So Pregnant & Beyond has been on somewhat of a hiatus! Here to get us going back in the groove, is a guest blog by our friend blogger, Quinn Flynn.
Motherhood is hard… and that’s even before your little one is old enough to use your $35 Anastasia Dipbrow as finger paint. People tell you that bringing home a brand new little squish is difficult, but you honestly don’t know until it happens to you (insert birth control recommendation here).
Recently, my husband and I welcomed home a baby boy. Granted, he was impatient, arrived 6 weeks early, and was in the NICU for his first almost 3 weeks, but then we finally came home.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I now know that I could have been a better pal to my friends in the first weeks/months of them bringing home their brand new humans. I am now passing on my new found knowledge to you, in hopes that you can wow the new mothers in your life and maybe get in on their wills.
Please note: this is not meant to be a jab and those people in my life that have broken the below rules. You don’t know, just as I didn’t know before I was in this situation. Hopefully, this will be welcomed advice, and not come across as bitchy comments from a sleep-deprived, breast-milk covered asshole.
1) I don’t need you to hold my baby
I get that everyone loves babies, and wants to hold them and snuggle them and listen to each little noise they make with baited breath and adoration. I cannot count the amount of text messages/phone calls I’ve received from pals offering to “hold my baby” while I do other things around the house. I don’t need you to hold my baby. I need to hold my baby, and bond with him. Since bringing him home, the only time I really do get to snuggle him is when I’m wrestling him into latching, otherwise, I’m trying to do the minimal required upkeep on my pigsty of a house, pay attention to our dogs, and grab a little nap. What would be actually helpful is an offer to maybe empty the dishwasher, sweep the floor, make a meal, or walk my dogs so that I can continue to function enough to care for my little man.
2) There’s a time limit
On the subject of holding the baby, there’s a time limit to your visit, and it’s not until the next feed. Pre-baby, you likely planned to spend a couple hours at your friend’s house shooting the shit and drinking wine. Post-baby, 30 minutes is plenty. 45 max. Even if you’ve come over with the pretext that you’re going to let me nap, I’m not going to just leave you to your own devices in my house with my newborn. It feels weird. Therefore, you visiting requires me to entertain. And string words into sentences. Fueled by 3 hours sleep and maybe coffee if I could find the extra 10 minutes to make it. I told my husband I was “in the fridge” instead of in the kitchen the other day. I do not have the brain power or stamina to brush my teeth, so being a gracious host is not on my top priority list.
3) Bring food/coffee
Even if I say I’m fine, bring something for later. I have gone 12 hours on multiple occasions since being home, and frankly when we were in the hospital, without eating anything. I forget, or don’t have something handy, or feeding my tiny dictator is more important than feeding myself. Bringing something doubles as bringing your own refreshment as I need to make you coffee like I need another hole in my head. It’s not happening. Except it will because I’m too nice not to offer you something in my house and may use the wall between the kitchen and living room to hide my tears of frustration.
4) Don’t kiss the baby
And wash your bloody hands! This is especially important with preemies. Even if I forget to ask you to. And for God’s sakes, don’t tell me that you just washed your hands at home. Just do it. Who cares if you just washed your hands? Do it again! You have no idea how many bodily fluids you’ve encountered just touching the car door before you came in. No, I don’t think you don’t clean yourself, and I’m definitely not singling you out. I tell everyone. People don’t wash their hands enough on a daily basis. Any medical professional will tell you that. Newborns are susceptible to everything because they don’t get vaccinated until 2 months. Something that wouldn’t harm you could be life threatening to a tiny baby. Remember, they’re brand new. You are not.
Which brings me to kissing. Yes, their skin is so soft and they are so tiny. It’s a natural reflex to want to brush their delicate, sleeping face with your lips. Just don’t. A common cold that you don’t know you have could be lurking in your mouth. Or we just don’t know you that well, and in that case, it’s just weird. It’s also uncomfortable for me to ask you not to kiss the baby. Save both of us the embarrassment, will you?
5) Don’t wake the baby
This may be just my situation, but my little guy happens to be very sleepy because he’s a preemie. In fact, he’s so sleepy that it takes all the energy he has just to eat. You waking him up means there’s less energy for him to eat, and he needs to eat to grow, and unless he grows, he’ll remain sleepy. Unless he wakes up on his own, don’t, for the love of all that is holy, wake him. And if he does wake up and needs to eat, or I tell you he needs to eat, hand him back. And vacate the premises. Judging by the amount of milk me and baby are covered in by the time we’re done, no one is safe, and until I can get these milk-making machine guns under control, I am not doing this in front of anyone.
Again, I have committed all of the above crimes before I had a wee man of my own. I apologize profusely to all those new moms I have offended against. I realize now that I was only thinking of myself, instead of helping out. I can only hope this is taken for what it is: a helpful guide. Now, after the 30+ visitors we’ve had in the first month of his life (that is not an exaggeration), we are on a visitor hiatus for the next little bit until I can figure out how to adult again.