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'Managing' my mother...

(24 Posts)
Skeppers Mon 20-Jul-15 10:42:57

After some advice on how to tackle this situation with DM.

My husband is my nominated birth partner. However, recently when we were attending NCT classes he confessed to feeling very squeamish and uncomfortable when discussing labour and birth. At one point in the class he went very pale/greenish and had to put his head between his knees as he thought he was going to faint! This was just TALKING about labour. Bless him.

I decided to put my sister as a 'back up' person on my birth plan, just in case DH does pass out or have a funny turn during labour. My sister is very pragmatic, practical and level-headed and would be a good advocate on my behalf. Plus, she lives 10 mins from the hospital and is a teacher so will be off work around my due date (August) and available at any time. My DH will have her number JUST IN CASE he needs to call her but she absolutely understands that this is purely as a back up and she is anticipating not being called at all.

My DM doesn't live too far away, but it's across a body of water which she physically won't be able to cross if I go into labour in the small hours as no ferries will be running. I told her my intention to use my sister as a 'back up' birth partner and she was a bit affronted, but seemed to accept the logic (ie. my sister is nearer, more readily available to help, etc.)

I met up with my sister for a coffee on Saturday. She wanted to give me the 'heads up' that mum had told her in no uncertain terms that she was only to act as a back up birth partner if my mum wasn't available, and that- as soon as my mum arrives at the hospital- she is to take my sister's place at my side! hmm My sister challenged her by saying "but your name won't be on the birth plan, mine will" which my mum replied, "I'll just lie and say that I'm you!" shock

There are several things which piss me off about this. Mainly her sense of entitlement, her assumption that I would want her there and lack of understanding that the 'back up' is purely that, in the unlikely event that DH flakes out. To be honest, I also just don't really want her there. Unlike my sensible, level-headed sister, my mum is very emotional (which will only be polarised by the circumstances) and a bit of a know-it-all. I can just see the midwife asking me a question and my mum butting in with the "Oh no, she doesn't want me, I've had four kids...B is better" bit and trying to take over, which will inevitably stress me out.

I do love my DM and I know she's just excited (first grandchild), but she seems to think that she's entitled to be at the birth when really the only people I want there are DH and the medical staff!

I asked her if her mother was present at any of our births and she scoffed and said 'of course not!'. SO WHY DOES SHE EXPECT TO BE AT MINE!?

How can I diffuse this situation without upsetting her? She does take any sort of rejection very personally, and gets very passive-aggressive with it. It's really the only thing that's stressing me out about the birth at the moment. sad

WiIdfire Mon 20-Jul-15 10:50:15

I realise this doesn't answer your question, but I just wanted to share: Similar situation here, so I had my sister at my labour in case my husband felt unwell, and she was the one who nearly passed out! Husband was fine :-)

Singsongsung Mon 20-Jul-15 10:58:18

Honestly, I think your dh needs to get a grip! This is the birth of his child for goodness sake. It's a good job it's not you who's a bit queasy at the thought isn't it!!!!

MishMooshAndMogwai Mon 20-Jul-15 11:02:34

You could just not tell her when you go into labour? Swear your sister and DH to secrecy and ring her once you're settled with your tea and toast and clean, snuggly newborn?

Skeppers Mon 20-Jul-15 11:09:13

Singsongsung A bit queasy!? He's not the only one; I'm DREADING IT. I'm just relieved I don't have to be at the business end! People who say that childbirth is 'beautiful' are wrong 'uns, as far as I'm concerned! It's a horrorshow. I can't blame him for being a bit...sensitive at the thought.

MishMooshAndMogwai Nice idea, but she would literally kill me if she found out.

I think the best I can hope for is that all the action takes place late at night/early in the morning so she physically can't be present, as much as she might want to. I can imagine her, pacing all night like a caged tiger until the first ferry sails!

merrymouse Mon 20-Jul-15 11:10:02

You have already told her. How she reacts is her business. Unless your sister is likely to disregard your plans and actually do what she requests (in the unlikely event that your DH needs a back up and your DM can get there in time) just ignore.

FATEdestiny Mon 20-Jul-15 11:11:35

My Mum was the one of fainted when I gave birth, not my DH. I wouldn't change things for the world though, it was lovely to have them both there.

OP - This might just be a misunderstanding, rather than malicious disregard for your wishes. When you talked to her (and she accepted the logic) I suspect she left that conversation with the thought that you did want her there, but the practicalities meant she couldn't at night. So the misunderstanding is not entirely her fault.

I would word it along the lines of "I am sorry I didn't explain things clearly..." and then try again.

Really, your DH not being there is very unlikely to happen. I never even considered a back up because really, there is no options on his being present for the birth of his child.

FATEdestiny Mon 20-Jul-15 11:13:31

I think the best I can hope for is that all the action takes place late at night/early in the morning so she physically can't be present

First labour may well take several days and involve several separate trips to hospital. May well not be done as dusted within the space of a few hours.

merrymouse Mon 20-Jul-15 11:14:04

I would also imagine that you can brief hospital staff to keep her out of the delivery room on the basis that she isn't on the birth plan.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Mon 20-Jul-15 11:14:42

Just don't tell her! You know, in the heat of the moment nobody thought of calling anybody, I forgot my phone, so sorry, you know what it's like...

vvviola Mon 20-Jul-15 11:15:38

You can tell the staff in advance that she is likely to try to come in, and ask them not to let her. I think labour ward staff are particularly skilled at that grin

And as a confidence boost re your DH - my DH is terrible around discussions of labour/blood/anything medical. After DD1 was born he had to leave the room when the nurse was taking blood.

When it comes to labour or one of the DC being hurt - he is outstanding! He never so much as blinks, he's calm and supportive. I couldn't have got through either labour without him.

And he didn't go (or need to go) anywhere near the business end. Standing at my shoulder, holding my hand and the gas and air mouthpiece was his job.

Your DH may surprise you grin

stolemyusername Mon 20-Jul-15 11:16:31

You need to tell her straight and then let her get over it, don't be bullied into something you're not comfortable with. Your body, your birth.

LadyOrangutan Mon 20-Jul-15 11:34:57

Can you nod and smile to your Mum and put in your notes that your mother is not to be admitted at all while childbirth is taking place. Only your sister or DH.

Skeppers Mon 20-Jul-15 11:39:24

I did mention my concerns to my midwife and she did reassure me that the labour ward staff are very good at dealing with 'unwelcome' visitors! I'll just make it clear that the only person I want there is DH (and he does want to be there!) and, in case of an emergency, my sister. I don't have a problem with mum waiting at the hospital, if that's what she wants to do! I've warned her that it could be a couple of days potentially, so she'll be bored out of her wits, but if that's what she wants to do, I have no problem with it as long as she stays away from the labour ward. Her response to that was 'Well, I had fast labours with all of you, so you'll probably be the same so it won't be a problem..." hmm

Maybe I did give her the impression that there was a bit of an open door policy when I introduced the back up plan? I just need to reiterate the above to her. To be fair, I hold all the power here; if she pisses me off, she won't get to see her grandchild until I'm good and ready! Simple.

Although, she's been at it again this morning...I made it clear to people that DH and I want at least a week on our own once we're home with baby just to settle and try and get our heads around having him there, for me to try and get into the swing of BF and working out what baby's natural 'routine' is so we can work around it- ie. when he likes to nap/feed, etc. without random disturbances or disruption from outside.

EVERYONE was fine with this. EVERYONE told us to take as long as we need, they'll only visit when we're ready. EVERYONE except my mum, again talking to my sister (not me, you'll notice) this morning...

"Yes, but she'll be fine with US (ie. DM and her partner) visiting..."

bangs head on desk

LadyOrangutan Mon 20-Jul-15 11:55:47

I think your mum and my mum live on the same cloud in cuckoo land! The rules don't apply to her either! grin

Acroyoga Mon 20-Jul-15 22:52:12

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

NothingUpMySleeve Mon 20-Jul-15 23:08:36

Not wanting your mum present at the birth is IMO perfectly, perfectly reasonable and stick to your guns.
Not wanting her to visit for a week afterwards perhaps slightly less so, I think provided people know they can't overstay their welcome, don't expect to be catered for and might even offer to stick the dishwasher on for you, then you should let them have short visits. If you aren't well, or struggling with BFing then you might want space at certain times, but people who are going to feature significantly in your child's life (assuming your DM is) maybe consider having a bit sooner than a week...

Topseyt Mon 20-Jul-15 23:48:56

She should stay away from the hospital and respect your wishes there.

A week is probably a long time to keep an excited new grandma away though. I would let her visit for a couple of hours a day or two after you get home, on the understanding that she goes home the same day.

I actually found myself wanting my mum after my DD1 had been born. I was totally exhausted, battered and bruised from labour too. She helped me cope again.

I wouldn't stipulate too much now, except that you don't want her as a birth partner, back-up or otherwise. You can't know how the birth will go or how you will feel afterwards, so just keep an open mind. Mine came to our place and cooked for me, as well as lending a sympathetic ear. Could yours do that?

Skeppers Tue 21-Jul-15 08:57:40

Acroyoga I think you've hit the nail on the head. There is no misunderstanding. As I've said, I do love my mum, but she can be quite emotionally self-centred at times. She never used to be like this. I think that it stems from her moving away from us all quite a few years ago when she met a new partner. We (including my siblings) used to see her at least once or twice a week but now- even though she doesn't live geographically that far away- she lives across a body of water which is prohibitively expensive for us to cross on a regular basis. We get a lot of the 'you never come to visit!' guilt dumped on us, even though it was entirely her choice to move and there's nothing stopping her from coming to visit us once in a while (it's actually cheaper getting the ferry from there to the mainland)!

I think there is an element of 'empty nest' syndrome creeping in (my youngest sister lived with her until relatively recently) which means that she wants to feel involved and a part of our lives. Which she is, of course, but in this particular instance- ie. the birth- it's not necessarily appropriate! I've relented on other things; when I mentioned that we were looking at nursery places she wanted to come and visit a couple of nurseries with us (it's kind of her 'area') and when I told her that it wasn't really practical because places were booking up fast and we needed to get the visits done in the next week or so to get the slots that we wanted, and she wouldn't be on the mainland again until a few weeks later...she started crying and said "I just want to be involved!". So, I had to go ahead and book the nursery place without even visiting until 4 weeks later and I then had to book the whole day off work (rather than just popping out during my lunch break) to drive to the ferry, pick mum up, view the nursery, drop her back, etc. etc. Fortunately the nursery was great, but it sort of defeated the object of the visit as we'd already booked it anyway, iyswim!?

Re: the not visiting in the first week, I do accept that maybe I'm being a bit harsh here. But I've felt like this since the very early days when I found out I was pregnant, like I just want to crawl into a little cave with DH and the baby and shut the world out. I'm fairly introverted anyway and hate having people's attention focused on me; even when they are trying to be nice/helpful I can lash out and be very negative and I don't mean to be, it's like a defence mechanism. I think I may well feel like this once baby is born, like I just want people to leave us alone for a while to adjust. It's our first (and probably only) child and neither of us really have a clue what to do- it's going to be enough of a headf*ck without having to worry about sitting and making smalltalk with people! And I don't want to have to wake up the baby so he can 'entertain' people because- despite what you say, this is what people will expect- or have to be relegated to the bedroom by myself whenever he needs a feed because I haven't got the hang of it yet and don't want to get my full-frontal norkage out in front of a bunch of people, even if they are family!

Oh, and speaking of breastfeeding, this is another thing she was offering me 'advice' on the other day, despite having not breastfed ANY of us. She seemed quite affronted when I seemed to know all about it thanks to having attending NCT classes...I just have visions of her being there when I'm trying to feed saying things like "Oh no, you're doing it all wrong, try doing this!" and then getting all teary-eyed when I don't necessarily take her's like, because she's had 4 kids, she's the authority on childrearing and- whilst I'm more than happy to ask her advice when I need it, and she did a perfectly good job of raising us four- I want to find my OWN path as a parent, and do things my OWN way and make my OWN mistakes and not be a carbon-copy of her.

Sorry, went a bit ranty at the end there!!

worldsworstmum2015 Tue 21-Jul-15 09:21:51

Let the midwife looking after you on the delivery suite that you don't want her letting in. It's easier to get in Buckingham palace than it is to get into a birthing room so even if she turns up at the hospital she'll be turned away at the ward. It was on my birth plan that my Mum was allowed to come in and they asked me again before letting her in. Try not to worry about it

Brionius Thu 23-Jul-15 11:17:43

Ah I had to laugh, but sympathy laugh! My mum is the same! I've said she can't be there and we won't call her, end of. She sees childbirth as a dangerous and terrifying thing whereas I'm having a lovely normal homebirth (hopefully) with a very hippie aromatherapy/pool/hypno set up. She'd be terrible, wincing and despairing. Plus we really aren't that close. But she's threatened to sit in the car outside. Aargh. Mothers. And before we know it, it will be us!

ShebaShimmyShake Thu 23-Jul-15 21:19:43

NOT AGAIN! The more stories I read about people riding roughshod over women's rights to personal autonomy and patient confidentiality WHEN THEY ARE IN FRIGGING LABOUR, the more I think women should just be shunted off to a sanctuary from week 12 and kept away from the entire world in peace until they've had the baby.

You don't owe anything to anyone who treats you so disrespectfully. Tell her it is your labour and your decision, and that is the end of the matter, and simply do not discuss it any further. If she tries to bring it up, tell her, "I told you this matter was not up for discussion. Either stop talking about it, or I leave the conversation." And then do it. Hang up, leave the room, go home, whatever, if she tries to engage you further. Don't.

And then simply do not tell her when you're in labour. And make sure the midwives are aware of the situation so they don't let her in by mistake if she does manage to intrude by some act of Satan.

Kitty149j Sun 26-Jul-15 13:04:04

You have my absolute mum is EXACTLY the same (your's isn't a retired primary school teacher/headteacher too by any chance?). Thank goodness we live 600 miles away from her or she would have been here the week after I'd had DS (and stick to your guns re no visitors - those first 4-5 days home just the three of you is so lovely). I made it clear that she was welcome to come down week 2 onwards. We also spend whole month with her and dad when he was 3 months old so to give her time to get to know him. It's been 40 years since she was a mum to baby but I had to endure being made to look like an imbecile in front of her friends as she 'asked their advice' about colic without mentioning what we had tried which was everything but Osteopathy - and that worked so keep cranial osteopathy in mind - specially if forceps involved!).

When I spoke to her how she made me feel she just said 'I wanted to give my friends a boost and feel good about contributing advice'. Never mind she made out I was an absolutely crap mother in the process (and made me feel totally crap and useless)........even some of her friends said to her that they thought I was doing a brilliant job as it was and were really nice to me. She just didn't get it.

And then she rode rough-shod over my bottle feeding introduction at 12 weeks where I'd psyched DH to feed DS as he was still so nervous being near DS, but she demanded to feed him whilst we ate at the table as she was so desperate to feed him even though I begged her not to and that I wanted DS to get used to DH first and then introduce him to other members of family feeding him. Needless to say it was as if I'd never spoken she was that blinkered/singleminded so that she was the first and ONLY person to give him a bottle feed because she was so desperate to feed him and I was just being 'neurotic' and after her jabbing at his mouth for a full hour whilst he was screaming in protest with her commenting to entire gobsmacked family at table 'he's just got to get used to it when he goes to nursery' - she left him with a complex about bottles so that he screamed blue murder if he even saw one next to him never mind being given one. Thus it's only at 7 months after us not using a bottle at all for 4 months to give him time to forget experience, that he's taking to using bottle for water and expressed milk during nursery and thus giving me some freedom at weekends as well. I wish I'd just told her where to go and walked out when she first demanded that she fed him.....I was just too exhausted to keep fighting my corner. After that episode she even came in (when I'd walked off to room we stay in at mums after the meal shaking with fury) asking me 'what was wrong, dad mentioned you were really upset'. I practically bundled her out the room saying if she didn't get out I'd be saying something that both she and I would regret ever more. It soured the rest of the 4 weeks stay really.....To be honest - I'll NEVER forgive her for robbing my DH of that special moment of DS taking his first feed from someone other than his mum (me), and for subsequently making it so much harder for DS to use bottle and thus give me a break of feeding during the night.

Even now 9 months on - there's still that barrier as I feel I just can't trust her now - she comes down for occasional weekend and that's just about all I can manage - specially now he's crawling and although she hasn't said - I know she's feels exhausted after 1 hour with him..... We skype each other once a week and she sees DS through that.

Stick to your guns - at the end of the day you're the mum of impending grandchild - make it clear she's welcome to visit and help out on things YOU need helping out on but she's there to help or play, not demand and that your wishes re child comes first because at end of day - you're the one living 24/7 with baby - not just visiting for the 'nice bits' of being granny.

Kitty149j Sun 26-Jul-15 13:11:04

Forgot to say - day after bottle feeding fiasco - she asked one of her friends who's a nurse 'best way of introducing bottle feeding'. The nurse confirmed that what I was doing (tried to do before DM interfered) was exactly right, DM then turned to me and said 'maybe you should try that'. Speechless didn't even BEGIN to cover it............

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