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When your baby is born, who will get up in the night when he needs to eat? You? Your husband? Who’s doing the cooking? The laundry? Is your mother coming to help? When she gets here, what do you expect of her? Dishes, laundry, cooking? For all you know she’s planning to hold the baby while you get things done. Sound unreasonable? You might think so but she might not.

Near the top of the list of things I wish I’d known before I was a mom is that I should have discussed my expectations, and others’ expectations, before my baby arrived.

I planned on my husband spending the night with me and our new baby at the hospital. He planned to go home and get the house ready for us.

I planned on his help in the middle of the night while I was still learning to feed our baby. He planned to sleep.

I expected my mom to be over periodically helping me learn to care for my infant and get housework done. She realistically couldn’t.

I planned on meals from family and friends. They didn’t.

I later learned that the lack of support and aloneness I felt in my first postpartum period was the direct result of a communication breakdown that started with me. There was no shortage of people in my life who would have loved to bring in a meal or do a load of laundry. Everyone wanted to get their eyes on my  baby! But when people asked what they could do, I said, “Oh, nothing, we’re okay.” Duh… It seemed way too weird to assign people tasks but having been on the other side of this conversation, I now know that when people ask, they really want to help! Communicate your needs to the people around you and I promise, most of them will just be excited to be involved in this time in your life. And eliminate surprises from the people you depend on by being clear about your expectations of each other and clearing up any misconceptions.

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