Your extended family can be a great help once a new baby arrives. I did not understand just how much until Eden was born. I was in my last year of university, worked full time and my parents lived 2.5 hours’ drive from us.
I never had a close bond with my mom. When others talked about having their moms around when you had a baby, I did not really know what to think about it. When Eden was born, I was in hospital for 10 days. I got a terrible infection and my mom came to stay with us after we were discharged from hospital because I had to go back every day to change my bandages.
We got home and I didn’t really know what would happen. But my mom incredible. She had already had 5 kids of her own and she knew exactly what to do. She said to me, “You focus on eating, sleeping and breastfeeding” and that is exactly what I did. Meanwhile, she cooked, cleaned and played with Eden, massaged her and sang songs. I never knew my mom could be like that. She was awesome.
Every morning, after breastfeeding, I rushed to the hospital for my check up and she stayed with Eden at home. It was the most wonderful 10 days.
When Tsoof was born, we were living in California, overseas from my parents. They came to spend 6 whole weeks with us, starting from 10 days after his birth. Once again, they were amazing. I was afraid I would have to host them and that I would feel bad about going to sleep and resting but they were awesome. They kept themselves busy the whole time, taking care of Eden while I slept.
I know that an extended family are not always bliss. If your relationship with them is not that good, having contact with them after giving birth can wake up a lot of demons. But if you have a positive relationship with them, and there is someone in your extended family who is around and can help you, do not be afraid to ask for help.
A new mom needs to focus on sleep, good eating and caring for the baby. Let others bring you food and make sure there is enough in the fridge when you don’t have time to cook. Let others be with the baby while you prepare for breastfeeding or in between feeds. Let others help you care for your children. After all, they are the second best people to care for them.
No matter what your circumstances, you will need to find a balance between having people around and having enough time and space to build yourself as a new family. Be courageous enough to ask for help from your extended family members and express your needs. Also be sure to be assertive and let them know, “We need some time on our own as well”.
Enjoy your baby and enjoy your parenting!