Anabelle Marie Rose...
Born June 21st, 2014, the summer solstice, at 1:57 in the morning.
7 pounds, 13 ounces.
Our first girl.
Her brother is thrilled.
Even if it means he has to share the milk.
So, I've been doing some thinking. A friend jokingly linked me to a rather snarkily written "Rules for Visiting a New Mom". I laughed at some, nodded vigorously at others, and winced in pain at the comments decrying the author as a selfish, entitled brat for suggesting that friends and family consider and prioritize a family's needs above their own desire to snuggle on the squishy little person.
A quick google search on "tips for visiting a new baby" or similar reveals that everyone has an opinion on appropriate guest behavior when visiting the parents of a newborn. Everyone also has an opinion on the general character of those who share such lists, and it's usually not complimentary, generally freaking out over the idea of providing that "village" of supportive care to a family with a newborn.
Americans are weird, yo. Seriously weird. From third to first world, most other countries have traditions respecting the postpartum woman as a recovering, healing person in need of rest and support, and many have extensive laws protecting that status. American women are expected to "get back to normal" and resume jobs, classes, household obligations, parental duties for older children, etc, within weeks or even days of birth.
But not what I came back to the blog to write about today. :) (I can hear the sighs of relief from here, folks. Stop it. :P)
I won't be issuing a PSA of rules and regs for visiting Casa Nolan and gazing upon our newborn. By accident, choice, or divine interference, in the past year or so, all our acquaintances of the sort to need such a list (and thus to assume it did not apply to them because, they're *special*) have serendipitously removed themselves from our lives. Everyone who is still around and thus reading this post? Of COURSE we want to see you! (I promise, I won't even obsess about hand-washing!)
No… what I brought the blog back to write today is a different sort of list entirely. This one's all for me. See, I can't control what anybody else does. I can't dictate helpfulness or consideration, or mandate the use of common sense, much as we'd all like to sometimes! The only person I can control is me. So I'm going to make everyone I know a few promises tonight, and you're all witnesses! Hold me to it!
The Mommy Of the Newborn's Promise
1. I will put my own air mask on first. I will sleep when the baby sleeps whenever possible. I will sit my behind on the couch and watch kids' shows with my two year old while we figure out this tandem nursing thing so he doesn't get too jealous of his baby sister. I will remember to eat, healthfully and on a regular basis, and keep a full water bottle at my side at all times. I will not lift anything heavier than the baby for the next six weeks. I will make the time to take relaxing baths and drink chamomile tea and rest my soul along with my body. I will remember that I have just completed a 9 month marathon, only to start another that doesn't stop until my last kid moves out of the house. I will take care of myself.
2. I will not turn down offers of help. All y'all know me. I'm the person who will answer "No thanks, we've got it covered" until everything falls apart and I'm standing in a Federally Declared Disaster Zone. Not this time. "What do you need?" will be answered truthfully, even if I have to stop and think about it for a second, and the answer is "only" baby wipes. Visitors who kindly and wonderfully ask what they can do to help will be graciously thanked and pointed at whatever needful task comes first to mind. "Watch the kids for an hour so I can take a shower and a nap" is definitely on the list, so be warned! :)
3. I will ask for help when it IS help, and not meltdown prevention. (Yeah, yeah, yeah… stop laughing, I'm serious.) I'm lousy at asking for help, we all know this. Thanks to a wonderful church family, I've gotten better about it in the last few months, but now I'm making a conscious decision to look at tomorrow, this Thursday, next week and say "The stuff we have planned will go a lot easier on everyone if I have another adult around to assist", and behave accordingly. To say "Things are falling a bit behind and I could use some help" BEFORE no one has any clean clothes to wear, the lawn is three feet tall, and the fridge lacks basics because no one has done the shopping. So, yes, this means you will likely be seeing requests for child-minding/household help on a more regular basis. I'm not asking because I feel entitled. Because I don't, I'm actually fighting through thirty years of "God doesn't help the lazy, Laura!" programming to say a single word of it. I am asking because I desperately want to be the best mother I possibly can, and that does not happen flying solo. We all need our village, and I am officially reaching out to mine.
4. I will remember, and pay it forward. Creating our "village" in this modern age of technology is harder than ever before. We are simultaneously closer and more isolated than any generation of parents before us. I've always had that "fix-it" instinct, that natural inclination to dive in and help. But now I am committing to remember and pass on the aid I receive, to ask "What do you need?" instead of "Do you need anything?" To make the time in my world to make someone else's journey just a little bit easier. Need a hand? Ask me. If it's within my ability, I'm all over it, and if I seriously can't, most likely I can point you to someone more capable.
At least, starting six weeks from today. Because, air mask. :)