AIBU - Cover for when I go into labour

(36 Posts)
Frates Tue 15-Jan-13 14:07:50

Hi All,

Quite new to all this, so please bare with me.

Am after some honest feedback from both step mums and mums.

I am pregnant with my first baby due in March. My DH and I have 50 / 50 shared access with DH's ex to their daughter who is 6.

This works out pretty well and the relationship (ex's) is mostly amicable as they put their daughter first.

We often have DH's daughter more than the allocated 50% due to (ex wife's) work commitments, which is fine as we get to spend more time with her especially with the new one on the way (want her as involved as possible so she doesn't feel pushed out etc..).

However, there are some dates around my due date which we have been asked to have DS (these are 'additional). We have said yes, however with the caveat that there is organised 'back up' should I go into labour. 1 )For the obvious reason, want my DH there, and 2) As we want to keep things as calm and stress free for DH's daughter as possible.

At least if we can tell her that she may be going to x she will be (hopefully) more assured. We can then get on and introduce her to her baby brother or sister and resume the usual routine, keeping things 'normal'.

The problem is my DH's ex has said that she is not able to help with cover and that we will have to 'see what happens'. This frustrates me on so many levels. The fact that she is willing to let her daughter (potentially) have nowhere planned to go when it happens. The fact that she is local to our town, has a aunties and friends nearby (DH and I don't - no family near, and friends that don't have children or know DH's daughter enough for her to feel comfortable), and if I'm being really honest that we are covering or her (as we often do).

Personally, I don't think it's unreasonable to have an action plan, in fact it's a must!

I can kind of see the ' your baby, your problem' argument, NOT that that has been said openly. However, cannot understand why she would be willing to risk her daughter having nowhere to go or being left with a virtual stranger.

Arrgghhh!! feel better now.....

I think she is being ubelievably harsh, when dps ex went into hospital to have her dd i had my sc with little warning just a phone call to check it was ok. dp was working nights but we had spoke about it and it really wasnt a problem. We do get on quite well though. I would be saying unless there was an action plan in place for when it happens you wouldnt be having her any extra day over that time.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 14:23:40

I'm sorry but I agree with the "your baby, your problem" line really. If she were your daughter too, you'd manage, just like all other parents do when they have a second one. It would be nice if your DH's ex would be willing to be on call, but if she's saying she'll "see what happens" I would read this as meaning it's probably OK to call and ask her if she can have DD but she's not going to put her whole life on hold making sure she's always available over what could easily be a month or so long period whilst you wait for the baby to arrive.

If you have your DSD 50-50 then your DH should be able to take responsibility for her the same as any other parent, so should approach a few people in advance (friends and family) to have several people he can call. Your DSD will not have "nowhere to go" because as a last resort you can do what every other couple does with a second baby and take her with you to the hospital with DH looking after her whilst midwives look after you. Obviously not ideal, but I'd hope that's what you'd do rather than leave her home alone! And surely you know people who wouldn't be strangers to your DSD? hmm She must have friends surely? It's tough when they're a clingy toddler, but a 6 year old shouldn't be that hard to leave.

I'm both a step mum and a mum by the way - and I did have my two DCs for extra time whilst their dad had a new baby. I'd made it clear I'd be OK about being asked at short notice, but that I couldn't necessarily guarantee to pick up my phone and be able to drop everything and come and care for them at a minute's notice. I don't think that's a reasonable ask. The "action plan" as you call it is yours and your DP's to put together, not his ex's job to arrange.

Frates Tue 15-Jan-13 14:43:59

Thanks purpleroses. Always good to have another take on things.

We are not expecting ex to be 'on call' whatsoever, or re arrange her life. It is genuinely that we don't have family nearby, or friends she knows well enough to be left with. Yes, she does have school friends, so think this may be the only answer.

As for taking her to the hospital, it could take hours - not sure we'd want her having that experience. Although clearly leaving a child home alone is not an option! smile

I agree that a plan needs to be formulated along the lines of if its our 'day' x happens and if not she is with you anyhow. We can then communicate it on to DH's ex.

I'm just coming from the angle that it is what is best for the child.

tricky tricky, we'll get there...

allnewtaketwo Tue 15-Jan-13 15:06:23

As I Understand it, the problem is Exacerbated by you and DP having DSD for additional days around the due date. In which case ex is happy for you both to be flexible when she needs help, but not the other way round. Yanbu

mumandboys123 Tue 15-Jan-13 15:19:27

You indicate that the ex as a general rule asks you to have her daughter more often 'cos of her work commitments, is that right? If so, I'm afraid I would take the view that I need to work as I have bills to pay and either you step in and help me or you don't. If you don't, I will be forced to make other arrangements. I'm afraid that when it comes to my work and the roof over my head, there is very, very little room for flexibility.

Does mum have back up? family? close friends? If so, I would suggest that you refuse the extra dates because of the possibility you will go into labour and ask that on this occassion, she sorts out her own back up. That way, everyone knows where they stand. If it's the case that she and your partner essentially use each other as back up then you're stuck with it and there's every possibility you'll be on your own during labour.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 15:23:14

Sorry - yes, I think it's reasonable not to agree to any extra days around the time you're due without having a back up plan. I guess the difficulty is that if the reason for the ex needing the extra days is because she's away for work or something then it's of limited use to her to if you agree to them only subject to you not being in labour. But yes, flexibility has to work both ways. If she isn't being flexible about your needs, then simpler just not to agree to any extra days. Babies don't always come to time though, so you're going to need people you can call on, extra days or no extra days. I'd check out school friends - most people are happy to help out if they can.

allnewtaketwo Tue 15-Jan-13 16:14:54

Under no circumstances be on your own during labour. That would be awful and I imagine you'd always look back on it with resentment

cakebar Tue 15-Jan-13 16:20:19

I think you need to treat the situation as you would if DSD was yours alone.

catsmother Tue 15-Jan-13 16:37:44

I'd like to know what the reasons for the "extra" days are before passing judgement. If they're non-movable work related days then okay, but if it's social stuff I'd feel cross in your position too. Yes ... some couples with existing children have to make all sorts of convoluted arrangements to cover labour if they have no family close by but I'm sure they wouldn't, for example, pay for expensive agency babysitters (for hours!), ask schoolfriend's parents (unless they were already very good friends and you knew they'd be happy to help - at whatever hour) or take a young child into hospital (can't think of any more solutions) unless they really had no other choice. Quite clearly, a close family relative or friend would always be first choice in a situation like this - someone the child(ren) feel safe with, someone who won't mind an indefinite responsibility. The obvious person to take care of this little girl would be her own mother - not least so she could allay any anxiety the child might have about what's happening.

It sounds as if you've been agreeable and flexible when it comes to accommodating the ex's needs. Surely (unless it's completely unavoidable) she should be compassionate and flexible when it comes to this ?

Frates Tue 15-Jan-13 17:40:32

Thanks all for the feedback, really useful.

To try and answer some of the questions / points made.

The issue is the extra days around the due date. I absolutely agree that as my DH has 50 / 50 access he / we should make arrangements for the standard days of care, however feel that this should preferably be DSD's mum if possible. If not a back up needs to be arranged, again down to DH/ I and to be agreed with Mum.

However, as we have limited people to call on I think that it's only fair (in this instance as the circumstances - e.g labour, are extenuating), that she makes plans for the additional days, purely because we can't expect our families / friends, parents of DSD to be a available for an indefinite amount of time.

The extra days mainly are for work commitments which is why DH covers the dates without question as this is DH's ex's livelihood and (one of) the roofs over DSD's head and therefore important. As children of divorced parents both DH & I 'get' this, however there are times whereby we have stepped in to cover social events too. As the rule of thumb for both parents agree that their daughter is always better off with their mum or dad if at all possible. To answer an earlier question, yes DH's ex does have support close by. I guess I am just a little annoyed because DH does his best to be co operative with his ex and is just asking for is the same consideration for the additional days. (Although let's face it, I'm biased..)

This is also about consistency and routine for DSD as the circumstances are different given that her parents are divorced, and she is facing more changes coming with the new arrival. As catsmother has said,
' The obvious person to take care of this little girl would be her own mother - not least so she could allay any anxiety the child might have about what's happening. '

We don't want to refuse dates, as the only person who suffers is DSD. Am sure we will sort something out if they talk things getting myself muddled here....

Thanks again.

NotaDisneyMum Tue 15-Jan-13 19:03:56

It sounds like the harmony between your DH and his ex has been because she has never had to compromise - is this the first time that your DH will have said 'no' to additional time with his DD, when his ex has said she 'needs' it?

Sadly, this often happens, what seems to be on the surface a working arrangement breaks down when one parent (often Dad) stops acquiescing to whatever demands are made. Usually, the newly-found assertiveness is linked to a change in Dads lifestyle, in which his ex is no longer his highest priority.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 19:18:38

I think your DH would be best to say to his ex, that he'd probably be able to cover the extra days she wants around that time, but only on the proviso that there is some other cover available if you're in labour.

But you will need some options for the times she's due to be with you anyway. Are you able to contact any of the ex's relatives or friends directly, if they'd be the best people to care for DSD if you were in labour and her mum was working? Or could you ask her who she'd recommend - and again approach them yourselves (unless she offers)?

To be fair to her, she's probably anxious about the new baby. Even with an amicable relationship between exes, a new baby is hard to get excited about when it's not yours. She may be edgy that her DD will be pushed out, that your DH won't be so flexible about when he has her, etc - so reacting badly to what feels like in her head possibly the first of many threats to the system they've evolved that was working OK. Some reassurance that her DD isn't going to be pushed out (she'll still have same bedroom, same 50-50 time, same flexibility to cover her work, etc) might help, if your DH hasn't done that already. She should realise that labour is a bit of a one off, but the sub-text she may be reading into your requests may be along the lines of - You and your DH have other priorities now, she is the only one who's ultimately responsible for her DD..... I can see from your posts that this isn't what you're trying to convey. But when I was in her position, that was the sort of worries that were in my head, and I was readily reading into every little thing.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:32:05

Assuming the ex knew when your due date was, I'm a tad suspicious of her request for you to do extra days around that time ........ I'd also be pretty annoyed if my DH had agreed to such a thing, because he surely knows your due date.

The ex wants flexibility when it suits her, but doesn't appear willing to reciprocate, or is being devious and trying to cause problems by innocently suggesting the extra days around this time. Her "we'll see what happens" comment would infuriate me - you don't need the extra stress of uncertainty when your baby is due.

Just this once, put yourself and your baby first. Don't allow this special time to become a drama around the ex, because that's exactly what she wants. I've read several threads over the years about anxious mums-to-be, wondering how to fact child birth around access arrangements. It really shouldn't happen.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 19:39:46

Petal = the OP says that the arrangement between her DH and his ex has always been flexible and they help each other out for work - I'm not sure how you've jumped into assuming this is all some devious plan of the ex's to ensure that there's a drama confused

It is not reasonable to expect the ex to arrange her work schedule around the (rather unpredictable) time that someone else's baby might arrive. This may mean that her DH has to care or arrange care for both her and his DD.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:40:40

PS - forgot to say: regarding the comments that the OP should treat the situation as if the step daughter were her bio daughter ....... In a together family, you'd make concrete plans so that everyone knows what they're doing, ie when labour starts, the child goes to grandma, sister, auntie etc. A together family doesn't have to deal with extra people coming to stay around the due date, nor the uncertainties of a person (ie the ex) who may (or may not) provide child care when labour starts.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 19:43:57

Purple roses - I might be wrong here, but reading between the lines of the OP, I got the impression that the ex was being deliberately unhelpful. Those words are not contained in that post, but that's how it read to me. Also, don't most women realise that extra child care plus vagueness about cover would stress-out your average expectant mum?

NotaDisneyMum Tue 15-Jan-13 19:50:15

purple I haven't seen the OP saying that the flexibility is two way - she has said that they have her DSD extra; nothing about flexibility the other way.

Like petal I read this to be a bit of a one-way street, and the OPs wording suggests she's at pains not to criticise her DSD mum.

fluffypillow Tue 15-Jan-13 19:52:15

YANBU. If it were my DD, I would want her to know where she would be going, and not leave things up in the air. It's a very special time for you and your DH, and also for your SD, so you want things to run smoothly for all involved, I can totally understand that.

I think the ex is being very unreasonable.

I hope you can work something out, you sound like a lovely step mum.

WinterLover Tue 15-Jan-13 20:05:55

We have DSD 3 weekends out of 4. Can you guess when I went into labour.. yup one of those 6 days we have her a month.

Luckily we'd already figured out a plan, DSD went to my mums and then came to the hospital a few hours after DS was born. She still (nearly 2 years on) remembers that weekend. She was 5 at the time.

Do you have a good friend that she could get to know that could come to your house should you go into labour?

MerylStrop Tue 15-Jan-13 20:12:26

Fix up your own plan with DSD's school friends. Also you can contact DSD's aunties etc yourself.

Ex is being totally unreasonable, probably deliberately manipulative.

She will be unreliable if she sorts out the back up.

It is not worth the stress at this time, so deal with it yourselves, it will be FINE, kids deal with birth of siblings all the time.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 20:16:35

I'm glad it's not just me who thinks the ex is being deliberately difficult. I also agree with Meryl that she would be unreliable even if she did agree to provide cover. It's best that, just this once, the child stays with her mother til the new baby is safely here.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 20:52:25

*child stays with her mother til the new baby is safely here*- what, so they move from a 50-50 childcare arrangement to no contact at all (except with mum staying nearby at all times) for maybe 4-5 weeks, during which the baby could arrive at any time? The baby's safe arrival is not dependent on the DSD being with her mum either.

The point is that whether she's being deliberately unreasonable, or just happens to have work commitments that are coming up at the time the baby is due doesn't really matter. Either way it's better if the OP and her DH can sort out some sort of back-up themselves because whether they take on the extras or not, there's at least a 50% chance of going into labour whist DSD is in their care.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 21:51:10

No, I'm not suggesting that contact should cease between now and delivery, heaven forbid! What I mean is, if for example, due date is the 10th, perhaps the OP should plan for the child to stay with her mother from 9th-11th? Obviously if baby is very late you'd need to apply common sense, but you could at least keep the due date and 24 hrs either side clear? The one advantage to being a step family in this situation, is at least the child has the chance to be cared for by her own mother while new baby is being delivered.

purpleroses Tue 15-Jan-13 22:35:45

But how many babies come within 48 hours of their due date? They're pretty much equally likely to come at any time from 2 or 3 weeks before due date until 2 weeks afterwards. That's a very long time to be trying to keep clear.

Petal02 Tue 15-Jan-13 22:44:14

Neither me nor the OP were suggesting that weeks and weeks are kept clear. Just the days around the due date. Is that really too much to ask?

mumandboys123 Wed 16-Jan-13 07:55:02

I would express caution when assuming mum is being deliberately difficult. For me, dealing with my work commitments is my top priority because if I lose my job, I lose an awful lot more. Mum may well be thinking 'well, she's on maternity leave now so looking after DD for an extra day isn't an issue as she's a good girl and won't cause any trouble' rather than 'what can I do to stress her out at the end of her pregnancy?'. When you have a 50/50 care situation, you obstensibly have back up care which pretty much rules out the need for making other arrangements. My ex isn't helpful - so I have back up and back up for my back up! But that's not something that has ever been needed here so I don't think it would necessarily occur to mum that doing something different might be the 'right thing' to do. Your baby is nothing to do with her and it has little affect on her life when it comes down to it.

I struggle to see why making arrangements for the child to be cared for in the even that she is with you when you go into labour is any more a problem than it would be for non-separated families. Mum has made her feelings clear - her work is her priority and she trusts you to do make sure she is cared for. So make those arrangements with your partner's family and be done with it. Don't stress over it any more than that!

allnewtaketwo Wed 16-Jan-13 08:13:16

I see what you're saying mumandboys, but if I was the ex, I would want to make sure I was there for my own child at this time, not to do my ex a favour, but to make sure my child's need to feel loved etc. at this time was paramount. The idea of my child being shunted out to a random friend/relative he's not overly familiar with at a time when he is likely to be feeling sensitive over the new arrival, would mean I would make sure I would be available to look after him. No-one one is going to get sacked for taking a day off/working from home at short noticed as a one off fgs. At the worst she can take a day unpaid emergency leave and ask her ex to compensate that. But refusing doesn't sound very child centric to me.

theredhen Wed 16-Jan-13 08:48:40

If I was the mother, I'd make sure I had some decent back up arranged for my daughter as I'd expect my ex to have other priorities if another child is about to arrive. That doesn't mean i would expect contact to stop or change but I'd be prepared for my ex to not be able to have dd at the drop of a hat and make sure I had cover arranged for when that happened.

I wouldn't leave it to him to arrange especially if I had support around me. I would want the security of knowing my dd was looked after and contingency plans were in place.

But then I'm a sucker for taking on responsibility and I am coming to realise not everyone thinks the same way.

purpleroses Wed 16-Jan-13 11:28:39

allnew - parents obviously difffer. Maybe I'm a dreadful mother, but if I've got an important work comitment and would be letting colleagues down if I abandoned it, or am away from home because of work I don't feel a desparate need to make sure I'm available to be with my kids at all times. If they're in their dad's care, and he shunts them off onto someone else to cope with an emergency (eg childbirth) then as long as they're safe and looked after, that's absolutely fine by me.

Agree she's unlikely to be sacked if she says she has to take a day off, but can also see why she might well think that it's her ex's job to sort out cover for times when he has DD but might want to be with his wife in labour, not hers.

allnewtaketwo Wed 16-Jan-13 12:23:11

I don't make myself available to my children at all times either, as I work full time. But I would certainly for important life events when he might need me (and although the birth of his new half sibling would not be an important life event for me, it would certainly be so for him)

NotaDisneyMum Wed 16-Jan-13 17:31:29

I guess it depends how you view 50:50 care - does the DC have each parent for 50% of their time; or both parents 100% of the time?

I used to consider myself 'off duty' when DD was with her Dad - as she's got older and more independent, I've realised that she benefits more if she has two parents looking out for her all the time, regardless of where she is actually spending that time - rather than taking it in turns with her Dad.

In the past, I would probably have said "your time, your problem" to my ex if he'd been in the OPs situation; now, I'd be making sure that I could be available for DD if at all.

Frates Wed 16-Jan-13 18:00:41


Thanks for all of the responses - again!

There's too much to respond to, only to say that we have never ever expected DH's ex to put her life on hold, just to help assist help find additional days of care, purely because of the fact that we have few people locally we can expect to be on hold for a long period of time. Assisting with the 5 or so days out of a month (or half of) would help as we don't have too many people to ask, that's just the way it is - won't bore you with the why's are wherefores... I totally accept that we have responsibility to arrange cover for the 'standard' days, although I do personally feel that DSD is better of with her Mum if it can be helped.

Additionally, I don't think the ex is being difficult for the sake of it, without going into detail (again) she has her own life and like the rest of us is a busy woman, so would doubt this is the case. I do however accept, that she may have concerns around the impact of a new baby on her DS. DH and his ex may not always see eye to eye, but who does (especially with an ex - I can tell you!)

As for the work thing - yep we juggle too, work is of paramount importance without doubt agree. I guess rather like some previous posts I go with the maxim that we do our best to back up (work and social events), purely for DSD, so naively thought the situation might be the same in return. Certainly refusal of caring for DSD is not an option (for us anyhow), as she is the only one who loses out - shunted from pillar to post.

Anyhow, it will get sorted out, they are talking dates and I am sure the best possible option will be found. My post a few days ago was one of frustration but it all seems a little clearer now smile. Here's hoping but v hard not to get stressed about it...

mumandboys123 Thu 17-Jan-13 16:02:54

why on earth would you consider this 'shunting from pillar to post'? It's a couple of days at most...and that's if it comes to it which it probably won't.

Allnew - there are people who may well lose their jobs if they are unable to attend at short notice, particularly single parents who may well have had a lot of time off to deal with illness in their children etc. It's not impossible to be on a 'final warning' for this kind of thing. I have had very, very unsympathetic employers and very good ones - it's the luck of the draw. I also think that the OP said mum goes away with work - which to me implys overnight stays. In these circumstances, it is unlikely she would be able to return at the drop of a hat.

Mum has made her position clear. If I were the OP now I would simply look at putting in place the necessary arrangements and leave it at that. She has done what she can.

Lafaminute Thu 17-Jan-13 16:16:22

I went into labour 2 wks early at 2am and had no-one to leave 6 yr old dd with - she came to the hosp with us. I had to labour painfully and quietly so I didn't frighten her but then had an epidural and then baby was born quietly and with minimum fuss while dh took dd for a walk around the hospital to wait for my friend to collect her. She managed to be with me for most of labour and the hosp were very accomodating & understanding. However, dh missed the birth of his son which didn't bother me too much as it was my second baby. I think this would've upset me if it was my first baby though. It's a tough one but you really need to have sd going to someone during the birth - does she really want her 6 yr old to witness a birth???

Stepmooster Sun 27-Jan-13 22:43:49

hi Frates I don't know if you're still reading this thread, but I just wanted to share my exp of my DD birth (my first). We had DSS10 over on his EOW visit. DD was born 2 weeks ealry and we ran through with him the drill if I went into labour when he was with us, this turned out to be the night I actually gave birth. My waters went at 2am and I went straight into 1 minute contractions, I had no idea I was going to have a fast labour. We all went to hospital thinking we had hours and plenty of time to call mum at a civilised hour ( she lived over an hour away and had others kids to take care of). DH sat out in visitors area with DSS and I went into delivery room. DSS was scared and would not let his dad leave him and apparently they could hear me howling the place down. DH got hold of his brother who was jumped in a taxi and arrived just in time for DH to see baby born. TBH midwife and I were doing fine, and DH was just annoying me with his questions when he did come in to be with me. So I wouldn't worry about labouring alone, you will almost certainly have a midwife. I didn't want DSS to be there when I gave birth, but in the end I knew he was child and I had to get on with it. Best bit though was DSS got to hold his sister as soon as she was born. And now I think it so much better for him to have been there and have to wait maybe 13 days or so for next visit. DSS still talks about it now in a very positive way.

Whatever happens you will be fine xxx

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