I'm 37w 3d today. I've had no signs or symptoms of serious labor and think I may be a week or two away from the arrival of my first child. Baby will probably arrive the first week of April.
Sooo...my family and my husband's have been making all these plans for gatherings in April. Several Easter celebrations, a birthday party, a retirement party and my husband's stepmom has offered to throw me a baby shower. Everyone is very excited to meet the new baby, which I understand, but I'm tired and worried just thinking about toting around a 2-4 week old infant to all these events.
Adding to this busy social calendar is the fact that all of the events involve getting in the car and driving 45 minutes to the towns where the other family members live. Since we live in the same town as my husband's 88 year old grandmother, it is expected that we will go pick her up and bring her with us to 3 of the events, which although I dearly love her, transporting a fragile elderly person adds an extra layer of work and driving. Most of these events will be attended by our three small nephews and niece, all under the age of 5...who are ALWAYS sick. They always have runny noses, fevers, coughs or an intestinal bug. It never fails that one of them will cough right in my face or on the food being served at the meal.
I know that everyone will want to see the baby right away, but I'm already feeling anxiety about exposing her to so many people and germs at once. I also have no idea what my energy levels will be like so soon after the birth. Add to that, I'll still be trying to figure out how to nurse...
My inlaws have acted like DH and I are being too overprotective and paranoid about this because we won't commit to attending get togethers. I don't want my baby to be passed around and exposed to little kid germs until her immune system is stronger. If people are at my house, I feel like I can control the hand-washing and touching. No way am I going to host a big family holiday or party with a newborn in the house.
I haven't even gone into labor yet and can't believe I'm feeling so much anxiety about this issue.
How have you experienced moms handled this? Am I being a wuss? Are other moms more cavalier about taking newborns out to events in the first month?
I am completely on your side here and your anxiety is well grounded. Keep being non-committal! It's too bad they are planning so much and expecting so much of you. Do you feel like you and DH are on the same page? If so, that is WONDERFUL. When it comes down to it, you both have to do what is best for YOU mama and for your baby (your DH hopefully being a rock of support in this) regardless of who you offend. You may be up for something late in the month of April, but take each week as it comes. Do you plan on wearing the baby? If you do go to anything, keep the baby in the sling and just let people peak. They will have plenty of time later.
It's so stressful! I would feel exactly the same way and don't think at all that it is wrong to feel hesitant to attend those things. I was just reading recommendations about avoiding pelvic organ prolapse following birth, and it gave a pretty reserved schedule for the mama for the first 3-4 weeks. http://spinningbabies.blogspot.com/2011/01/pelvic-floor-protection.html Maybe that could help arm you with backup for having a low key first month after the baby arrives. And, if baby hasn't arrived, you still need to take care of yourself and do what you feel you are up for doing.
Alicia, wife to an loving and faithful DH, and mama to three fantastic though nutty children (cs, then a fast HBAC, then a fast VBAC!!). Planning a third VBAC, again at home, in February 2016.
ummmm...yeah. I don't think so. If you are 37 3 that means your due date is what? April 9? So oooyou could deliver tomorrow or if you have a midwife or doc who is low intervention and won't induce it could be as late as April 23. My 1st was a week before due date and my 2nd a week after!!! My due date is april 8 and my answer for anything through the month of april is we'll see what happens. DD#2 was born dec 14 (due on the 5th) and I had to handle Christmas with a brand new baby. Fortunately, it went very well. I have no family close by and DH's family is very good about stuff like that and sometimes there are a lot of them but there weren't a ton of little ones and they only live 20 min away.
You aren't being unreasonable. You may plan on going and feel at the last minute like none of you are up to it. Postpartum life in that 1st month especially is unpredictable at best. Maybe you will get no sleep the night before. If it were me I would say... "I hope we can make it, but please don't count on us. I don't know what to expect with a newborn and I prefer not to make any solid plans and have to back out of them"
Agreed. Plus, you are still going to be recuperating and you might just feel like staying home to rest. The first month when my son was born was so hard. Between the sleep deprivation and soreness, all I wanted to do was stay home and rest.
If they really want to see the baby, they can come to your place or they can wait till you feel up for it.
My sister's wedding is a month after my due date. We have to fly coast to coast to be there, but I wouldn't miss it for the world! My sister mention how everyone will want to hold the baby and then I could have a good time. I just laughed and said the baby will be too young. I'll have my sling and keep the baby in there most of the time. There won't be any children there other than DD and the nb. When DD was days old, my MIL had a BBQ/baptism party for her and everyone held her. Completely messed up her feeding schedule and I really don't want to deal with that again.
married 11/06, DD May 2009, DS April 2011successful, natural 9lbs 6oz
My (lovely, no sarcasm) MIL wanted to make plans for 3 months after the baby is born and I refused to commit. ;) I just said, in a friendly way, "I'm not making any plans until after the baby is born and we see how things go!" Luckily, my father-in-law piped up at that point and agreed with me.
Is there someone sympathetic in your family that you (or, even better, your husband) can tell clearly, "Someone else needs to make the plans for transporting husband's grandma because we just can't say how things will be going for us when all these early events happen" and leave it at that?
Personally, I really believe that your husband should handle his family unless you have more rapport with them. It shouldn't be your job to navigate those relationships.
I'd definitely tell everyone not to expect too much from you guys for the next few months. As my mom says, "you're on baby's time".
My first was preterm and my second had a birth defect so I was very overprotective of them when they were born. We didn't really go anywhere the first couple of weeks after they'd come home in case they were exposed to something. I warned everyone that if they were sick they had to stay away and made no firm commitments, we were always "maybes". Even with this one, we won't be making any firm commitments for the first few months.
As for bringing Grandma, tell everyone that you simply cannot commit to it. It's not fair to both you and Grandma if you have to bring her along in the early months. You could be late because baby needs another top-up before you leave or baby could scream all the way home because s/he hates the car seat. When things settle down you can always offer to take Grandma again.
As others have mentioned, a baby carrier can be your best friend. You'll have the baby close and people have to invade your personal space in order to get the baby, which is what most people won't want to do. Depending on where you're going I'd also see if you can have a private space to nurse. I don't have any issues nursing in public but it can be really great to "escape" family to nurse and it's good for baby too.
Oh this stuff is so hard! I remember with my first my MIL just announced when she was coming and for how long she was staying. Didn't even ask what we would like. I was so upset by that--I still get mad when I think of it.
It sounds like your extended family is putting their wants ahead of your needs, and expecting you to go along with it. The tough part is getting through it diplomatically. Also be gentle with yourself--if it's easier ON YOU to just go with the flow and do some of these things don't feel bad about just sucking it up and getting thru it. You can always make a very quick appearance and then leave. You can also just be honest and say "We don't know how we are all going to be feeling after the birth, so we can't definitely say yes to all these gatherings but we will try to come, if we can." Then just don't go to anything you don't feel like attending.
Driving the Grandma needs to be taken off your plate. That way you have more flexibility. So I'd focus on getting help with that. One thing that is very likely is that 45 minute car trips are going to be hard. Your babe may dislike the car and cry the whole time (not all kids do, but my DD did and I'm expecting DS--i'm due April 11--to follow the same pattern) I think you should ask your DH if he can talk with his extended family about finding alternate transport for Grandma. That way you don't have to show up because you aren't driving her and she doesn't have to be tortured by baby crying.
I'm so far finding that setting limits with family is easier the second time around. I have my own experience to fall back on and I'm less afraid to just say--"that won't work for us." Long car trip to see extended family? "Nope, won't work for us. An 8 hour drive becomes a 12 hour drive because of stopping to nurse all the time. We aren't putting ourselves through that!" On the other hand people that want to meet and love on your baby generally mean well, so even though it can feel like they are being disrespectful of your needs try to remember that they probably don't mean it that way.
And yes there are lots of people who drag their newborn to all kinds of events and let extended family play "pass the baby". And yes it's possible that people will compare you negatively to those people, but that's not your problem and you have no control over that anyway. Just do what feels right for you.
Oh yes, I'd be very clear (or let Dh do it!) that you cannot commit to anything after baby is born.
Just for a point of reference, when DD1 was 5 days old, Dh and I went over to my parents' house for dinner. They lived 15 min. away at the time, and perfectly understood and were supportive of my desire to breastfeed and not pass the baby. There were no small kids or agenda, we could go whenever we needed to... and the evening was a disaster, and Dh and I were completely exhausted for days afterward.
Mama to 4 girls 5/05, 12/07, 9/09, 3/11
Wow, you mamas are better than Miss Manners! You've prepared me with a whole set of tools for dealing with my situation. I feel less anxiety, thank you.
Other factors included in this are:
Both sets of husband's parents are retired and are "road warriors." To them, hopping in the car and driving 8 hours to visit family or friends is not a big deal at all, so they aren't too sympathetic to DH and me not wanting to drive 45 min and back to have family dinner each Sunday. I think they could be convinced to come into town to pick up grandma and take her to family events and back.
I am 39 years old and these final weeks of pregnancy are kicking my butt. My body feels like it has been hit by a truck and I'm having some difficulty moving around these past few weeks. I have been working full time, but have started to use some sick hours so that I can go into work half days a few times a week. I know I will be exhausted with a newborn to take care of!
DH is 100% on my side on this one. His family is very close and likes to spend a lot of time together. Everyone but us lives near each other. It isn't like we are hours away, but driving 45 minutes each way has a way of taking over an entire Sunday even without an infant involved. I had not thought about the fact that baby may scream in her carseat the whole drive.
Starcat, you are right, it could be April 23rd or so before baby makes her arrival. I go to an OBGYN who is extremely low intervention and will not induce unless I ask for it or until I reach 42 weeks. My sister went 42 weeks with two of her kids, so the same happening to me is a possibility.
CookAMH, I do plan on babywearing and have 3 types of slings, including one that fits DH. Wearing the baby sounds like a good way to keep her away from grubby hands, coughs and sneezes.
Shaki: Yes, I really feel like my inlaws are putting their own needs and wants ahead of mine and the baby's. DH's mom and stepmom live near each other and are very competitive about outdoing each other with holidays, birthdays and family gatherings. One of my SIL's has 3 little kids and is more of a laid back mainstream style mother. She has made it look really easy to tote a bunch babies around. She never has complained or let it show that she is tired. I think the inlaws are thinking that I will behave similarly, whereas I'm doing everything a lot differently (Breastfeeding, attachment parenting, babywearing, etc). I've watched all of my little nephews and nieces in this family spend time in the hospital for RSV, ear infections and various other sicknesses. I know I can't prevent my baby from getting sick, but I want to avoid exposing her to little kid germs until she is older.
Thank you for all the advice, I feel a lot more justified in sticking to my plan to stay home for the first weeks of my baby's life!
Happily married, busy mom to a houseful :-)
Expecting again early Oct 2014!
I completely agree with what others have said. Remember you are not responsible for their feelings when you decline to attend an event! You are also not responsible for people feeling hurt if you DO attend but refuse to pass her around and let others hold her. You're the mama... it's okay to let your mama bear out! Oh, and yes, keeping her in a wrap/sling is an AWESOME way to protect her from too many hands and germy people.
You and DH might even want to make a plan together that you aren't going to take her out at all for the first week (two? three?) after birth. If necessary, you can blame your ped -- sorry, the pediatrician recommended that we keep her from large groups of people and public places for the first X amount of time, just to be safe. Some people respond better and with more respect if thye thing you're following a doctor's orders ;)
My midwife always tells new mamas to blame it on her. :) She tells them that we are still in RSV season, there are outbreaks of pertussis not to mention the flu and babies are completely vulnerable to these illnesses in ways older children and adults are not.
Not to make you more scared, but Id totally tell them your pediatrician or midwife really suggested that you keep baby protected for the first couple months by keeping exposure controlled.
Actually, Id have my husband tell them ;)
I will also reveal that for the first two weeks of my first child's life, I could not sit down unless I was sitting on our Boppy pillow. My mother started humorously referring to it as the "Butt-y" pillow. I had a normal vaginal birth--and a third degree tear that required many stitches. (My dd was in the 90% for head circumference.) Also, I needed a nursing shield for nursing, and I had to strip to the waist, and use surgical tape to get the shield into a good position. I was also pumping after every feed with my hospital-grade pump that was NOT portable. (I'm not sharing this in order to terrify anyone--we went on to have a great 2 year nursing relationship, and I healed up with no lasting injury at all.) So even with my normal, healthy birth and my normal, healthy newborn, it was damned difficult to leave the house for more than twenty or thirty minutes in those first two weeks and a 45 minute car ride would have been laughably out of the question.
At four weeks, I could have managed a family dinner or other mildly social event--although I still kept the baby in the sling to prevent grubby hands from touching her. But at two weeks, no way. So keep repeating that you can't commit to any plans, and when the baby arrives, you can always say, "It's so sweet of you to invite us, but I'm still recovering from the birth. Please feel free to drop by when you are in our town!" or whatever statement makes you feel relatively in control. There is absolutely no point in pushing yourself at that stage--it will take recovery energy that you will not have--and can detract from building your nursing relationship and healing your body.
I like the idea of wearing the baby if you go to anything and not letting anyone else (except hubby) hold the baby for now.
They should probably think to plan the baby shower for the end of May instead. (or a bit later if you need) You should ask them if they could do that and explain that you aren't sure when baby will make their appearance and that you don't want to go running around right away with them.
Happily married Christian SAHM of 2 boys, DD1 , and DD2 July 2013
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