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AIBU re post-birth visiting

(254 Posts)
BraveLilBear Fri 17-May-13 14:20:49

I'm nearly 31 weeks with our first child (tho DP already has an 11-yo son), and I am being tortured by the pressure of visiting times after birth.

My family live a long way away (2 hours+ drive). This is a choice I made several years ago to take up particular jobs, and I have now settled here and very happy. This is my choice, and I made it at the time understanding this may restrict my support opportunities later in life.

Fast forward to the impending birth of the first baby in the next generation of my family. I understand that they can't wait to meet him or her and I, equally, can't wait to introduce him or her to its wonderful extended family. Despite the physical distance, we are fairly emotionally close and I am very blessed to have such a loving family.

However, I have serious concerns about becoming overwhelmed in the days after birth. I have never had a child before, and this will be a huge change for me, and to my relationship with my DP. I am pretty sure that I will not be in a position to play hostess whilst in pain, bleeding, tired and attempting to learn to breastfeed. DP will be trying to support me, and will also be tired. He is not exactly a great host at the best of times - there's no chance he's going to suddenly become a master at this in these circumstances.

So I have said I don't want any visitors for at least 3 days after we get home in order to adapt. Ideally it would be longer, but I think this is too selfish.

I have also said we do not want any overnight guests for at least a month, for the same reason, and that we would prefer people to come in the daytime (ie leaving before 7) so that when DP goes back to work we can have some family time in an evening and he can chill out after two long commutes a sleep-disturbed night etc.

Anyway. I have started the task of communicating this to people so they can get their heads round it. My mum, who had offered to come and stay for a week after DP goes back to work (we have declined because we can't handle anyone staying over so soon, and would want some space in the evenings), has used phrases such as 'you're going to ostracise people' and 'when you decide you want to share, I'll see if I can fit you in the diary'.

She says that she has/had expectations of suporting her daughters when they have children, and is obviously upset with me for challenging that.

The added complexity is that I could be in for 5 days or could be out in 6 hours, so I can't offer a guarantee of hospital visitation so our families can get that initial newborn baby fix.

AIBU to ask for space to settle in? I feel terrible, but also that I know we will never ever get this time again...

<sorry for epic>

MumnGran Wed 22-May-13 13:16:33

Brilliant idea to start out by telling how much you need her help.....all mums of adults have times when we feel totally redundant. We mostly are grin but it does feel good to still be needed now and then.
That is just what I meant by getting her onside. You can explain what you want her to explain to others ....and unless she has the intelligence of a gnat (which I doubt!) she will apply what you tell her to herself least to some degree. You can spin it any way that works for you .....not wanting to feel judged by people until you have a handle on caring for your newborn .....wanting to make sure you are functioning enough to ensure house is sparkling etc. Just be as honest as you can ..... but make sure there is plenty of time, so that if you hit a sticky patch in the conversation, you can talk it around and end on a good note.

One final thought may end up wanting her there, after all, so don't be more adamant than you need to in case you want to backtrack. It might be best to take an "I think I am going to want to ......" stance. I expected to be kept firmly at arms length in the early stages, as my DD is very very independent. The reality has been an added closeness, more invites to pop over than I ever expected, and asking for my thoughts (I hate to say advice!) on the usual mothering issues we all have at the start.
That said.....I never ever "pop-in" grin

BraveLilBear Wed 22-May-13 12:49:31

Thanks mumngran - I hadn't thought that perhaps she doesn't realise how responsible we feel for her mental wellbeing!

The miscarriage was difficult, but it was early, and happened before we had told anyone we were even pregnant. I wanted to tell her about it, but simply didn't have the opportunity despite some one-to-one time with her. I didn't feel like she wanted to know (she never asked me how I was at all!), and thought it would be too selfish to bring it up.

I need to sort my relationship with her out - I need her to be onside to shield me from the wider family (including my dad) but that's not going to work at the moment as the message will eb construed in snarky comments to everyone about how 'we don't want anyone to meet our baby' etc!

This is all so messed up <digs out Jeremy Kyle number>...

MumnGran Wed 22-May-13 12:33:55

LilBear ....
I am the worlds worst for wanting to organise and cross bridges ahead of time, but in this case I think you just need to wait for the big day and see how you feel before deciding on visitors. You can pre-warn people that you may be OK to have visitors, but equally might not be able to see anyone ......and that you promise your DH will keep them up to speed.
That keeps everyone happy that they will be in the loop, gives them a heads up that visiting might not be a free for all ....and leaves you able to make your choices depending on how you feel at that time.

My daughter is also protective of me, and guilt trips herself if she thinks I am upset. Thats love.....and it comes as a bit of a shock to us parents of adults, when you turn the tables and become uber-protective of us :-)
If you haven't been able to talk openly and easily, then maybe this is the right time to start? - as you are on the threshold of becoming a mother yourself. Do you think your mum held back on asking about the miscarriage (I am so sorry sad ) for fear that talking about it would upset you more? that is quite a common reaction.
I sense a lot of love and real caring exists within your family ......if you can start to tell your Mum more about your emotions, you may be happily surprised by her response when you do.

BraveLilBear Wed 22-May-13 10:51:27

Mumngran thank you so much for your unique insight. Your DD is very lucky to have such a wonderful mum.

It is a very good idea to attempt a proper heart-to-heart but it is rare we get the opportunity. She has an awful lot going on in her own life - my parents are under 60 so still work very hard full-time, she is in the throes of a new relationship and also has my other two sisters to worry about, which means that conversations generally turn in her direction.

I am not an emotional over-sharer at the best of times (she came to stay just after my early miscarriage and she never once asked me how I was, so I never even told her about what had happened - although I did mention it at a later date), and live in fear of upsetting her - when growing up I ended up being her confidante through my parents' divorce and when she gets upset I feel very guilty, so I do try to avoid confrontation at all costs.

But equally, it might help if I try to explain myself. I have tried so far, but it seems she just thinks I'm being selfish.

Additionally, I have no problem with people coming to the hospital (within reason) to visit - but the issue is not knowing how long I will be in for, or what state I will be in.

Btw, we know the 'us' time in the evenings won't be just me and DP - but we need 'us' time as a threesome, too!

Ixia Wed 22-May-13 10:35:38

We banned visitors, day or overnight for 2 weeks :0 both sets of parents would have had to stay overnight and that was not going to happen!

It was one of the best times Dh and I have had, he normally works such long hours, but it was 2 weeks of just the three of us. I had a struggle with breastfeeding, but it meant i could sit downstairs with my top off, no worrying about visitors, no rushing round tidying. Bliss.

My mum was fine with it and she is grossed out by breastfeeding, so i'm glad i got chance to sort out the bfing first. MIL, probably not, but she has never said anything.

BurntCheeseStinks Wed 22-May-13 09:37:23

We limited our family's visits, told them before the baby was born that we would be doing so, but that we weren't sure exactly what we'd want from them and when as we hadn't had a baby before. We said we wanted to make sure we had sufficient time as a new family to bond and work out what we were doing. We looked up some local B and B's 'just in case' we'd feel happier for them to stay locally and pop in for visits, and said things like 'I imagine it'll be very helpful if everyone who comes also brings a meal for the freezer...'. MIL who I thought would be offended at not being able to stay with us just laughed at us trying to plan so much and suggested we wait to see how we felt. Once DS arrived, we got all excited and wanted each visit to go on for ages so we could show him off, but everyone remembered what we'd said and didn't overstay their welcome, and each time we were in fact relieved when they left so we could carry on staring at him and smiling at each other. we really needed the times when it was just the three of us. Apart from anything else, visitors hold the baby when it's crying, meaning the new mum holds it when it's crying or feeding-unpleasant for mum and baby not to have shared happy, contented, sleepy snuggles even jus for a few hours, which at that stage is a large proportion of the baby's life!

Xmasbaby11 Tue 21-May-13 23:19:21

Don't be prescriptive. You won't know how you'll feel. 2 hours away is near enough to pop over for an hour or two at first, even if you're in hospital.

As for 'evenings to yourself' - don't get your hopes up! Chances are, baby will be joining you on many evenings, and probably you or DP will take it in turns to stay up.

pmgkt Tue 21-May-13 23:14:56

My mum came and stayed for the week after dh went back to work. It was lovely cos that mother daughter relationship changes, plus I knew she would be helpful and not interfere. My dad however is a very bad house guest at the best of times so told him to rent a house for a week and he can pop over in small doses. Don't think he liked it to start with but he got used to it. I think it reasonable to say no overnight guests but if they are happy to come during the day and then leave in the evenings to go to hotel , is that really so bad.

cinnamonsugar Tue 21-May-13 23:10:44

MumnGran Sadly, I'm not kidding. The mother was not long there from the labour wards when the father (I assumed) arrived and then there was a lot of loud chanting and praying over the baby and commanding to do with evil spirits. Felt like it went on for ages.

MumnGran Tue 21-May-13 23:02:24

the people opposite me were performing an exorcism on a baby not 6 hours old, shouting What????????? WTF????? you are kidding?

cinnamonsugar Tue 21-May-13 22:48:35

Yeah, I can't think of anywhere less restful than the maternity ward I was on. Or anywhere less conducive to the establishment of breastfeeding - and I was in a hospital that was working towards full Babyfriendly accreditation.

I was on a post-natal ward for just under 24 hours a few days before I had my baby. I was utterly exhausted, not having slept for 24 hours, and was trying desperately to sleep - the people opposite me were performing an exorcism on a baby not 6 hours old, shouting. The phones of the people on either side never stopped ringing.

I had planned a homebirth, but transferred to hospital right to the very end and had an EMCS. I was put into bed flat on my back and couldn't move from that position for over 24 hours because the bed was broken - so flat on my back after major surgery with a general is how I had to try learn how to breastfeed with no-one to show me how to do it properly. I discharged myself early because it was so awful in there. Like I said somewhere upthread I think, I am grateful for every visitor I had.

MumnGran Tue 21-May-13 22:29:59

I respect the fact that it is her DH who needs to do that. smile
It is a bonding time for him, too, and I think it can be easy for women in the family to swoop in with help, and leave Dad a bit on the periphery.

As I said previously- I am truly blessed in having a very communicative relationship with DD & SIL, so I am just guided by what they need at any given time because I know they will tell me.

As for the NHS ... I do despair. I know midwives themselves are saying that staffing pressures are too great, and just wonder if it will take a real tragedy to highlight the issues. Just wish they wouldn't give it the gloss of being "the right way" for women ... because it isn't. There is so much benefit to being looked after well for a couple of days before going home and no baby was ever harmed by being given a bottle by a midwife, or having a nappy changed by a nursing aid, in the first hours of life while mum recovers from labour by getting some sleep!!

OP ... had no intention of hi-jacking the thread blush
My advice to you remains the same .... be honest, but talk and talk some more with your Mum, with a little understanding that you are still "her baby" .....she will be on your side, once she understands your thought process smile

Numberlock Tue 21-May-13 21:52:33

I'm glad you've come to terms with her decision but would have thought it was more of a reason to have you visit - to hold the baby while she slept.

Numberlock Tue 21-May-13 21:30:09

Welcome to our NHS, have you only recently moved to England? grin

MumnGran Tue 21-May-13 20:37:32

Numberlock has taken me 5 minutes to reel in my rant about the NHS, on this matter, so I can answer you sensibly!

Her reason is simply the levels of exhaustion in the first 2 days.
Timing meant that she arrived back on the ward in the morning after 24 hours without sleep - and then had almost zero support with new baby who (for a couple of reasons) did not feed or sleep properly in those first few hours. Without visitors, she would have let DSIL care for him while she managed to get a little sleep. As it was ... she stayed awake, and then (again because of little ones issues) was up almost all of that night.

By the time I next saw her - at home on the afternoon of Day 2 (and, again, by invitation!) - she had had 3 hours sleep in the previous 60 !!
So, yes, I absolutely understand her reasoning ....although pray that it doesn't pan out the same way next time.

^And now the rant ...... I was appalled that any woman could have been discharged from a maternity unit with the levels of exhaustion she exhibited. My poor DD could barely string a sentence together, let alone care for herself and her baby. I could not believe that the NHS can basically leave a newly delivered woman to get on with it, without offering any support on the ward. Is it so difficult to allow staff to care for a newborn so that a new mother can get sufficient sleep on Day 1 to be able to go home in a good enough physical state to actually care for herself and new baby? My DD has a brilliant husband, and lots of support (when she wants it!). What if she had been un-supported? doesn't bear thinking about.
I was genuinely horrified by what new mothers today are subjected to. Maternity seems to be a factory production line, these days, compared with the care offered to new mums in my day^

Numberlock Tue 21-May-13 20:15:05

Can I ask what her reasons were?

MumnGran Tue 21-May-13 20:11:40

OP - speaking as a Gran who's experience of DGC arriving is fairly fresh, this is a difficult one for your Mum to swallow .....but she needs to get over it, and that will only happen if you talk to her in a bit more depth about it all.

My DD and I are lucky enough to be very close and also pretty honest with each other. I am also fortunate to help care for DGC a couple of times a week because, at the moment, my support is needed. I was privileged to visit them (by invitation) in the hospital on Day 1 .... despite the fact that they had had a very difficult first day.

Why am I rabbiting on about this closeness ...well, because I was quite stunned when my DD said recently that with the next, she would not allow any visitors to the hospital. My internal reaction was to feel rejected with no concept of why....did I do something wrong? etc Because we can talk openly, she explained her reasons (which have nothing to do with me per se) and they are very understandable .....but it still stings a bit and feels as though she doesn't want me.
However, it is my issue to get over, not hers. It doesn't mean she doesn't love me, or wants to exclude me ..... and I have had to take her thinking on board.

I think it is very natural and normal for your Mum to feel that "not wanting her in the hospital, or in the house 24/7" equates to rejection. What you need to do is find the time to chat with her, and explain as much as you can about your reasoning, and that it isn't about not wanting her. Tell her about your fears of coping well enough. Open up, and give her the reassurance that she needs

No - of course you don't have to. Nor do you need to justify any of your choices (before I get flamed from all sides). What you want is right for you and that is all that matters .......but equally there is little point in not trying to talk it through with her on an emotional, and completely honest, level so that she understands better......and your choice doesn't "sting" in the same way.

A new baby is a time for joy, not a time for schism, and one or two heart-to-hearts at this stage may save all sorts of anguish later.

SomethingChanged Tue 21-May-13 19:50:54

It is tough when GPs are visiting from a distance, especially if they are really excited and not happy to just stay for as long as you would like them to. Everyone's relationship and experience is different.

I just wanted to add on a positive note that having a baby completely changed my relationship with my own DM (for the better!). I was always pretty independent before but she was so supportive and the person I wanted to cry to. She was the only one who just calmed down and listened. We saw the GPs on day 2 (for about 45 mins each) then not until we were ready. We left it that as soon as we were ready they'd be the first to hear. I'm honestly not sure how my DH would have coped if we hadn't had time as just the 3 of us.

Oh and looking back with a year old baby now, none of this has affected our relationship at all, there'll be so many other opportunities to spend time as a bigger family in future.

HorryIsUpduffed Tue 21-May-13 19:39:25

My bastarding hospital was trialling unlimited visiting hours (11-8 iirc) when I had DS2. <shudders at memory> Even with the "restricted" visiting hours with DS1, people visited for up to ninety minutes, which felt like a long time, particularly when either the baby is trying to feed, or you're missing a chance to sleep.

And plenty of people get home and visitors say "ooh isn't it nice that we can stay as long as we like now". One has to have a large pair of cojones to say "actually I'd like you to leave now" because they think they aren't any trouble just sitting on your sofa eating all the bourbons, because in fairness in any other circumstances they wouldn't be in the way.

DontmindifIdo Tue 21-May-13 18:23:07

thinking about this further, the distance causes another problem, because you've not been forced put the same boundaries in that you would have if you lived round the corner from your parents. so if they are the type to turn up and monopolise you for a whole weekend, rearrange your kitchen wihtout asking, turn up to your house while you're at work, let themselves in and then tell you off that the breakfast pots were still in the sink at lunchtime and the kitchen was a mess and gosh how could you go to work leaving yoru house like that? (all my mum has done to my brother and his DP who do live round the corner from them, how my DB has held on to his lovely DP after inflicting such a MIL on him I don't know) - then at some point you'll have had it out with them and made them realise they can't treat you like a child anymore. They will have seen you regularly with your DP and can see that you can cope fine without needing "help".

However if you live a long way from them and visits are more formal affairs because they need to be properly arranged, involve an overnight stay, they are more like guests and you put up with their more 'trying behaviour' (and they might be more likely to be on their best behaviour), so you don't deal with it before hand. It's easier to just avoid the issue until your at the having DCs stage.

seeker Tue 21-May-13 17:51:51

"If OPs mum would be fine with an half-hour visit, I doubt there would even be an issue. As you have read here, many parents and ILs would find suggestions about staying in B&B or limiting the length of the visit very rude and upsetting as well"

But they would then be being unreasonable. That's what I mean about it going both ways.

BraveLilBear Tue 21-May-13 17:44:43

I think the biggest thing is managing expectations... this whole pregnancy has taught me that everyone even slightly involved has a whole ream of expectations that they feel they are entitled to.

Eg surname issues, the fact that we're choosing kids first and marriage later (we're 33 so hardly spring chickens), visits...

There are still a wealth of issues we still need to address eg my father's smoking habit, the fact that my parents are divorced so we will have to give them the same treatment, but at separate times ie if mum stays three days one weekend, dad will expect to the next weekend - then there are my sisters etc to consider, too (if the ILs suddenly go from being supportive to high maintenance I think I'll have a breakdown!).

My family are very set in their ways. Once something is in their head, they assume that's the way it'll be. So no-one has raised the issue of visiting etc with us yet, which means they're either assuming they can have carte blanche from the word go or expect we will be like every other new parents they know (who all seem to be based close to their families with very different set-ups), or worse, that it will be like when they had us, with visits from a huge number of people from the off (admittedly this was in hospital, but continued at home, too).

Because of their staunch attitudes, we felt we had to tell them that we were trying for children in the first place so they could get their heads round it.

I honestly would not dream of making assumptions about new parents without asking first, but it seems we do not think in the same way!

HazleNutt Tue 21-May-13 17:04:56

If OPs mum would be fine with an half-hour visit, I doubt there would even be an issue. As you have read here, many parents and ILs would find suggestions about staying in B&B or limiting the length of the visit very rude and upsetting as well.

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 21-May-13 16:55:09

Just after giving birth is a perfectly acceptable time in the short term to put your needs over someone else's wants whilst maintaining courtesy.

3 days old is still newborn.

If seeing a baby before its 3 days old is so important that you would consider a refusal and polite request to visit on the Wednesday if made on the Monday a slight against you or not being shown courtesy then it probably means you over think things like that a bit because its highly unlikely to be intended.

shellsocks Tue 21-May-13 16:45:56

horry why not? They would be limited by visiting hours if you were in hospital?

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