By Susana Kuehne of Singing and Screaming
“Look at her wearing pants underneath a nightgown,” said with small chuckle.
“I don’t think you’re changing his diaper the right way — he seems fussy,” said while pushing me away from the baby bed.
“Are you falling asleep again?”
“What does the scar look like?”
After giving birth to my first child, these were the statements I was welcomed with by family members. I know they didn’t mean any harm, but I had sacrificed my personal wish of not having any visitors come to visit me at the hospital for the sake of being polite to people who wanted to be there anyway.
Reluctantly, I smiled and tried to stay awake, but I was exhausted. I was on oxycodone to control the pain of my C-section, and with all the trauma of having my child delivered two weeks early due to dangerously low oxygen levels, smiling was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to eat and rest, and hold my new baby, whom I didn’t even get to meet until nearly four hours after my surgery.
Yes, I missed the birth of my own baby because I had to be put under general anesthesia. Not only that, but I had to be in the operating room alone because my husband was about 800 miles away on a U.S. Navy base, frantically trying to book a flight home.
So, how did I feel about having people come to see me when I had expressed that I wanted this to be a private experience? I felt glad that I could be mature enough to not cause a fuss. But, I was also upset that I had undergone major surgery, yet my waking moments had to be spent pretending that people’s comments weren’t insulting and that their presence was a pleasant thing.
I’m sorry I don’t look the most fashionable right now, but rushing out of my house when I noticed I was bleeding didn’t exactly give me the chance to grab my most flattering apparel (none of which existed for my 38-week pregnant self anyway). And maybe I’m taking a few seconds longer than you would have to change this diaper, but I’m a first time mom and specifically didn’t ask for help because I’m trying to learn. Yes, I’m falling asleep again due to the side effects of my strong meds and, no, I’m not showing you my scar. I can barely muster the nerve to look at it myself, so please keep your face out of my underwear.
I wasn’t aware that you continue to bleed, even if you don’t deliver a baby naturally. This, and other new things happening to my body, made me feel extremely uncomfortable lying in a bed, wearing no bra, trying to be a host for these uninvited “houseguests.”
I’m a private person; I still get shy when my husband sees me naked and I don’t go to the gynecologist unless I think there’s a tumor down there. For me to sit quietly on my adult diaper and try to carry on a normal conversation was severely challenging and embarrassing, even if others disagree. I would have preferred to be alone with my baby.
Instead of being given the opportunity to build on the special bond with my newborn, I had to share him with extended family, plus the nurses, specialists, and doctors who dropped by occasionally to check up on us. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful that my son was so loved (or that I didn’t appreciate the hugs, take-out food, and stuff from home people brought me). It’s that I wanted to recuperate and make up for the time I had lost with my newborn baby (between his NICU stint and my recovery).
When my husband’s flight finally arrived, I also wanted to be able to have time alone as a family. And that was only possible in the wee hours of the morning, after visitors stopped cycling through my door and nurses had completed their rounds. Unfortunately, this was also the same time that my husband and I needed to try to sleep. It was an emotional, exhausting journey.
Fast forward to now, and we are expecting our second child.
Over the past few months, my husband and I have had this discussion numerous times. What do we do about visitors with baby number 2? Personally, I don’t want any visitors. I tried to be nice last time by allowing people to see me after my delivery and, as predicted, I wasn’t comfortable with it.
My husband, whose family lives locally, is trying to fight me on this, because he thinks his parents will be offended if they aren’t invited to the hospital shortly after birth. While I understand that he doesn’t want to hurt their feelings, it brings me right back to where I was before my last C-section: do I make a VIP list of people who are allowed to visit me and have the hospital shoo others away, or do I just let anyone come to avoid the ensuing complaints I will be sure to get?
We have come to the conclusion that my feelings matter most. We can’t please everyone, and we shouldn’t be expected to either. How is it that I’m here stressing about how to avoid family drama during my pregnancy? Our focus shouldn’t be about the happiness of others.
If I don’t want to see anyone after the birth of my baby, then people will have to deal with it. I have a right to privacy even if I’m not breastfeeding (which seemed to be the only time I was ‘allowed’ to ask people to leave my room with my previous delivery) and the right to choose my comfort over someone else’s. Moms rarely get to be selfish, but this seems like an important time to draw the line and center my feelings.
We plan to ask the hospital staff to not allow visitors. If someone takes an issue with that, they will have to figure out how to get over it, because trying to dictate what a woman is allowed to request — or limit — in terms of company after the birth of her child is not polite behavior. And if they can’t be considerate of my, and my family’s, needs during this special time, I shouldn’t have to worry about how they feel either.
Hospital staff, please close the door. No visitors allowed.
This post was originally published on Scary Mommy.
About the Author
Originally from Florida, Susana now lives in wintry Minnesota with her husband, son, and two dogs. With a background in mechanical engineering, she is currently working as a technical advisor to patent attorneys at a prominent law firm. Susana loves swimming, watching ‘Friends’ and ‘The Office’, eating pizza, and scrapbooking. Her writing has appeared in newspapers, magazines, websites, and technical manuals. She recently created a blog to share the whimsy of her life as a working mother with bipolar depression. Follow Susana on Twitter and read more on her blog Singing and Screaming.