The days following my second's daughter's birth were drastically different than with my first baby. When Olivia was born, we barely had guests over. I stayed in my little post-baby cocoon nursing and sleeping whenever I could. When friends and family offered to come by and help, I would shyly tell them that I was OK. My father-in-law flew in from Europe and stayed with us so he could meet his new granddaughter and aside from the language barrier, I was too proud to ask for help, even when he was right there. I'm not so proud any more. The second time around, I took all the help I could get!
Shortly after Julia's birth, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came by and I couldn't have been more grateful. My SIL brought a huge box of diapers and my MIL came with a week's worth of groceries. She brought meats and cheeses, yogurts and juices, and she prepared a huge pot of tomato soup that she said would help me nurse because of the stewey broth. My husband played sous chef so he could learn how to make it and it was delicious. I kept creeping into the kitchen but was turned away and urged to rest each time. When the baby slept, she encouraged me to lie down, even though Olivia was running around and needed to be looked after. She spent the night and it was great having someone look over the baby while I got to steal some zzz's.
Having someone swoop in and take over isn't practical for most of us; we want to make sure our homes are nice and tidy (especially when a MIL drops in) and it takes a huge part on our ego to give someone the reins to our home, but if there's something I've learned that's crucial to growing a family is that it really does take a village. I look back at that time and am so grateful for the help. It may not have mattered much to them at the time but it was a life-saver for me during a stressful and extremely overwhelming time.
So, if the next time you're about to visit a new mom, sure, bring a gift for baby, but don't forget the value in offering to help with other things too. Maybe you can take a toddler off mom and dad's hands for a few hours or bring her a meal she can share with her family. Listen to her complain about her achey post-baby body or offer to run an errand. And moms: don't be so proud that you don't take the help!
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