So, yes, that sounds stupid. Of course you're going to let people help, why wouldn't you?
Because you won't.
I've just had a running argument with my OH, something that has been mirrored with the other new parent couples I know. I've tried to help, and they've yelled at me for helping. Apparently, new parents should be able to do everything, and needing help is a weakness, a sign of failure.
That right there, is bullshit.
Thing is, I've been guilty of this too, when my own parents tried to help, I got really defensive. I clearly knew what I was doing, after all, we'd had our first son for three weeks!
You will need help. Accept it. It's not a sign of weakness. It's not something to be ashamed about.
And when you realize you've just not been accepting help, pass on the message to other new parents, so they can ignore it also :)
You'll feel overwhelmed and all the literature will be for the mother. As a man I found I struggled, no one told me I would need anything other than sleep and that was wrong. One important thing I found was that everyone else forgot what it's like. Each week is so different folks with 3 year olds were out of ouch with those first weeks. Feel free to PM me with any questions or feelings.
Being helpful is good, but if you open the door people will start to tell you everything about your baby. In my experience so far it is not about letting people help, but about learning to ask for help when you need it. And yes, if you come out of the blue to try telling me how to raise my baby I will yell at you.
Get friends/loved ones to agree to help with meal prep and house cleaning during your first 2-3 weeks. Call in favors. When people say "let me know whatever you need" take them up on it. You're going to be overworked so having someone drop by to give a lasagna or vacuum your living room is a huge lifesaver.
Related to that, don't have guests come visit the first 2-3 weeks. Only have people who are coming to help you. It sounds rude but you're going to be so tired and while your guest is there you're just waiting for them to leave so you can sleep or pop a boob out to breast feed. Their presence also can mess up your whole schedule, so you end up not getting enough sleep when you need every precious few minutes. Also before your baby has all her shots these people increase her risk of getting sick.
No one told me this and I wish they had! I chose to be polite to everyone and had some really bad days. In many cases they just feel obligated to come anyway. Do everyone a favor and turn away all visitors!
This is harder for mom than you might think.
Sleep deprivation and massive hormonal changes can cause all kinds of crazy. This will make a woman super emotional , very anxious, and probably bordering on ppd. But it gets better. In no small part thanks to very patient and pleasant husbands. So stick with it, be as supportive as you can in those early weeks.
Things usually even out pretty soon.
A word on ppd: Even a mild case of baby blues can be devastating. It's not the emotional reaction to a child that a mom or dad expect to have. Don't be shy about asking for help or calling your doctor. It effects dads too, so look after each other. You got this.
A few thoughts from my extensive experience:
Being a parent is fun (sometimes). People use lots of words to describe being a parent (hard, challenging, scary, rewarding), but nobody told me it might actually be fun. It's OK to enjoy it :).
There is a ton of information out there and much of it conflicts -- ranking will be key. This is how I rank my sources (from best to worst)
- Find a pediatrician you like. Many will see you briefly before your child is born. Once you've found one, trust them. They are smart and experienced. Of all my sources of information I trust my pediatrician the most.
- The AAP, CDC, and WHO are my next stop for broad advice. They are boring, non-revolutionary, non-trendy groups of smart people dedicated to making kids be alive.
- Buy a book -- do not buy 50. My wife and I went with What to Expect: the first year. It's satisfactory. It's comparatively light on the panic inducing fear mongering you'll find everywhere else, has some sensible thoughts in it, answers a great many common questions.
- Consult forums. The primary purpose of forums is to inform you that whatever is happening with your baby is common and fine. "Is it normal for him to make that sound????" "yes."
- Parenting Blogs approach with caution. You Reddit, so you know about crazy people, but parenting blogs are insane. I actively avoid most, recommend none, and view them as the bottom-of-the barrel for information.
Your baby must eat. While you may have a way you prefer to feed him (breast, bottle, formula, fancy slow flow bottle nipple, on a schedule), it is useful to keep in mind that not feeding him is bad. Is what you're trying not working? Try something else.
At the start, your wife will likely be better at soothing your baby than you. This is a function of hormones and familiarity. This does not mean you should pass your baby off to your wife every time he cries. Keep with it, try different things, and you'll get it eventually. Even if you're never the best soother you still need to do it.
- Babies are vampires: they drink people, wake at night, come with strenuous warnings to avoid direct sunlight, and dislike when mom eats garlic. Vampires.
- Feelings. Earlier I mentioned that parenting is fun. Sometimes it is not . Sometimes it's 3 in the morning and your baby has been crying for hours and you have no idea why and you aren't getting any sleep and your wife is in the next room crying and you don't like any of it, and you have "bad" feelings and thoughts ("why did I do any of this?? why does my baby suck so much? I could be at the club getting smashed with my friends! I could just put him down and run away forever"). It's then tempting to feel bad for feeling bad -- don't. Have whatever inside feelings and thoughts you need to, just keep on doing what you're supposed to.
- Go places. Newborns are surprisingly easy to take places (they sleep easily). Get out of of the house.
- I'll leave you with some Mr Rogers: “Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”