I know that I have a good 4 months to go before baby girl is ready to come sliding out of my hoo-ha, but this topic has been weighing heavily on my mind.
The essay below is a popular one in the BabyCenter boards, has been posted in numerous threads and is a topic of much discussion. Take a look…
The Lemon Clot Essay by Sharon1964
You will be leaking out of places you don’t want to leak out of. Do you really want to stand up from the couch and have your father’s parents see that not only have you bled through your pad, but the blood is now running down your leg. Do you really want to say, “honey, can you come with me to the bathroom, I am bleeding all over and I feel a huge bloodclot coming out”… in front of them? Contrast that to “mom, I need your help please, now, I’m bleeding all over!” Does your husband really understand the volume of stuff that will be coming out of you, the possibility of lemon-sized clots of blood? Not 2-dimensional lemon-sized, but huge, round, 3-dimensional lemon-sized?
How many bathrooms do you have? If only one, do you REALLY want to have to make it “guest-level clean” every time you leave it? Do you really want this gang of people ogling your diaper-sized pads, peribottle, tucks pads, and all the other supplies that will be in the bathroom? Even if you have two bathrooms, that means you can’t use the main bathroom, because you still have to leave it “guest-level clean” every time you use it.
Do they really plan to do something other than hold the baby, pass the baby around, and sit around expecting you guys to wait on them? Are they going to sit and stare at you? Thirty minutes after they arrive, and baby wants to breastfeed, are they going to quickly and willingly LEAVE your home so that you can breastfeed in the privacy and comfort of your space? Or are they going to hang around outside, waiting for you to be done, and knocking every so often wanting to know if they can come back in? Yeah, that’s great for breastfeeding.
Or better yet, are they going to blow you off, saying “it’s no big deal”, and expect you to breastfeed in front of them? Even experienced moms need several weeks of practice to get good at it, so to speak, so that they can breastfeed wherever they want. Learning to breastfeed is not a time for people to ogle and stare at you.
When your breasts are engorged and painful and you want NOTHING to touch them, what then? Does your dh think it will be okay for his dad to stare at your huge naked breasts as you walk around topless?
What if your birth is smack in the middle of their trip? So what are they going to do the first few days, before baby? Are they going to sit and stare at you, waiting for the big moment? Then what? Are they going to camp out in your hospital room every day, all day? Yeah, that’s great for resting. What happens when you leave the hospital and they beat you to your own home, and all you want to do is lay down in your own bed? Are they going to leave graciously, or are they going to sit in your living room, eating your food, messing up your house, and making noise, so you can’t nap?
Does your DH normally allow people to invite themselves over to visit you guys without even ASKING? You guys are setting yourselves up for a lifetime of this. Then you will be blamed when you try to tell them that it is not a good time for you.
Does your DH understand ANY of these things?? Does he not understand that it is NOT about entertaining guests, but about recovery from a major medical procedure (either vaginal or c-section)? Does he not understand that you just grew another human being in your body, and will have just gone through the process of getting it out?? This is going to be an exhausting, messy, wildly hormonal time. Does he not get that??
Who Can Even be on the List to be Considered to Stay at Your Home After Childbirth by Sharon1964
You know, nobody gets to stay in your home after birth unless they are helpful. So is his mother going to…. wash your bloody underwear in the sink? Clean and disinfect your toilet and perhaps the bathroom floor after you spend time in there? Clean up lemon size blood clots that come out of your vagina if you need help? Get hot washcloths and lay them on your naked engorged breasts? Hold a cold wet washcloth on the back of your neck when you break out in a sweat all over?
Is she going to cook for you and clean for you and do the laundry, and make sure you are stocked with diapers and wipes and clean blankets? Is she going to allow you to breastfeed in private in your own living room by either going to her room or going outside? Is she going to allow you to pick up your own crying baby? Is she going to ASK you if you would like her to get the baby for you since you may be sore? Is she going to disappear when you want alone time with your new baby and your husband? Is she going to refrain from giving you advice but instead ask you what you need?
And what’s his dad going to do? Is he going to cut the grass and take out the garbage and make runs to the store for juice and milk? Is he going to wash the car or walk the dog or change the cat litter box?
No? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
My family, who lives 45 mins away, has already agreed that they will not come for visits after the birth unless I ask first. My mother will make me tons of 미역국 (mi-yuk-gook, or Korean seaweed soup, which is traditionally served to new mothers to replenish and clean their blood supply) and will deliver lots of other food that I may be craving. If I end up having a c-section, or a very difficult delivery, I may even ask her to stay with us for a few days until I am mobile.
J’s parents will most likely visit for at least 2-3 months, but they will not be staying with us because the guest room will be turned into a nursery (they will be staying at J’s brother’s place which is 10 mins away). However, they have expressed that they would like to visit as much as possible because they don’t want to leave me alone with the baby when J goes back to work.
The problem with this is that as much as their intentions are well-meaning, I am not so sure that I want my in-laws (or anyone, for that matter) around for extended periods of time after I give birth — for the reasons stated in the Lemon Clot Essay, and because I am a very introverted person who likes and needs my alone time.
I am also concerned that I am at higher risk for post-partum depression due to my history with major depression. While my family is fully aware and understanding of my depression, I’m pretty sure that my in-laws do not even know about it. I would be forcing myself to mask my emotions and symptoms, adding a lot of stress to my already-fragile body and psyche.
And as caring as my MIL can be, she just isn’t my mother. I can never ask her to scrub the stains from my underwear, or to apply warm compresses to my breasts…or to even freely show her my breasts!
However, I don’t want to deny them of their first grandchild either, especially seeing as they live so far away…
How did all moms handle family, in-laws, and friends visiting after birth? What would you recommend?
Even if you are not a mom, how would you handle the situation?
Oh wow, the essay and your in-laws impending visit makes me feel sympathy stress. I will admit that even though I’m typically very easy going and an extrovert, I’m prone to petulance when I don’t feel well. And that means offending people with bursts of "no" (which can translate to "stay away"). It’s rare, but somehow everyone knows not to impose. At least I hope so. I also always make it clear to my husband when people are welcome and when they’re not and he does a good job of fielding. But I’m not sure how that would work in your situation. Maybe limit the hours the in-laws visit to say, an hour here and there when you’re alone and an hour when your husband is home and can deflect. I know that Asian family can be very fussy and exhausting. You want to be comfortable and not have to be ‘on’. Have you also considered a night nurse?
For weeks leading up to Piper’s birth, I (we) constantly told our parents- "WE WILL CALL YOU WHEN YOU ARE TO COME. You are NOT to come unannounced. You are NOT to invite other people over. When we want alone time, you will respect it. This is OUR birth, OUR baby, and OUR time to spend as a new family. If you break any of these rules, you will be pushed down the list and other people will be able to come before you." Other than his mother, who POPPED IN WHILE I WAS GETTING MY EPIDURAL (who DOES that???), everyone respected our wishes. His mom was quickly placed at the bottom of the list because she went against our wishes. She was excited, I get it, but we’re the bosses here. My BIL constantly told Paul I’d want help, but I didn’t. I wanted to be left alone. So, I was. And I had a c-section, too. It helped that the really awful post-partum periods we were still in the hospital, so that worked out. When I got home I was on Darvocet and was fine.
Re: recovery grossness:I had no clots, but I bled for 6 weeks, it was gross, but not unexpected. Apparently you are spared nothing from having a c-section, you still get all the crappy stuff. 🙂 My breasts got majorly engorged, but I actually enjoyed having them covered because I leaked- ALL THE TIME. I still do, when she sleeps through the night. It would get so bad they’d spray, and having them out and misting the baby, the blankets, my husband was not an option.
In my opinion, you need to make a list. I did! I said, "To be allowed entry, the following must be met: 1. You may not harass us to hold the baby, if I am holding her it is for a reason. 2. Do not give unsolicited advice, I am learning as I go. 3. Yes, your way may be better, but again, I’m a new mother, give me a chance. 3. Wash your hands 4. No sick people please. 5. Please bring a dish of food, or help out while you’re here, get a load of laundry started, fold the baby’s clothes, vacuum. 6. Please try to avoid taking too many pictures, yes, we know it’s exciting, but she’s a newborn. 7. Wait until we call you, or in some cases, call you back, to come visit. We appreciate your working with us in this, we are just trying to make sure we are creating a routine, and putting our small, new family first."
The biggest thing I’d say would be to not just drop by. We appreciate your excitement, but we are just getting to know each other, and we really need all the time alone we can. Ask for their help- "Help me get some time with our baby" and "respect that I know when I need people around, and I know when I don’t. When I want people to leave us alone, please respect that".
Good luck! There are always the ones who go rogue and ignore you. In that case demand they listen to you, really listen- YOU NEED TO LEAVE. This baby has her own schedule, and you are NOT going to ruin it.
Also, do NOT mask your feelings, Jenny. That’s a recipe for disaster. Sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize when standard baby blues turn into full-blown PPD, and to hide that might be a mistake. Perhaps if you let J’s family know about your history they may be a little more forgiving, and will give you a break now and then, and leave. I do recognize the chance that they could be overly concerned and never leave, though. Either way, don’t hide it, that just compounds the misery, and makes it worse. 🙂 Good luck, Jenny!
I just send this to my husband. I’ve tried explaining how I feel to him, and I think this might help. Our baby is due the week of his sister’s wedding – and there will be TONS of family flown in from all over north america – staying in town for a couple of weeks. What should they do to kill their time? Visit the baby! He says that they would only visit for short periods of time. Well, lots of short visits over a day still = a messed up feeding schedule and a messed up, recovering mama!
@Amber — wow, you guys were hard-core about visitors! I only wish I had your backbone (but then again, I might learn to grow a pair when the baby is born). A list is a wonderful idea, but I know that it will NOT go over well with our "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"-like families. However, I do plan on putting my foot down when it comes to the number of visitors allowed at once, making sure everyone washes their hands before laying a hand on the baby, etc.
Jenny, keep in mind we’re almost 100% hispanic, and most of the family believes in "you’re our family, we don’t NEED to ask". I think a major sticking point is to have one person be on your side, in my (lucky) case it was Paul. He put his foot DOWN. 🙂
Wow I feel for you, I really do. I understand with Asian families it is difficult to place boundaries. But I feel the only person who can make a difference is J. How does he feel? Maybe he can talk to his parents and they can visit after 6-8 months after the baby is born
@shortie — Glad this post helped! I hope you can effectively communicate to your husband (and his family) that a new baby is not an open invitation to come visit.
@Amber — I have a feeling that I’ll be emailing you A LOT as my due date draws nearer, and possibly after the baby comes too. Just a warning. 😉
@Ella — Unfortunately, their visiting 6-8 months later is not feasible because according to Chinese tradition, a large party is held for the baby one month after he/she is born, to "introduce" the baby to family and friends. They obviously want to be here for that occasion (and will probably plan it for us too).
I don’t know what I would have done w/o help during those first two weeks. Seriously. With 30 stitches, I could barely waddle from place to place, let alone get up the second the baby started crying or needed food or I needed to pump, etc. etc. etc.
I’d say that those essays are a bit in a negative light of family. What’s so funny, is that she lists all of the things that my family and MIL and FIL have done for us. They made dinner for 2 weeks straight, did all the laundry, all the yard work, ran to Target whenever we needed anything, cleaned the house, made time for me to get a shower daily (this was SO important to my sanity), allowed me time to pump, etc. etc. Oh, and when I had those post-partum breakdowns about absolutely nothing, I could go cry in the bedroom and someone else could watch the baby. When the haze went away from the pain meds and I was back in the real world, they made everything perfect for me to take over full time.
If you’re a type-A control person who won’t let go, let everyone know this beforehand. Tell them to stay away. Tell them what your boundaries are. Because if you do it in the moment, you may seriously offend your family and that’s never good.
I, like you, thought I would hate having people constantly around after the baby came. However, I had a C-section- so the recovery from that combined with lack of sleep meant I wanted people around all the time to help me. My mom stayed over a few night a week for the first month or so. It was great because I could nurse the baby, then give her the baby so I could go right back to sleep. My mom would get the baby back to sleep and wake me when it was feeding time again. That meant I only had to be awake for 30-40min instead of an hour and 15min that it usually took the baby to fall back asleep.
So let your family know that you aren’t sure what you’ll need from them once the baby comes, but you will let them help as much as you need. I just don’t know if you can predict how you’ll be feeling or what you’ll need before the baby is here.
I definitely didn’t want to breastfeed in front of my FIL or my dad, but I got over bfing in front of my MIL. We only have a 1BR, so my inlaws didn’t stay. I was a little annoyed that MIL didn’t come help out- as she had said she would- because I could have really needed it. I’ve already told everyone- next time I have a baby (God willing) I want help 24/7 for the first 2 weeks (especially since I’ll probably have a toddler too).
My advice would be to do whatever feels right for you. Perhaps have your inlaws over for a visit in the morning (you’ll call them when you’re ready for them to come over). Feed the baby right before they arrive, then hand her off to them and go take a nap (or maybe even brush your teeth, take a shower, etc). They can wake you when she needs to eat again- which you can do in your BR or the nursery or with a nursing cover if that’s comfortable for you- or, that’s their cue to leave and the am visit is over. Then, have them come back over in the late afternoon- get another nap- and then they can visit make dinner and such with J when he gets home.
You’re going to have to let go of any social mores that say you have to entertain them. Just let them help.
But I cannot stress enough that you MUST hand off the baby and SLEEP. Sleep deprivation makes everything so much worse- and if you are already concerned about PPD, that’s all the more reason to get your rest.
You inlaws raised an awesome son- they can be trusted to mind your infant for an hour or 2 while you rest. And how awesome that they can have time to bond with her! Let everyone nurture her (and you).
Also- my biggest piece of advice- keep your expectations LOW. I really had no trouble adjusting to being a mom. Don’t get me wrong- it was no walk in the park. It was hard and tiring, but the closest I came to the baby blues or PPD was an odd feeling- like being out of place, uncomfortable in my own home. But that passed in about a month. It’s like they say how it takes 30 days to develop a new habit- think of caring for the baby like that new habit.
As for the low expectations- I was good about letting other people care of the baby so I could rest (it’s not the end of the world if J or your MIL or mom don’t do things exactly like you do). I gave up the desire to keep a clean house. I welcomed all the food people brought/sent. I didn’t beat myself up on the days I didn’t get out of PJs or brush my teeth (although I did feel a lot better on days that I did). I anticipated that BFing would be hard (I took a class with my husband from a lactation consultant before the birth- it’s important for J to come with you. After my C-sec, I was in a daze and it was my husband that remembered the helpful hints from the class!). Also, your baby won’t really be on a schedule for the first 6 weeks, so don’t stress about establishing one. Expect the baby to cry- sometimes for no reason and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to soothe them- don’t get upset! (Imagine if you were upset and crying- would you want someone to stress and freak out, or would you want someone to remain calm and cool? Do that for your baby.)
The women who handle the baby transition the best were ones that went with the flow. Keep calm, carry on.
@kimberly michelle — You’re right, I do have a type-A personality and I would most likely, like Amber, would like to do everything myself. I really need to set the rules beforehand and I will speak to family members about this. Thanks for reminding me of that.
@CMW — While I appreciate your advice, I know from prior experience that when I’m sleep-deprived, tired, and sick, the last thing I want to do is be with other people, or even accept their help. I know this isn’t the best personality trait, but I’m certain that if things get really bad, I would want to be alone with the baby even if I’m crying with her. There’s also the language barrier which makes it hard for me to communicate with my in-laws, and that would cause additional stress. I think, like I wrote in response to Kimberly Michelle’s comment, that I would need to tell them (or have J tell them) beforehand that short visits are okay, but I would really like as much private time as possible…and that I’ll call them if I need help. There’s also the fact that I prefer the help of my sister or that of my mother’s over theirs. I know it’s not fair, but this is what I feel the most comfortable with.
I sent this post to my husband because I thought it was spot on. And he took it not the same way I did. But I thought it was very helpful. I know it may be helpful to have in-laws help, but I think it has more to do with your level of comfort and how well adaptable you are to go through so many bodily changes in the presence of your in-laws/friends/close family. I am sure my level of comfort with MY in-law is a big fat- ‘you may not come to visit and assume you can stay for two to three weeks or months’. And this is mainly because they don’t live in town, and would have no choice but to stay with us versus my parents who live ten minutes away and wouldn’t dare come over without the ok. Because my parents know me, while my in-laws are still not really part of my personal intimate circle. I just find I value my personal space- I don’t want to feel vulnerable or weak or feel that I have to live up to an expectation directly after giving birth. I just want to be there for my new family without dealing with extraneous familial influencing stressors.
@Kit — exactly. You took the words out of my life. My in-laws are not part of my personal intimate circle either, and I too value my personal space (even from my own parents).
Is bleeding like that normal? Is that mainly after C-sections, or all birth methods? :S
Jenny, I’m here whenever you need me! God hope you don’t need a c-sec, but if you do, I have advice on that (stool softeners!!!).
I didn’t have any non-family visitors the first month. I didn’t want all these people coming over so soon. Besides all the germs, I wanted to get my routine down first and adjust in my own way before having people come over…you are bound to hear the advice of those who mean well, but you are the mother and should be able to decide how you want to raise and care for your child. With family, well, my MIL visited for 2 weeks, but she was very helpful. My mother would come and go. I was in a sleepy daze most of the time, with all these emotions running through me–excitement, nervousness, happiness, and some guilt…
I agree with CMW…do what’s best for you. You can plan now, but know that after the baby is born, it may all change. I know after months of being alone with the baby, I was seriously craving some adult interaction.
Maybe have your in-laws over at the same time everyday, so you know when to expect them? Maybe have hubby take the lead on this and let them know what is expected?
One hint, not that it always works for family—-if you are open to "wearing" your baby, wear her and then it will make it harder for people to try to take her from you. I would always hate it when people I barely spoke to thought that it was okay for them to try to take my baby and hold her.
What a tough situation. I’m not pregnant nor a mom yet, but as you know from my blog, I have had my share of colorful experiences with my in-laws. I understand and sympathize with everything you are saying. From my experience, I needed there to be more communication and honesty between my husband and his parents. That helped our situation a lot. If you and your husband are comfortable with it, could your in-laws be told about your depression issues? I know that once my husband and I started to open up and be more upfront with my in-laws about my medical issues, they kinda backed off. They became very sensitive and caring to my moods and my well-being. Also, perhaps if you map out some of the boundaries beforehand, it will help soften the blow when they come in town and the baby arrives? Your husband can help to comfort his parents and let them know that, of course they are a priority, but that you need your space for your mental, physical, and emotional health. For me, it was difficult to admit something so personal (such as details of my health) to my in-laws, because I felt like it was admitting weakness or failure. I worried that they wouldn’t see me in the same light if they knew I was dealing with illness. But actually, our relationship has changed for the better since telling them. Also, when/if I have to miss a family obligation – they are much more understanding. They just want me to feel better. I think if your in-laws can get to a point where they just want the best for you (as their daughter-in-law and grandchild’s mommy) and they want to make you as comfortable as possible (beyond their own desires to get involved and see the baby), then you will be on a good track! These are all just suggestions. You may read this and be like "hell no"! But I hope it helps. Best of luck. I have great faith that you will figure it all out!