Have you ever been a first time parent? Have you ever lived with a newborn human? If so, I am curious how you dealt with visits from family and friends in those first weeks after your baby’s arrival. Also, I wonder how you balanced your needs for privacy, getting help, being independent and staying sane.

Here are the questions:

  • What was helpful?
  • What decidedly not helpful?
  • What are you happy that you did?
  • What are you happy that you didn’t do?
  • What do you wish you had done differently?
  • How did you mange (or not) to care for yourself and an infant?

Here is why I am asking:

  • Parenthood is hard.
  • Parenthood is wonderfilled.
  • We learn from each other’s failures and successes.
  • I am asking because I am curious, and, I want your help.

My friend Ginger Breedlove has asked me to write a chapter in a book about the first six weeks of new parenthood. My chapter will focus on dealing with visitors and family. For me this means any place or time that the new family interacts with the rest of the world. It also means balancing the various needs of the new family

This includes people:

  • Nurses, midwives and doctors, hospital or birth center staff (including housekeeping)
  • The new grandparents (and new aunts, uncles, cousins, and second-cousins-once-removed)
  • Siblings
  • Doulas (including postpartum doulas)
  • Pediatricians and their staff
  • Friends (and acquaintances, and neighbors, and friends-of-friends)
  • Co-workers (and bosses, managers, and office mates)

This includes places:

  • Home
  • Hospital
  • Office
  • Car
  • Grocery store
  • Medical offices
  • Restaurants
  • Places of worship
  • Target…

This includes needs and expectations:

  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Religious
  • Psychological
  • Biological (like eating, bathing, defecating, and I’m not just talking about the baby!)

When my babies where born (at home, into the loving hands of midwife Vickie Wolfrum), a sign was placed on the front door that gave the basics of the birth (boy/girl, weight, date and time of arrival). It then gave instructions for visitors, basically, come in, say hi, do something useful, leave. For decades, first as a midwife assistant in California, and now as a midwife in NY, I have left this same sign on hundreds of doors of apartments, houses, trailers, and even a houseboat. It is my belief that while visitors are important, so is privacy, that while help can be, well, helpful, it can also be stifling.

Recently, I was at a home in Troy, NY doing a postpartum home visit for a first time mom and her newborn. While I was there, a friend of the family let herself in the front door, placed food in the fridge, washed up a few dishes, and let herself back out, never once laying eyes on the new baby. As she was leaving, she pointed to the sign on the door and said that 1) she wished she had that when her children were born 2) she’d come back and see the baby in a week, and 3) she was going to tell her obstetrician that he should give a similar sign to all new moms!

This simple sign is something that has been useful to me both personally and professionally. What has been useful (or not) for you in those precious (and hard) first six weeks? Let me know -I cannot wait to learn from you.

Contact me either in the comment section below (signing up with Discus is easy), by email (kmdoyle@me.com) or by snail mail (35 Dearstyne Rd, Troy, NY 12180).

Thank you!

I look forward to hearing from you.

May all babies be born into loving hands