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Labor & Delivery Room Turf Wars, Part Two

Apr20

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Hey there. I’m hoping you or your readers will have some straightforward advice.

I’m writing this at 5am. I should be sleeping, because I am 36 weeks pregnant and I should “sleep while I can.” Ah, well.

A month or so ago, my mother and I were discussing my labor and delivery and I mentioned something about scheduling her postpartum visit. She said, “I had been assuming I would be there for the delivery!” As in, at the hospital in the delivery room. Silence from me. It certainly hadn’t been what I was assuming nor necessarily what I wanted. She said that she was taken aback that I was even thinking about it and that it reflected on her importance in my life. It’s the truth in her mind, but arguably emotionally heavy handed.

Obviously, this is very important to her. My partner and I spent time thinking about what we wanted out of the birth experience and I conceived a plan that I thought would work for me. I would call her when I went into labor and someone would tell her when things had progressed enough at the hospital for her to join us. Essentially, she could come when I no longer cared who was in the room. I was trying to find a cooperative solution because I had heard enough stories from friends of alienating their mothers for years over this. (Turns out this situation is not uncommon.) I told her about this plan and she was agreeable.

Fast forward. My mom has just spent five days visiting and helping us paint the spawn’s room and generally being super handy. On one hand, it’s been great and extremely helpful. On the other, it’s been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. After I dropped her at the airport I almost wanted to cry at the relief of being an adult again and not someone’s child.

It really made me reconsider my earlier decision. I don’t want her at the delivery. I don’t want to be her child there. My partner and I communicate better alone and we are doing hippo birthing (HypnoBirthing), so our communication is key. I don’t want to fear that she will give me unwanted advice or worry about her opinion. I don’t want to navigate her travel arrangements or figure out where she is going to hang out while waiting to come to hospital. (She will have to fly to get here.)

And now I have to tell her. We are relatively close and get along well, but I am extremely independent. I’m also 36, so am very established in my life and have a great community of friends around me. In general, she wants me to need her more than I do. So how do I deny her this life event and push her away while still making it clear that I love her and that she is important to me?

Hint: Saying “You weren’t there for the conception so why would you be there for the delivery?” will not cut it.

Thanks so much.

I guess I’m a bit confused here, as to why your previous arrangement will no longer work. The way I read it, you would call her when you were ready to have her there. You were not explicitly promising that that moment would come BEFORE your baby is born. I mean, in her mind, maybe that’s what she assumed would happen, but by choosing your wording carefully and definitely pressing the requirement that she STAY PUT, AWAY, until that phone call came, you could realistically wait until you’re settled in a room and then call her. Sorry, Mom, but…labor. Pushing. Birth. I was kind of preoccupied and my partner and I got so focused together that we seriously had zero time to think about anything other than what was happening in that room.

The last time we covered a similar situation (the OP who did not even want to let anyone know she was in labor), I sort of ruled on the side of her parents’ hurt feelings. A few commenters took issue with this because “no one has the RIGHT to be there for YOUR birth.” Which was not at all what I meant to imply. Of course no one has the “right” to just show up and barge in the room! Of course it’s completely, 100% up to you. I think your mother is WAY OUT OF LINE here. But if you’re asking me for the best way to avoid hurt feelings, I’d advise you avoid making the Big Pre-Labor Sweeping Pronouncements About How Much You Don’t Want Her There At All, if at all possible.

Another commenter on that post said what I WISH I had clarified in my answer: It wasn’t so much that there was something “wrong” or “mean” about her plan to not call…the problem arose because she announced it ahead of time, and then had to deal with the fall-out of hurt, shocked parents. If she had simply told a little white lie, when her dad asked her to call, “We’ll do our best to keep everybody informed when there’s something to inform,” she then could avoid the pre-birth hurt feelings and then do whatever she wanted to do when she went into labor. It’s an easier thing to apologize for after, when nobody can really blame you for staying in the moment and getting a little too…ahem…DISTRACTED BY LABOR AND CHILDBIRTH to sit there scrolling through your phone contacts and sending out Evites, or whatever. They don’t necessarily have to know that you had a calm, slowly-building labor with lots of downtime, or if everything progressed at a breakneck speed.

I personally find it hugely presumptuous that anyone, even a mother, would just “assume” her child wanted her there for delivery. (Calling to give a heads’ up over labor, eh, that I would like, I admit. Maybe a quick update or two, if it’s not too much trouble. But BEING THERE is completely different, and everyone in our families knew that Was Not Going To Happen In A Million Years.) And if you were asking me if I thought you were within your rights to explicitly demand that, I would basically say, “Yep. Absolutely. Giddy-up.” But you’re asking how to demand it…without hurting her feelings, which is a different challenge. She’s made it extremely clear that this is what she expects and wants and is willing to emotionally blackmail you about it. I…don’t really see any way to make a preemptive announcement ahead of time that won’t cause her to freak out. So I’d think about ways to simply avoid the discussion all together that still ensures that you get the birth experience you want.

If she does fly in for your due date, is there a fear that she’ll just “show up” at the hospital even without being told it’s okay? If so, tell your nurses and hospital staff that she is NOT ALLOWED BACK. Or “forget” to make her a rental car reservation. Or enlist a friend in the subterfuge to send her updates that oh, nothing’s happening, but everything is fine, hold tight and go about your business.

If I’m misinterpreting the end of your letter and you’re now saying you don’t even want her in the state at the time of delivery, or for any help postpartum, then…yeah, that’s a tough discussion to avoid. (Other than to wait and see if you go into labor ahead of your due date, or to hold her travel plans at bay by saying your OB exams are showing no progress, you’ll likely be overdue, blah blah, blah.)

If you’re simply looking for the perfect, eloquent words to explain your decision to her that are 100% guaranteed to resonate with her and result in her saying, “I never thought about it that way, I completely understand.”…I don’t have them. Maybe explain the hypno-birthing process and how important the connection you have with your partner is. That you love her so very much but she simply HAS to give you this space, this experience, this choice. I don’t know. I’m sorry.

If it helps, I am completely on your side here and honestly would support you even if you dropped all the passive-aggressive suggestions I’ve made here and opted for complete, brutal honestly. Only you know whether that would have super-awful, long-lasting effects on your relationship. (Even though, OMG, she has no RIGHT to demand to be there! GAAAAHHH.) Good luck, with all of it, and above all, don’t let this consume or distract you. Before, during or after the wonderful, awesome birth of your wonderful, awesome baby.

Photo source: iStockphoto/ Thinkstock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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37 Responses to “Labor & Delivery Room Turf Wars, Part Two”

  1. Jadzia@Toddlerisms Apr 20 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    This is GREAT advice.  I think I would just, if possible, promise updates and then do a sheepish after-the-fact, “It went so fast there was no way to call!  The baby can’t wait to meet you!”

    And now here is MY question.  When did having a spectator section in the delivery room become A Thing?  I’m not THAT old, but it seems like people’s expectations in that regard have changed a lot between the time I had my first in 1999, to my last in 2011.  The first time around, nobody would have dreamed of even asking.  And although my own family has a healthy sense of boundaries (or, more realistically, squeamishness) around the situation, I know a ton of women who have had to navigate this tricky, delicate situation, and I just don’t know where this sense of entitlement from people who were not, as you say, there for the conception, comes from?

  2. Cassie Apr 20 at 1:18 pm Reply Reply

    I have no helpful advice to give because my mom shocked the f*** out of me by announcing she would come up a day or two AFTER the birth, but then she stayed for two weeks and… GAH! I love her to death, but yeah, this —

    On one hand, it’s been great and extremely helpful. On the other, it’s been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. After I dropped her at the airport I almost wanted to cry at the relief of being an adult again and not someone’s child.

    — is totally what I was feeling. So I vote for trying the gentle white lie and calling (or having your partner call because you will be completely wiped out!) immediately following and let her know if just went so very quickly and you’re sorry, but hey, here, meet the spawn! In’t he AWESOME? She’ll hopefully get over the rest because of this.

  3. AU Apr 20 at 1:19 pm Reply Reply

    I don’t totally agree here. You need to have the boundaries set ahead of time. You should not have to worry about people just showing up in LABOR because nothing was set in stone. I think OP is totally right to find a polite way to tell her mom when to come before hand.

    Lucky for me my parents were very understanding. They understood how nice it is to be away from family and bond with your child alone for a while. They asked me when they should come so I told them that I thought I would like to get settled into our new family first and they should come two weeks later when I would appreciate and want to be helped and parented. I thought that was a pretty nice way to go about it for my family and it made them feel good knowing that I did indeed still need them. And then I told my husbands parents when my parents were coming and they could come after that do they got all the one on one te they wanted.

    I also let them know when we were in labor and when the baby was born, or at least my husband did. You don’t want to keep them out of the loop completely because even though you might not remember it all they will remember the hurt and you do have to continue being family.

  4. Kacie Apr 20 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    I think it’s pretty ridiculous that anyone other than the birthing mother’s spouse/partner and doula should expect to be present for the birth. 

    ESPECIALLY since the birthing mama in this post is going for a hypno-birth — she and her partner need concentration. Sometimes grandmas want to be helpful by suggesting things, like epidurals or whatnot, and it’s actually not helpful in the slightest.

    This grandma has to fly in, too? And she expects her daughter, while in labor, to make travel arrangements for her? That blows my mind.

    I’ve given birth twice. The first one, we had time to call folks and be chatty and stop for a bowl of soup at Panera. The second one I was busy working from pretty early on. Only the involved parties got phone calls early on (my babysitter, my doula, midwife). One set of gparents got a quick “she’s in labor, she’s fine, we’ll call you later. Oh and please call the other grandparents after 8 a.m.” My parents figured they didn’t need to know the minute I was in labor, so we had them called at a more reasonable hour.

    Both sets of gparents were out of state anyway.

    Back to your story. You’re about to be a new mom, and your mom is about to be a grandma. It’s going to take some time for her to settle into her new role. Good luck!

  5. MR Apr 20 at 2:05 pm Reply Reply

    I totally agree with Amy, don’t say ANYTHING beforehand. It doesn’t matter what you say, it will hurt her feelings. But here is the part that sticks with me – she has to FLY to get there. That means that even if you call her when you get to the point you don’t care who is in the room (this usually happens during transition and at that point you are usually around an hour before pushing), she will have to call, book the next flight (whenever that might be), take the flight, and drive to the hospital. Even if it is a short flight (like an hour), it is highly unlikely she would get there in time for the birth. How often are flights from where she lives to you each day? It really sounds like it is going to be a day or two before she can even get to you. Last minute flights are just not as easy to get as they used to be since everyone over books the planes now.
    If, after the baby is born you are exhausted and don’t want her coming out for a few days, tell her that it was more tiring than expected and you just need a few days. But, honestly, the first few days after a new baby, it is nice and reassuring to be babied yourself a little. Seeing the baby brings many “Holy crud, I’m responsible for another PERSON!” moments, and having the reminder that you are still your mom’s baby (even at 36) helps. And, when she tries to overstep as the expert of all things baby (because, after all, YOU turned out just fine), remind her that she had to figure it out herself when you were a baby and you have to too now that you are the mom, and she needs to give you the room to do so. Congratulations on your upcoming birth! It is an exciting time. :)

  6. Brittany Apr 20 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    Hello and welcome to my life.  We handled this situation poorly when our daughter was born, and it is still a very sore subject to my mother.  I really don’t know what could be done differently to make everyone happy, so good luck with that.  And congratulations!

  7. IrishCream Apr 20 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a big fan of honesty and clear boundary-setting, but that doesn’t mean brutal honesty! The calmer and more firm you are, the less of a response you give to her attempts at emotional manipulation, the sooner she’ll get over not getting her way (not bad practice for the toddler years!). It’s much harder to make it a big emotional issue if only one party is playing that game.

    I would say, “Mom, that’s so generous of you to want to be there for the birth. Partner and I have decided that we’d prefer to have you meet the baby after the delivery. We are looking forward to having you visit then!” No need to explain your reasoning. When she pushes back with “How can you do this to me, how could you hurt me,” etc, just keep repeating yourself. “I appreciate that you want to help/watch/whatever. Partner and I have decided…” Repeat as needed.

    If you could be absolutely sure that she wouldn’t show up at the hospital or phone repeatedly or make her presence felt in some other way that would feel intrusive to you, Amy’s approach might work fine, but if there’s any uncertainty, and you’re going to be stressing about that and distracted from the hard work at hand, it might be less stressful ultimately to be clear on your needs right up front.

  8. Amie Apr 20 at 3:04 pm Reply Reply

    Boy, this rings a bell. My mother sent me this text three weeks before my due date:

    “Will you have [husband] call me when you go into labor? I want to be at the hospital with you when you have her.”

    This rubbed me the wrong way so hard for many reasons, but mostly because of the pure presumptuousness of it. It sounds like your situation is a little different because you actually have a decent relationship with your mother (mine is strained, though she wants to believe we’re best friends), but I totally feel your pain. The bottom line is, it’s your labor, and your baby, and you get to do what’s right for you and your new family. She had her baby already. If it takes some hurt feelings to get that across, so be it. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past three months, it’s that setting boundaries will save your sanity. Better to start now than after the baby comes, when you’ll have fewer mental resources available!

    It ended up being pretty simple for me. I just said, “I don’t want anybody at the hospital except for [husband]” and left it at that. And it totally worked. She didn’t even fuss when I told her we didn’t want visitors for at least the first week. Boundaries! Even if she was unhappy about it at first, I’m pretty sure she got over it as soon as she got to hold her first grandbaby.

  9. Chris Apr 20 at 3:50 pm Reply Reply

    I wish we hadn’t told anyone we I was going into labor. My MIL insisted on driving a few hours over with my SIL and two little nephews…who then waited in the waiting room for hours bored out of their minds. I was SO STRESSED out because it was the middle of the night and I felt like I needed to hurry, or something. They ended up heading back home and then turning back around again when I delivered at 2am. Then they wanted to come in the room and visit of course and I was exhausted. Next time…we’re not telling anyone until after he/she arrives!

  10. Kristin Apr 20 at 4:19 pm Reply Reply

    I wonder if anyone ever has these questions with their second, third…child.  I know it seems really important the first time around, I sure thought it was, but for my second there could have been a circus in the room and I wouldn’t have cared.  You plan so much for your first birth and then realize birth isn’t something you can plan or control…oh and if someone bothers you while you are in labor you can always scream “get out” and everyone forgives you – you are in labor!

  11. Autoclave Apr 20 at 5:08 pm Reply Reply

    Oh yeah, been there. The way I got around it with no hurt feelings was that my hospital had a very strict “two family members and no more” policy about delivery rooms. Maybe you can see if your hospital has a similar policy, perhaps twist it to a “one person only” rule? I doubt your mother is nuts enough to give you grief about wanting your partner at the birth. Sort of a “Welp, this is their rule, and I’ve just got to have my SO with me soooo…” kind of a conversation to establish it’s just out of your hands.

  12. tasterspoon Apr 20 at 5:23 pm Reply Reply

    Is it too late fudge the due date? My daughter was born a week and a half early, so although we called my mom when I went into labor, she couldn’t arrive till the next day. Of course, if you give a bogus later due date and then your baby comes early anyway, your mom might freak out that your baby is “too” early and then you’d have to spill the beans.

    I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re trying to plan travel in advance, you’re bound to have your mom early or late depending on your baby’s plans.

    If your mom is planning to stay with you, is it possible to convince her, as you leave for the hospital, that she would be MUCH more helpful to you if she stayed home and prepared your hospital bag/made some food/cleaned the baby’s room or something? You can even say it’s because you don’t want her to see you in pain, not because it would be irritating to you, but because it would be traumatic for her. It seems kinder to imply that you’re concerned for her interests rather than just your own. Best of luck to you! I hope it all goes exactly as you’re hoping, but even if it doesn’t that you are all happy and healthy and have a life of love and supportive families ahead of you!

  13. Katie Apr 20 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, my. My mother was the same way. To this day she has no idea that I was induced. We sent a text/ called after the birth and she threw such a hissy fit that I cancelled her comin over until 6 weeks after the birth.

    It was a hard time for me because she just acted like a toddler. Eventually she was told that continued bad behavior would delay her meeting the baby even more.

    She now is respectful of my boundaries. A long haul but it was so worth it.

  14. Crabby Apple Seed Apr 20 at 7:04 pm Reply Reply

    @Kristin- this was not remotely an issue for us with our first child because both sets of parents completely understood that we did not want them in the delivery room. The second time, though? There was alllll the discussion about who would take care of Older Child while I had Younger Child. And it had me so stressed and frantic that, when I woke up in labor ten days early, I pretended I was not and came in to work, so that I could send Older Child with my MIL as I do every day that I work. Yes folks, I am THAT conflict-averse. Whatever. It worked.

    …there’s no advice here, I just had to respond to that. As you were.

  15. Wendy Apr 20 at 9:38 pm Reply Reply

    I was quite convinced that I didn’t want anyone else around while I labored, but on the day of, my feelings surprised me.  I was induced at 7am and he was born at 9:30 that night.  My parents were there by mid=morning, my best friend came, as did my brother and sister-in-law, and eventually, my mother-in-law as well.  It was nice to have company throughout the day, they kept us distracted and my husband fed.  They were super-respectful of our privacy, leaving the room at any mention of exams, discomfort, or emotional outbursts.  When it came time to push, I completely shocked myself by asking my mom to stay.  I actually sent the nurse out after her.  I’m so glad I did…I could have cared less at that point about my body, and it was nice for my husband as well to have a team member during the most intense part of the whole thing.  If I could have seen the future when I was pregnant and known that my mom would be holding one leg and my husband the other, I would never have believed it.

    I guess all I’m saying is that how you feel during pregnancy and how you feel during labor about the ideal birth experience can change significantly, so you may not want to alienate anyone ahead of time.  To my mind, one’s family doesn’t want to be there to boost their own self-worth, they want to be there because they love you, will be worried about you, and want to share in your joy.

  16. Kaela Apr 21 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

    My mom insisted on coming to the delivery room too. I thought I didn’t want her there, but it sort of ended up being a non issue. I think our relationship is a little different (we’re transitioning to the mother-daughter adult friends instead of parent-child dynamic pretty well) and I did not have a natural birth. I think if I were in your shoes and really needed to focus on my partner only, having someone else in the room might be a distraction. It might not be that big of a deal though. My mom sat in a chair in the corner and knitted for almost the entire labor. On one side of my bed were monitors and nurses, my doctor at the foot of the bed and my husband on the other side and for the most part my doctor and nurses and I were the ones carrying on a dialogue about, you know, getting this giant kid out of me! It’s really hard to know what it’s going to be like without having been through it before, but it might be worth weighing the emotional fallout of not having her there to the (maybe only slight) annoyance of having her there and not having things exactly your way.

  17. Jenn Apr 21 at 3:26 pm Reply Reply

    For once I can’t agree with this advice. It is sneaky, dishonest, and passive-aggressive. Only the dumbest of people is going to agree that you were too busy during a 16-hour (or whatever) labor to not call them. If she has any inkling that you lied you could do irreversible damage to your relationship. If you agreed to call her and are acting like you want her there, then not following through, even for an honest reason, is going to be hurtful.

    I would hate to lead someone on like that, letting them get all excited, knowing full well that I have no intention of following through. That is heartless. And having this issue hanging over your head for the next four weeks, and then dealing with the possible fallout while caring for a newborn… just fix it now and get it over with, so that everyone can move forward.

    I would just say that I’ve done lots of thinking about the arrangement and I really don’t feel comfortable having additional people in the room. In my case we just explained to our families that the birth was about the three of us and our new family, and that’s who should be present. They understood. I didn’t want a peanut gallery gathered around my vajayjay either, but luckily I didn’t have to go into that.

    Even if you hurt her feelings a little now, it’s better to get it out on the table and be honest. Hopefully with a little introspection she’ll get over it and realize what you want is most important, and that by insisting on being there she is discounting your partner’s importance in your life, insinuating that you’re still a child and need your mother.

    Was your grandmother in the room when you were born? I am with previous commenters; I don’t understand why this has become such a “thing” lately where everyone wants to be in the birthing room. It’s not a spectator sport.

  18. cck Apr 22 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    I don’t have a present mom, but I have a very present MIL.  She asked what our plans are, and when we told her that we would call her up a few hours after birth (y’know – after we bonded with our first born).  I thought she’d go along with the plan.

    Instead we got a “That sounds nice” and a “I’ll just wait in the waiting room and pop in once you give birth.”  Instead of arguing with her, or stressing over it – we didn’t comment.

    That’s what nurses are for.  No one can get into your room that you don’t want in your room.  I think a little white lie at this point is okay — because afterwards, there’s a baby and it’s hard to stay mad with a baby in the room!

  19. mm Apr 22 at 11:42 pm Reply Reply

    I didn’t want my mother there. She is panicky and over dramatic and basically annoys me, though I do love her. She hinted at one point that she would be more than happy to be there, and I said straight out that that wasn’t what I wanted, and the subject was never raised again. We never made any exact plan about what we would do when I went into labour, I am sure my family expected to be notified but my mother likes to spread news in our family and say things about labouring women like ‘X will really be knowing she is alive now’ and I did not want her saying those things about me. As it happened there were some minor complications with my labour and we decided not to notify anyone. my son was born at midnight so by the time we were ready to notify our families it was 1am and we did it by text. My mother was at the hospital at 8am the next day (she conned her way in outside visiting hours) and by then we were happy to see her and there was never any problem, only happiness that our little one was there. There are infinite variables in everyone’s situation but that way worked for us.

  20. Julia Apr 23 at 2:58 am Reply Reply

    I don’t know much about hypnobirth, but as you’re doing that, and got into learning the method, which sounds like something special to me, can’t you use that as an argument? The way you described it, it sounds like it is one of the reasons you would prefer to be without your mother during the birth, maybe she would understand that the birthing technique you chose is not suitable for other “guests”. That way, it is a bit less personal, and you don’t need to lie, maybe just exaggerate a little bit.

  21. VG Apr 23 at 11:40 am Reply Reply

    Just be up front. If your Mom can’t handle it, that’s on her. I told my Mom and even MIL that we would rather it be us. My MIL was from the “they knocked me out and I had a baby” times so she was OK with that. My Mom was OK too, just only said to me “If you need me, call me and I’ll come”. I didn’t think that was presumpuous of her. From start to finish, it was about 16 hrs. I talked to her on the phone a few times, talked to my sister, and made “realtime” updates on FB when I could to let extended family and friends know what was going on. I even called my Mom & MIL right after DD was born. They came the next day. All is well :)
    Don’t pussyfoot around. Just be honest.

  22. Olivia Apr 23 at 12:42 pm Reply Reply

    If she is planning on flying out to be there for the birth, then not saying anything isn’t going to work. Flights have to be booked so the only way she wouldn’t be informed when labor starts is if the OP gives before before her mother’s flight.

    Frankly, the day a baby is born is so unpredictable I think it’s ridiculous for the mother to plan on being there for the birth unless she’s planning on coming out a couple weeks ahead of the due date. I’d just talk to the mother about that.

  23. Katie Apr 23 at 12:47 pm Reply Reply

    Be gentle with her feelings, but be honest. 

    My mother assumed she’d be in the room while I gave birth. Um…no. (We took a Hypnobirthing class as well, and the method doesn’t lend itself to a cheering section, plus, have you met my mother?) I firmly informed her that I could call her when I went into labor or I could call her when I was finished, but either way I would not be seeing her until there was a baby outside of my body. I don’t know whether that bothered her or not (she’s been extra passive-aggressive lately, so maybe it did), but I don’t feel guilty about being selfish over only wanting my husband there during our daughter’s birth.

  24. Ermengarde Apr 23 at 8:28 pm Reply Reply

    This is such a great thread. I want to start a support group with all of these commenters who also have boundary-averse, melodramatic, emotionally blackmailing moms. (And it’s interesting to read the responses of people whose moms pretty obviously aren’t that way — it’s nice to imagine having the kind of relationship in which I felt sure my mom just wanted to be supportive and share in my joy. Maybe in my next life.)

    I agree that, with this kind of person, there is often no way to set a boundary without incurring some upset. But I think you’ve got options, because both the white-lie option and the being up-front option have merit. Which one is better just depends on whether you feel able to take some blowback. If you feel ready to endure a little toddler behavior, not justify your decision and just repeat the same “Partner and I have decided…” line until she winds down, you’ll be setting a good precedent. Just can’t deal? Lie through your teeth. It’s all about what you can handle right now. 

    Lastly: I am also 36 weeks pregnant, also trying to fend off my mother and MIL and losing sleep over it — and wishing I had the kinds of ladies in my life whom I wanted around, but just knowing that they will only exhaust me — and I want to say, solidarity, sister! You are doing a great and considerate job with this. Good luck with your labor, and thanks for submitting this question. 

    • IrishCream Apr 26 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

      I second the support group idea! Nothing like having actual toddlers AND a parent with the occasional toddler-esque behaviors on your hands. 32 weeks pregnant, and already have firmly fended off several tantrums from my mom about not being invited to stay with us (in our tiny NYC apartment with no extra bed) and “help” when the new baby comes–after my first was born she stayed for five days, drove me CRAZY, and was unable to perform the most basic household tasks without step-by-step instructions (she has two graduate degrees, but could not tell the difference between a toaster oven and a microwave. For reals.).

  25. andrea Apr 23 at 8:40 pm Reply Reply

    i was a little surprised by how cool my mom was about it.. i told her i wanted just my guy, the doctor, and me in the apartment (we were planning a homebirth) and that was that.

    then baby girl came a week early and we ended up not telling anyone for two or three days. it was really great – time for just us as a brand-new family and by the time my mom visited, who we had as our first guest, making it clear to her she was extra special to us as that, i had the basics of breastfeeding figured out, i felt less wiped out, the baby was more alert, etc etc.

    maybe it was a bit odd to others that we didn’t tell anyone the first few days (not phone, facebook, nothing) but no one said anything and i don’t care much anyhow. whenever baby #2 comes around, we’ll do the same thing i imagine – beginnings are so important and if people love you, they should respect your needs. 

  26. JKSerge Apr 24 at 9:38 am Reply Reply

    If I was in the OP situation though I echo the people who said to be upfront and honest with her.  Telling lies, no matter how small, could hurt your relationship WAY more than just some hurt feelings right now.  If she shows up, as seems to be a fear, have the nurses run interference for you.

    I don’t understand why this is such an issue.  Why do these people feel the need to be there?  If you were having surgery would they want to be there for that?  It should be all about you and your comfort on the day and not worry about other people.  

    I want my mom to be at the hospital as I want her to be first to hold her first grandchild but all other family needs to stay away.  I don’t, however, feel the need for her to be in the room.  

  27. Leah Apr 24 at 4:33 pm Reply Reply

    Oh OP. I feel your pain. At 38 weeks, we’ve done a couple things preemptively.  We’re also doing hypnobirth, and while I love my mother and have a wonderful relationship with her, she stresses me out. She also keeps insisting I’m “going to want her there” and that my husband “has never done this before” and she can “get me through labor” because she’s “gotten lots of women through their labor.”
    *Rolling my eyes copiously*

    1. We’re not calling to tell my parents until labor has progressed pretty significantly. That way, sorry, the plane just probably won’t get there in time.
    2. We told them that the hospital’s policy is to only allow the support person to be in the room with the delivering mama. Support person is my husband. (This is not even a remotely true hospital policy, but the nurses will ABSOLUTELY enforce it, because it will be the hospital’s policy for ME. I’ve already asked.)
    3. I finally just up and told my mother that because this is our first child, I was really looking forward to ONLY sharing the experience with my hubby, and no one else. And she kind of understands – but the first two things are still in place as preemptive strikes.

    I hope you have the birth you want and that all goes as planned!

  28. MommaFergie Apr 25 at 12:00 am Reply Reply

    Well, I guess I’m not much help as I actually wanted my mom in the room (My husband was liable to faint). We had quite a few people who really wanted to be in the room (Hello.. this is not Super Bowl people)…. Anyways, we ended up putting my mom’s cell on speakerphone so our extended family could hear what was going on in the delivery room. They all got to hear her first cry and they were all cheering and hugging in the waiting room (just as good as them being in the room without having gawking eyes). The nurse actually said it was the first time she’s seen the cell phone things, but she liked it. Even other visitors were thinking about adding it to their birthing day. Just a thought…

  29. Sasha Harris-Cronin Apr 25 at 6:44 pm Reply Reply

    Hi, all. I’m the Original Poster. (Is there a gang sign for that? Some sort of hand gesture emoticon or something?)

    Thanks so much for the all the advice. It was very welcome and eloquently spoken.

    I ended up deciding to be direct with her for a few reasons:
    - I didn’t want to be caught up in the white lie later. I’m sure we’ll be telling the story of the birth. She can put two and two together and I didn’t want to defend not calling her as soon as I went into labor.
    - I didn’t want to have it hanging over my head and knowing that it still wasn’t “dealt with.”
    - I didn’t want to talk to her about our plans for the birth for the next (potential) five weeks and hear her excitement while knowing that we were planning to deny her that experience.

    The way I posed it to her was by saying that figuring out all the logistics and everybody’s needs surrounding the birth was making me very stressed out. (True) In the process of thinking over everything, I had realized that I need this to be a private experience for my partner and I and for our formation as a family. (Also true) I said that I knew she would be disappointed and I was feeling some guilt over that, but I knew it was the right choice for me.

    She responded *much* better than I thought she would. She was disappointed, but said that she had no desire to cause me additional stress and that she was glad I had realized what I needed and that she supported me.

    What a RELIEF. I am so glad to feel like that is solidly dealt with. I think that having a month or so between her initial shock and now gave her a chance to mentally prepare for the possibility of not being there.

    It’s amazing how embedded parent/child dynamics remain for the rest of our lives. Setting boundaries is just *so* difficult. Hopefully, this will help in creating our “adult” relationship.

  30. elz Apr 26 at 12:19 pm Reply Reply

    This is your delivery of your child and you have every right to determine who is/is not in the room with you.
    That said, my mother was in the delivery room for our first daughter and it was great. Really great. She was quiet, supportive, and man does she love her grandchild. She was touched beyond bellief that we wanted her there. She was an asset to me and remembers parts of the delivery that I can’t (or have blocked!). In short, don’t necessarily count it out as a BAD BAD thing. It could be a very good experience for all involved.

    Good luck.

  31. I am due in September, and have always planned our parents being able to come to the hospital whenever they feel like it once I am in labor. But, I also have always planned for it just to be my husband and I once things get serious. Mostly, I just see birth as something to be shared between husband and wife, not mommy and daughter. 

    However, recently I have decided that I want to have an all natural birth (hopefully I will get that option), and that I want to learn hypnobirthing and hire a doula. My mom has been very vocal on how “weird” and “crazy” she thinks having a doula is. She has even gone as far to say that the doctor and nurses are going to gossip about me for being so “over the top.” I know some of what she says is in jest, but it’s getting to the point that I feel she is trying to influence me and not being respectful of my very personal choices. So now I am worried that she will be rolling her eyes during the labor if I have a doula there, and that will stress me out and totally defeat the purpose of having a calming doula and practicing relaxation techniques. 

  32. Sasha Harris-Cronin Apr 27 at 2:54 am Reply Reply

    One thing to look for is a doula that is experienced at dealing with family dynamics. They can take a lot of that off your shoulders. That is part of their job! In addition, they can help you develop strategies and ways to make your mom feel at ease so that her attitude doesn’t interfere with your experience.

  33. EBH Apr 27 at 6:39 pm Reply Reply

    From Lauren 4/26: “Mostly, I just see birth as something to be shared between husband and wife, not mommy and daughter. ”

    YES!! That’s exactly it! Lauren, you put into words what I was feeling for sure.
    You (you as in all pregnant women everywhere) shouldn’t have to worry about your moms hurt feelings about this, because… birth is something to be shared between husband and wife, not mommy and daughter. Of course there are other circumstances (single moms, military wives, etc.) where mom would be the one to lend support and ‘get you through’ delivery.
    Actually, I know that times are changing, for sure, as moms and dads don’t have the defined and completely separate rolls that were once the norm, and now we’ve got more nurturing fathers who are there from the first breath, instead of the men who were expected to wait in the smokey waiting room and generally weren’t expected to deal with any baby stuff. But this is a good thing. No, scratch that, it’s great. 
    If you have that conversation with your mom (“No, partner is going to be with me and that’s it. He’s the dad.”) and she’s still throwing a tantrum or guilt tripping you, maybe you should pass the ball back: “Why would you want to deny our wishes for this important experience in our lives – the birth of our first child? This is our child, not yours, mom.”

    Makes sense to me.

  34. Kate SA Apr 10 at 12:50 pm Reply Reply

    Had a similar/not quite as invasive issue with my MIL. Shee lives around 7 hours drive away and while she is a lovely woman, I always feel I can’t relax around her and need to play the part of polite dutiful daughter in law rather than my usual raucous self. I was adamant that she not visit until the second week as husband & I are both freaking out at the thought of becoming responsible for a whole other human being and thought that it old be nice to have a little adjustment/bonding period to figure things out for ourselves. Not too mention that we were hoping in the 2nd week we would be settled into some kind of routine and be able to suggest suitable times for visitors to get the most baby time out of their visit (as they have such a long drive, this seemed to be the sensible option) 
    However, when we tried to explain this to MIL, we were told that she would be ‘extremely offended’ if she wasn’t able to see her granddaughter within 48 hours of the birth. At first I was angry that my wishes didn’t even seem to be a consideration and that the emotional blackmail had come out but after some thought, I have agreed on the proviso that she can come down but that she must check before visiting and that we will let her know if it’s not a good time also, if I’m feeding or napping, I reserve the o right to ask her to leave so If she manages a couple of 15min visits over a 2 or 3 day stay rather than an hour or so every day  that is her own choice.

  35. firsttimemom Apr 11 at 6:57 pm Reply Reply

    So my OB is actually a friend of mine, and I asked her what she does when there’s problems with family and the mom is in labor…she said that if the mom tells her that she only wants one person in there with her, but there’s drama with other family members, she (the doctor) or one of the nurses will play the bad guy and tell the other family that only one person is allowed in the room and make it a ‘hospital policy’ kind of thing.  This way there are no hard feelings between family and the mom gets to deliver the way she wants to…hope this helps!

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  1. Family assumptions - CurlTalk - Dec 26

    [...] deliveries when you already have a toddler or two at home. There is a lot online on this issue – etiquette for grandmothers wanting to be in the delivery room when the mother doesn't want it. I hope you will google it and get plenty of good strategies for handling this. But sheesh, I can't [...]

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