The post-partum period was one of the most intense, exhausting, amazing, beautiful, sleepless, dreamy times of my life. It was a time when I was able to bond with my new baby and heal from a physically exhausting birth. There were individuals who supported us (I hope if you’re reading this you know who you are), and without whom this period would have been much more challenging. It was also a time when my boundaries were pushed by folks who felt like they had a right to meet and hold my baby, comment on the boundaries I was sticking to (often not directly to me, but passive aggressively to my wife), and just generally annoy the crap out of me. I think most of the people who did this didn’t even realize what they were doing was a problem. For those of you who have a new baby in the family, or are about to have a new baby in the family, I offer these suggestions.
1) If the new or impending parents have requested no visitors for a specific period of time, respect it. Do not ask to come during that period. Do not simply show up during that period. If they change their minds after the baby is born they will ask you if you would be able to come. Otherwise just don’t be that person. This includes friends, aunts (gotta say Darwin has the best aunts and they were fabulous at respecting our boundaries and limitations), uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, and anyone else who might be considering visiting. ESPECIALLY if you are considering staying with them in their home. Which leads me to number 2.
2) Space. If the new parents have requested that people not expect to stay in their home, respect that. In fact, unless explicitly welcomed (without asking) assume that any visits from our of town will require the cost of a hotel room or other accommodation.
3) Do not pretend that you know what the baby needs better than her parents. This is generalizable to all life stages but is particularly important when a new mom is just starting to learn her baby. Even if she asks you your opinion about something answer with care and don’t be hurt or take it personally if she doesn’t take your advice.
This topic marinates and resurfaces every time someone in my life has a new baby, so until the next time!