(with Jenny Baker, mama) Imagine this…
…your bffs know you’re in labor and they’ve spread the word (of course somebody Facebook’d it!). So basically, the entire earth knows you’re at the hospital getting ready to have a baby. Your peeps man their phones awaiting word…it’s no wonder you’re bout to get throngs of visitors (the news has literally circled the globe 3 times by now). It is kinda flattering. But honestly, you’d rather just be able to cuddle with your newborn, have family time and whip out your boob to breastfeed without the gaze of the masses of friends staring back at you in your hospital room.
After birth can be a total circus with visitors (even though you love ‘em!) & the gajillion texts, calls, facebooks, emails & whatever else’s. If you asked your friends about this time after birth, this is what you’d hear … A LOT of moms wish they’d have built in more family time & lived more in that moment. They just wish they would’ve allowed less commotion slip into that magical time that only happens once right after having a baby. If you want that magical time to bond after you have your baby, watch this class.
Jenny Baker knew she didn’t want a circus after birth, so she and her husband talked about how they wanted their ‘o joyous’ moment to be remembered, then made sure that moment was carved out from everything else going on. Learn how they navigated the maze of boundaries with all their excited family & friends and the times when they may have overreacted a wee bit (you’re gonna laugh when you hear what she said & did…). !
You’ll Also Learn:
- What can happen when you don’t have boundaries (it may not be what you think).
- How to simply and easily communicate your thoughts in a non-threatening (dare we say, healthy, way)
- Why telling your friends how to love you is a great idea and helps you.
Who is Jenny Baker?
Jenny Baker is the mama of two kiddos and the Director of Community for a non-profit. Jenny is super active and when we say “super” we mean it, she’s an ultra-marathoner which basically means she runs race distances that many of us wouldn’t even dream of driving in one day, and she does triathlons too. Besides living an active, healthy lifestyle. Jenny and her family love to travel.
What do you think? Share below…
Sarah Blight: Hi, this is Sarah Blight with Your Baby Booty Interviews where we chat with real people who have real experiences so that you can have real takeaways to apply to your road to becoming a mom. So what you do when you’re overwhelmed? You’ve just had your baby. You’re getting inundated by visitors in the hospital. People are pestering you to hold your baby and all you want is just some time alone. [Laughter] Oh we’re going to talk to one mama who is an expert person at boundaries and she laid down the love before baby was even there, before baby was even out of her womb, she had a plan going and it really preserved I think her sanity. So she’s going to share with us how she did it and how she still kept friends and family [Laughter] who wanted to be friends and family in her life even after that, even after they were told they couldn’t visit. So thanks, Jenny Baker for visiting with us today.
Jenny Baker: Hey, Sarah. Thanks for having me. This is exciting.
Sarah Blight: So Jenny, you are the mama of an almost ten or just turned 10th month old baby girl. Ten months ago, you gave birth and you decided you were going to kind of lay down some rules beforehand, before Lucy was even out of your womb. How and why did you decide that you needed to kind of put some ground rules down?
Jenny Baker: That’s a great question and it’s funny. Often times we stumble in to boundaries because we find ourselves tired and irritated at people that we should be loving and liking. And so I think when Franklin, my husband, and I sat down and started talking about what do we want this birth to look like and what do we want the first week or so after we bring Lucy home to look like. We started realizing that we’re going to have to be deliberate about how we communicated that with other people. So we really decided that a natural birth was important for us and knowing that a natural birth is pretty intense and takes a lot of focus, we knew how best we could do that and that meant that we were the only ones in the room and that family and friends did not get invited in until up to two hours after the baby had come.
So we knew to get the birth plan that we wanted, we were going to have to set some boundaries of our family and friends. We also knew that coming home for us in the way that we handle new situations and just emotionally charged environments the best way that we handle that is together and again, focus. So we figured out what are going to be the distractions and the things that takeaway from us being able to work together as a team and sadly, sometimes that’s people.
Sarah Blight: [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: Not sadly. Just a reality it is. They’re just — people sometimes that just are draining when we’re in new situations and so we don’t have any other kids. I’ve never raised, you know, any — I mean I had a duck once and I think a puppy.
Sarah Blight: [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: [Laughter] Other than that – I mean I’ve never, you know, raised anything living before until I figured it’s going to be pretty intense and so we decided, you know what? Let’s just talk through what we want and then how we feel like other people will handle it.
Sarah Blight: Okay. So was your family — so you mentioned the two-hour window after you gave birth. And this included your — your family, your immediate family. How did they take the news that you were not accepting anyone in to your room for an hour or two after Lucy came?
Jenny Baker: Yeah, so at first, my parents just kind of checked the information in and they didn’t really react at first but then I started noticing like my mom would start saying little passive aggressive like in the midst of conversation and so I realized that I loved my mom and I want this to — I wanted Lucy’s birth to actually bring us closer together rather than further apart. And the best way for us to come together during this time was actually just to talk about those feelings and to get them on the table. So I remember driving to work one morning and my mom was on the phone and said some snippy comment about, “Oh fine. I guess I’m not going to know because I won’t be in the room.” And I just finally, you know, what I realize? I realized that hurt underlying emotion there was she was afraid of being left out and she as feeling rejected.
And so I — just being able to kind of understand where she was coming from, I just hit those emotions head on and I just call her and I said, “Hey, mom. It sounds like you’re really afraid that we’re not going to include you in this really amazing experience.” And my mom paused and she was like, “Yeah, that’s really what it is. I just — I’m so excited. This is so special and I just — I just want to be part of it.” And so I was able to empathize with her feelings, support her but then talking the truth. And so that’s kind of sentence that we used when we set boundaries. It’s actually an acronym called S.E.T., S.E.T. And the S stands for support. So make a supportive statement. E stands for empathize. Recognize their feelings and actually verbalize what they may be feeling. And then T stands for the truth but then stand in the truth.
So with my mom it was, “Well mom, I can tell that you’re really burden by this,” support. E as, “It sounds like you’re really afraid about us leaving you out,” that’s the empathy. And the truth is, “And we want to have this amazing experience with you and the best way that we can do that is to allow us to have that focus time together as a family and bring you in after the two hours. And you know what, mom? We want you to be there the rest of the day and even the day we go home, like we want you to be there too for that.” So that really helps the other person feel hurt and care for but also allowed you to stand in the truth of what you know is best for your family.
Sarah Blight: Wow, that’s really amazing. Well and it’s neat that you and your husband were both on the same page with it because I think it would be hard if you were feeling one way and your husband was feeling another way or just not really being sure how you’re going to feel when the time comes. I think a lot of people are, you know, kind of over plan and think well, we’re going to be so excited to show our baby off to everybody. Sure we want everyone to come to the hospital and for some people that may be the case. I think the point here is not to say you should have Jenny’s boundaries for your baby but the point is that you can have boundaries. It’s a good thing. You have to do what — what is right for your family, right?
Jenny Baker: Yeah, definitely and I think it’s funny because even the best boundary-setter person like you’re going to find yourself in situations where you’re feeling stressed out, you’re feeling like you’re out of control, you’re feeling fearful and anxious and so what Franklin and I found even when we brought Lucy home was that were moments where we were reactively parenting instead of sitting down and buffering in time to talk about, hey, how are things going here, how do we feel about things. And so we decided there needs to be some safe space at the end of the day even at the end of the week for us to sit down and say, “Okay, how are you feeling about this? Why are you feeling this way? How — and just share how we’re reacting and so that we can think through ahead of time like, “Hey, you know what? When we find ourselves with your dad and maybe your dad wants to feed Lucy some food that we are necessarily giving her yet.”
And you know, we don’t want to hurt his feelings because we don’t see him very often and we want him to experience Lucy but yet, we also want to feel connected to him again and drawn closer to him rather than irritated that he’s giving her this food. How can, you know, how can we talk to him in the future about how we’re choosing to — to monitor Lucy’s food like we’re thinking about it ahead of time and when I know I have safe space for that, in the moment, I don’t feel the need to talk because right now, okay, I can let this moment past knowing that tonight we’re going to sit down and have safe space to talk about some of these things. So it’s just helps to have a little bit of space with your spouse to talk about those things ahead of time.
Sarah Blight: So aside from family when you were at the hospital, how — how did you communicate to friends who are really excited and anticipating? I know, especially with the advent of Facebook. Everybody is so connected and when is your baby coming and how — like what is happening right now or, you know, and everyone gets very invested and then when baby comes, everyone hightails it from the hospital. How did you — did you allow visitors at the hospital besides your family?
Jenny Baker: No, we actually didn’t. We, for us, it was really sacred space and for us, again, it was so new that I really just wanted to sit in the moment and soak it up. And so I know about myself that in the past, I have a tendency to want other people to be involved more of people pleasing necessarily that what is really best for me. And I know on those moments when I allow other people to oh really invest in what’s happening in me that at the end of it, there are things that I have missed and there are things that I haven’t experience. And so I knew for me to get the most out of that experience, a good boundary for me was to not allow friends to come to the hospital and what they wanted to — I mean my phone was blown up with text messages but the way that we communicated to friends was — actually, we didn’t communicate till we got home from the hospital.
I — I communicated or Franklin did via texts just the people that I work with that he didn’t know because I worked up until we have Lucy. But other than that like we kind of went quiet. We went under the radar and when we got home, we slowly share with people that, “Hey, yeah, baby is home but we’re not accepting visitors for a week. So if you want to come and visit…” and people will ask, “Hey, can we come and visit?” “You know what? Yes, next Tuesday from 1 till 1:30 would be a great time period for you to come and visit.” So we were very specific about what time would even be good for us.
Sarah Blight: And that’s crucial because having been through that’s also, you know, people want to bring you meals which is so nice and wonderful and they want to see the baby and get their germy hands all over baby [Laughter] not really thinking about how neurotic and scary does it to first time parent when you have this fresh little bundle and you have germs around like oh, my gosh I don’t want germy hands on my baby.
Things like, you know, people kind of inundating your life can get really overwhelming especially when you don’t have sleep, you haven’t showered, you haven’t really gotten dressed. You don’t really want to feel like you really even have to before people [Laughter] will come over to visit. So that’s a really good idea.
Jenny Baker: Yeah. It’s funny when we first got home because the neighbors — the neighbors were actually the hardest for us. This is where like my first time mom and give yourself grace. Holy cow, if you’re a — if you’re a new mom at all and not just first time, like give yourself grace. You’re going to find yourself in situations where you’re going to overreact and that is okay. Don’t let anybody tell you it is not okay to overreact. My overreact moment came when we got home, pulled in the driveway and we live in a really close community. And so our neighbors and their kids all saw that we had just gotten home and so literally, we had know sooner walked in the door and then like — I’m not joking, Sarah, eight little kids like all aged 10 and under and their parents were like standing on our doorstep like, “Can we see the baby? Can we see the baby?”
This is what I did, we opened the front door. I held the baby up like stayed eight feet back and said, “You can come back later when you’ve washed your hands and you’re clean and she’s a little bit older.” So they left. So then I put a sign on my door, for everybody to see on the front door “Hi, we just brought a new baby home. If you come in to my home, please, one, take your shoes off. Two, go straight and wash your hands and three, if you’ve been sick or know somebody who’s sick, please come back another time.”
Sarah Blight: [Laughter] So, did your house get egged or toilet papered or forked like — [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: [Laughter] Oh my gosh, it’s a miracle that it didn’t. And people still talk to us. I mean that’s — that’s a great thing to that community. Your community will give you more grace than what you expect. And so they know that it’s a new time for you and they love you and they just want to be able to love on you. And the — tell them how best to love on.
Sarah Blight: Yeah, that’s good.
Jenny Baker: That will — that will be more of a blessing to them than anything else will be as if you can tell them specifically, “Hey, this is how best you can love on us right now.” There were friends who would call and I would say, “Hey, you know what? You coming over is not good for me right now, like you can love me the best by actually giving me some space right now.” And they were — they were just thankful that I communicated so quickly with them.
Sarah Blight: And I think that’s really good because you’re right, people do want to help and they do want to love on you and they do want to just be excited for you and I think so often when people offer stuff, we either don’t take them up on it. We kind of don’t take them at their word a lot of times because we’re like, “Oh, I got this,” or you know, whatever, “It’s fine.” And we kind of brush it under the rug but I think what you’re saying here is if people say, “How can I best love you right now,” you’re going to like, “Leave me alone.” [Laughter] I need to go take a nap right now, you know. And so — and that’s — there’s nothing wrong with that. So that’s interesting.
Jenny Baker: Yeah, and when we think about with you, you guys, you have so many things that are going on but you have friends that you want to love on and invest in. And so the biggest sign of friendship to you is when one of your friends is honest with you and not operating out of guilt or obligation but they’re honest with you. So –
Sarah Blight: Yup. So that kind of leads me to my next question which, you know, in a day and age where everything is very in sync gratification-oriented, we’re very connected via Facebook, Twitter, social media and on the internet, our phones. You know, we’re very connected. I mean we have this kind of thing of like being in the know all the time right away. How — how did you get so good at kind of like shutting it down and — and really protecting your space? How did you and your husband get so good at that?
Jenny Baker: Oh, I get failure at all –
Sarah Blight: [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: Seriously, we failed so many times. I mean there are so many moments where I mean even leading up to having Lucy and even before we got pregnant, there were just times where I found myself like sitting in a conversation where with a family member or friend where I had all of these like brewing negative emotions but yet I felt like I had to put on this super happy face because I was the one that had said yes to the request of this other person. So it wasn’t bringing us closer together. It was actually unbeknownst to the person bringing us further apart. And so Franklin and I, I mean that’s even in my marriage like there are moments where because I’ve not been honest with Franklin, internally its pulled me further apart…
Sarah Blight: Oops, Jenny, we lost you for a second. Are you there? Oops, we’re trying to get to call back. Hold on just a second.
Sarah Blight: Okay. So we just had some technical difficulties, everybody. [Laughter] I think that like quarter inches snow we got just totally shut down communications over here in Michigan because I just got booted off my internet. Anyway, we are chatting with Jenny about how did she get so good of her boundaries and she’s talking about I believe Jenny, you’re saying in marriage even that just trial and error and failure, right?
Jenny Baker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was talking about failure, failure for me teaches me the best lessons [Laughter] and I have failed a lot at boundaries. So what I was saying was even in marriage, when I find myself not being honest about what I need, then it pulls apart my relationship with that other person because that other person doesn’t know and so I start with a drawing. Even unconsciously, I start with drawing and when I engage in relationships, I always want to interact in a way that’s going to bring me closer to that person. And boundaries literally, and I know it sounds totally opposite but boundaries truly bring us closer in our relationships with other people, closer to a deep meaningful relationship rather than a superficial reactive relationship like boundaries truly set and sincere love brings us closer to people. So –
Sarah Blight: And it makes sense based on what you’ve said because you’re just honestly saying what you need and people know what you need. They’re able to give that to you and they wanted to give that to you because they want to be your friend and they’re happy you’re happy. And I’m sure in return, then they feel like, well then I can have boundaries with my friends. Is that kind of what you see in your friendships?
Jenny Baker: Yeah, it becomes this beautiful balance and mutual respect and love for one another. And it is like there is nothing greater than having a relationship where you can truly be honest and be genuine in that relationship. So for me it’s just led to some really great community. I think the hardest part though in all of this, like it’s easy to say, “Oh, you’d just need to tell people what you need,” like “Time out though.” How often do we make face to figure out what it is that we need. And then even how to communicate that in a healthy way. So my encouragement and it’s good for maybe in us too like it’s to create that safe space with yourself and with your spouse to know what it is that you need and then know what kind of boundaries need to be communicated in order to — to get that need met in a healthy way. Not like in a selfish gross twisted manipulative way but just to in a healthy way that, again, brings you closer to that person than further apart.
Sarah Blight: And that’s why I was going to ask you is kind of one of my last questions was, you know, what advice do you give for people and I think that’s really a good advice. Is there anything else you would get, even ask or you would suggest for people who are kind of a little bit overwhelmed or intimated by kind of this whole idea of really inserting their — their desires in to their birth and after the birth for their friends and family?
Jenny Baker: First of all, you’re not alone because boundaries are scary like we are not — in a western culture like boundaries are these almost forbidden things because we’re so performance driven. And so being performance driven, we believe that we have to be everything to everybody to be valuable. And it’s super hard to sit down and think about, oh my gosh, first of all, what do I need and then second of all, how can I love that other person and communicate that need to them. So like boundaries are all in how you communicate it, like you can love somebody so much through communicating a boundary. In fact Franklin and I this morning were talking about holidays and now, how are we going to engage in holidays with our families?
And so my mom loves Christmas like she’s just Mrs. Claus all the way. And so she already even has a stocking for Lucy. Oh – stockings are really important to Franklin and so he found himself having this emotional reaction to my mom feeling like he had to compete with my mom and feeling like this just emotional charge and pain [0:04:09] [Phonetic] like I always try to pay attention to my emotions because they will lead you to your deeper beliefs about something. So we really started thinking about and talking about this morning, okay, well we love my mom and we don’t want to keep Lucy from being able to receive as much love from as many people as possible. So we don’t want to say, “Hey, mom. Sorry, you can’t do a stocking,” but we do want it to be special to our family like we want Lucy’s stocking to come from us at our house.
So how can we — we were talking about how we can include everybody and so what we decided was, you know what? Mom loves to have a stocking for her, so why won’t we just tell her, “Hey, hang Lucy’s stocking up at your house so when we’re there, it’s there and she can look at it and it’s fun. But if there’s anything you want to put in to the stocking, why don’t you give it to us and we’ll put it in her stocking at our house.” So when we — we decided how we’re feeling, what do we need to happen for all of us to feel happy and closer together, now comes the ‘how do we communicate that to my mom’ part in a way that we’ll do that is in a very loving way like again, supportive, empathetic but stand in the truth.
“So mom, you know what? One of the things that we love about you is how loving you are to Lucy and how gracious and how joyful you are in your relationship with Lucy. And we are just blown away by your gratitude and wanting to do the stocking for her. I’m sure that, you know, it makes you feel joy to be able to do this for her. What we think is probably best for us and what would bring us closer together as a family is if maybe we did our own stocking and the stocking came from us. So what we were thinking is we would love to have the gifts that you would put in your stocking, we would love for you to put it in the stocking at our house for Lucy on Christmas day. We want you to be able to love her and we also want this to be special.” So we always use — notice at the end of that ‘and’ word like “We want you to be able to love on her and we want this to be something special that happens at our house.”
Sarah Blight: So it’s a win-win. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Jenny Baker: Yeah, exactly.
Sarah Blight: Okay, so here’s my thing. You’re really good, like you’re good. Like are you available to be a spokesperson [Laughter] for my family? [Laughter] Do you do engagements where you consult? [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: You know, it’s seriously — you know, they’re like — when you start doing this, it’s so different in what we’ve usually been taught. So it’s going to take a while. So like if you suck at it for a while and you set some ridiculous boundary like “If you’ve been sick or know somebody that’s sick, please don’t come near my kid and stay away for like five weeks,” it’s okay. Give yourself grace and then even depending on how safe the relationship is, you can even be vulnerable with a new person setting boundaries, like with my parents or Franklin’s parents, that’s a safe relationship for us to be vulnerable. So what we may even say is like, “Hey, mom. I’m really scared to have this conversation with you because I’m scared that I’ll hurt your feelings and I love you and I really don’t want to hurt your feelings. So just know going in to this conversation, mom, like I’m kind of scared to share this with you so bear with me please.” Like it’s okay to be even vulnerable about this, you’re to set boundaries like –
Sarah Blight: Yeah, absolutely.
Jenny Baker: Being honest and vulnerable is always for me has been the key to setting loving boundaries.
Sarah Blight: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jenny for sharing your boundary tips on how to have boundaries and still have friends and family and not even just have friends and family but have even closer and more meaningful relationships. I will to be taking your tips at heart this holiday season as well. [Laughter] Or maybe you can just have your mom watch this video, you know. I’m just kidding. [Laughter]
Jenny Baker: That’s right. I know like my mom is amazing like — yeah. I mean she’s amazing. It’s just I love her the most. I love my dad too but, you know, it’s — she’s close to our lives. So the people that are closest to you are going to be the ones that always are typically getting the most of your boundaries.
Sarah Blight: Yes. Okay, good to know. Well to all the mamas –
Sarah Blight: What’s that?
Jenny Baker: Thank you for having me. It’s amazing. I love YourBabyBooty.com. You are amazing.
Sarah Blight: Well, thank you and thanks for sharing. Gosh, I feel like we all got an awesome pep talk on effective boundaries. To all the mamas who are watching, if you have any questions or comments on how to do this, leave them below. We’ll get back to you and we look forward to interacting with you about it. Thanks for watching, you guys and we’ll see you next time.
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