Hax: The unhelpful help with a newborn

The Washington PostApril 30, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

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; and my father-in-law, who kept asking me to help with the computer or get him something to drink.

He departed for the basement eventually, only to reappear while I was trying to make dinner for the toddler one-handed. He proceeded to prepare a delightful looking cheese plate and two glasses of wine before disappearing downstairs again.

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 and two kids, his dad asked him to go get the newspaper because he didn't want to get his socks dirty.

• My in-laws arrived two weeks earlier than we asked - the day the baby and I got home from the hospital - didn't book a hotel as we requested, then proceeded to sit at our kitchen table, order my husband and me around, and make ridiculous demands. They wanted us to host a party for their former neighbors and allow any who drank to spend the night. The "helpful" part of the party was that the friends would bring baby gifts. My husband asked them to leave after a day and a half.

• I had a C-section. I had some complications, was in the hospital for a week, baby was in the NICU almost all of that time. Came home same day that in-laws arrived. They came in, grabbed the baby, and my husband's mom looked at me and said, "So what's for dinner?"

Email tellme@washpost.com. Chat online at 10 a.m. Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.

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