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To feel let down and hurt re in-laws attitude to new baby. LONG!

(106 Posts)
hearthattack Sun 15-Nov-15 23:37:30

Sorry for the epic post.

Our son is four weeks old. He was born by cat1 emergency section after which I spent 3 hours in theatre, 24 hours in intensive care and 12 days in hospital being pretty ill. He, thankfully, is completely fine. I'm home but still need a lot of help and find caring for him on my own (practical stuff like lifting him) quite hard. My partner has done most of the baby care single handed since day 1 and also has to help me with things like walking, showering, dressing, injections etc.

5 months before the baby was born my partner and I moved back to where he grew up. We don't really know anyone here except his parents (his mother and her wife of 18 years, his stepmother). It's a long way from any of my family but was planned and looked forward to for a long time. We've always got on well. They were super excited about their grandchild and thrilled that we wanted to be near them to raise him. There was lots of talk about how involved they would be, what renovations they would make to the house to make it more baby friendly (all unnecessary but they were excited), what it would be like to have one of their children just down the road again etc.

They have a lot of caring responsibilities for a total of 4 very old and infirm relatives, which is pretty hard work. They spend a fair bit of time doing their shopping, cleaning their houses, taking them to appointments etc. They also refuse to get help with this but complain a lot. One of them works 2 days a week, the other not at all.

Since our son was born I've been really upset by their attitude. They didn't come and see us much in hospital, despite it only being 20 mins away, and when they did they made a big song and dance about how hard it was to fit into their day. We asked them for a lift home from hospital when we were discharged, only to wait all day for them to get around to helping us because they had other things to do first and we ended up getting a taxi. We didn't see or hear from the for days after we got home. When we finally called and asked for a bit of help and support, we got it but it was like we were another thing on their list of things to do.

That help has tapered off again and we've not seen or heard from them for nearly a week. My partner is going back to work tomorrow (finances dictate he has to, even though I'm not really ready) and I'm dreading how I'll cope on my own. He called his mum to ask if she would pop in for a cuppa and see how we're getting on. She said she would on this occasion, but that they've decided certain days of the week will be their 'days off' from helping people so normally they wouldn't. Luckilly for me she saw fit to swap her 'day off' this week so she could visit me and her new grandson.

I realise they've got a lot to do, but I feel so angry and upset that seeing me and their grandchild is another task to be completed and not something they actually want to do. It makes me feel guilty for asking for help. I feel really cheated that we uprooted our lives to be here and none of their talk has materialised into action when it matters. My feelings are so strong that I don't really want to see them at the moment, and find it hard to see how we will all go on to have a happy healthy relationship. The truth is though that we really need their support.

Am I being selfish and unreasonable to expect them to be more helpful and willing? I've been so ill, down and hormonal I can't see the wood for the trees any more. How can I get passed this and forgive them when I feel so angry and let down?

Shebangsthedrumsshedoes Sun 15-Nov-15 23:53:22

That all sounds tough for you. It must be difficult looking after a newborn when you don't feel physically able. Your in-laws sound very busy looking after lots of people. Whilst it would be nice if they enjoyed helping you out and wanted to spend time with their GC they are helping you a bit so I would try to remember that and not focus on how much better they could be.

Shebangsthedrumsshedoes Sun 15-Nov-15 23:54:15

Yanbu by the way. Just better not to let it upset you.

BrendaFlange Sun 15-Nov-15 23:56:10

Heart, what a terrible time you have had. Congratulations on the birth of your baby.
No wonder you are feeling so vulnerable and hurt. To have uprooted yourselves like that and been met with such a positive beginning.

Is there any clue about the seeming change of heart? Are they trying not to intrude and be overbearing MILs, a la MN? Was something said while you were in hospital? Do they think you will be a burden on them?

See them, and see how it is. Can
You tell them how you feel? How do they react to their grandchild when they see h?

wotoodoo Mon 16-Nov-15 00:20:31

You cannot MAKE people want to be willing to help and offer support, it has to come from them and if not it will just build resentment.

I am afraid your feelings do not come into it, they will have their own equally valid feelings about it and guilt tripping them into helping you is just going to backfire spectacularly.

I understand how down, hormonal and upset you are as I have been in the same situation with parents not wanting to be 'grandparents', in fact I have been in mourning for never having had a loving mother or loving grandmother for years.

I have lately come to terms with the situation as trying to change them is never going to work. You have just got to change your expectations. Try and cultivate friendships, get as much help as you can from your heath visitor and do not expect any hep from them.

Then if there is any offer (let it come from them, do not ask) then treat it as a bonus. Their behaviour is warning you off becoming dependent on them loud and clearly.

hearthattack Mon 16-Nov-15 00:36:18

I think it's the fact that they promised we could depend on them and then haven't come through that makes it so galling. We wouldn't have put ourselves in this situation if they hadn't expressed, in no uncertain terms, their desire to be closely involved, hands on grand parents. There's a huge gap between what they promised and what they're delivering, and we're left in a really vulnerable position as a result.

I didn't intend to be this ill. It's been scary, traumatising and sad. Maybe I'm naive but I'd expect family to rally round at a time like this, not back off. I would do so for them.

Fatmomma99 Mon 16-Nov-15 00:42:41

how horrible for you flowers
Unfortunately, you can't compel people. So you can "invite" them to help, but if they choose not to do it that's their decision (and loss!)

In the meantime, find GROUPS. Is there a children's centre near you the Tories haven't killed off yet? If so, GO. Google baby and toddler groups and go along. I guarantee you that you'll make contacts that will support you (emotionally , if not practically, and maybe practically too!). If the grandparents won't help out, they'll end up ultimately losing out!.

Good luck!

PerspicaciaTick Mon 16-Nov-15 00:53:01

It sounds to me that they are feeling the pressure of being carers for their elderly relatives. They got excited at the idea of having a young, healthy family living nearby and were planning on being able to spend fun time with you all...something to look forward to and for them to enjoy, a break, a little respite.
Maybe seeing you so poorly and understanding how much your DH has been doing to help you cope with your own care and looking after the baby, has frightened them that you might be expecting them to add more caring responsibilities to the pressure they already have. So they are hanging back from getting to involved.
I'm sure that you have no plans at all to be a burden on them, and you obviously didn't expect to have such a tough time having your baby. But perhaps you and your DH need to talk to them so that all your expectations are in line and nobody is being expected to do more than they can handle.

timeisnotaline Mon 16-Nov-15 00:54:49

You poor thing. I remember this feeling and how I wasn't at all prepared for being so physically unable myself. YANBU at all given they effectively promised lots of support. I'd not want to talk to them tbh but given you need the support can your partner make the help requests so you don't have to feel awful hearing them say no or maybe just this once etc? Try and get to some groups if you can, but they take some time to turn into practical support so really you have to do whatever you can to get through until you feel like you are coping, don't feel bad for the baby if you haven't left the house all day, baby will be fine smile

steppemum Mon 16-Nov-15 01:23:06

Congratualtions on you ds, sorry you had such a hard time.

reading your post it struck me that maybe there is a mismatch of expectations here.

They were imagining coming round for a cup of tea and playing with the baby. They saw it as a fun part of the day/week.

But because you have been so poorly, suddenly it is coming round to help look after you and the baby, and with their other caring responsibilities, they feel overwhelmed and can't face taking on more caring.

It doesn't justify it. How sad that they couldn't step in a help for a few weeks, but does maybe explain the change of heart?

I do sometimes think brave conversations need to be had, and if we were prepared to ask why the change of heart, they we might be surprised at what we hear.

summerainbow Mon 16-Nov-15 01:33:43

Where is your family?
have you any old freinds you could ask to come stay with you.
Before the baby was born did you and husband help in any way with elderly relatives?

ohtheholidays Mon 16-Nov-15 01:57:55

YANBU but unfortunately alot of the time when a new baby is expected even more so it it's a first child/grandchild people get swept along in the excitement and offer to do things to help that realistically they won't be able to do.

I know it feels unfair but it doesn't sound like it was done out of malice.

Lots of carers end up becoming physically ill themselves or end up with depression or can end up feeling completely burned out.This could be whats happening with your Il's.I know you've said they won't accept any help with looking after the other relatives,that could be down to them feeling guilt or feeling like they're be judged as not caring enough.A carers relationship with the person they're caring for can become very complex and not make alot of sense to those on the outside looking in.

With your DH going back to work do you have any family or friends that could come and stay with you or maybe that you could go and stay with?If not would you be able to afford to get some part time help in until your health has picked up?

madwomanbackintheattic Mon 16-Nov-15 02:09:16

You will be fine - it seems daunting to be left on your own after such a traumatic experience, but you will be fine.

They have caring responsibilities for four frail and elderly relatives - they will enjoy having your family around, but now that the drama of the birth is out of the way, and dh going back to work, you will adapt to your new routine.

Do think about some paid help for cleaning etc for a month or two if you are still recovering, or you could call your parents to come for an extended visit.

It's nice that they will be around as your ds grows, but they have too many responsibilities to be relied upon to do more than dote from a distance and pop round for tea. They will undoubtedly help if you need it and ask, but you will indeed be something else on their list of things to do. That's not them being callous, that's the sad lot of any carers. I can't imagine having caring responsibilities for four. That's an unenviable workload. Hopefully you will be able to help the, shoulder that burden when you feel stronger.

Think about requesting a debrief from your consultant or mw in order to keep ptsd at bay, or contact the birth trauma association if you need to.

Congratulations on the birth of your ds.

rageagainsttheBIL Mon 16-Nov-15 02:14:06

What a tough start for you. Congratulations though and hope you are feeling much better soon.

It sounds like they came to see you in hpspital, were supporting you on and off for the first three weeks, and helped when you asked for it. That doesn't sound half bad, framed like that, especially given their other responsibilities.

Having said that I felt very hard done by by parents and ILs in the first year. Other friends had their parents come every week to help or babysit, for example, whereas in our case it was 4 or so times a year and I had PND. So I know a little what it feels like.

I soon realised I needed to rely on myself, lower my expectations and understand it wasn't a personal slight.

On a practical note could one of your relatives come to stay at yours for a while to help?

WhereYouLeftIt Mon 16-Nov-15 02:41:34

"There was lots of talk about how involved they would be, ... I feel really cheated that we uprooted our lives to be here and none of their talk has materialised into action when it matters."

Oh OP I feel for you. I understand why you feel cheated - because you have been. Without all their fine words and enthusiasm, would you have uprooted yourself from your family and friends to be near them? Probably not. So if they hadn't done that, and you hadn't moved, maybe you would have the support of your family and it wouldn't be nearly so daunting. I fear they have been quite cruel to you - thoughtlessly rather than maliciously, but the effect is the same for you.

"They have a lot of caring responsibilities for a total of 4 very old and infirm relatives, which is pretty hard work."
And they knew that, before they spun you a line. I can understand that they might have wanted to deliver all their promises and inducements, but they should have realised that they already had time-consuming commitments and that those commitments weren't going to change (except to become more time-consuming). What were they thinking sad? I guess they probably fooled themselves as well as you - that was why they were so convincing - because they genuinely believed themselves as they said it. But now reality is biting, and - your the one being bit the hardest sad. Try not to think too badly of them - the future they promised you was also the future they promised themselves, and no doubt genuinely wanted. They were being hopeful - unrealistic, but hopeful. Yes they cheated you, but they also cheated themselves.

You can't change what has happened - but can you change the near future? What would be the practicalities of moving back again? If you could move back to your old area, to your family and friends, would you have more support? Can you write it off as a failed experiment, and move back?

BrightonMum36 Mon 16-Nov-15 07:13:42

Tell us more about why you specifically moved there. What is just to be near them? Did they request it? Who's idea was it and why? What was happening in your life to need to move away? Why aren't you near your family instead?

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 16-Nov-15 07:23:19

Might they have been thinking longer term? Like collecting your 5 year old from school once elderly relatives have passed away? How helpful could your family be?

Yanbu to be disappointed. Given that they promised help, perhaps you should tell them directly that you're really struggling. Perhaps point out that it won't be forever but right now you're recovering from the birth.

diddl Mon 16-Nov-15 07:45:03

Surely you didn't move close to them purely for help?

They do so much for others that that was never going to work by the sounds of things.

pluck Mon 16-Nov-15 07:50:09

I wonder if they're struggling with the infirm elderly relatives, too, but you haven't heard about it (you haven't complained publicly, either...), and they're just the sort of people who over-promise and under-deliver in general, or whether the emergency nature of your new needs has caught everyone by surprise.

It's such a shame you were taken in by their promises, and I agree you are definitely within your rights to want to move back.

However, that's both another short-term crisis (moving, post C-section! transferring immediate post-natal care!), so if you can look at the more distant future, you could spare yourself that. Go to the local library and all the groups you can get to, and find out what it's like to have older children in this new neighbourhood. Find out what it's like to mix work with children, as your childcare will have to be paid for.

If you're satisfied that longer-term family life with children won't be sustainable without the family help you're not going to get (WhereYouLeftIt is right: their caring responsibilities will only get greater), then why not move back?

Your moving would be a big shock to your ILs, and they will probably feel insulted, but it was all a big shock to you, too (!), and if you frame it as realising they have so much to do themselves, and they when they visit you, it will be more enjoyable for them, being away from home and their caring responsibilities... they may, guiltily, accept that they will benefit as much as you!

Did you buy and sell to move house, or are you renting? If the latter, if your new neighbourhood has a busy rental market, there may be enough movement for your LLs to re-let it quickly so you aren't held to the full length of your tenancy. (oh, check you can transfer all your medical care back "home", before considering this!)

Gazelda Mon 16-Nov-15 08:06:00

Would any of your own family come to stay for a few days, or could you go and stay there?
I agree with others that you can't make your ILs be more practically supportive, but you need to find a way of getting some support so that you and your DS can enjoy getting to know each other without feeling isolated.

pinkdelight Mon 16-Nov-15 08:06:55

It is very early days and this sometimes isn't the bit that interests people other than the parents. My dad is brilliant with my DCs but wasn't much help till they were walking and talking. Your in-laws sound very busy with caring duties and I agree they may not want to add more caring duties to their lives but may yet be very helpful in future when the baby is a bit older. For now it's more likely to be a cup of tea and a cuddle unless you are absolutely stuck and directly appeal for specific kind of help.

What would you have done for help if you hadn't moved? Did you have people where you used to live who would have helped you for free? Or would you have had to get a nanny/maternity nurse/mother's help? It sounds like a few hours paid help might work best for you now, someone who is skilled with and loves the newborn phase. At the very least it might help you move on - it's understandable and YANBU but your post is preoccupied with what they promised versus the reality, whereas you might as well let go of what they promised as it was clearly mistaken. Going over these things when you're already tired and stressed post-birth can only bring you down. Good luck and I really hope you get some practical help that makes you feel better soon.

HeteronormativeHaybales Mon 16-Nov-15 08:12:18

I would echo Perspicacia and diddl. It sounds like their increasing struggle to shoulder the caring burden has unhappily coincided with your hour of need.

I do agree that you can't expect or demand help. You can feel disappointed that they appear to have promised things and not followed through, but if you really did move purely for this reason, you were probably a bit U to do so (sorry). Anything could happen - they might become ill themselves, also rendering them unable to help. I certainly wouldn't be putting yourselves through the stress of another move without giving the new place a go first. Presumably your acute need for help will be temporary and you will eventually be able to get out there and build a life.

I hope I don't sound unsympathetic - dh and I have only ever had very, very brief and limited family help (and not in the baby stage either) and in the final analysis it is our family to deal with.

Thymeout Mon 16-Nov-15 08:27:02

Caring for four elderly people is incredibly stressful and time-consuming. You say 'they refuse to get help for this' - but I've been in this position and it's not that easy to do. Often the caree won't accept help from outsiders and organising help is as stressful and time-consuming as doing it yourself.

When you were planning to move near them, no one would have expected you to need the sort of help you now need. I think they are scared of taking on yet another caring obligation - as opposed to occasional babysitting and fun-times. That's why they've drawn a line in the sand about having days off from caring duties.

They're afraid of setting a precedent where they feel obligated to step in beyond their capabilities. You're young and won't need extra help for long. Could you buy in some help for the short time you need it, as pp suggested?

Heebiejeebie Mon 16-Nov-15 08:32:44

Did your partner ever offer to help with the his elderly relatives?

Jux Mon 16-Nov-15 08:35:55

Poor you, you are having a tough time flowers. It will get easier, honestly.

Your ILs do have a huge amount on their plates. No doubt, all the problems have taken them by surprise as much as they have you.

Do you have family? Can one of them come and stay for a week, to give you a hand?

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