Are Postpartum Hospital Visits an Intrusion?

She looks ready to hold court. Were you? Some moms love a constant parade of well-wishers and ooher and ahhers coming through their rooms; others prefer to keep that time more private and intimate. Having given birth twice, I can say that I definitely lean more toward the latter. Close family and close friends are plenty for me. And if my close friends would rather wait to see me when I get home, I'm cool with that, too (I tell them this ahead of time because I don't want anyone to feel obliged to come see me, which I think is often the case). I have vaginal births so I'm only in the hospital for two days, max (with my second it was 25 hours). And most of that time is spent resting, recovering, bonding with the baby, bonding with my husband about the baby, processing the fact that a human just came out of me, feeding the baby, feeding myself, showering, going to the bathroom, etc. All things that, if you ask me, I'd rather do without an audience.

I'm about to give birth to my third (my due date is tomorrow — yipes!), so I've been talking about this topic a lot with friends and the answers run the gamut. One said she preferred having visitors in the hospital as opposed to once she got home where people tend to stay longer and expect more (good point — and perhaps another post for another time). Another had an emergency c-section and literally felt like she was run over by a truck and had to smile and act cordial when random coworkers stopped by unannounced. That would be tough. On the flipside, other moms I know sip champagne and pass the baby around to anyone who happens to pop in. After all, it's a celebration of life, right? My sister, Meghan, had a visitor in the delivery room before she'd even been washed up. She didn't mind at all. She was ecstatic from just having pushed out a healthy baby sans drugs and I don't think anything could have ruffled her feathers at that point (for the record, that would have ruffled mine). My sister, Melissa, who had c-sections and pretty much always likes a three-ring circus around her would have felt lonely without visitors for her four-day hospital stays. Bottom line: Everyone is different. And I think it's OK to let people know your preferences. It's essential, actually.

If you ask me, it depends on a few things: the mother (and her emotional state — some aren't so good postpartum), the type of birth (i.e., the mother's physical state), which number baby it is (I was way more into visitors for my first kid; with my third it doesn't seem necessary — and I kind of want that time to just chill before going home to the chaos), and the visitor in question. Obviously my immediate family is always welcome but that's also because I can 100 percent be myself in front of them (e.g. bitch, cry, ask them to get me food, tell them to leave if I want to sleep, etc). When I'm the visitor in question, I always ask ahead of time (pre-birth) what my friends want. Almost all who I've asked recently have said not to worry about coming to the hospital, that they'd rather I stop by the house once they're home and settled. And I don't obsess about how it appears if I haven't seen my closest friends' babies for a week or two — I think some visitors are compelled by the "If I don't meet the baby in the hospital then we're not really good friends, are we?" BS. I couldn't disagree more. I think new moms need space and I like to give it to them. Because let's not forget this important tidbit: There are germs to consider. I'm a mom to two young school-going kids so I'm super aware of that (some visitors aren't) and I just don't think it's necessary for a ton of people to come around a brand-new baby. But, again, I tend to skew a particular way with this stuff. And everyone is different....

So what were your preferences? Are you game to see anyone who wants to drop by or do you prefer to keep it to your close circle? Any stories of random visitors who wouldn't leave? (I've heard a few). What kind of visitor are you? Do you keep it short and sweet or linger? All this said (and so I don't come off as a bitch to any of my friends reading this), if someone is so happy for me that they want to drop by with some flowers or a balloon (or a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks) and stay for a bit to chat, awesome. I'm not mad at them for wanting to share in my joy. Especially if they bring coffee.