After our last homebirth, our midwife had put a note on the door that very nicely asked visitors for some respect. Things like keeping the visit around 15 minutes, hand washing, not to come if you are sick, remember that we are all resting and recouping and to pitch in around the house. Well, the note went basically ignored and DH and I felt extremely disrespected by his family esp. MIL said she only bothered to read to the point where the note said to only stay for 15 minutes, laughed and didn't bother to read the rest. Almost no one washed their hands, even though we made a point to ask. No one brought over a meal or did a thing to help out around the house, though they had no problem eating our food and leaving dishes around. GFIL had a cold but came in and stayed for at least an hour and a half, though he at least did not hold DS.
Our mw warned us that this could happen, though I don't think either DH or I expected his family to really be so disrespectful about the whole thing. She recommened that we hang out in our bathrobes only, esp DH, and to make sure a little of his chesthair shows since that tends to scare away visitors! DH decided early on to do that this go around, but we also decided to put a note on the door from him and I to reinforce what the note from the birth teams states. I'm thinking about sending out an email in the next week instead, to get the "rules" out there now so no one gets to our door and is blindsided by anything.
Here's what I wrote out, if you would please read it and let me know what you think, I'd appreciate it!
Rob and I just wanted to take a minute to lay out a few “ground rules”, if you will, regarding visitation after Baby is born sometime in the next few weeks.
First, please wash your hands before holding Baby. Hand washing is nonnegotiable since germs a mature immune system could fight off may become a serious illness to a newborn’s new and very weak immune system. For the same reason, we ask that you please do not visit if you are ill or suspect you are ill, even if it is only a minor cold. Once you are sure you are not ill, you are welcome to come by and visit.
Second, please limit visits to 30 minutes. Mama and baby especially will be recovering and in need of plenty of rest. This is also a very special bonding time for our family, with Rob, myself, Maddie and Isaac getting to know Baby. We ask that you please respect our need and desire to babymoon.
Third, please do not hesitate to help out around the house. Bringing over a meal, throwing a load of laundry in, doing the dishes, etc would not only be extremely helpful, we would be extremely grateful for the assistance!
Fourth, please feel free to help yourself to refreshments during your visit. Cups and plates are in the cabinet, food and drinks are in the fridge. Please be sure to put any used dishes into the kitchen.
Fifth, please remove your shoes in the entryway. Shoes are extremely germ laden and with Isaac playing on the floor and putting things in his mouth, we want to limit his exposure to germs and illness.
Sixth, we ask that you please call us to plan your visit several hours in advance. That way we will know when to expect you and be able to plan our food and rest in accordance. Also, please do not be offended if we ask to schedule your visit at a different time. Not only will Rob, Baby and I need our rest, but so will Maddie and Isaac. We will be attempting to stick with their normal routine as much as possible to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter! This is a very special event in our lives and we look forward to sharing it with you!
All our Love,
Rob and Rachael
Just to clarify, I do not have any family in the area beyond my parents. My parents were pretty respectful of us all in all and have already offered to help us out quite a bit after this baby is born. I will make sure that the email goes out to them, as well, just for consistency and so DH's family doesn't get cranky about it.
I'm also not hugely worried about being labeled a problem or a b!itch. FIL's side doesn't like me or DH anyway and only has much of anything to do with us because that's what family does! (I'd love to cut them out but DH won't because it would hurt his dad too much...so we suffer through seeing them two or three times a year and go on with our lives...) MIL's side is too nice to say anything to us or treat us differently.
Honestly - i think it may be a little long and wordy. You said that last time MIL 'stopped reading after seeing the 15 minute visit time limit' seems like this is a woman who is easily distracted and wont spend too much time reading! I do know exactly what you are talking about. 12 years ago i had a home birth and my In laws were excellent about visiting the new baby...they were thrilled to be holding him so early on. They barely spoke above a whisper - they were from the days of 2 weeks 'lying in' and felt this time was just about sacred. My last home birth was just this past August and my new set of In laws (this is my second marriage) brought the entire family to hold this baby - he was 4 hours old and my entire house was flooded with people - some of whom were NOT family. NO ONE brought over food, offered to run errands, do a load of laundry - NOthing!
I am a postpartum doula - so to me, this was just the worst possible behavior!!
I think your DH will have to do more interference for you. He should handle the phone calls when people call to invite themselves over, when they do - he can negoitate the time and say at that time - please your leave shoes outside, remember to wash your hands before you hold the baby - as for time limits - open breastfeeding might scare off some family members!
I would post the list on the door but maybe just state the rules - not the reasons - its January...do adults not understand why they are washing their hands? And i would leave off the one about doing the dishes or throwing in a load of laundry - its nice to dream!
good luck with them and have a great birth!
Happy at Home Mama to DD 4/95 DS 4/98 and DS#2 8/10
No, my FIL does not understand the importance of washing his hands. I'm dead serious. We lived with the man for a month when we moved and in that time I never knew him to wash his hands except after dealing with raw chicken. And don't even get me started on his idea of cleaning...No one else bothered to wash their hands either, even after we said something about it while they were here. So I definately feel the reasons for hand washing need to be in there.
With my MIL, her take on the 15 minute time limit was that it was stupid and therefore nothing else in the letter the birth team posted could be of any value. She's more the type that she'll take to an idea with plenty of advanced notice. So I'm hoping that with plenty of advanced notice, she'll get it into her head that we are serious and that the rest of it isn't to be ignored either. Also, if its something that we sent out, she'll be more likely to understand that this is how we feel, not just how some stranger who doesn't know her family feels, kwim?
I do think bringing it down to five "rules" will be better and to just leave off about helping around the house. Its nice to dream, but I'm sure it wouldn't happen anyway! There are some passages that can be taken out to make it shorter and more to the point, that will probably be better in the long run.
Thanks for the input!
Over doorbell a sign that says, "If we know you are coming, come on in for your 15 minute visit. Leave shoes here." Then as soon as one opens the door a place for shoes with a sign that says, "Shoes here." A few more feet down the hall, "Did you leave your shoes? Go back and take them off please!" A few more feet and a table with hand sanitizer that says, "1 squirt and rub really well. Thanks!" Just beside that, "Seriously, go back and clean your hands." Just beside that, "Not kidding. Clean your hands."
Sorta the burma shave approach to your wishes if you will. A sentence or instruction at a time since people just aren't reading more than that.
I wish you all the luck! We've made a sign for our front door but I don't think we are going to have drop in visitors...I hope I'm right...
i think the other poster was right, that you should try to get your dh to run more interfierence. if they didn't read the first note, i can't imagine that they would read the second. if your fil asks to hold the baby, have dh tell him to go wash his hands- don't ask. when you are tired (or want to be alone,) have him tell the visitors that you are all off to bed. maybe you could also try to schedule the visits ahead of time. if you want food- could you ask someone to cook for you? like "oh, mil, i would love to have that chicken dish you make for after the baby is born!"
but, oh do i know that families are hard with these things... i couldn't believe my own family after my last birth!
i almost lost my mind! i am happy to be so far away this time, but feeling nervous about the "help" offered by my il's......
I second what others have said about speaking up in the moment. Some people don't take notes that seriously or they forget what they've read...it's important to say in the moment, "We need you to wash your hands" or "Could you fix me something to eat?" or "I really need to rest right now, would you mind coming back later?" Being direct is always the best course of action...especially since it sounds like your in-laws are a little thick-headed When it comes to my family, I made it clear that I will call them when I'm ready to invite them over.
This time we are not having any of them come until a week and a half to two weeks after and they have to not stay with us. Since they are all coming from out of town we are also having them come at the same time since we are in the process of selling our house so we have to coordinate around open houses etc.
Dh is responsible for kicking people out, making sure they don't come too early and all that stuff. Most of it is his mom anyway...
These people have already shown that they are not good at visiting moms with new babies. Why do it twice?
Skip the long note with rules. Just have your dh tell his family that you and the babe are resting a lot, and that you're not up for visitors until (whenever you think you'll be up for dealing with these people - I like 6-8 weeks, you might want more or less). If anyone comes over, he can meet them at the door and tell them (in a dramatic "the baby is sleeping" whisper) that it's not a good time.
Should any members of your IL's family ask what they can do to help, your dh can have a list ready, and THOSE people (and only those people) can drop in to see the baby for 15 minutes when they drop off their frozen meal or whatever. Your dh can screen them for obvious illnesses before inviting them in, and then ask them to leave their shoes by the door and hand them a bottle of hand sanitizer before they hold the baby, IF you invite them to do that.
Big lists of rules just give people something to ignore or argue with. They can't argue with your DH saying "My wonderful wife and adorable baby are too sleepy for visitors right now," at least, not without volunteering to help.
With my second we only had one acquaintance (a lady from church decided to stop by with a meal.. which was great.. but brought her three kids and let them run all over the place and wanted to sit, talk and hold the baby even though I didn't really know her), after 5 minutes and her daughter's running into my room and trying to play with my jewelry I said I needed to go nurse and walked away. DH took care of the rest of the "visit" while I laid in our room with our newborn and nursed. Don't be afraid to just take the baby after a reasonable amount of time and walk into another room. If they try to follow have your husband run interference. Its important that you and your baby get the rest you need and some people figure if you are up and about you won't mind them staying as long as they want.
If you do send an email, which I wouldn't honestly do myself, I think you can preface it in a far more friendly way. The opening sentence about laying groundrules would get my back up immediately, and you might end up offending people who had no reason to be told these 'rules'. It's not worth creating a family rift just to make a point, and it honestly reads like you are wanting to complain about their behavior last time in a passive-aggressive way.
I guess I dislike the whole concept of 'rules' anyway, and to have an email about rules regarding an event that should be joyful and exciting seems just, well, 'off'.
If you do decide to send it, I'd rework it to make it really, really sound positive. Maybe also lay the blame for much of it onto the 'professionals', like 'Our pediatrician has stressed to us that as it is flu and cold season, all visitors must wash hands upon arrival. She also recommended hand sanitizer, which we will put by the front door.'
I'd also start off with the friendly part about helping themselves to snacks etc. And I"d leave out the part about clearing up after themselves. It all sounds so schoolish and like a lecture.
I guess I'd say, don't send it. It is not worth getting everyone worked up at this point. Have dh stand at the door and direct people to the sink to wash hands when they arrive. Get him to direct willing people to do jobs that need doing, or arrange for someone to come yourself to help out. Put out snacks, and if the clearing up bothers you, put out paper plates and an obvious trash can. Then grin and bear it, and focus on enjoying your baby and allowing those who love you come and meet him/her.
Good luck, and I hope your visitors behave this time. :)
DDCC....With a completely disrespectful family, I completely get your email. I'm actually thinking of one myself, but it will be a little more along the lines of 'no one is welcome until after we move...aka three months after baby is born.' :) I don't think the concept of emailing beforehand is bad, I would just cut it way down.
"Hello! We are so excited about the upcoming arrival of Baby and we know you are, too! Since our family is expanding to FIVE (!), we are needing to do a little organizing and making sure everyone is taken care of, especially Mommy, Baby, and the young children. Please know that we want you to visit, but realize that we are recovering from the birth and adjusting to life with the new babe. After discussing the best options for our family, we ask that you keep your visits to 20 minutes or less, make sure you are well (no colds or any runny noses), wash your hands, and remove your shoes at the door. I realize this may seem overly cautious on our part, but we want to ensure that Baby has a smooth transition into the world! Thank you for all your thoughts and well-wishes and we can't wait to tell you about the arrival of Baby!"
Andrea - Mommy to DD1 ('05), DD2 ('08), DD3 (6/17/11)
*sigh* As much as I hate to say this, I think you all are right. I don't think the email is necessarily a good idea either. And after thinking it over DH nixed the idea anyway. I just really want to make sure that we aren't totally disrespected this time and I'm afraid putting another little note on the door, even if it is in big bold letters, that asks everyone to please read the note the birth team left isn't going to do the trick.
I love my DH, he's a good man...but he has a tendency to let his family walk all over him. He has gotten a lot better about it and admits that he does it, I just don't want it cause a fight or bitter feelings between him and I when I ask him to make sure people wash their hands and he doesn't. I'd rather there be bitter feelings towards me from my MIL, cause I really don't care about that!
I think I'll talk with DH about doing something similiar to what Jenne suggested. Put a note on the door that directs attention to the birth team's note, plus a little side note asking people to leave their shoes at the door. Then there's a good place to put a big thing of hand sanitizer with a note taped underneath it reminding people to use it.
Thanks for your input and for being realistic with me! Don't judge me too harshly!
3x- no judging here! My husband has problems saying NO to family as well, we just don't live close enough for them to visit. With our first he KNEW I don't get along the greatest with his grandma but he still allowed her to invite herself over (flew accross country only giving us 2 days notice) and stay for almost a week when I had a 3 month old (who just started getting better at nursing, was a slow weight gainer in the beginning and I was under doctors orders I HAD TO nurse her ever 1-1 1/2 hours), was getting out of the military and moving to another country.. I wasn't to happy when he told me, its one of the few real fights we have had. He just doesn't like saying no to his family members but after that "visit" hes decided if GMIL wants to visit again she can rent a hotel room.
Don't be afraid to just get up and walk out! You need your rest and recoup time.
I would not invite them to eat my food!! ahahhahaa
i've thought of letting people know that we would be open to visitors after a week or two, mostly for my in laws benefit since they stay at our home and bring two big dogs and my mother is already going to be there for two weeks so there isnt room.
in the end just hoping they will figure it out............yes i know this is a very bad assumption.
ddcc... to be honest... This totally sucks, but I think the best time to handle this kind of thing is in the moment. It's really hard to be assertive at that time, so I'd enlist DH to help you. If someone holds there hand out for the baby, ask them to wash. I'd also make some excuse (my ds was born during that big swine flu scare-- so convenient!).
Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdad and mom to DS 24 months, and DD 8 months! .
I agree with dealing with things in the moment - if you tend to get stuck, have set phrases you can fall back on.
"Please wash your hands before you hold the baby."
"Could you pick up some lunch?"
"We're awfully behind on the laundry, would you mind throwing a load in while I nurse?"
DCP to 1 busy munchkin! and a CRST too!
I agree with the others that it needs to be handled in the moment. To make it easier, I'd put a basket by the door with a big sign: "SHOES." Then, I'd put bottles of Purell all over (by the front door and at the threshold of any room they might enter). Again with the big sign "WASH HANDS." I don't know if I'd be brave enough to ask someone to do chores at my house, but I'd definitely get them to leave after a short visit by saying something like, "Well thanks for stopping by. We need to nurse and get some sleep now. Buh-bye!"
BTW, will your dh be around when his family stops by or are you going to have to deal with them by yourself? In either case, it sounds like your dh needs to be A LOT more assertive. It's his family and he needs to put his foot down. It's not your job, especially postpartum, to have to run interference with them.