Okay, so I’m just starting to tell folks I’m pregnant. I admit to being woefully under prepared/educated about showers and their etiquette. I have a friend who’s stepped forward to coordinate the shower. Another thing she’s offered to do is coordinate a “care calendar” for me and my husband when our daughter arrives. She apparently set such a thing up for another couple at their behest. I went to check it out, and my gimmie pig alert is screeching in my head.
Like I said, I don’t know if this is ‘the thing to do’ or what. But my feeling is that I know that motherhood will be difficult, I know that I will probably alternately want visitors while probably also wanting to retreat to a cave of hormonal puddles and lack of showering. I also think that I’m a grownup who can do stuff like prepare frozen meals ahead of time and use my lips for asking for things of close friends and relatives. In addition, while I’ll be stressed and tired, I will, to my knowledge, not have any significant medical problems (save a potential for a c-section), nor will I magically be disabled.
Anyway, this care calendar of the other couple basically has months worth of sign ups for people to bring meals to the couple, along with requests on the weekends for running errands and do housecleaning. Along with the meal sign ups, it says “please put the meal in the cooler on the back steps.” In addition, people who supply these favors do not earn an audience with the wee child they’re doing all this for. The parents have stated that volunteers are not to expect that they will answer the door, allow visitors to hold/see the baby, or any kind of “thanks for stopping by, we really appreciate it.” The rationale for this is that the baby’s immune system is too weak/young.
This strikes me as inappropriate. I went to nursing school, and did exceptionally well in the OB section (because I didn’t like it and I therefore made myself study it harder), and am aware that babies have fledgling baby immune systems that take a few weeks/months to kick into gear. Having said that, I think it’s highly inappropriate and presumptuous to tell your friends that “you’re good enough to cook/clean/run errands for us, but you’re too disease carrying to actually meet the baby.” I will grant you that I’ve never done this before, but even if I’m tired as hell, I would HOPE that I could muster the social graces to COME TO THE DOOR AND THANK SOMEONE WHO DROPPED A MEAL OFF FOR ME. Or that if someone offered to clean the house or run to the store for me, that they would earn the right to hold my baby. In addition, this is something that is being solicited by the parents through the shower coordinator, and being sent to shower guests, who presumably have already bought gifts and wished the couple well.
I’m seriously leaning towards telling my friend to please not bother on my behalf, that if I need help, I will ask for it. But then again, maybe people don’t think of this as weird. I’ve never heard of it, and would love your or your reader’s advice. 0112-16
The use of “care calendars” or online sign up sites can serve a practical purpose, particularly if there is a significant need such as after a c-section (it is major surgery), a baby born with medical problems requiring the parents to be at the hospital much longer than expected, or even death. Not knowing the circumstances of the other couple who received “months worth of sign up” opportunities, I can’t outright condemn what I do not know. Do they need that level of care? Is mom experiencing significant postpartum depression?
For the typical birth, yes, I concur that it seems excessive to rally volunteers to bring meals for months. Two weeks is the standard in my circle and even then the meals are arranged to be brought every other or third day so as to avoid a mountain of leftovers. I’ve never known of a sign up to help a new mother do errands or clean her house unless the baby or mom is in the hospital for an extended stay.
So, humor your friend and consent to a care calendar that brings you meals every other day or every third day for 2 weeks after the birth. Those who really want to bring you food will have the opportunity to do so but it’s not an excessive demand on people’s time. Decline the errand and housecleaning services since that implies your husband is incapable of doing these tasks. As for people seeing or holding the new baby, don’t get too “new mom” obsessive about it. Back when I had my first child, it was common for new moms to not come to church with new babies for four to six weeks. By my third child, we had her out in public by five days old. All the new moms of my acquaintance bring new babies to church within days of birth where they are ooohed and aahed over. It’s fine to restrict who holds the baby if they have an active sniffle or cough or even ask people to use hand sanitizer before holding the swaddled baby. When a new grandchild is born, that baby gets handed up and down the church pew all during the service with none suffering ill effects.