Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Regarding Monday’s column, some readers’ definitions of unhelpful help with a newborn:
• Didn’t cook. Didn’t clean. Didn’t hold the baby. Didn’t do laundry. Went out when the baby was sleeping so I could “rest,” when what I needed was someone to stay with him so I COULD rest. My husband worked, shopped, cooked, cleaned and did laundry for all of us while I made my way into insomnia and postpartum depression.
• When my second child was born, my father-in-law and his wife came to “help,” which happened to coincide with the baby’s massive acid reflux. Although the wife spent time with my oldest, she eventually got tired and retreated to the basement for a nap, leaving me with a toddler; an infant who couldn’t sleep, eat or be put down; breasts that desperately needed to be pumped; and my father-in-law, who kept asking me to help with the computer or get him something to drink.
The baby ended up at the ER that night, so my husband let me sleep in the next morning. He finally understood why I had been so angry: While he was juggling breakfast, two kids and a dog, his dad asked him to go get the newspaper because he didn’t want to get his socks dirty.
• Don’t know which was worse: my mother- and father-in-law, who stayed with us for a week and wanted me and my 2-week-old to accompany them on touristy things while my husband worked, or my brother-in-law, who came the next weekend to “help,” which meant taking my husband out for eight-hour rounds of golf two days in a row, while I was home not adequately entertaining my sister-in-law and their two kids, 4 and 2.