One of the toughest things about having a brand new baby is actually far more difficult than the actual taking care of a baby bit.
Because if you HAD to, you’d probably find your way as a new mother even without the help of all the so-called experts, doctors, and mothers who came before you.
No, the hardest thing about being a new mom, is actually being able to say “NO” – without guilt.
To say “No” to everybody for a while.
That includes your family, friends, and your boss at work.
A new momma has a priority that needs to take place over ALL of the other people, things and events that used to fill her every waking moment – it’s that baby.
And if you’re anything like me, taking care of a baby AND managing my postpartum anxiety was absolutely, utterly, all I could do.
My first was born not long before Christmas, and we said no to almost everything that year because just existing and taking care of the baby was using all my bandwidth. (He was a terrible sleeper AND we had huge problems with nursing, so those two things right there made life feel SO hard.)
I usually did ok at saying no to things, if for no other reason than I literally had no choice but to save my sanity, but I always felt BAD about saying no.
If you find that you’re reeeeally struggling with saying no, here are some things that you are absolutely allowed to say no to when you’ve just had a baby (although you CAN say no to whatever you want!):
Medical Interventions You Aren’t Sure About
(For either you or your baby.)
Your doctor works FOR YOU.
It is up to YOU what happens to YOUR body.
From the moment that baby is born, YOU are the boss of what should be happening to baby’s body.
If you don’t want something – or DO want something – to happen, say so.
Visitors – before you’re ready for them
Again, when my first was born, I was a hot mess.
I cried A LOT.
My baby cried A LOT – generally when I was trying to feed him, which seemed to be ALL THE TIME.
My body was completely foreign to me – my nippples were so sore at one point I couldn’t actually wear a shirt – and I had to learn to just say no to visitors.
I was honest, and most people were very understanding.
Some amazing friends even just came and dropped off food at the door and left again.
Family parties (or any parties)
Yes – it is perfectly reasonable to not want to bring your new baby out to every family event.
Your family is probably DYING to meet your new adorable family member – and that’s totally understandable – and they’ll probably put the pressure on you to come over.
But there could be any number of truly reasonable reasons why it’s better to quietly bow out of these family obligations.
Like, you’re exhausted – ALL. OF. THE. TIME.
A new mom should take care of herself first and foremost, so she’ll be able to take care of baby.
Honestly, I doubt it’s the first family party ever, and it certainly won’t be the last.
If you’re tired, that’s a TOTALLY reasonable excuse. Tell them you’re tired.
Or maybe there’s extreme weather.
Bad snow or rain storms are legit scary when you have a new baby. Your risk of getting in an accident is increased. Not only that, but you’re also more likely to get STUCK at said family members’ house instead of being able to go home when it’s time to go home.
Or perhaps you just want to avoid any exposure to illness – or smoke, if you have smoking family members.
(That is NOT ridiculous!)
If your baby was born in the winter months, you want to be especially careful because RSV is a LOT more prevalent then. Doctors don’t caution you from going outside with your new baby, they caution you against exposing your baby to crowded spaces (like the mall). I’m pretty sure a large family event is going to pose the same risks.
Truly it doesn’t matter what YOUR reason is to bow out, if you don’t want to go, or feel anxiety around the idea of going – it’s fine to say no and stay at home.
How to get out of a family party:
How to get out of them? You just need to say no, momma.
This is your FAMILY – be honest about your struggles and the reasons you don’t want to come out!
I had a fun meltdown at Thanksgiving with my 3-month-old because being out was just so. hard. for me. And do you know what happened after that? My aunt promised me it would get better, my cousin made a date to bring HER kids to MY house and keep me company, and my mom and dad told me to just go home and be guiltless.
Chances are good that other members of your family have been there and understand what it’s like!
If your family is less than understanding, that’s hard… I am a BIG people pleaser so I can totally understand why it’s hard to feel like you’re disappointing people.
At the same time, having a baby requires a mind shift.
Everything (or almost everything) you do will be for them. When you shift your mindset to one where you tell yourself you’re protecting your baby (BECAUSE YOU ARE!) saying no becomes easier, regardless of who you are disappointing.
Now, people want to see the baby (because who wouldn’t, amiright??) You might offer them a more low-key alternative, such as “Sorry we can’t make it, but a big party might be too much for us right now. How about we plan for a short visit so you can meet the baby soon?”
Most partners fail to realize that a “relaxing vacation” is anything but when you’re a mom, no matter what age your kids are, but this is ESPECIALLY true with a newborn.
If you’ve just given birth, don’t feel bad about snuffing out the family vacation this year, and maybe even next.
Personally, we skipped out on family vacation the first three years of our kid’s lives because we had no interest in toting them along for a vacation they wouldn’t even remember, and I ALSO didn’t want to leave them behind.
How to get out of it:
Babies LOVE routines, and you’re more likely to get to a normal sleep schedule if you keep with a normal routine.
Honestly, a routine is really good for every member of the family and vacation doesn’t allow you to keep your routine.
Explain to your partner how exhausting of a time this is for you as a new mom.
Going on vacation would be stressful for you and baby, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do any “vacation-y” things anyway.
You don’t have to travel someplace where the conveniences and routines of home are nowhere to be found, so don’t feel like you have to.
Any plans outside of the house
Here’s another example of something that sounds relaxing but really isn’t: Being cooped up in the car with a fussing newborn, not having access to nursing supplies, throwing off baby’s sleeping and feeding schedule, exposing baby to germs, noises, and crowds…I’m pretty sure all of these things are terrible, right?
Eventually, you’ll get to a point where you can do these things momma, but it’s okay for it to NOT be right now.
We went to a birthday party when my first was just a few weeks… we were struggling SO HARD with breastfeeding, and I spent almost the entire night in a tiny back room alone, trying to get my baby to eat.
I finally just gave up and told my husband it was time to go home.
How to get out of it:
Here are some ideas for delivering a firm, but gentle “no, thank you,” when asked to fulfill obligations outside of the realm of taking care of baby.
“No thank you. We’re busy that weekend, but maybe when the baby is a little bigger we can talk about setting a date to get together.”
“We can’t wait for you to meet her! As soon as she’s a little bit bigger and more portable, we’ll have you over for dinner.”
“We’re really struggling to get out right now, but you’d be more than welcome to come here for a visit!”
If all else fails, you can turn down the ringer on the house phone and shut off your cell.
Then, if you get messages from well-meaning friends and family, you can just send a brief, polite text or an email in reply. Thank them for their (invite, suggestion, whatever it may be) and then explain that baby needs his or her rest and you’ll be in touch soon.
JUST SAY NO!
Regardless of how you decide to handle these kinds of situations, remember that you DON’T have to do anything you don’t want. It’s okay to not feel like going out. It’s okay to not want to be social. It’s okay to want to stay in. My best advice is to listen to your gut and do what’s best for you and baby. If that’s staying home, stay home! You got this momma!