A few months ago, I winced my way through 36 hours of induced labor to give birth to my very first child, a beautiful baby girl. Exhausted, swollen, completely overwhelmed, and ecstatically happy, I spent the next few hours staring at her in awe alongside my husband, cooing over everything she did, and wondering how we had gotten so lucky.
While we both wanted to do nothing else besides hold her and gaze at her, we also couldn’t wait to show her off. Seriously; I had to stop myself from shrieking, “Look what we made!!” to every nurse who came in the room. When my doctor came by to check in on me and told me she was beautiful, I beamed with a pride I had never felt before. I could not wait to introduce my tiny little human to everyone in my life.
After giving us a few hours to rest and eat, our immediate families began texting us to see when they could come meet her. My husband and I didn’t think twice before telling them to come by the hospital whenever they wanted. We’re very close with our families, and we wanted them nearby. Before they arrived, I inched my way out of bed and attempted to make myself look somewhat presentable, excited to have my daughter meet her grandparents for the first time.
Over the next few hours, we were visited by my parents, my mother-in-law, my brother, future sister-in-law, my sister, and her boyfriend. Over the next two days, a few aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins came by. While it was exciting at first, it wasn’t long before I felt completely overwhelmed. Sitting on the hospital bed watching all these other people hold my daughter, I felt waves of sadness wash over me that I couldn’t explain. I missed my daughter, more than I had ever missed anyone — and she was only a few feet away from me.
I resisted the urge to be rude and demand to have my baby back. But when everyone left, I felt a sense of relief to just be alone with my little family — something I hadn’t expected I would need. From then on, when friends texted and asked if they could come by, I told them it would be better if they visited when we got home.
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36 hours of labor and a rough delivery later and our baby girl Sophia came exactly one week early 💕💕 this was the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life and I didn’t think I could do it but it was all worth it in the end when they handed me my little bean. I can’t look at her without crying happy tears. I love her so much and I would do anything in the world for her. We are so blessed to have this little family. 💕
I thought maybe I would feel better when I was home, in a more comfortable setting, having spent a few days getting to know my daughter. But our first few days home were incredibly stressful; moments after we walked in the door, my daughter started “choking” (she wasn’t actually choking, but I thought she was). I panicked, called 911, and ended up back in the hospital. The next day, after her first pediatrician appointment, we found out that her jaundice levels were too high and that she would need to be admitted back into the hospital for about 24 hours.
Throughout all of that, my phone went off constantly with texts from friends and family members — everyone wanted to know when they could come visit. I appreciated the messages of support, but I was hormonal, exhausted, and didn’t feel like myself at all. All of my excitement about showing my daughter off was slowly fading. I didn’t know what to say.
“Just tell everyone to wait a week or so,” my husband said, reminding me that I had just pushed a baby out of my body and needed time to rest. But I felt a strange sense of obligation; I started setting dates with everyone for when they could visit.
The days that followed were a whirlwind. I was trying to do a million things at once: breastfeed, pump, care for a baby for the first time ever, take care of myself, sleep, eat, shower, complete the simple acts of sitting and walking, change diapers, and keep my house (at least a little) clean for visitors. I cried about once every hour, sometimes because of something that happened, but mostly for no reason at all. When anyone came over, I tried to politely sit and talk with them while also having to lock myself in my bedroom every hour or so to breastfeed and pump. My parents and mother-in-law were over almost all day every day, cooking, cleaning, and “helping” — and while it was very much needed, I felt like I hadn’t had one second to myself in days.
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We’ve never been so exhausted or so happy! Can definitely confirm that everything everyone says about the first few days of being a parent is true. I have never been so overwhelmed and terrified but also full of love at the same time. I’ve also never felt the love that I feel for Sophia. I’ve heard people say it but never truly understood it and now I do. The moment the nurses placed her on my chest, my entire world changed. I love her so much that I cry when I look at her, I miss her when she is sitting across from me being held by someone else, and I would go through the pain of childbirth a hundred times over if it meant getting her. I love our little family so much. 💕💕
Then, of course, there was the emotional problem: Every once in awhile, when someone else was holding my daughter, tears would well up in my eyes and I would feel the sudden urge to grab her and walk away. Seeing other people hold her, even the people I loved most, made me feel like a part of me was missing.
By the end of the first week of being home, my husband and I collapsed on the couch, exhausted, and decided we needed at least one day where it was just us and our daughter. No parents, no friends, no visitors.
So we did it. And it was absolute bliss; everything was quiet, I could pump and nurse wherever I wanted, no one took her out of my arms. It felt like heaven. But it was short-lived, and the next day, we were back to regular visitors.
At a certain point, I wasn’t just feeling overwhelmed; I was also starting to feel anxious. What if I was doing the wrong thing by having my daughter so surrounded by other people in the first few days of her life? Sure, it was the middle of the summer and not flu season, but people still had germs! What if exposing her to others like this was going to make her sick? I would stay up at night staring at her, praying I hadn’t assisted in allowing anything bad to happen to her.
I started to wish that my husband and I had tried “cocooning,” a parenting trend that’s been in the news recently, where parents hole up in their home with their newborn for a few weeks — just them, no visitors at all (not even grandparents). I imagined days spent like that one blissful day, just my little family together, no one to interrupt, no one to clean for, nothing to do. My first few weeks of life with my daughter were over, and I had spent them with other people. As much as I genuinely appreciated our families, I also felt drained.
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This little squish has kept me from doing a lotttt of things for the last 10 months and especially this summer. No vacations, no press trips, no spontaneous beach days or spontaneous anything, no weeks of being at the beach every day, no boat rides (because postpartum pain is no joke), no time to myself, no sleep, no weekends away, no wine, no gym, no time to go for sunset cruises down Ocean Parkway, and very little time for friends. I never thought I’d have a summer spent mostly inside. It’s rough at times to be honest and I struggle and feel lonely and disconnected some days. But at the same time, she’s totally worth it. No one has ever made me happier. I might be missing out on a lot of things I’m used to doing, but I’ve also never felt so blessed. 💕💕💕💕 * * * * * * * * * * #momlife #mommyandme #love #family #mybaby #newborn #onemonthold #mylove #happy #momproblems #momstruggles #momssupportingmoms #momstuff #momsofinsta #fourthtrimester #thefourthtrimester
As the weeks went by, I started to feel less hormonal and emotional, less overwhelmed, and more normal. Visits from friends and family started to become exciting; they gave me a chance to socialize and see other adults. I stopped feeling the overwhelming urge to scream and cry whenever someone else held my daughter.
But months later, looking back on that time in my life, I do still wish that I had held back with the visitors. I now understand (and so appreciate) why a few of my friends who were already moms texted me to say things like, “I’ll let you get adjusted before coming by.” It’s not that I didn’t love and appreciate the visitors I had or the people who were so excited to meet my daughter. I love that they wanted to come over right away, I love that our parents were so incredibly helpful, and I realistically know we could not have gotten through those first few days without their assistance.
It’s just that those first few weeks are such a precious time, especially as a brand-new parent. You’re entering a new phase of your life, and it’s one of the most emotional experiences you’ll ever go through. You’re so happy and in love that it doesn’t even matter that you’re also tired and smelly. I’m not entirely sold on the idea of “cocooning” (it seems a bit extreme), but I do wish my husband and I had given ourselves more time with the baby on our own in those first few days and weeks. Maybe then we would have felt less overwhelmed.
And the funny thing? Now that we’re a few months in, I’m practically begging for visitors. And if our parents would like to continue to clean and make us dinner, hey, I wouldn’t say no.
Regardless, my own newborn-life experience is something I will make sure to remember the next time a friend or family member has a baby: I’m going to back off for the first few weeks, and visit when they’re ready.