As I am approaching the last stretch of my second pregnancy, and at the same time, approaching the cold and flu season of the year, I have been having episodes of insomnia where I lay awake (like many other mothers do) anxious about the upcoming birth of my newborn.
Many articles state that moms in their second pregnancy are not as anxious as their first, and though there is definite truth to this in certain areas of what I would expect post-birth with my newborn, I am still anxious as far as what is to come and how I am to manage all of that… especially now that I know that all of that is going to happen.
So given this is my second time, and that I know what to expect (mostly), but with a marked difference that instead of giving birth in the Spring, I will be delivering in the Fall season, I have come up with what I feel are desperate “gift” requests from a mother who is going to have a baby soon:
1) Please do not visit me in the hospital – I recall with my first pregnancy the excitement of the entire birthing episode. Given this was our first baby ever, our families and friends were of course welcome to partake in the whole process. However, I realized after I got home how tired I was from all the visitations and what I really needed was the rest. Adrenaline only lasts so long before it wears off and leaves you a fatigued, empty shell. This usually occurs after you get home from the hospital. This request will be asked of my own parents as well – to limit the time spent hanging out in the post-delivery room, because I need to sleep and ample chances to work on breastfeeding my baby in peace.
2) Please do not visit if you are sick – This is a big one that’s been keeping me awake. Even if you think it’s allergies (it may not be), and I know how many of us self-diagnose all the time, I urge you to visit later when you are completely without symptoms. Pertussis (whooping cough) can just be a bit of coughing and sneezing at the very early stages, and I know many of you out there never got your Tdap boosters or even know what that is (I have had to explain this to many of my patients). Since most of you are interested in news stories, let me share one with you from the CDC about a baby who died, and her mother’s request: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/unprotected-story.htm. I will be getting my Tdap (the second in 2 years) this week (and I am still pregnant). This is my present for the baby. I urge you to do the same. I already got the seasonal flu shot 1 week ago. Since we’re going into the flu season as well, I also kindly request that you have your flu vaccination completed if you plan to visit. If you are not a fan of vaccines, we kindly ask that you do not visit our family until after our child is over 6 months old when she has had most of her early vaccines and her immune system is more equipped to handle the potential deadly diseases out there (and also flu season is over). Also from a physician’s perspective, even if you “only” have a viral cold, if that is transmitted to a newborn within the 1st month or two, and she gets a fever, that would mean a trip to the Children’s hospital with an expensive admission to the hospital floor for a full work-up which includes blood tests, urine tests, and even a spinal lumbar puncture. The best gift? Please don’t make me go through this with my baby, and I would appreciate that tremendously, more than anything a person can buy.
3) Please wash your hands or sanitize your hands before picking up the baby – I am appalled when I see mom forums on the internet stating their “best friends” are so upset with them when they request that they sanitize their hands before handling their newborn baby. In a day and age when we are well equipped and knowledgeable at least about the spread of infection (we’re even graded on this in the hospital and office settings), I’m surprised some are upset that moms want to protect their babies. Let me reiterate that newborns and infants do not have the ability to handle infections like an adult or older children do. It is NOT a faux pas in my opinion to ask anyone to wash their hands before touching a baby. I am always held to the same standards at work and home. I expect that of my guests. I also sanitize my stethoscope before and after a baby encounter as well. It’s the greatest gift and shows respect for a baby and their parents.
4) Please be kind and limit your visitation time – unless you are a visiting guest staying in our house or grandma, please do not ring the doorbell (wakes baby up) and instead call our cell phones if you’d like to visit. It may be an inconvenient time (mom and baby are sleeping) or baby is breastfeeding, etc. Fatigue is definitely a part of the first few months, so please don’t mind me if I look tired and crabby – it can happen. We love that you love our family enough to care and come visit, but the best present for mom and baby is going to be rest, always. If you want to share the love on Facebook, and through calls and emails, that would always be a great gift and fabulously appreciated, and we won’t be offended at all! With visits, please never feel obligated to bring gifts or anything for that matter; we appreciate that you’re think of us and caring about our well-being.
5) Please leave your kids at home if you plan to visit – We’re already worried enough that our older daughter may infect the newborn with something (she’s currently coughing), and would hope we wouldn’t have to worry about everyone else’s. I’ve taken my child out of daycare 1 month early to help try to get her cold resolved before her sister comes. Kids tend to transfer illnesses to other kids the easiest. We also won’t have time to worry about another child running about the household while caring for our current two. For this reason, we kindly ask to keep the kids at home at least until our youngest is over 6 months old.
It may sound like I’m trying to put my newborn infant in a bubble to protect her. Frankly, I am, as much as I can. Epidemiologists also call a similar practice “cocooning.” I am dreading the flu/RSV/cold season, and I have always dreaded pertussis. I am always worried about SIDS. I was worried enough that I took my eldest out of daycare early and thankfully had the ability to bring on a nanny (who is also getting fully vaccinated prior to the birth of my child).
I certainly hope my post doesn’t offend anyone. I’ve seen many sick newborns in the hospital setting, and I’ve heard of multiple cases of deaths of children. I am hopeful that none of our friends and family would ever wish that on our babies. And thus, we ask you all to respect our requests.