At 34 weeks pregnant I still have a while (6-ish weeks, 1.5 months…) before my third postpartum experience, but being that the last one left MUCH to be desired, it seems that this go-around might warrant a bit more initiative on my part. Initiative in the form of open and aggressive communication seems to be the way to go…
I want my first moments, hours, weeks and days with this little guy to be filled with happy exhaustion, and I require that the stress and irritation of what will be the last weeks of my final semester of graduate school be no more than a light sprinkling of ick. Happy exhaustion and minimal ick is quite a tall order this semester, unfortunately.
Of course, since Facebook is stalking my every move, this article about what a postpartum mom really wants popped up in my feed. I read it and, as with everything in motherhood, I mostly disagreed. Maybe this is your list? Mine is a little more persnickety:
- I will hold the baby; make yourself useful. While my newest addition and I perfect our breastfeeding tango and nap the day away, you can do the dishes or the laundry. I’ll even teach you KonMari folding so you can put that mountain away properly.
- Food. I’m on board. I have had many a moment with an infant, and more recently an infant and a 3-year-old, where I’ve realized I haven’t eaten and it’s already dinner time. You can make sure my water bottle is always filled and that I have healthy, ready-to-eat snacks on hand. Maybe you can even make us dinner, though we’re relatively picky eaters… I’m certain you can cut up carrots and hard-boil eggs… P.S. I adore fresh pineapple.
- Don’t stare. I don’t need an audience those first days when I would prefer death over putting on clothing of any acceptable nature. I’m not the type who wants people to bring their germs to meet the baby right away. Honestly, if you meet him before he graduates high school you can consider it a win. Seriously, stay home. Well, unless you want to clean… In that case I can hide in my bedroom for a couple of hours.
- Don’t expect to be entertained. To quote P!nk, “I’m not here for your entertainment! You don’t really wanna mess with me…” I’m not known for my kindness when I haven’t slept. The act of giving birth is exhausting enough, but the subsequent sleep-deprivation really moves that fourth trimester into the battle arena. My sole focus will be making sure my basic needs are met, that my little guy is fed and happy, and that my other boys are taken care of. That is absolutely it, so if your presence fails to facilitate one of my primary focuses…
- Ask if you can stop at the store. It is safe to assume that shopping will not be something high on my list of priorities. I’ve never liked shopping, and while it must be done I would rather nap. Offering to grab the things on my shopping list would be a way to get on the “nice list.” Also, check the pantry and make sure I’m stocked-up on essentials; how terrible would running out of toilet paper be?
- Entertain the big brothers. While I’m certain they will be completely transfixed by their new little brother’s every poop, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind a trip to the park so that I can finish up whatever homework assignment is currently stealing my soul. It might even evolve into assistance packing everyone in the car so I can get some fresh air while you chase kiddos.
- Donate some slave labor to my slaves (whom I love dearly). While this is along the lines of #1, here I’m more talking about giving up a couple of hours or days of your life to provide respite to my adoring husband and amazing mommy. These 2 will be at my side helping tirelessly, despite their own exhaustion. Maybe you want to step in and do the drop-off, pick-up, kung-fu thing with Isaac so they can chill, or just ask them what assistance they need to get a nap.
- Get vaccinated. I don’t want to have to worry about my newest mister being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases because a kind person comes over to help me out and is unaware they’ve been exposed. What might be a tiny cough for a healthy adult may kill my infant, so check your records, ask your doctor… When was your last Tdap? If you bring pertussis or chicken pox to my house nothing will spare you from my wrath.
- Keep your mouth shut. Whatever insensitive comment you have resting on the tip of your tongue, I’m sure I’ve already heard it and been annoyed by it, so just don’t. At 34 weeks I’ve already heard, “You’re about to pop!” like 20 times. It’s the equivalent of, “Wow, you’re huge!” Which is exactly what I’ve always wanted to hear! Unless you’re ready for me to comment on your size, with helpful advice (I care about your health and risk of cardiovascular disease…), don’t be the one saying, “Are you sure there’s not another baby in there?” 2 days after I deliver. Other rude and intrusive statements include, “You’re done now, right?”, “Another boy? I’m sure you’re disappointed.”, “Wow, you must be exhausted.”, or “You look tired.” Seriously, if you would say this to someone after they’ve given birth I need to re-evaluate your presence in my life.
- Bring gifts. Who doesn’t enjoy something kind and thoughtful specifically for them? While gifts are not my love language, postpartum presents a unique environment in which a simple act of caring can mean the world. Things I would appreciate include a pair of lovely cotton jammies, a treat that made you think of me, a gift certificate to painting night or a pedicure, kind words or words of encouragement, or even a fun project my big boys might enjoy.
What I really want is kindness and actual HELP in those weeks of absolute insanity. What everyone needs to remember is this is about what is best for the new mom, the infant and her family. If you feel entitled to baby-time, just STOP. You aren’t; no matter who you are. If you feel the new mom is being rude by protecting herself and her family, my first reaction is to get over yourself. Remember, mom is exhausted and likely dealing with discomforts you cannot fathom. Be kind.