When you have a baby, especially if it is your first, every man, their dog, their fish and their Aunt want to come round to see the new bundle of joy. However this is with little thought about how the Mum feels, leaking boobs, emotions all over and really just needing those precious moments to bond with the baby themselves.
‘Basically if I had another child I would do what I wanted, opposed to what (I thought) everyone else wanted.’
When I had Emily, Sam had 3 weeks off work, although this was helpful in some ways it was a hinderance in others. He had much more experience with babies than I did, so I let him take over which left me struggling to bond, therefore leaving me feeling pretty rubbish.
It wasn’t until Sam went back to work that I was thrown in at the deep end and bonded properly, which is when I started to feel so much more ‘me.’
Another issue when you have a baby is your partners family, as much as I would love to say it was amazing being around them, it really wasn’t. My family have known me for 19 years, I am so much more comfortable around them, I felt less of an idiot for bursting into tears over the tiniest things. But you don’t have that same relationship with your partners family, so only a week after having Emily we sat and Sam’s sisters for around 3 hours, I was sore (from stitches) sat on a wooden chair, surroundes by noise, everyone passing my baby around, wanting to burst into tears. I needed my baby, I needed to bond. Nobody ever expected visits, don’t begin to think I was ever pressured or it was expected by anyone but I tried my hardest to put on a brave face.
I arrived home on Monday 31st October, after having Emily on the 29th but for a week after we got home we didn’t have a day where we weren’t visiting or had visitors. We had been home for an hour when we had our first visitors.
On top of this you have friends who constantly ask when they can visit, as much as you would love to fit them in, you just can’t. I think if I had any more visitors demanding my time and cuddles with my baby I would have lost it.
Unless you have had a baby you will never know the highs and lows of the few weeks after birth. You cry over anything (sometimes even nothing at all), your body has not gone back to anything like pre-pregnancy, you are surviving off minimal sleep, your sore and bruised, you have no clue what is going on around you, almost as though you are in some surreal bubble detached from reality.
All I wanted was for a few days, with the only visitor being my parents because truly they are the only people in that situation who had my best intentions at heart. Everybody else was so taken up in the whirlwind of a new addition they didn’t care how I felt.
So, with my next child until I am ready for visitors, I’m sorry but you will just have to wait. If you don’t like it, tough. I struggled too much to bond, to get back to ‘normal’ and to adjust to Motherhood because of how much pressure I put on myself.
A day after I came home I had a full face of makeup on for goodness sake, out visiting family…
I needed ‘perfect’ but now I have come to realise perfect isn’t acheivable. And someone could offer to pay me all the money in the world but I would never want to feel like I did in those couple of weeks after birth ever again.
Top tips for after birth –
- Limit visitors, yes your partner may want his family to come round or for you to visit, but he also hasn’t recently given birth so his wishes at this point are invalid.
- Don’t push yourself too hard, I had a spotless house, full face of makeup, fresh clothes…but this was my own way of proving I was ‘coping’ which I very definitely wasn’t.
- Don’t shut yourself off, as much as I wish I had done less, it was good for me to go out, see people and submerge myself back into reality, you need to find the right balance.
- Cry – If you want to cry, just cry. Sob if you wish, they are your hormones, your emotions, so listen to them and don’t bottle everything up.
- Speak up, if you are visiting but now want to leave, then leave. Be honest about the fact you’re in emotional turmoil, you’re exhausted and need alone family time.
- Say no, if someone wants to visit and you really can’t deal with it, rearrange, if they don’t understand then they really need to consider your feelings more.
- Be confident, you’re a Mum who has carried your baby for over 9 months, you have a bond like no other, so yes it is very likely you know best. Your mother-in-law could have 2 or 10 kids herself, doesn’t mean she knows any better than you do.
- Be honest, if people’s unwanted advice is driving you insane, tell them to stop. I was bored of hearing everyones advice on coping with colic, I had tried everything, I endured several hours of screaming baby daily the last thing I needed was someone advising ‘white noise.’ Yes I had tried it, no it didn’t work. So shush.
- Share with your partner – I took a complete back seat and let Sam take over because I genuinely thought I didn’t know how to look after Emily. Looking back I know this was the least accurate thought ever. Whether you take over yourself, Dad takes control or Grandparents interfere too much, you all need time to bond, especially parents.
- Time, limit visiting time. It can be very overwhelming the first few weeks, so limit visits to people you aren’t comfortable around to an hour or less.
Still now I get advice on teething, yet I know I have tried everything, so please do not ask me if I have tried teething granules…
As a first time Mum people continue to treat you like you have no clue what you are doing, most of this isn’t intentional but it drives me insane. Unless I ask for advice I really don’t need it and I especially don’t want it.
I know in the first weeks when I really needed time with Emily I sacrificed some of that time for people who now haven’t seen her in 1, 2 or 3 months…so it definitely wasn’t worth it. Prioritise visitors, let them know in the nicest way possible a half hour visit would be appreciated.
Although everything settles, people still get offended because you don’t trust them enough to look after your child, or won’t let them sleep over, or don’t parent like they do. Don’t ever feel like you have to explain yourself. Emily is the single most important person in my life, so unless I can trust you 99% then she won’t be left in your sole care whilst I’m not there.
You will also have family members who expect one way effort, life doesn’t work like that so if they can’t be bothered, then neither should you be. The right people make effort, the rest drift off eventually to distant relatives/friends you see very minimally.
The only person I trust implicitly is my Mum, this may be hard for other family members but they need to remember how they felt about the same situation when they had their children before passing any judgment. I also will never let Emily stay with anyone she isn’t extremely familiar with, she sees my parents atleast 4/5 times a week so she knows them, and they know how to deal with her when she is having teething troubles or is grouchy from being over tired.
Basically if I had another child I would do what I wanted, opposed to what (I thought) everyone else wanted.
So, all in all. You know best (almost always), don’t put too much pressure on yourself, your bond with your child is more important than anything, be honest, firm but polite. Say no when you need to.
I hope this can help even 1 Mummy-to-be, in those first turbulent few weeks.