Are you a soon-to-be mom? Are you having your first, second, third, or (bless you) more child? Do you know any soon-to-be parents? Even if you are none of these, do you have recurring nightmares about your early postpartum visitors? Well then, this post is for you. Read on if you will be visiting a newborn anytime soon. Share if you are expecting a crush of visitors after you return home from the hospital. Or use this as therapy if you are still traumatized from your own onslaught of postpartum visitors.
Let me start by saying there are really only two kinds of visitors. The kind that new families dread to have over and the kind they love. The first kind comes right in and makes herself at home. Maybe she even remembers to wash her hands, just to appease the hovering, new dad. This is the type of visitor that didn't even bother to bring the family a meal or their favorite take-out. This is the type of visitor that comes for only one reason - to hold and hoard a new baby. She might ask the new mom how she's feeling, but the question is a mere formality. This visitor is not here to actively listen to mom's birth story or empathize with how painful sitting is right now. No, this visitor cannot wait to get her hands on the baby. And once she has that baby, she is not giving it up. Despite dad's throat-clearing and mom's passive remarks that it might be time for a feeding soon, this visitor is firmly entrenched in the glider, getting drunk off new baby smells. You might be lucky to get rid of her in say, oh, an hour or three. Trust me, this kind of visitor is not winning any awards. This is the kind of visitor that the parents are relieved to see go and who does not get invited back anytime soon.
So, let me ask you, do you want to be that type of visitor? No, of course not! You're reading this because you want to win the perfect visitor award. So let me tell you about the perfect visitor. The perfect visitor calls ahead and asks when it would be a convenient time to bring the new family a meal. It's always a good idea to check first because some families have a meal train already set up for them and will be well-supplied with delicious food for months. Pro-tip: let mom and dad know that you will be coming just to drop off a meal, not to stay and eat it with them and not to visit for hours. Otherwise, mom will probably spend the day stressing about whether the house looks presentable and wondering if you are going to be another clueless visitor that makes her entertain them for hours. You're not. Remember, you're trying to win an award here.
On the day of your scheduled visit, call 20-30 minutes ahead of time just to confirm that plans are still on. You may find out that mom finally has the baby to sleep for the first time in 17 hours or that poo has exploded everywhere (yes, this happens with newborns) and now is not such a great time. If this happens, drive over there anyway and leave that thoughtful meal on the front porch. As you drive away, text mom or dad and let them know that dinner is on the welcome mat. They will be grateful.
But if the visit is still on, arrive on time with your dinner. Bonus points if it's not a lasagna or other baked pasta dish. I guarantee you that even if you are only the family's second visitor, they have already eaten five lasagnas, three baked-zitis, and have nine more in the freezer. Bring something different like a quiche, with an already-prepared salad and loaf of bread on the side. Or how about some BBQ chicken, slider rolls, coleslaw, and a fruit salad. If it's winter time, a nice hearty chili and cornbread make a great dinner. (I could go on and on. Or I could just link you to my Pinterest page. Here you go.) Go straight to the kitchen and wash your hands. You might have forgotten what it was like to sanitize everything and how quickly you went through that Costco-sized jug of hand-sanitizer when your first was born, but this new family will be grateful that they didn't have to ask you to wash up. Now, prepare the meal for the parents - put some on plates, throw the salads in a bowl, pour a huge glass of water for mom, and set it all out on the table. At this point in the visit, mom and dad will probably be looking at you in awe as they hold back tears of gratitude.
There, doesn't that feel good. You're the perfect visitor. Congratulations! But wait. I know that even though you wanted to win an award, a very big part of you still wants to hold that sweet little peanut, squish his perfect little baby feet, and stare in wonderment at all the cute faces he makes while he sleeps. So here's the best part, the part that guarantees you the first-place, blue ribbon - offer to hold the baby while mom and dad eat! Now everyone is happy. Mom and dad get to eat a warm meal together, at the same time, with two hands free. You get to enjoy that perfect little, swaddled-ball of babyness. And you are still the perfect visitor.
When the parents are finished, hand baby back to dad, and tidy up from the meal. Load up the dishwasher (or throw the paper plates away if you thought ahead). Straighten up the kitchen. Refuse any and all offers to share in the meal with them. Remember, this food is for the new parents and leftovers are a wonderful thing. Plus, you're too busy holding that baby. Before you leave ask if there's anything else you can do - fold some laundry, walk the dog, anything. And then, be on your way. The perfect visitor does not overstay her welcome. This is the type of visitor that the parents are almost sad to see go and the type that will be invited back one day. Score!