We had four glorious days after coming home from the hospital that we spent as a nuclear family. No more vitals checks, no IV flushes in the wee hours of the night, no visitors. Just the three of us, marveling at our life together, uninterrupted except for the occasional errand or visit to the doctor’s office. Of course, we couldn’t keep our families away for long. Not only do our relatives get to see us too infrequently, but they were also longing to meet Munchkin. Visitors started arriving the Friday before the bris; the next time we’ll have a stretch this long when it’s just the three of us is when we’re back in Moldova.
Munchkin had a busy weekend. Two dozen relatives and close family friends gathered to watch his circumcision and learn his name. We resorted to staggering our visitors, ushering one set of guests out the door just as another group arrived. Most people came just for the weekend, but D’s parents brought his grandma from New York and swapped their time-share for an extended stay at a nearby resort so that they could visit us every day for a week.
Naturally, everyone wanted to hold Munchkin in their arms, to touch his tiny hands and feet, and to snuggle him while he peacefully slumbered through it all. Any time he was passed across the table, half a dozen hands went up to help the transfer. And of course once someone had him in their arms, he was difficult to extricate. “Look at how sweetly he is sleeping with me,” they would say. “We shouldn’t disturb him” — a convenient excuse to keep hugging him. At one point, D actually had to intervene to take him from one relative and pass him to another to preserve the peace.
Along with the cuddles, came a litany of advice on what we should and should not be doing to take care of Munchkin, some of it contradictory and much of it ineffectual or age-inappropriate. Our doula had warned that once people finish raising their children they tend to misremember the early years, and especially the first few months, recalling certain details with clarity but frequently erring on their timing.
To their credit, S’s parents — perhaps because they are both physicians — have largely given advice in line with our own parenting philosophy and the recommendations of our pediatrician. To wit: don’t worry; if he does not have a fever, everything is ok. Occasional sneezes, bumps and pimples that disappear as quickly and mysteriously as they appear, some wheezing — it’s all normal. Having grown up under a different child-rearing philosophy in Soviet times, D’s relatives — and especially his grandma — have exhibited a much more interventionist approach, suggesting various home remedies to cure ills that need no curing. For example: cleaning his nostrils with rolled cotton wicks dipped in olive oil that had been boiled and then cooled.
With so many people fretting over Munchkin, S’s sister described ours as a kitchen with too many cooks. There are some definite benefits to always having family around, however, and our kitchen is certainly in better shape than it would be otherwise. D’s parents have restocked our refrigerator and have been cooking non-stop, so at least we don’t have to worry about nourishing ourselves while we take care of Munchkin.