Would you like to be a member of our research panel? Join here - there's (nearly) always a great incentive offered for your views.

How long should my foreign inlaws stay when our first baby arrives?

(54 Posts)
Bunnylion Tue 09-Apr-13 08:44:51

Im due tips summer and my foreign inlaws will be flying in from a long way away soon after to see the baby.

They are nice people but as I have only got to know them in infrequent short bursts, I find their visits (even when I don't have a baby) quite stressful. I am getting very anxious about the baby visit.

I'm quite a quiet person who enjoys my own company and when they are here it's... intense - they just don't stop talking, they also constantly micro managing how I look after my house and my DH and they always seem to be over my shoulder whem I'm doing anything. I find it very draining.

I saw them once during my pregnancy and they wouldn't keep their hands off my belly, so I can only imagine how much time I'll get to cuddle my baby when they come over once it's arrived.

They are planning to visit after my DH has used up his paternity leave, so it'll just be me, baby and them - 24h/day.

They have said they want to come for 2 weeks but MIL wants to stay on for a month or longer.

I have a history of depression and am at mid risk of postnatal. If I do develop it and am having a tough time early on, I'm so worried that their visit will not only drive me insane but be quite damaging to my early bonding weeks with my baby.

I also have my own mum who I want to spend a lot of precious time with during these early weeks, and it could be more difficult to talk to her if there are always other people in the room. My mum is currently going through chemo and this time will be precious.

But I know that they should and would love to spend as much time as possible with their first grandchild, I just don't know the best way to plan it all without driving myself to dispair.

Any experience or advice would be greatly appreciated!

minimuffin Fri 12-Apr-13 16:04:23

Bunnylion well done for speaking to your DH about this, and he sounds great and supportive. Everyone's said all that needs to be said really - this is a very bad idea. The phrase "emotional rollercoaster" doesn't begin to describe the first 4 weeks or so with your first baby! You have no idea how the birth will go and what kind of recovery you will need. You are so vulnerable physically and emotionally and will need a lot of emotional and practical support, which is difficult to get from someone you barely know. The baby will just need you and DH.

If you're breastfeeding too, there really is no-one who can "help". With a tiny newborn, you mightn't really want anyone other than DH changing nappies, cuddling, trying to settle them. It's a very primal instinct and you may be surprised by the strength of it (I was). That all changes in a few months once the baby is settled and your days have fallen into a pattern and it's actually nice to have visitors. There is no pattern to the early days with a baby and that is what can make visits at this stage so tough. Even from people you know really well.

Just an idea - if MIL is unhappy with this, you could ask DH to speak to his dad, remind him how it was MIL's own mum who came to stay when DH was born, ask how she would have felt having her own MIL there - rekindle some memories of the firstborn period. They really do fade. I say all this as someone with 3 DSs so I will in all likelihood have to deal with this issue myself. I hope I can stamp on what is undoubtedly a powerful urge to bond with a new grandchild and remember how the only person I really wanted around was my own mum - not even my dad or sister particularly. Good luck!

popebenedictsp45 Thu 11-Apr-13 18:21:56

That is really good advice StrangeGlue. I wish I'd been more assertive after DC1's birth. I remember making lots of cups of tea and trying not to cry while the baby was passed around in the front room. I am usually very stroppy and assertive but just crumbled with the post-birth hormones. I will be prepared next time, practicing it in your head is very sensible.

Bunnylion - maybe you could tell your ILs to practice driving on the 'wrong' side of the road in their head!

Bunnylion Thu 11-Apr-13 18:12:29

strangeglue excellent advice! smile

Bunnylion Thu 11-Apr-13 18:10:49

zipzap her mil only lives an hour away from my ILs so I think they just did the odd pop-in, definitely no overnight stays let alone a month.

But living in another country to my ILs makes the pop-in a bit more difficult.

StrangeGlue Thu 11-Apr-13 18:09:26

Well done, your dh sounds fab. Now spend the next few months practicing in your head confidently taking your baby out of their arms and saying "can you let me sit on the sofa I can't really sit on the floor having just given birth" and "tea is a great idea, could you put the kettle on"

Bitter, bitter experience of people doing the "I can hold the baby whilst you make tea/wash up etc etc " NO I'll hold my baby and you can do the crap thanks... Didn't say that...wish I had

zipzap Thu 11-Apr-13 17:42:45

So mil had her mum to stay to help after birth - bit how long until she had her mil to stay and how long was that for? Bet it wasn't within the bounds of what she is suggesting for you...

Bunnylion Thu 11-Apr-13 17:35:06

Thanks all, I've had some great advice on here and it's really helped me get it straight in my head and de-stress about the whole situation.

Spoke to DH last night about all my concerns on the impending visit and he said his number 1 priority is my mental health and happiness, so we've agree that they will only come for 1 week when the baby is 6 weeks old, they willstay in a hotel and only visit me and the baby either am or pm - never all day. His mum will then come alone next spring for 2 weeks when he is on annual leave so he will be here.

Being selfish I'd prefer it if they didn't come at all as I'll have enough to deal with, but I think this is an ok compromise. I've really stressed to DH that if I am not coping well then they will have to be ready to possibly change daily plans and not come over on some days while they are in the UK and only for a very short time per visit if they do. DH is going to arrange some activities for them to keep them from just sitting in the hotel room waiting to come and see the baby, but for now we will aim for them to come each day for max 4 hours.

popebenedicts45 I feel for you too. Although England isn't very foreign to USA, my ILs still refuse to drive on the "wrong" side of the road so won't hire a car. We are in the countryside so that would still mean they would be housebound staying at mine, but thankfully my DH has understood how bad that situation could be and agreed to pay to put them in a hotel and for daily taxis if they say they can't afford it.

popebenedictsp45 Thu 11-Apr-13 16:44:42

Oh dear, I feel for you. A month is simply too long. You've had some great suggestions on this thread, I can't really add anything else.

My ILs are coming to stay for two weeks a week after DC2 is due. I am dreading it because although they are very nice and we all get along, we live somewhere very 'foreign' and ILs won't dream of going out on their own to explore so we'll all be shut up together 24/7. Even when we lived in the UK when they visited they would happily stay inside and just drink endless cups of tea on the couch. At least I can keep them busy with DC1 I suppose!

Feel your pain, OP, I hope you get it sorted.

You sound too nice Bunny. Don't worry about offending and upsetting people when setting boundaries. Just say no, with a smile, and mean it. So long as you are polite about it you're not being unreasonable. Totally understand where you are coming from about stressful suffocating in-laws, but you need to be careful that they don't get the impression that your mum is getting preferential treatment or there will be hell to pay. Oh, and get your DH to support you, always, in front of them. Not always easy as if he is anything like mine saying no to his mum won't come easy.

Ilovestackingcups Wed 10-Apr-13 18:01:38

worcestershiresauce it isn't about showing an obvious preference for one granny over the other, just a tool to make the MIL think about the existence of Other People, especially as Bunnylion's own mum will maybe need someone to speak out for her too if she is feeling poorly after the chemo.

Bunnylion Wed 10-Apr-13 15:39:28

ilovestackingcups good idea - I'll speak to my mum about that.

worsetishiresauce I really do understand that they should have the opportunity to see and spend time with the baby, I just don't want it to be stressful and suffocating.

My own mum isn't as loud and forceful as they are and she also is going thought chemotherapy and will be when I give birth, so I will need to be the one to make sure she isn't completely pushed out while they are here by setting some boundaries. I just need to figure out how to do it without offending or upsetting anyone.

I don't think you can insist on having your own mum take precedence, even if you naturally find her company more relaxing and helpful. They may be grandparents no2 in your eyes, but they certainly aren't in your DH's or their eyes.

The approach I would take would be to accept they are coming but once they are here be fairly full on with how you want things. I stop my DD being passed round as newborns really don't like that. I don't discuss it, I just say no. Also, assuming you are bf-ing, your baby will spend most of the early weeks either being fed by you or napping. If they are fretting, colicky, or have reflux hence won't sleep, believe me you will be glad for someone else to hold them. If they are sleeping nicely it is quite easy to say that no, you don't want them picked up and woken as they need to sleep or they will get cranky.

Start as you mean to go on, and practice saying no now!

Ilovestackingcups Wed 10-Apr-13 14:09:07

My MIL was very very pushy with me in the run up to the birth of DC1, so in an attempt to tone her down, I got her a copy of The Good Granny Guide by Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall (mum off that cook off the Guardian) which points out, over and over again, that as the mother of the dad, the role of that granny is Granny Number 2. Granny Number 2 comes second to Granny Number 1 (mother of the mother) in everything, unless she is told otherwise.

If subtlety isn't your MIL's bag, would your mum be able to call her up if she's feeling up to it and say lots of useful things like:
"I'm so excited about being a granny for the first time, but I am going to try and leave Bunnylion and Mr Bunnylion alone for the first few weeks. Don't you remember theimportance of bonding with your children when they were born?"
or
"I'm only going to go to see BunnylionCub when I'm invited. I won't stay for long because I remember how tiring having visitors will be. Don't you agree?"

Bunnylion Wed 10-Apr-13 13:37:51

Thanks everyone for all the advice - very helpful.

They haven't implied that they are planning to come over for the purpose of helping me, they just want to see their grandchild and I'm sure will find it hard to put the baby down when they are here. It's nice that they are so excited but I really don't think that I have been thought about while they make these visiting plans.

I'm going to talk to DH tonight with the aim of getting them to only book once the baby is here - if I'm feeling ok - and then to stay somewhere other than our house and not visit for 18 hours per day.

I really want this time to be about the three of us and my own mum.

Sheshelob Wed 10-Apr-13 08:23:51

My MIL came to stay for three weeks when DS was 6 weeks old. If my husband hasn't have been on annual leave, I would have said no. I have a pretty fraught relationship with her anyway, so it just became a battle of wills, with her giving me long lectures about how she wasn't a bad mother and how things were different in her day, all while getting tanked up on cheap white wine. She wanted to show me how to mother, and I could think of nothing worse. But I was breastfeeding, so found I could slip off and get away from her a lot.

But she's a prick difficult person. If your inlaws aren't difficult, it might be fine. To me, it sounds like you actually just want this time with your mum, who has been unwell, which is completely understandable. Can you not speak to your DH about it?

An alternative to them staying with you would be to housesit for a neighbour/friend if they are coming over the summer. Do you know anyone who would appreciate some cat sitters??

AlohaMama Wed 10-Apr-13 08:00:55

We live 24hrs travel from our family. Even with my own parents we asked them to delay visiting. We put a positive spin on it - "it would be great if you could come when ds is 6-8 wks old, that way he'll be more fun and interactive for you, and I'll be recovered and we can go on outings etc." Mine came for about 3 wks then ILs for 2.5, but being later in meant we went out and did stuff which was much easier than if we'd all been in the house all day. Definitely get the msg out early though and get dh to fight for your needs.

joanofarchitrave Tue 09-Apr-13 22:49:39

What Bertha said. Big time.

There is room for this to be better than expected, in that they may be so bedazzled by the baby that you get to have an actual break and they are not so in your face. And you may be so empowered by the birth that you become Tiger Mother and are able to sit on the sofa topless for the statutory endless hours of feeding, barking regular requests for tea refills, while they do the hoovering, scrub nappies and shop.

But I wouldn't count on it. Liking the roleplay idea as well.

dragonflymama Tue 09-Apr-13 22:36:07

Oh my, this sounds horrific! I would have a serious chat with DH and reassess the offer to PILs. I would suggest no flights are booked and you wait and see how you are, and what you feel up to, once the baby is here. You really can't imagine the life change (in a good and bad way) you will go through - instantly! Otherwise I think you'll regret it forever & the damage will be irreversible to your relationship with PIL, DH & baby (bonding and how calm, settled baby feels).....

I have foreign in-laws and young children: dd1 (3.5) and dc2 due in June and am v cautious about the length & frequency of visits as well as managing expectations about what can and cannot be done when they're here. E.g. Am not the hostess I once was pre-kids, a takeaway dinner or pizza in oven is fine! DH and I agree the boundaries / rules in advance so I have his support when needed, especially concerning opinions on parenting styles / cultural approaches. Even so, it always ends up stressful with us having crossed words in bed at least once during the visit.

For the record, I wouldn't allow them to stay for more than a week (perhaps a few days with you, a few days exploring uk, a few days back with you) and would consider if you want them there when dp at work. I've found that visits are sold on the prospect of help, which rarely materialises. You also need to learn to be honest to PILs about things that upset you or are unhelpful - one of mine is asking MIL not to phone at 8pm in the evenings just as dd1 has been put to bed (1-disturbs her 2-first 5 mins peace we have every day!)

Best of luck, really, as like BlingLoving I feel passionate about this!

soupmaker Tue 09-Apr-13 21:46:45

My MIL came and stayed for 2 weeks when DD was 5 weeks old. It was the worst 2 weeks of my life. DH was working and I was left dealing with a new baby when I had no idea what I was doing and MIL was constantly fussing and asking why she hadn't settled yet. My MIL did SFA around the house. I think she made one cup of tea for me. I ended up in tears on the phone to my own mum and begging for MIL to go away. It very nearly caused me to have problems bonding with DD and I have a very poor relationship with MIL. She lives abroad which is why she comes over for long periods. I am expecting DC2 and DH and I have agreed MIL will not be resident with us for more than 48 hours. Please do not allow yourself in the same position as I did. As others have said get ground rules agreed with your DH and refuse to be hostess. The PIL should be there to do your bidding and if they aren't you need to arrange accommodation elsewhere. Good luck.

nannyl Tue 09-Apr-13 21:40:31

OMG

i couldnt even bare for my own mother to stay for a month.....

i would start to out your foot down now, that a month with you, when sleep deprived etc etc is just not fair, and nor should you be expected to just go along with it.

LadyMedea Tue 09-Apr-13 20:40:00

Coming from America is not a long way really... Australia would different.

A week plus travel days would seem reasonable to me. Also make sure it is booked no sooner than term plus 4 weeks to allow for you to go overdue.

But frankly this is one for your DH to tackle. You and you little one should be his priority and he should protect you from stress. He needs to set the boundaries with your inlaws.

CheungFun Tue 09-Apr-13 20:34:23

Flisspaps yes that is true, DM refused to be induced with me and I was 16 days late...she often complains pregnancy isn't nine months it's ten months grin

Flisspaps Tue 09-Apr-13 20:25:44

Cheung It's not up to the hospital to let a woman go to 42 weeks. It's up to the woman, who is well within her rights to go past that if labour doesn't begin by then. There are MNers who have gone to 43w+.

So it could be even longer!

Definitely tell them not to book anything until the baby is actually born (otherwise they could be gone before the baby arrives. Actually...)

mamij Tue 09-Apr-13 19:58:58

My in laws stayed for 2 months! They wanted to come over straight after DD1 was born, but there was no way was going to let them. I wanted my own time withy newborn, feeding, resting, getting to know my baby. They came when she was 3 months old, and have to admit I was counting down the days from about the first week! It felt like I was looking after me, my baby, DH and two other adults!

So I'd say if there's no way to put off a visit, try getting them to come when baby's a bit older. Also, baby mainly feeds and sleeps, so there's not much they can do in terms of "playing" with your baby.

CheungFun Tue 09-Apr-13 19:46:59

I think if possible it would be better for you to ask them to book their tickets after your baby has been born! Technically anything from 37 weeks is considered full term, and at my local hospital they will let you go up to 42 weeks before inducing you, so that's a 5 week window for your LO to arrive! I think that's a good enough reason to delay their visit grin

A tactic I have found useful with my interfering FIL is to speak to my son e.g. "DS, say goodnight to grandad now!" and whisk him away to the bedroom for his night time routine, otherwise FIL would never hand him back again! I don't really want to tell off FIL yet, so this is the technique I'm currently using!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now