Womb to Breathe


Some of the happiest times in my whole life were the two weeks at home after both my babies were born. For nine long months, we had anticipated the arrival of our first baby, and with him, the simultaneous birth of our new family. We had done all the prepping and primping. The nursery was ready, and the car seat was installed. All we needed was our baby.



27 Weeks

When I was pregnant with Michael, we lived in Connecticut, while the rest of our family lived in Florida. In order for anyone to be there when he was born, we had to make arrangements for when everyone would visit. Chris and I talked for several weeks about how we wanted to schedule our family’s time with the new baby. They certainly wanted to be there on the day he was born, and we wanted them there, too. But we were also very aware of our own personalities and needs, and the needs of our new baby, and we knew that we were going to want and need some downtime of our own. Neither Chris nor I function well with a lot of change when there are lots of people around, giving opinions and “helping” to the point of exhaustion. We had waited for nine months to have our little family of three, and we knew we wanted to make sure we had some time with just ourselves. Because Bean was breech (and fat and happy, I might add…his ultrasounds made him look like a little baby Buddha sitting in there…), we knew about two weeks before that I would probably be having a c-section. I was a little worried about that, but mostly just wanted whatever was best for Bean. So, we decided that we would ask family to be there at Bean’s birth. All our family on both sides bought plane tickets for the weekend before he was born. They were afraid I’d go into labor that weekend, before my scheduled c-section on Monday. That weekend ended up being really, really wonderful. We sat around and basically waited for a baby to be born! But while we did, we spent some really great, quality time together. My dad cooked us dinner, my mother-in-law helped us install the car seat, my mom taught me how to use bottle liners, my sister and I figured out how to work a Diaper Genie. It was a relaxing weekend that put me in the right mindset for that Monday.

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Monday morning when it was time for us to head to the hospital, Chris and I took our own car to give us some time together. Our families would follow in their cars, but we wouldn’t see them again until Bean was born. That was one of those minor details that we didn’t necessarily plan out but that ended up being really nice. It gave Chris and me the entire birth experience just to ourselves. And we really needed that. One thing I know about Chris is that he does much better in situations where he can figure things out for himself, and I knew that having a baby would be the same way. He needed to hold our son for the first time without having other people show him how. He needed to connect with Bean and get to know him without an audience and cameras flashing. And having that part of the day to ourselves, away from our family and friends, really gave him that opportunity. IMG_1578

When Bean was born later that day, the nurses promptly handed him over to Chris, who promptly brought him over to me. I don’t think there are words to describe that moment. I was absolutely speechless. I still am today, even thinking about it. In a word, it was just perfect. Absolutely perfect. My entire life just sort of popped into focus. It was the happiest day of my whole life.





Later, when they were finishing my surgery, Chris walked out to the waiting room and told our families that Bean Man had finally arrived. I could hear the shouts and squeals from them all the way back in the operating room. After the doctors finished, I was sent to recovery for about an hour. Chris and I sat on my hospital bed, holding our new son and just getting to know every inch of him. Our family was out in the waiting room, just beyond the swinging double doors to recovery, and every 5 minutes or so, they’d start yelling back to us, “MICHAEL!” they shouted. “COME PLAY WITH US, MICHAEL!” All the nurses and doctors died laughing every time it happened, and Chris and I pretended we didn’t know who those people were. Secretly, though, it was wonderful to know that my family was there. When we finally were taken up to our room, our family was able to come up and meet Bean. I realized that afternoon how important it is to have your family involved. It wasn’t just OUR family that Bean was changing. He was changing our entire family. He made our parents grandparents, our sisters aunts, and our grandparents great-grandparents. Everybody got a new title that day, thanks to Bean. And it was wonderful that they were all there to celebrate that with us.



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I was in the hospital for five days because of my c-section, and my family stayed around for most of that. They stayed at our house with our dogs, which gave Chris and me time alone with Bean in the early morning and evenings, and gave our families time with him during the day. Just like we planned, our families all left the day that I was discharged. So, it was Chris, Bean, and I who drove home to our house by ourselves. And, let me tell you, after five days of being under constant surveillance at the hospital, I was so happy to come home to an empty house. We spent the next week by ourselves, getting to know Bean, but also getting to know each other as a mommy and a daddy. It was a chaotic time, I’m sure, but looking back what I remember the most was how sweet that week was because it was our little family getting to know each other and trying to figure out how we were going to make this parenting thing work.




Afternoon nap with Mom

Bundled up with Daddy

Now, a couple days in a hospital was not long enough for my family or Chris’s family with the new baby, so we agreed that they could come back up to see us a few weeks after we were home and settled. This gave us the chance to get ourselves into somewhat of a routine and back on our feet before our house was filled with people. It also meant that each family got to spend time with the baby because they each came at a different time. Mostly, though, it was a godsend to have them there because the first round of visits started the week that Chris went back to work. My parents came to stay for that first week I would have been alone with the baby, and it was wonderful. I couldn’t do a whole lot because of my c-section recovery, so it was nice to have people in the house to help. And then the following week, Chris’s family came up and did the same thing. I think we had a week off before my sister came up to stay, too. It was so wonderful to have them around to help, and I know they enjoyed getting some quality time with the baby.




When we moved back to Florida to be closer to family and I became pregnant again, we told our families we wanted pretty much the same visitation schedule we’d had with Bean’s birth. We loved having them at the hospital, but we really wanted the house to ourselves that first week we were home. We now had a daughter to get to know, and we were also thinking about Bean Man, too. He needed some time to adjust to this new member of our family without lots of people around him. (He’s just like his daddy.) So, after our hospital stay with Gracie, our families left again for the entire first week and then they reappeared to help out when Chris went back to work. And, just like before, it was the perfect balance for all of us. IMG_8353 IMG_8386 IMG_8411


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Before my babies were born, I’d never really told my family what to do before. They kind of showed up when they wanted and left when they wanted, and that had always been fine. But with the arrivals of Michael and Gracie, I learned that part of being a mom is speaking up for the welfare of your family, and, in this case, that welfare meant getting some quality alone-time together. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions we made. I really think having that first week at home alone helped us get our bearings a lot faster and gave us the confidence that maybe we could really do this. Maybe we could really be parents after all.

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24 Thoughts to “Womb to Breathe”

  1. What a sweet post. I’ve just gone back to the very beginning of you blog and am working my way through (for a second time – I think I’m addicted!). I’m just reading about when you were pregnant with Bean, so for you to write this post now is very fitting for me! Alice xx

  2. Kelly

    Thanks so much for this post! I am 8 weeks pregnant today(my first pregnancy!) and this sounds perfect to me! It is the perfect mix for me who wants to be alone, and my husband who wants some family around. Perfect!

  3. Katie N.

    Great post, Katie! I feel very strongly about that alone time as a family right after birth as well, and it’s nice to hear you articulate how you handled it 🙂

  4. Alyssa

    I remember you talking about this before briefly in a prior post…my little one is 7 weeks old and I listened when you ‘spoke’….we did the exact same thing. It worked wonderfully!

  5. This is a great post! I actually like how you guys had family come a little later in some cases to help when Chris couldn’t be there, rather than packing the house when he was home. That’s always what I thought we would do.

  6. “It gave Chris and me the entire birth experience just to ourselves.”
    That sentence just jumped out at me and now I shall hijack your blog to tell a story that I never can on mine.
    When I went in for my c-section with my son (#2), somehow Rich’s mom ended up with us in the room where they were prepping me for surgery. My mil drives me crazy on a good day and on THAT day she was in rare form. She was SOBBING with worry (why? WHY?) on my husband’s shoulder and generally monopolizing his time and attention while I was hanging out on the bed, getting my IV and prepping for an epidural. Finally I told my nurse I had to pee and while she helped me to the bathroom, I whispered, “Get her out of there NOW!” So the nurse lied and told everyone that they had to go while the anesthesiologist came in and I finally had my husband paying attention to his wife and soon to be born baby again.

    With #3 we didn’t have anyone at the hospital at ALL!

  7. oh my gosh…what you said about meeting Bean for the first time was exactly how I felt when I first heard Aubrey cry during my c-section just a month ago. It’s an indescribable feeling. I do admit, I’m jealous of the control you had over when family visited…mine kind of imposed themselves on us, and it was overwhelming and a bit too much for Tim. Definitely will be different when we do have Baby #2!

  8. That was when I had just found you. I was seriously impressed (and a little horrified) that you were going to blog your own first birth. I mean, SERIOUSLY impressed (and a little horrified). But I have to thank you for doing it. It was done with grace and style and I will never forget how shocked I was at how much hair that kid had! I thoroughly enjoy your blog and am so glad you did it! Keep on keepin’ on, girl.

  9. Now where was this post 2 years ago when I needed it!

  10. Leah

    WOW – this is the advice I needed before my son was born and I totally hurt my parents feelings. I had an unexpected c-section and my out of town parents decided to camp in my hospital room afterwards. I’m a control freak and was totally not in control of my own body much less anything elese. All I wanted was to be alone with my husband and new baby and did not want to entertain. My hormonal grumpy self hurt my parent’s feelings and they left abruptly and drove back home (4 1/2 hours away). I think this post will be very helpful to expecting mothers out there – set expectations for hospital visits, and don’t set them high. Remind people that this baby is new to YOU and to everyone else and you need to bond.

  11. Rebecca

    I’m 25 weeks pregnant, and with our families both very far away, we’re in much the same situation you were the first go-round. We’ve been talking about visits, too, and this is SO TIMELY for us! Thanks for the great insight!

  12. I wish Mike would have been able to be home with Sullivan and I but he was unable to take any time off. I was so lucky my own mama came to stay with me for two weeks so I could recover and get some sleep when needed. Hopefully next time, they hubby will be able to be around and we’ll have the first few weeks together as a family of 4. But oh boy is that awhile away yet 🙂 I love seeing those pictures of new Bean again. He’s such a cutie!

  13. gosh… this is really good advice. We did things completely wrong with our first and had {basically} an open door policy… which meant that we had non-stop visitors both at the hospital and at home for a solid 2 weeks! Then my g-dad passed away and we had to drive out to Texas, where I was {once again} completely surrounded by “helping” family. I was so overwhelmed and so so so DONE. It was honestly a month before we didn’t have anybody staying with us/visiting on a regular basis…. This next one, due in September, will be MUCH different!

  14. Ann G-B

    I am 27 weeks pregnant with our second one (a girl) and trying to figure it out. I will be having a scheduled c-section and too and I am struggling with how much help I will need, but needing privacy too.
    I am really struggling with what to do with the boy while I am in the hospital. I really want my husband to be able to stay home at night with him because I know that is what is best for the boy, but I feel bad that my husband will miss out on the nights in the hospital. But really – I don’t want to spend those nights in the hospital?!?!?

  15. This is such an amazing post. I’m not a mom yet but boy did this start a bout of baby fever!

  16. Lindsay

    Thank you for this awesome post! I just found out I am pregnant for the first time and am already worried about handling the whole family thing. This is great advice! Thank you 🙂

  17. As usual, beautiful post. I don’t have any sweet babies yet but I know my family will want to bombard me as soon as they come into the world. I think I will take a page from your book and get to know our own little family first!

  18. Carrie

    Oh thank you for this post… I am due with my 1st (a little girl) in 9 weeks and I want my mom and my guy there, but am not too thrilled about having my MIL in there!! Maybe we will go this route and keep it with just him and I for the delivery!! I am one of those people that has to please everyone, but this is a very special moment and I refuse to let anyone ruin it!!

  19. I absolutely loved this post! We have 7 month old twin boys (who are our first babies) and I did not want to step on any toes, so i didn’t tell me family what to do. It ended up that our family (all of them on both sides) were at our house from around 10am each morning until 6-7pm in the evening every single day for the first two weeks. It honestly stressed me out more than I can ever explain and I so wish I had your strength to talk to them and request some time with just us and our new babies. We actually had the biggest surprise and found out we are now expecting baby #3 due in October (this baby and the twin will only be 13-14 months apart!)! Oh my, I’m still in shock! I think I am definitely going to use your strategy this time around. Our family will definitely need some adjustment time to becoming a family of 5 and the boys will need time to get use to the new baby without a ton of family around! Thank you for giving me courage and telling me that someone else has felt and done the same thing!

  20. Casey

    This is pure genius and I wish I would have read it over 4 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter! I had no problem telling my family what I wanted but my husband’s family was another story. I regret not putting my foot down but what’s done is done and now we live 1000 miles away from all our family so visiting isn’t even in the back of my mind since they (meaning his family) refuse to travel to visit us. And now that we’ll be bringing baby #3 to the family in June my family just knows how it’ll all work again. My Dad will come to stay with our other girls while I’m in the hospital and the rest of my family slowly trickle in about 2 weeks later. I can’t wait for all the new baby euphoria again 🙂

  21. Rachel @ The Ongoing Planner

    How sweet! Great post 🙂 I love the pics of baby Bean! And now he looks so young in the pictures with Gracie, crazy! Definitely a great idea to keep in mind for when we have chillins!

  22. You are a strong, brave, amazing woman! I in turn am a coward. I’ve never been able to do this with family and stand up for myself. In strad I feel like i’m hurting them and making them feel unwanted. I wish I had done this when my daughter was born almost two yrs ago, it really would have made things so much better for the three of us. I pray that I have the strength to do it in a few short months when my son is born!

  23. Dessi

    I love this post! I can relate to what you are saying so much…our little man was born just 3 weeks ago! My life has never seemed more complete! We let family visit pretty frequently at the hospital and when we got home (hubby had to go back to work the next day…so I was by myself anyway). But we were very firm from day one that the actual birth (and labor) would be just us!! And it was perfect!

  24. […] more local than the authors), but it was good reading. Womb to Breathe from Marriage Confessions The article here Neither Chris nor I function well with a lot of change when there are lots of people around, giving […]

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