Fellow blogger, Jennie, of Edspire raised the issue of visitors after having a baby on her blog. I wanted to comment then realised this more complex than just a couple of lines of comment. So here’s our take on it:
Before having Little Miss we were forewarned of visitors coming at all times and disrupting our settling in as a family. Since both our families are abroad we had to negotiate visits in advance. We knew we wanted 2 weeks together as a new family, with no one staying with us, but were ok with friends popping in for a brief hour. So the decision was made (and grudgingly accepted by parents and in-laws) that my parents would come over 2 weeks after the birth of their granddaughter, stay 2 weeks and then be replaced by in-laws coming to stay for 2 weeks.
As it turned out, my brother-in-law and his partner were coming to the UK for a short break just around the birth, so they asked if they could visit for a day or so. I wasn’t very happy, but agreed. (My parents held a slight resentment for this for a while)
Of course I went into labour the evening they arrived. It wasn’t a big deal though as they were in a little self-contained basement studio (where noise travelled very well) and were kind enough not to admit to hearing any of the antics of me trying to deliver a largish baby in a bad birthing position (attempted homebirth). We transferred into hospital during a prolonged labour and Dadonthebrink spent the night in with me, while our lovely daughter was assisted into this world. When he got home mid-morning to refresh himself, he found dishes had been done, cats and dog fed, walked and he had help in emptying the birthing pool, allowing him to get back to me to hospital that morning still.
The three of them came in the afternoon to visit together.
I stayed in hospital for 3 days- during which time I had a couple of visitors. It was mostly a welcome distraction, though the timings weren’t always right. I felt self-conscious of breastfeeding in front of people, but people mostly took the hint and didn’t stay long.
On our birth announcement which we mailed and emailed out to family and friends around the world we included a picture of the baby and wrote : “we rest between 1 and 4 pm”. (This was also posted on Facebook.)
In general we found that friends would call ahead to ask when’s a good time to come and visit. It was only one set of elderly neighbours who stayed a bit too long. So it all went ok in the end
During the stay of my parents and the in-laws I got to know a different, very helpful side to each of them. It was fabulous having someone cook and clean and leaving me to concentrate on baby and my own recovery.
As a concession to family and friends further afield we organised the Baptism of Little Miss for when she was barely 6 weeks old in The Netherlands. Giving more people the chance to meet her there in one splendid, but exhausting afternoon.
We thought we’d do the same for when Little Man was due- leave it 2 weeks before family came over.
All good plans, hey?!… We were in the midst of finishing off a loft conversion with his due date was just a couple of days away and, like most build projects, the works were running over by about 10 days. I panicked and called my parents 2 days before my due date asking them when they could get over from Hungary. This was a Tuesday, they said the following Monday or Tuesday to which I burst into inconsolable tears. They arrived that Friday. … it was the best thing ever! From then on Little Miss was dotted upon and I could focus on getting the loft finished and on my hugely pregnant self.
As it happened I went overdue and then had complications after birth which meant I stayed in the hospital for 5 days after giving birth. It was a blessing to have my parents looking after Little Miss during this time, freeing up Dadonthebrink to be with us quite a lot in the hospital. A number of the close friends came to visit us in the hospital and stayed a short time only.
After leaving the hospital visitors were more spaced out and always called in advance. It worked itself out.
The in-laws swapped with my parents after 3 weeks. This was a good stepping stone for me, as they weren’t as hands on with Little Miss or the baby, but helped immensely with cooking and cleaning. It eased me into being a mum of 2 (with an 18 month gap) without the burden of house work.
This time around I am totally unsure of what to do!
We have discussed my parents coming upto 2 weeks before my due date (which means they could be staying as long as 6 weeks). I’m not sure I can cope with that! However, the knowledge that Little Miss and Little Man (who both adore their grandparents) have full attention and we don’t need to juggle favours from friends would be a huge relief.
We will surely set the afternoons aside for family time. No friends visiting, as we’ve done in the past. However, I imagine we will mostly be playing it by the ear.
One factor that is mostly beyond control is when the midwives, health visitors, breastfeeding councillors, etc. come. To be honest, I found that the most disruptive with the previous two.
At one of our birth preparation classes the teacher also said, if you don’t want visitors to stay long stay in your pyjamas… it does work.
The other tip is to have tea and coffee making ingredients and implements out, as well as the tin of biscuits, so the guests can help themselves.
I found it quite a relief passing baby around to guests and give my arms a rest from holding 11lbs, also when I got tired I excused myself and went upstairs with baby… most people got the hint (though some didn’t).
Keep in mind where guests are coming from: Those coming from further away will always stay longer, maybe even stay for a meal. It’s best to discuss this in advance before they arrive, then you can defrost something or organise a take-away even.
The birth announcements and then regular Facebook updates, I feel helped curtain the sudden onslaught of visitors eager to meet the new-comer.
How did you cope with those first few days and weeks? Did you have a barrage of visitors? Did people, even unintentionally, overstay their welcome?