Actors Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder, who tied the knot in April 2015, are about to welcome what will probably be one of the most gorgeous babies of all time. The Twilight star recently opened up to Fit Pregnancy about how much she's loving pregnancy (if I looked as radiant as she does in my third trimester, I would have, too!) and some very specific plans about how she and her husband plan to welcome their newborn with "a month of silence."
Before you start giggling, experienced mamas — because, come on, newborns are freaking loud — here's her explanation of what that Hollywood-esque term means:
"We'll take the baby's first month for ourselves," she says. "Just the three of us, no visitors, and we're turning off our phones too, so there's no expectation for us to communicate. Otherwise, every five minutes it would be, 'How are you feeling? Can we have a picture?' You don't get those first 30 days back, and we want to be fully present."
Listen, I'm all for new mums making the rules about newborn visitors, but am I the only one who finds this plan just a tad misguided, not to mention elitist? I would have loved to have my husband home the entire first month of my firstborn's life, but unfortunately, that child was born in America and my husband was expected back at work just a couple of days after we got home from the hospital. But, hey, enjoy that movie star life. I know I would.
However much this "month of silence" plan highlights the discrepancy between most new parents and highly paid, famous ones, the real issue I have with it lies more with the universal issue of expectations vs. reality of new motherhood. Yes, we all assume it will be a magical, love-filled time when we can't stop staring at our baby, feel more fulfilled than ever as human beings, and want to enjoy every moment of the miracle of life we have created.
However, in reality (in my experience at least), that first month is at a minimum harrowing and often absolutely horrendous. It's an exhausting, overwhelming time full of nothing but feeding, rocking, feeling desperate for sleep and a shower, and not understanding how women have been doing this baby-making thing forever without going completely nuts. (Hint: like most women, I started blocking out my kids' first few months right away; I'm convinced it's the only way our species has continued.)
Sure, there are beautiful moments when you feel overwhelmed with love for your newborn, but it's just as likely that the bond you expect to happen instantaneously will actually take a lot longer to form. I used to describe my relationship with my babies as a sliding scale of responsibility to keep them alive vs. a love-fuelled desire to care for them. Most days, I'm still somewhere in the middle of that scale, and my kids are now 6 and 3 and a lot more interactive, fun, and independent than a 2-week-old.
Because those first few weeks are so unbelievably tough, mums need help . . . a lot of help.
Whether it comes friends who stop by to meet the baby, bring you lunch, and remind you that you are a human woman and not a milk-factory/diaper-changing machine, parents and siblings who are willing to do laundry, buy groceries, make dinner, and clean your toilets, or even a night nurse who's paid to let you get the sleep you desperately need to recover from the bodily trauma of childbirth, postbirth help doesn't feel like a burden, weakening the bonds you're trying to create with your new baby. It feels like a lifeline.
But hey, I support every new mum, however naive she might be. So good luck with that month of silence. I promise I won't judge you when you make that first call for help.