An honest take on life and parenthood

Baby is coming – what help do I need?

on June 14, 2012

So the baby is due shortly, and you are organizing all of the help you will need when the peanut arrives. You are wondering to yourself: Do I have enough hands? Do I have enough stuff? Am I covered?

I have a secret to share: less is more.

Good lord, I wish I had known this. The truth is, the less commotion at home, the better. You really don’t need anyone at home except for you, your partner, and the baby. Make sure you have a phone, a computer, a credit card, and some loose $1 bills for tips to the delivery guy who will bring you food. A remote control is nice. Healthy snacks and lots of water are a must.

But I caution you against asking anyone to come and stay with you and your new baby, unless you have such a close and loving relationship with them that no one will feel uncomfortable or put upon. You don’t want to feel as if you have guests in your home that you have to take care of and feed. You don’t want to have people in your home who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding if that is how you choose to feed your child. You don’t want anyone working from your home, unless it is how your partner regularly works. Ideally, your partner has a room with a door to close in that case. It’s noisy and stressful to hear someone working and doing conference calls, and that energy does not belong in your home with your new baby.

If people want to be helpful, and they ask what they can do, here are some ideas:

1) They can make a homecooked meal for you and your partner, visit briefly, and leave the meal behind

2) They can pick up groceries for you and drop them off

3) They can pay a visit to help do a load of laundry, since you are going to change your baby at least three times a day, not to mention the regular family laundry

4) They can bring a nice magazine you will enjoy, along with yummy snacks, and maybe an eyeshade for catnaps

5) They can wash dishes or change sheets

6) They can go run a couple of errands you need done

7) They can bring a box of newborn diapers and wipes, because you are going to go through them like wildfire and run out faster than you can believe

8) If you trust them, you can ask them to watch the peanut for half an hour or an hour while you take a shower, a nap, or a walk by yourself

9) They can bring you a book or book on tape you will enjoy, or make you a cup of tea and a light snack

10) They will help you write down your list of questions for the pediatrician, and post it on the fridge so you can add to it later and not forget where it is

And so on. You get the picture. The key is rest and quiet for you and your new baby, and time for you, your partner, and the baby to bond as a new family. We all have fantasies about what it will be like bringing the baby home, but it often doesn’t turn out like that, simply because you don’t know what to expect.

A new baby sleeps and eats in short cycles, so you will be on those cycles. Let me be crystal clear here: you will be completely sleep deprived, so you will not be thinking clearly or operating as normal. Basic survival is all that matters, so anyone who can help make life easier or more normal for you is a blessed soul.

You also will be figuring out how to take care of a tiny helpless being while you are trying to figure out how to take care of healing yourself, particularly if you had a difficult delivery. In short, you need a lot of TLC. Let your partner, family, and friends take care of housework and groceries and errands for a while.

The most important thing you can do is to take care of your baby and yourself. For once in your life, let others take care of you. It’s ok. It’s good, in fact.

You may be surprised at the level of selflessness and helpfulness you will find if you are clear about taking people up on their offer to help.

If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely do it this way. I hope you will.

2 responses to “Baby is coming – what help do I need?

  1. Wendy B says:

    My favorite: Turn off the ringer on your phone. Update your outgoing voicemail message to give callers the stats on the baby, let them know that you are doing well, but that you aren’t answering the phone. Then you can return calls on your own schedule, and recover at your own pace.


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