On asking for help, and turning it down

One of the skills I had to learn over the years was how to ask for help. Everything from asking for help with work, to finding someone to give me a hand when I didn’t feel well, it wasn’t something that came naturally to me. I liked to think that I could do just about anything on my own and it took me a while to figure out how to ask for help. I’ve had to ask for even more help recently as pregnancy has changed some of my ability to haul groceries or lift things or do a variety of physical tasks that used to be no problem. But I’m now needing to learn a new skill.

The desire to help out is a wonderful one. It can make everyone feel better about themselves – the person getting help can feel supported and the person helping can feel needed. It’s why when I used to have people over I’d try to leave some easy cooking elements undone so that when someone offered to help there was cheese to grate or sauces to put in bowls. But Princess Harley is coming and it’s not like I can just leave something undone for her to make someone else feel important.

And realistically, I don’t want to. In fact, Dean and I have agreed that for the first two weeks, we want to be left pretty much alone with her. Sure, people can come and meet her and then go away, but we really don’t want anyone around for those early days. We know it will be stressful and overwhelming and exhausting, but it will also be such a special time for us to meet our daughter and get to know her. To learn how she likes to be held, to learn the noises she makes and what she wants and needs. The last thing I want is for someone “helpful” to show me how I “should” be doing all those things – I want to figure it out on my own, to muddle my way through it with Dean.

Of course, doing things our own way is going to be a fight we’ll have for her whole life. I already know and accept this. But it seems that already I will need to learn how to say no to offers of help that simply aren’t wanted, even if the intentions are kind. I’m happy to hear all the advice people have to give, some of it has been incredibly helpful. However, I still need to come to my own decisions with Dean about how we want to do things. I plan to breastfeed, and we plan to use cloth nappies and disposable wipes. I still have mixed feelings about sleep training. I don’t plan to give her pacifiers/dummies, although I might go back on that assertion. I already know that all my best-laid plans will probably be foiled, and that’s okay.

I suppose the most helpful thing anyone can do now is just tell me that they support our decisions, whatever those decisions might be. And then support me and Dean when we change our minds ten more times. And I apologize in advance if I refuse help in a way that seems rude or ungrateful. I really will ask for help when I need it, but I’m also just so excited to do so many things on our own. To hold her little hands, to watch Dean figure out how to give her bath, to laugh while we decide how to deal with the cloth nappies. Sure, we will mess up, but that’s part of the adventure, right?

It’s a new skill I’ll need to learn, along side breast feeding and how to hold my little munchkin. I need to learn how to ask for the help I need, and how to turn down the help that isn’t helpful. I’m sure there will be fights and hurt feelings, but I suppose I’ll have to learn how to get through that, too.


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