The admission and realization often takes time to truly comprehend what this journey entails. Pregnancy for most of us is an experience that can not be adequately described. Sharing your body with a little human for what seems like forever, is one of the most prized moments of your existence. You learn to find comfort in the discomfort. Learn to navigate with the extra weight, untimely cravings, and the incessant wonder of who your baby will look like when it finally makes its debut.
Along the way, you learn this baby you carry isn’t just yours. Others place their stake and claim fortunes. They make plans as if you aren’t standing right there and do not even ask for your consent. For the most part, you remain calm attributing this to hyperbolic talk.
“Everyone is just excited for the baby to come, it’ll fade soon, right?”
The excitement doesn’t decline, it gets worse. All the unsolicited advice and superstitions come bombarding into your space. Try as you might to be polite, and smile through it, you’re on the edge of losing your shit. You still say nothing because although these people are clearly over the top, you shoulder the blame and reason it’s you because your hormones are out of wack.
Labor comes. You finally meet the individual who has been your entire world and love instantly becomes something different. You are more valiant than ever. And you promise to make a concerted effort to protect this miracle at all costs. Before you can fully enjoy and grasp the change, everyone else begins to invade. Internally, your body is still not your own; externally, you have to feign pleasantries in your own home.
It’s important that other people adhere to the baby rules. Yes it’s understood that you’re excited, but please take a moment to realize mama needs her space. Mama needs to have time to truly connect with her child without interference. Here are some things to be mindful of:
1. Coming to the hospital unless directly invited is a no.
She’s not feeling her best and therefore doesn’t want to share this moment with more people than she has to. Most times, labor isn’t quick. It’s excruciating and tiresome. Reminder: this is the closest, women come to death. Surviving this along with birth, is no easy feat. Respect her space and allow her to extend an invite.
2. Drop in visits.
The first few weeks are all about acclimation and transition. It is truly selfish to force your way into her space and become an imposition. Unbeknownst to you, you are asking her to tuck her feelings away to protect yours. Again, please allow her to invite you over.
3. Extended stays are unacceptable.
When she just gives birth, she still doesn’t feel like herself. She’s still very much foreign to herself. Her organs are shifting back to its original position as are her emotions. She only has room to tend to her baby. One of the last things, she should have to worry about is accommodating others. After an hour, upon invitation, your time is up.
4. There is no manual or concrete way to raise a child.
Please do not start assigning your beliefs especially if the advice was not sought for. It is unfair of you to already plant seeds of doubt in a new mother’s mind, just because you “feel” your way is best. Motherhood is about trial and error. Allow mom to experience this.
5. Most importantly, and this cannot be stressed enough, respect the space and needs of mom.
Yes, you are excited about this new life. But your happiness doesn’t trump the emotions of mom. Please listen to her body language. She doesn’t want to offend and most likely will not say anything, but her actions will scream what she desires. During post baby, there are so many unresolved feelings and as she sorts through these emotions, she needs to be able to do so without fear of being judged.
The steps mentioned above are not to be taken personally, they’re to be taken seriously.
As a mother myself, I remember being very clear about my wants and I would not deter from what I had communicated. Some were adamant about challenging me, and unfortunately placed me in an uncomfortable situation to shift my focus to being confrontational. People forget compassion means being able to sympathize and essentially place the needs of someone else above your wants. It’s called delayed gratification for the greater good. In other words, I the parent, is the ultimate decision maker for this little person and I shouldn’t have to extinguish myself for your comfort. My child has just entered this world and will receive visitors when I am ready. It’s not to slight anyone, it’s to protect me as I find my way back to me while I simultaneously figure out how to rearrange myself and prioritize for this new life.
The more we, as humans, understand the vitality of this compassion in any area or facet of life, the more this world will be a better place.