Rules for Visiting a New Mom

I’m obviously not a “new” mom, but I did just have my third baby a couple of months ago, and I’ve learned a thing or two that I’d like to share with some of you who might need the advice.

There’s an etiquette to visiting a new baby. There are rules. Follow these rules, or suffer Mom’s wrath (which would be well-deserved):

  • Ask about hospital visits well in advance. Don’t just show up and expect to be able to see the baby right away. Birth is hard no matter how it goes, sometimes some of us may not want visitors.
    • …and always ask before showing up at home. Don’t just show up at my house once we’re home and expect me to host for you. Ask me first or wait for an invitation. Let me tell you that it’s okay. We both need to settle in, and I’m probably still recovering.
  • Wash your hands. Every time you plan to ask to hold the baby, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. The last thing anyone needs is for a newborn to get sick because you were being lazy.
    • …and just don’t visit if you’re sick. This one should just be common sense. No matter how much I love you and may want to see you, I don’t want you around my newborn if you’ve got germs.
  • Bring food. Or offer to do my dishes. Vacuum for me. Mop my floors. Feed my cats. Offer to change the baby’s diaper. Take my older kids off my hands for the afternoon. Not only will you get my undying love and gratitude, but you will get thanked in newborn cuddles.
  • Don’t comment negatively on my baby’s name. You hate it? I don’t really care, I don’t need to hear it. You can tell me how much you like it, you can tell me all about your great-grandfather’s brother’s niece’s step-daughter who used the name, you can even just say “oh, how nice,” but don’t criticize it. I’ve already filled out the birth certificate and you’ll just annoy me.
  • Leave the advice at the door. Unless you’re being asked for your input, chances are that it isn’t wanted or needed. I’m tired. (And I’ve done this before!) If you’re coming to visit, just let me do my thing, I’ll let you know if I need advice on something.
    • …and don’t be judgmental about my parenting choices. I don’t really care how you parented your kids, whether you diapered with cloth or disposable, whether you breastfed or formula-fed, whether you had a C-section or a vaginal birth, whether you had an epidural or not, etc. It doesn’t matter. Don’t judge how I chose (or am choosing) to do things.
  • Be nice. I just pushed a baby out of my body, it makes me feel good to hear nice things about my baby – or me. Keep it positive.

I Dropped the Ball on Preschool

I messed up.

And I’m mad about it.

Earlier this year, people started asking me if R would be going to preschool this fall. I said no, I didn’t feel like she was emotionally ready. My biggest fear was that I would send her to school and she would be difficult and stubborn and that she would defy the teacher… like she does with me, all the time. It’s no secret that my oldest is extremely strong-willed.

However, over these last few weeks, I’ve noticed a big change from five or six months ago. Honestly, I’ve noticed a change even from just two months ago, when her brother was born. I’m realizing that I was probably wrong on her not being ready for preschool, especially since I have seen this strong-willed child actually listen to people who aren’t one of her parents or grandparents. This is completely new and, actually, unexpected.

To add to it, she’s been asking about where the neighbors’ kids have been lately. When I tell her they’re at school, she asks me, “Can I go to school too?”

I had looked around a little bit at potentially sending her to preschool earlier this year. I emailed someone back in March and she had given me a list of places I could look into. I sort of did, but then I kept putting off doing more work on it. Part of that was because I didn’t feel like R was ready, and the other part was because I had a busy summer: my best friend got married, I had baby number three, my mom got married, and then we went on vacation. Only then did things seem to settle down, and by then it was the end of August.

Realizing that I’ve dropped the ball on getting her enrolled somewhere, I’ve started the process of trying to find her a spot at one of the preschools near us, but I only started that this week. We can’t afford to pay for a spot somewhere so I’m trying to find an opening at a free program, and that’s been proving difficult. Programs are either near capacity already (and giving preference to certain kids using criteria that wouldn’t fit my child) or not calling me back. I’m finding myself feeling frustrated.

Preschool should really be provided through public school for free, in my opinion. It’s not, though, so I’m stuck trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do.

Lesson learned: don’t wait until the last minute with the other two.

Things Parenting Books Don’t Teach

When you have children, there will be moments during their lives where you are caught completely unprepared. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve thought about the situation you find yourself in, it doesn’t matter how many people have offered you advice, it doesn’t matter what books you’ve read, it doesn’t matter if you’ve even been through it before…

It will catch you off guard.

I’m fairly lucky. While some of my friends have had to deal with illness after illness it seems, my kids have rarely gotten sick – at least, until very recently. R recently spent some time in the emergency room for a high fever, body aches, chills, and general fatigue. Something viral, we were told, most likely the flu.

Tonight, at 2am, I woke up because I noticed one of the lights was on in the bathroom, which was pretty unusual. R still wears pull-ups to bed, but the best I could guess was she had gotten up to use the bathroom at some point. E needed a bottle anyway, as she had just woken up, so I got out of bed to take care of the light, use the bathroom, make a bottle, and turn the heat up.

As I was washing my hands in the bathroom, I heard a little voice at the door. “Mom, what you doing?”

I opened it to find R standing there. I told her I had to go potty and it was time to go back to bed. Just as she was asking me for some water, it happened. My worst nightmare. It was honestly the one thing that I have been dreading since R was born just over four years ago.

She vomited. Everywhere. All over my brand new carpet.

My half-asleep brain started to panic and I called for my husband. My inability to keep calm, of course, upset my daughter too. He came running out into the hallway to find the mess, just in time for me to attempt to get her into the shower, just as she began getting sick again.

More vomit. All over my bathroom.

She was crying, I was panicking, trying to figure out what to clean next. My husband was trying to calm her down and get her cleaned up.

Almost forty minutes later, R had been cleaned up and plopped onto the couch with a bucket, a movie, and a glass of water. I had managed to clean half the bathroom floor and all of the carpet in the hallway. My husband cleaned up the other half of the bathroom and the child, and then threw a bunch of vomit-covered things into the wash.

Nothing prepared me for this. Even arming myself with the knowledge that I would eventually have to deal with a sick child didn’t prepare me for the scene I had to deal with tonight.

As parents, there will always be things we’re good at and things we’re not good at. For me, dealing with projectile vomit at 2am is not exactly something I’m well suited for, but I’m thankful to have a partner who’s willing to spring into action with me and help me clean up some of it too. I’m twenty-nine weeks pregnant, exhausted, and so grateful that I didn’t have to deal with this by myself.

Husband: if you ever read this, know that I love you. Truly. I don’t know how I would have gotten through tonight without you.

Meanwhile, in spite of all of the commotion, somehow my dear, sweet toddler managed to sleep through everything. What a time for her to start sleeping through the night.