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Delivery Room Wars

Delivery Room Wars

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

I really hope you get to this before I finally go into labor since I’m due this Saturday, but I will still need your input for future situations. It would just be extra helpful for the labor process as well. This question requires a little set-up…

Advice Smackdown ArchivesThree months ago I fractured my ankle. Of course it’s not a simple heal-on-its-own type injury. It’s an extremely serious and painful injury that will require surgery which has a 2-month recovery, during which I can’t put any weight whatsoever on my ankle. Add onto that that I had to leave my job much earlier than planned due to very frequent pass-out scares and an OB that didn’t really seem to care that my job wouldn’t be down with me just taking as many breaks as I needed to lie on the floor (ha!) and this hasn’t been the easiest pregnancy overall. So I’ve obviously needed a lot of help.

Well (more background, sorry), my husband has a job that requires him to go out of town frequently and work a lot of overtime plus be in an on-call rotation. He also grew up in a family that wasn’t very close (distance-wise or emotionally) and wasn’t much of a support network for each other. This is where the conflict comes in. He feels like crap that he hasn’t been able to “be there” to help me out much throughout the pregnancy. So he feels threatened by my mom in the whole “Rawr, me man, me take care of woman and cave” sense, because she’s had to help me with a lot of things he couldn’t. She’s taken me to half my doctor appointments, she’s helped me clean the house and fix up the nursery, she’s helped me take care of the pets and week-to-week things like taking the garbage out, etc. In addition to helping me out she’s come over a lot just to keep me company when he’s out of town during the week because my injury is to my right foot and I can’t drive myself anywhere.

I’ve tried reassuring him that he’s the most important person in the world to me and our baby. I’ve tried explaining. I’ve tried asking him what he thinks a good solution/ compromise is. All to no avail. Well, now he’s hinting that he doesn’t like the idea of my mom being there during labor and delivery, and that’s where I have to stand my ground because that moment is kind of about me feeling supported, I think. Not that his feelings don’t matter, but I’ve explained time and again that my mom will not be pushing him aside or undermining him in any way. She’s just there for additional support for me. Which is I think the big problem here: that he can’t be enough support during that. But this is baby number one for both of us and I really want my mom there because um, well, she’s kinda done it before!

So even if I can’t get him to calm down about this before the big L&D trip, I’m obviously going to still need to deal with this (possibly more so) because he’s got to go back to work eventually and I’m going to need post-surgery help. Like, a LOT of it. I’ve even tried explaining to my mom that that’s why he’s gotten weird over the last few months and she feels awful (despite me explaining it’s really not her fault) and everything she’s tried to do to make him feel less threatened has just turned him paranoid (“Why is she always leaving just as I get home?” etc.) What do I do?!

BB

(Why do I always end up picking the tough ones on Friday? Why do I do this to myself? Woe, whine, misery. etc.)

Anyway. This is, indeed, a tough one. On the one hand, I actually do have a lot of sympathy for your husband here, because while his reaction to the situation is definitely bordering on bratty here and there, I can’t imagine how frustrated he must be to feel like he’s missed — or had to share — so much of the intensely personal, immensely important process of pregnancy. Add to that, feelings that he’s let you down after your injury because he has to provide for you in a more practical way (work, money)…while your mom gets to provide the hands-on, emotional support. AND got to be there for appointments, nursery preparations…I can really, really understand why this situation is hard on him, and why he might suddenly feel extra-territorial about the Big Moment of the birth.

(Not to mention that Yahoo Answers and the pregnancy message boards are chock FULL of moms-to-be who want their moms in the delivery room and fighting over it with their husbands — husbands without all the work-absence backstory that you have.)

But on the other hand, the level of your husband’s fixation on your mother’s role as helper sounds like it’s a littttttttle out of hand. This could absolutely just be his version of nesting or pre-baby jitters, and once the baby is here he’ll take a deep breath and suddenly go OH MY GOD WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET OH THANK GOD WE HAVE HELP OKAY WHEW.

So for the birthing room stalemate, ask yourself two questions. 1) On a scale of one to 10, how much do you fear you will regret not having your mom present, and 2) Do you honestly think “giving” him his way on this one will actually “help” the postpartum (and post-surgery) situations when your mom needs to step back in when he cannot? If your answers are 1) 10 and 2) not at all, stick your ground. Tell him that hey, even if he’d been there at every appointment and every onesie shopping excursion, this is what you would have wanted, and it’s not fair to punish YOU because the pregnancy was harder and more of a logistical nightmare than either of you wanted. (I would also totally cry, but that’s because my pregnant self can’t manage a single declarative sentence without crying.) Work out a compromise, possibly, about your mom being there during labor but agreeing to step out once serious pushing begins.

As for the post-birth situation, it’s entirely possible that his hysterical male-nesting syndrome (or whatever this is) will burst like a hormone bubble once reality sets in — the reality that nobody’s giving out any medals to the cave-father who logs the most DIY cave-time with his cave-woman and cave-baby. That whole “oh wow, it really DOES take a village!” moment of clarity. (Or at least the “Yeah, I have no idea if the baby is latching right either, uh, help!” moment.) If not, though, look into possibly hiring a postpartum doula to help out when he’s away or on-call. Then check your insurance benefits for the possibility of a visiting nurse or aide for after your surgery. Maybe the idea of a professional-helper-you-pay-cash-money-to would be more agreeable to him, and kill the imaginary one-sided competition he has going on with your mom. Or, the suggestion of PAYING someone to do what your mom will do for FREE will snap him the heck out of it too. Either way, you’d get the help you need without further dealing with the him vs. her dynamic.

The last thing to remember — for both of you to remember — is that birth plans are just that. PLANS. Things can change. Minds can change. Your husband might lose his go-it-alone resolve at some point, or realize that he can’t hold your hand and the video camera at the same time. The baby might show up at the precise moment your mom is down at the ice-chip machine anyway. No matter what happens (and I hope you’ll send us an update!), it will be okay and right and perfect for your whole family — the existing one AND your brand-new one. Good luck.

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If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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liz
Guest

Wow. I just want send hugs and more hugs.

Carolina
Guest
Carolina

Oh, I want to give you a hug too! I fell, broke my foot and shattered my wrist the week before my baby was due. This required inducing labor and an emergency c-section after only a few hours of labor. The recovery from my c-section and wrist surgery was awful (couldn’t really hold the baby, so even nursing required another set of hands). Talk about birth plans gone sideways 🙂 We would not have made it without my mother’s and mother-in-law’s assistance. Fortunately, my husband had no interest in trying to do it all himself. I don’t have much to… Read more »

Brooke
Guest

Ask him if he’ll need to grab something to eat or go to the bathroom ever if you are in labor for a long time. Will he be cool with just leaving you alone in the hospital room? Because doctors and nurse aren’t in there with you the whole time. It’ll mostly just be the two (or three) of you. What if you need someone to run out and warm up a heating pack for your back? Get you a snack/cup of juice/more ice? Do you want to be alone for that? Will he be comfortable enough leaving you alone?… Read more »

Brooke
Guest

Forgot to add: What if you have a C-section? Does he go with the baby or stay with you after surgery?

There really are a lot of practical reasons that having more support is good.

Christen
Guest

If it wouldn’t feel like relegating your mom to the role of personal assistant, maybe she could be there, but also not be IN there at ALL times? She could snap some pictures (with your permission, of course) of you and your husband, maybe keep some key family members updated, and grab snacks or even run by your house to make sure you didn’t leave the garage door open or whatever. Or, maybe she isn’t there the entire time; you could call her after you’re settled so you and your husband can have some time to take it all in… Read more »

Susan
Guest
Susan

I have to share, can’t stop myself. This issue was so huge during my pregnancy. It went from husband not wanting to be in the delivery room for fear of scary things to husband insisting he be the only one present. That last part was after I told him that if he wasn’t planning to be there then my mother was going to come to live with us until delivery because I wasn’t going to go through it alone. What ended up happening was a surprise early labor at 36 weeks during which my husband was my only support. His… Read more »

Ms. K
Guest
Ms. K

PPs had good suggestions, as did Amalah.  This question reminded me of something a midwife told me once – she says (in her experience) it is easier for first-time moms to birth without their own mother in the same room. Something about the dynamic of the mother’s concern for her daughter’s pain making it harder for the daughter (the birthing woman) to relax. She said with experienced moms birthing it doesn’t seem to make a difference…somehow the dynamic between them and their own mother has changed. Then again, if you believe your mom will help make labor better, than you… Read more »

the grumbles
Guest

Brooke brought up a great point- at one point during labor my husband was starving and ran out to get snacks, use the bathroom, etc. I labored completely alone for about an hour and a half. For me personally it wasn’t a big deal, but definitely something to bring up to him that he possibly hasn’t considered.

Tiffany
Guest
Tiffany

I was so so so glad to have my mom in the delivery room. My husband was SO! EXCITED! to be a dad that he was practically useless… I mean that in an adorable, excited sort of way. He couldn’t focus either (this is when it got close to pushing time). Because neither one of us had gone through it, it was all so new – the pain, the emotions, everything – that my mom had to remind me to breathe, to rub my back, to fetch me things because my husband was like an excited puppy dog or something.… Read more »

Amy
Guest

Oh, this takes me back. I wanted my mom to be there the first time, husband didn’t, we fought, it got horrible, he relented, and then…. I had the baby so fast (3 hours, 45 minutes from first contraction to “it’s a girl!”) that my mom didn’t make it. Frankly, we were just relieved that the doctor made it, at that point. It was FAST. I pray that you’ll have the same problem, because it’s really the only sensible way to give birth! 🙂 Second pregnancy – my mom was in Spain. My sister, my dad (!!!), and my step-mom… Read more »

Amelia
Guest
Amelia

I went through a book series called “love and respect” and I see a potential help to you issues. Have you told your husband how much you respect and admire him for working so hard for your family. Not LOVE him, he knows you do, but RESPECT him. Tell him this in a few different ways. It puffs a man up, and it sounds like it’s just what he needs. Women want to feel loved and men want to feel respected (sure, this is an oversimplification, but a good one at times). Tell him you are proud of him working… Read more »

Trish
Guest
Trish

I would recommend a birth doula. Hubby might balk, but unlike relatives, they are impartial and trained to help without coming between you and your husband. My husband needed some convincing about the doula, but we both loved having a doula and recommend it to others — even if you have to pay out of pocket for one. (Though you can often find someone in trained but working on hours for certification for less or for free.) My husband also needed convincing about some of my out of state girlfriends coming to stay after the birth, but ended up appreciating… Read more »

-k-
Guest
-k-

I’m sorry, but I’m on Team Husband here. We’ll never have to deal with this with my mother, but it would drive me up a wall to have my MIL involved in our lives in this or a similar way–salt in the wound of not being able to pull my weight as a spouse/parent. You can explain how this doesn’t undermine him until you’re blue in the face, and it’s not going to work, because of *course* it’s not a problem for you. He does perceive it in that manner–that’s the reality you have to engage. Right now this just… Read more »

Therese
Guest
Therese

Wow, this is an interesting dilemma. I have a similiar life experience in that my husband’s job requires him to be out of town an average of 15 days each month. When we were ready to have kids, he clearly stated that we should move home to be near my family for support since he is gone so much. This has come in handy many times, especially when I went into labor when he was 12 hours a way. My mom and sister were able to be with me the entire time and it all turned out okay. Originally, we… Read more »

Karen
Guest
Karen

Amelia makes a good point that I think Team Husband might agree with – your husband needs to feel needed right now. This problem will either go away after birth because he realizes how great your mom is (can I borrow her!) or will get worse if he continues to feel marginalized. But IMO, making sure your relationship with him stays strong is paramount right now. My $0.02 on mom in the delivery room – my plan was to give birth just with the hubby in the room. I specifically didn’t want my mom there – like Ms. K said,… Read more »

Jaymee
Guest
Jaymee

My husband didn’t want anyone else in the room for labor and delivery either. He felt that the birth should be between us and everyone can wait. We went ahead and let everyone hang out in the room until baby time came. Then his mom, my mom, my dad, my step dad, they all left the room and waited in the waiting room just like they do in the movies. To be perfectly honest, you don’t NEED your mom to be there. The nurses and the doctors provide tons of support. If it’s important to your husband that the birth… Read more »

lindswing
Guest
lindswing

Wow, Ms. K, I couldn’t articulate why I didn’t want my mom in the room for the entire labor and delivery (she popped in and out), but that’s exactly it!  It stressed me out that she was so stressed about how much pain I was in, and boy, was she.  Also, the biggest regret of my delivery was not hiring a doula.  I will never go through that again without one, and my husband was INCREDIBLE during labor.   Perhaps, if you aren’t, making sure to have (as much as possible) special, one on one time with your husband to… Read more »

Michael
Guest
Michael

If I might add my ‘man views’ to the melee. Funny things happened to me when I got married and then again when I became a father. I acquired incredibly strong convictions. I was a little shocked! I did not want interference, I did not want to have to tiptoe around other peoples feelings. By other people I really mean the in-laws. I think of them as subs (from across the pond so maybe reserves or replacements??) – to come on as and when you need them. Not a chance of them making the starting line up when it comes… Read more »

Megan
Guest
Megan

My husband balked at the idea of a doula, even though I really wanted one because my mom was out of state and we really didn’t expect her to make it in time. My husband felt the same way as yours about having other people around to help but didn’t specifically say my mom couldn’t be around because she was so far away. It turns out that labor freaked him OUT. He really wanted to be anywhere but that L&D room and luckily my mom was there to bail him out. He ended up “delivering” the baby which was great… Read more »

Alanna
Guest
Alanna

So, just a question. Is your husband’s objection to having your mom there at all during the labor process, because um, yeah, I would totally say what Brooke said and really emphasize “If you go to get food during my likely 12-18 hour labor do you want to leave me ALL ALONE in that room without anyone to help me.” Or is his objection to her being there for the moment of the birth? Because that might be a point of compromise – your mom can be there to help and support you during labor but when the baby is… Read more »

BB
Guest
BB

Well, wouldn’t you just know it that of course I went into labor the night after sending this! (I totally knew I would. I sent it at like 2 am because I was so awake and alert and FREAKING OUT about everything.) We got back home midday today. Because it was never further discussed, Mom was there. It ended up being really good that she was there, too because little girl took 2 hours of pushing to get out which put her under stress as well as having aspirated fluid. So while I was freaking out about her and H… Read more »

BB
Guest
BB

Thank you to all of the helpful comments and especially to Amalah for taking my complicated question 🙂 I however do not appreciate the insinuation that because my husband felt left out and hinted at being the only one in the delivery room (key word: hinted, the poor guy never even said anything directly about it) that he must be a codependent abuser. He is an amazing man and has taken to fatherhood beautifully (because of COURSE I went into labor like, later that night after sending this question and didn’t even get to read this until last night after… Read more »