baby

'After having my second child, I banned visitors to our house.'

I became a mum years before the pandemic. So everyone and anyone could come and visit me at the hospital and at home after our little one came. And they did. From family, friends, coworkers to acquaintances, everyone wanted to see the baby.

I really did appreciate their love and care because they took time from their day to visit, brought gifts for the baby, and food for us. As a recovering people-pleaser, I couldn’t refuse.

"The more, the not so merrier."

I thought having visitors would make me feel normal again. From having adult conversations, socialising and surrounding myself with people to share this incredible moment, I wanted everyone to be there with me. 

I thought it would help for them to talk about the latest gossip, gush over the newborn smell, and celebrate our bundle of joy together.

Watch: Laura Bryne on the pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

An hour here, an hour there... for the first two weeks as a new mum, we saw almost everyone we knew and loved. But after every visit, I would get more irritated, upset and drained. 

As an introvert, I needed my time, space and privacy to heal. Despite their good intentions, all those visitors completely overwhelmed me.

I didn’t know how I wanted to recover since I’d never given birth.

During those first weeks, I was merely beginning to learn how to be a mum. I experienced immense emotional highs and lows. I had "baby blues" and felt sad, moody, restless, anxious and wanted to cry all the time.

Bottling up my true feelings.

But I had to keep it all inside when I had visitors. I was playing hostess, putting on a brave face, and pretending like I had everything under control. I couldn’t express how I was actually feeling. On the outside, I looked calm and collected but inside I was a fish out of water that was drowning with each breath of air.

By the time my home was empty, my husband and I had to tidy up, put cups and dishes away and wipe down counters while tending to a newborn. I was exhausted from keeping it all together but I had no time to vent or decompress because then I had to get ready for the nighttime routine.

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Change, feed, burp, sleep for an hour, get woken up by cries... repeat.

Once everyone had a chance to see the baby, I could finally focus on my recovery.

Learning from regrets.

I regretted having so many visitors; therefore, when I got pregnant with my second, my husband and I discussed what we wanted to do.

I wanted my home to be my safe space to rest and heal. After giving birth, I knew I was going to feel like a deflated balloon with patience levels that were paper thin. I only wanted people I was completely comfortable with and could be my absolute raw self around during this time.

If I had to put up a front, engage in small talk and/or watch what I said around the person, they could wait to see the baby. Therefore, we agreed that we would have no visitors for the first two weeks.

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No one has a "right" to see my baby.

We didn’t tell many people when we were going to the hospital. My parents had to watch our daughter, so they knew. We had to set clear boundaries and ensure we were on the same page in enforcing them.

It was the best decision because it gave me the time and energy to restore and recover physically and mentally. My husband wasn’t busy trying to arrange times for when people could come to visit. He was able to be present with me, do skin-to-skin with our son, and appreciate the quietude.

But most importantly, the space from others allowed me to truly bond with my son, strengthen the relationship with my daughter, adapt to the change in our family dynamic, and focus on this new chapter in my life.

Sadly, a couple of people were upset and couldn’t respect our decision. They pestered us daily, asking to see the baby. We were firm with them; consequently, it made me re-assess those relationships.

As I reflect back on this, I’ve noticed that it was during major life changes that I got to see the true colours of the people in my life, filtering out the real relationships from the fake ones.

Motherhood has taught me not only how to advocate for the most vulnerable but it gave me the courage to set boundaries, stand up and say no. I thought becoming a parent meant I would learn how to take care of another person but really, I learned how to prioritise and take care of myself.

Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP is an author, wife and mum of two. She writes stories to empower individuals to talk about their feelings despite growing up in a culture that hid them. You can find more from Katharine on her  Website or Podcast, or you can follow her on InstagramFacebookTwitter or YouTube.

Feature Image: Canva.

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