Please keep perfume and cologne to a minimum. Mommy and Daddy are both extremely sensitive to strong scents (Baby may be too). Perfume and cologne often trigger migraines for Mommy and allergy attacks for Daddy.  Not ideal conditions for caring for a newborn...

Now that we've had baby #2 I wanted to update this list with one more item (or 2, sorta...) for any future readers.

Please greet my toddler first.  She is still too young to communicate when she's feeling left out. When you walk in the door and immediately start fawning over the new addition she doesn't understand why she isn't included in the attention. It's been just her for 17 months and she's never had to share before. On a good day she'll keep playing with her toys and only upon a mother's close inspection could I tell you she is really upset.  On a bad day she'll throw a temper tantrum the size of Texas and start chucking those toys at her brother's head the second you sit down on my couch to hold him. (Alternatively she will explore every dangerous option in the room so that constant intervention is required to prevent death or injury, just to get a little attention.)  Give her a hug, invite her to sit next to you while you hold the baby, and if someone else is taking a turn with the new guy spend some time playing with her. (P.S. If you get down on the floor with her you'll have a new bestie for life.) Additionally, if you bring gifts for the new baby, try to bring something small for her, even if it's the straw from your soda that you drank on the way over. One of our early visitors brought a bag full of things for Jake.  They let Avery open it while Jake and I were nursing in the other room. Then they proceeded to take all the items away and tell her, "That's not for you.  It's for your new brother." This action confused her and it made me angry, especially since I wasn't in the position at the time to do anything about it. Giving her something small makes her feel included and it also gives her something new to explore.  And for the love of all that's holy, don't pull the stunt that this guest did and take something away seconds after handing to her! "It's for your new brother" implies that she's not important and is being replaced.  Nobody wants to feel like that, and those emotions are compounded when you're too little to understand that that isn't the case.

1 comment:

TheProjectBag said...

Hey Kacie! I won't be coming to visit- as we are only online friends and live hundreds of miles apart. I just wanted to tell you that I love this post! Yay for babymoons for a new family! Congrats again =)
(ChristianCrafter on Ravelry)