Besides the overarching concern that something is going to wrong with Perry (a sincere thank you to the mom who told me – unprompted – that she also checked for blood every time she went to the bathroom) my single biggest source of stress this pregnancy has been worrying about postpartum visitors. My cardio needs are entirely fulfilled by the breathless, heart-pounding reaction I have every time this topic comes up. It’s not an ideal way to anticipate my first weeks as a new parent, and I know it’s no picnic for Andrew either.
I know myself pretty well by now. Well enough to know that I am a card-carrying weirdo. A freakshow of not-so-endearing quirks. I really enjoy my alone time. I know that certain types of lights or graphics make me feel like I’m going to have a seizure (I won’t actually) and that I require aisle seats in large venues to feel comfortable. I also know that I have weird personal space issues that mean I’m not especially at ease sitting in the middle of a couch with other people on both sides of me – I like to live on the edge (of tables, classrooms, couches and crowds) and I hate feeling vulnerable or out of control in front of most people.
Of course I understand that people are excited and will want to see the baby, and I’m excited to show them – for limited periods of time and with certain boundaries intact, natch. It’s not because I don’t like people or I’m a freak about them touching the baby or anything like that – it’s all about me and my issues. My need to figure things out on my own and not be overwhelmed when I’m in an intense situation.
Which is the thing: it’s not personal at all – and yet it will be so hard for some people to not take personally.
And it’s not exactly fair either, because I don’t feel the same about all prospective visitors. There is a list of people I’m totally cool with and whose presence under almost any circumstances would never freak me out, but it’s a pretty short damn list. I’m equally worried that these people won’t be around enough, as I am that others will be around too much. I don’t feel like I was around enough for my friends who had babies, compared to how much I want my friends around when I have mine. I never felt like I knew their situations or schedules enough to know whether I was wanted or not, and I opted for the chicken-shit route of waiting to be asked to visit or hang out, rather than offering. I still have no idea if this was the right way to handle it or not. For that reason, I’m going to try to remember to issue a standing invitation and frequent reminders to the people on my short-list.
Overall though, I feel like I will want my house, my privacy and my little family mostly to myself for the first few weeks. I don’t know how I’ll feel physically, or what I’m going to feel like doing, wearing, eating or saying during those early days. I suspect the answers will be something like shitty, nothing, not much, hot dogs and fuckity fuck fuck– but these are just educated guesses.
Figuring out life with a newborn seems complicated enough without worrying about being good company—even for the kind of company that thinks they will be doing you a favour. Because with company there is always some level of expectation, even if I’d be putting it all upon myself. For example, they might not expect me to get dressed and look presentable but I’d still feel compelled to. They might not be offended that I’d rather eat crackers and watch Netflix than sit down to eat a meal with them, but I’d still feel like a jerk.
Also, how much help will we really require? Maybe I’m being totally delusional, but I feel like I have a perfectly competent partner who can help me out. We don’t have other children to try to feed, entertain and get to school or anything like that. Plus, we have my parents literally one block away from us. If I cut through the alley and skirt around the pond in Bill and Rick’s backyard I can be on their doorstep in 30 seconds. This is both a longer and funnier gauntlet to run when you’re drunk. Not that I plan to be, I’m just sayin’ if I have to do it with a carseat in hand, I’ve trained for it.
Mostly, I’m scared that the presence of all day, every day company before I’m ready for it will force me into hiding in my own home. I don’t want to eat hotdogs alone in my bedroom with a baby that I can’t figure out how to breastfeed while people lounge in comfort in my living room, chatting it up with my husband who should be with me while I cry and occasionally hit him. Is that too much to ask?