"Please, don't hold my baby." | A message for mothers of newborns
I remember the day my husband and I brought home our firstborn daughter. She was dozing in her car seat. We rested the whole baby bucket gently on our ottoman. We sat down on the couch and looked at her. We looked at each other. We looked at our cats who were watching cautiously from across the room. And then one of us said, “This is really weird.”
And it was. Bizarre, really.
Over the next 24 hours we were fixated on a single mission: keep the baby alive. And we did. Which gave us confidence for the next 24 hours. And so on.
Having a baby in the house became less and less surreal each hour that passed. We were adjusting to a new dynamic. I soon learned that caring for a newborn put a decent dent in the time that I had previously spent on house work and meal prep. I began to feel (as 99.9% of new moms do) OVERWHELMED.
Eventually, friends and family made trips over to visit. It was wonderful to share this exciting time with the people we loved.
Vibes of possibility and reverence drifted throughout our home.
BUT. . .
(and this is coming from a place of love. . .)
The FIRST thing visitors wanted to do when they dropped by (after the thoughtful washing if their hands) was hold the baby. Of course they did! Who doesn’t want to hold a precious newborn baby? It turned out that the ONLY thing visitors wanted to do when they dropped by was hold the baby. Again, I get it. Sweet smelling cherub in the house.
“I’ll hold the baby while you get some rest.” I heard this A LOT.
Now every mama is different. For some, having another person take care of your newborn while you catch some z’s is pure paradise. And that’s absolutely OK. But for me, during those initial weeks, I couldn’t sleep without my baby next to me. It made me anxious to be in a different room than her for an extended time. It felt like I was missing a body part.
Even when I was in the same room and not holding my baby for a while it was uncomfortable for me. When others held her, she ultimately fussed. Often the well-meaning visitor tried to calm her. Of course. Who wouldn’t try to calm a crying baby? But my baby wanted ME. And I knew it.
(BTW, babies are supposed to want to be near their mothers. It’s not personal. It’s biological.)
Do you know what happens when a mama hears and sees her newborn upset? At least, this is how it went for me. I instantly kicked into HIGH ALERT mode. My senses became heightened. A wave of heat started at my face and moved down through my toes. My milk let down and I knew I’d have to replace my breast pads. Not comforting my child became physically painful.
(BTW, mothers are supposed to want to be near their babies. It’s not personal. It’s biological.)
At first I was too worried about hurting others’ feelings and asking for my baby back. Which, in hindsight, was RIDICULOUS. Surely, my visitors wouldn’t have felt snubbed if I said “I’m going to take her back now for some more mama-baby bonding.” The people who loved my family were HAPPY to help us. And I’m certain had I just asked for what I really needed, they would have jumped at the chance.
Because, dang, did I need help. I was moving at post-C-section speed. There were piles of laundry, stacks of dishes, and few groceries in the house. I was in the mindset that I could DO IT ALL myself, but that’s a big fat sham. No one can.
By the time I had my second daughter, I knew more about the mother I wanted to be and that resonated with my friends and family. I was clear to others and myself about what I wanted those first weeks to look like.
Many friends and relatives came to help, REALLY help. I also had a toddler running around and was truly grateful when someone stopped by to play with her or took her out for a few hours. I felt relieved that the necessary housework was getting done and blessed that I had time to get to know and nurture my new baby girl.
For all mothers-to-be who may be lacking confidence in the voice of their mama heart, please, know this:
Your own intuition is your wisest advisor.
You will only have this time with this child once.
Hold your baby.
P.S. If you or someone you know is expecting a newborn, download my FREE Visitor Task List to help gently nudge friends and family towards providing you with REAL help!