My son’s birth six years ago went fine, but he had some feeding complications. When we were discharged from the hospital after the second day, my milk still wasn’t in yet. It’ll be in anytime, they kept reassuring me. But day #4 came, and it still wasn’t.

I was too sleep-deprived, too overwhelmed (and probably subconsciously too stubborn) to even think about formula as an option, even temporarily (really, it never occurred to me). On day #5, my milk finally came (and boy did it come). But he wouldn’t nurse. He was too upset, too unsatisfied with colostrum. We wound up back in the hospital. Eventually we’d figure it out, and I’d pump and bottle feed, and he’d quickly get back on track. But even then, we fumbled through for a long time until we got down something like a routine.

In those early weeks, relatives and friends wanted to come and meet the baby. I was grateful for their support and love of me and my son. At the same time, I was so overwhelmed that seeing anyone other than my husband and baby seemed a near-impossible feat, on top of other near-impossible feats. I knew they understood, but it’s what I didn’t understand as a new mom: it’s OK to say no. No to visits. Because coming down the stairs to smile (or at least grunt) and hand the baby to someone else seemed monumental. I had no energy for monumental. On top of learning how to be a mom, I was going inside, summoning all resolve, defining who I was now (a continual process, even to this day).

It got easier. Days came when getting the trash cans to the curb for collection didn’t feel like Accomplishment of the Year. And I started wanting to see people again. I still remember when a friend brought me a sandwich from Lemolo, my favorite restaurant in town, and how grateful I was. I remember when my mom flew in from the Midwest and sat and rocked my son for hours while I napped or ran errands and tried to feel human again.

So, to all the eager and loving friends and relatives of the new mom: please give her time. Give her space. She’s tired. She’s grieving her old life. She’s scared. She’s excited. She’s figuring it out. But she loves you, and when she’s ready, she’ll invite you in.