New baby and step children?(39 Posts)
I'm looking for some advice, please...
I am 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby. It was an IVF baby so it's been a bit of a labour of love to get here. I live with my OH and his three step children - 13, 10, and 6 - live with us 50% of the time.
I've been thinking about the immediate few days (and week) after I give birth. If I'm like my friends, I'll inevitably have a few weeks of not knowing what the f**k I'm doing, trying to breastfeed, feeling like cr*p etc. Hopefully all will be rosy, but I'm also realistic enough to know that the first few weeks with your first baby are a bit of a whirlwind!
My OH and i have already said we will limit visits from my family but the one thing I wanted us to discuss is his children. I absolutely adore them and I want them to feel loved and included. Their mum has had two children with her new partner, and it was awful to see them unsettled by this. I want to do all i can to make them feel loved, included, and involved, and ensure that the new baby is not going to upset them in any way.
One way we could do this would be to have them in the house when the baby is born. However, they are very prone to tantrums on a daily basis and are very demanding, and I honestly don't think I could cope with that and a newborn. Maybe if I'd had a baby before I'd know what to expect, and obviously if I did have children then the situation would be different, but as it's my first baby, I'd like what all other new mums have, and that's to know I could have a few days of it just being me and my OH.
This morning I raised it with my OH and said I would like to know that there is scope for some time and space to find my feet when the baby is born. To start with he tried to change the subject and said "let's deal with at the time" / "let's talk about it later", and left the room. This is what he says when he's trying to placate the children, so I found it rather patronising.
I raised it again a few minutes later and he was instantly defensive saying that that they are his children and that I couldn't do that if we were having our second child. I said that I get that, but it's not my second, it's my first, and that i doubt he would have wanted three children in the house when he and his ex had their first baby.
I know I should have stayed calm, but i ended up bursting into tears.
He said "i knew you'd be like this" and that "I always take everything to the nth degree". I tried to explain that all I'm asking for is the flexibility to have some space. He said that they are his children, he doesn't want to "force them out of their home", and that he can cope with a new baby and them.
Am I being unreasonable? I would never normally dream of changing when he sees his children, and it was hard for me to raise this. I just wanted us to talk about it now so we can come up with a plan as the last thing I want is for his children to feel "pushed out". Equally though, I can fully imagine that him "coping" is him being 100% tied up with looking after his 3 children, and me barricaded in our bedroom trying to cope with a newborn. A situation I can totally foresee, and really want to avoid!
Has anyone else found a good way of ensuring step children feel loved and included, but also have managed to carve out some space to recover from labour and bond with a new baby?
This sounds really difficult and you sound very reasonable and lovely.
How do the children feel about the new baby? Are they excited or disinterested?
And how do you get on with their mum? What did they do when she had her baby?
All due respect, but he's right that if it were your second or more, you would simply have to get on with having a newborn with the other children around. And with stepchildren, either they are still members of the family or they are not, and excluding them when you would not exclude your own biological child is making it very clear that they are second-class children from your perspective and also that their dad won't stick up for them.
IMO having time just you and new baby when you have stepchildren, if the stepchildren had normally been with you, is one of the luxuries you have to sacrifice in a blended family. Your partner should be the one looking after them, though.
@NC4Now thank you The children are really, really excited about the new baby which is so lovely. They talk about it (and to my bump!) all the time.
When their mum had her two children the schedule stayed the same. However, their grandparents on that side practically moved in so their mum had lots of help. For lots of reasons I don't want my mum or my in-laws moving in with us in the same way.
Maybe it's selfish and unrealistic, but I think i'd like to be like other first time mums and have some time just me, the baby, and my OH. However, the last thing I want is for my SC to feel pushed out.
Maybe i just need to suck it up and except that I'm not like other first time mums . I just really, really worry that not having time to quietly bond with the baby could be really damaging in the long run.
Very difficult as this is nothing to do with if you had a second or third.. if you had a second or third you'd know what to expect! I totally appreciate that as a new Mum you will need time to adjust and that will be very hard to do so with everything else going on.
Would it be possible to involve the children as much as you can in a positive way? Give them tasks to do that might make them feel a part of everything. Could you talk to the children about how it will be when baby comes? You definitely don't need to be barricaded in your bedroom 😊
I just really, really worry that not having time to quietly bond with the baby could be really damaging in the long run.
It might be more work for you, but you will bond with your baby fine. They aren't with you full-time anyway so you will get days just you and baby, and bonding happens over months of caring for your baby anyway. There's nothing particularly magical or critical in the first few weeks. Worst-case scenario, your DP cares for his children and you stay in bed with baby and focus on feeding and recovering. Or if you don't want your mum or MIL there, can you afford a postnatal doula to help support you?
Bottom line, for me, is if you wouldn't ship your own biological children out, you can't tell your stepchildren they can't come if it's their normal time for being with you. It should be their home, and children should not be excluded from their home, especially when they're already going to be feeling vulnerable and anxious about losing their dad's affection.
It's hard on you, yes, but it's part of the step-parenting package when you form a new family with someone who already has kids.
Unfortunately with dc already on the scene you won't get the same luxury as other first time dm. I had our ds on the birthday of dss. We went to a huge shopping precinct with 5 dc when ds was 5 days old. Bf in McDonald's is no fun.
Simply the life you are in so better to accept that than appear to resent his dc before yours has even arrived.
I think you're worrying about nothing and to be honest most mumsnet threads about having a baby won't help with that. There seems to be a pervasive idea on here that new mums should barricade themselves in the house, see no one and have some intense bonding time.
Most people in the real world have a baby and then get on with their lives.
You do have to accept that you aren't like other first time mums - you already have children, albeit step children. A way to make them feel included is to make sure you don't tamper with their schedule. If you want to include them, then that's the most obvious way to do it.
You don't need some lovey dovey week alone in the house with the baby in order to bond. Life goes on. You'll bond whatever happens.
I think you're being (maybe understandably) unreasonable.
Does dh have any local family, or godparent type people? If the baby's born during term time presumably they'll be mostly at school anyway, but I'd it's during the holidays is there anyone who could take them out for a few hours every now and then?
Babies mostly sleep and feed, so assuming you're breastfeeding there won't be a huge amount for dh to do anyway, other than make sure you're stocked up with snacks and drinks.
You need to accept and deal with your reality which is that you aren't actually a first time mum who hasn't parented. You are already parenting these kids. They are your family. If you didn't want that you should have made other choices. Don't pull your partner in two.
Unfortunately as others have said you are not going to get the luxury of it being your first baby. If the children are due to be at yours then it's only fair that they are still there. Keeping the routine the same will really really help. My dss lived with us when my first was born and it is hard but he loved her from day 1. It will be hard with 3 dsc but they will be there for lots of 1st with the new baby it's just the way it is.
Much as I have massive sympathy for you, because I think having a first baby can be so tough, I think you need to follow the rule of what you would do if they were your biological children. Is there a relative, maybe a grandparent who could spend time with the older dc to free you and dp up. I think this would happen in a non blended family and therefore is a compromise.
You may be a first time mum but he is not a first time father, something you have always known.
Thanks for all your advice. I really appreciate it
The baby is due in the first week of the summer holidays which is probably why it's playing on my mind as it means that we won't get a 9am - 3pm break like in term time.
BUT having time is a luxury that I know I can't have - and I agree with that view.
The children are my family and I will do anything to avoid them feeling pushed out. I guess that's the reason I raised this now - the baby isn't due for a while, so I'm keen to avoid them feeling pushed out by coming up with a contingency now that works for everyone, rather than trying to come up with one in the heat of the moment.
@Didiusfalco - your suggestion of grandparents is a good one (their GP on my OH's side live about 2 miles away) and they are happy to help. And that is something that their mum did (with her parents) when she had their 2 half siblings, and it seemed to work out ok.
Equally, they are only there 50% of the time. It's not a big ask. I think it reflects massively well on your husband that he wants ALL his children there.
Don’t worry about the bonding thing. I agree with PP - you don’t need to hole yourself up. You’ll bond as a family, and you’ll have plenty of bonding time with your newborn. It just happens.
Equally, it’s nice for siblings to bond.
If you really wanted a rest your best bet is to take the baby elsewhere and let your dp and children stay in the home with contact uninterrupted.
Believe me when I say the last thing you want is his kids SS turning against you or their new sibling
I can understand totally where you are coming from and yes, whilst it is important to make the children feel included etc. I don't blame you for wanting a bit of alone time with the baby.
I have two dc's and currently expecting my third...and won't deny that whilst I love my dcs enormously, I am looking forward to having a few hours alone with the baby whilst the youngest dc is at pre-school especially because they will probably be all over the baby when it arrives which is lovely but I do want a bit of alone time with the baby just to absorb our new addition to the family...so no I don't think you are being unreasonable in wanting this x
How do you get on with their mother? I think it is wise to have contingency plans in place, so that if the children are with you and DH when you go into labour, someone can take over while DH takes you to hospital (just like if they were your older children). Then you would want them to visit their new sib in a planned way, with presents from the baby for each of them (my third DS gave his brothers ear defenders!). And then plan coming home from the hospital and quiet days at home afterwards, with them included. Since no one knows when they are going into labour (apart from elcs) its wise to plan ahead for this. If you and dH have a good relationship with their mother, see if DH can chat with her about what she would like to happen, maybe she would like the DC to come straight back to hers if you go into labour in the middle of the night, maybe she would prefer a friend or grandparent is called so they dont have to be woken up. Then the same for the other scenarios. If there isnt a good relationship there, then you need to plan differently.
Yabu when ex had another baby he rung me and got ds even though it wasn’t his day and took him to meet his new sister at the hospital. He then went straight round when they came home. When I had my other two dc my ds was present and we had a full week of bonding as a family. You will never get the same experience of having both your first dc together because your dh has existing dc your dh is completely right what would you do if you had a second? It was my dh first baby when we had dd but I’m way did we sent ds away. Bit of an underhand comment slagging their mother off for handling when she her other dc but then you want time alone.
I understand where you’re coming from with it. I think it’s fair enough to ask for a few days to recover physically and get a bit of a handle on what’s happening.
If your DH is really against it though I’d never clear with him that he’ll need to do everything for the children and have a couple of ground rules like the children don’t come into your bedroom as I found that when my DSD was with us just after my DD was born it was helpful to be able to go into our bedroom and feed or sleep when DD slept or just to have a bit of calm.
DH had 100% custody, didn't even come to the hospital when I gave birth, he stayed home with them and my mum came with me, which suited me fine. I found they bonded with the baby really well - they were 13 and 18. We had no alternative to them being there all the time, but I don't feel I missed out on time just me DS and DH, because we weren't a family of 3, we were a family of 5. I think you may need to shift to that perspective before having your baby, and you will find you don't miss out because you aren't expecting that time. You don't want your stepchildren to feel pushed out or not part of the baby's life, which sending them away risks saying to them. Good luck!
Don't barricade yourself in the bedroom though - you will get resentful. The acting as though they were your biological children doesn't just mean accepting your home is theirs, it works both ways. You can set yourself up in permanent residence on the sofa and have them bring you cups of tea, water and sandwiches and if the eldest or elder two are willing and averagely trustworthy for their ages they can do nappy changing and other tasks, especially if you end up with a c section and can't move about easily.
If they were your bio children you wouldn't shut yourself away in your own home, assuming that you aren't an aristocratic family from a hundred years ago plus... So don't feel you have to do that. Prepare your step kids for the reality that the first week or three of summer will be living room based for you and DH, and they are welcome to join you or retreat to their rooms/ the garden if they want space.
The suggestion that grandparents, rather than their dad, do any solo outings with the big kids in the first few weeks is a good one. Make sure the kids know those outings are to give them baby free time and a treat, not to give you and their dada break from them.
I’m not a stepmum but I do have children. In your shoes I would feel exactly the same Op and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want a couple of days to get acquainted with being a new Mum. Would it Be possible to speak with their Mum and ask if she would be willing to be flexible with their contact arrangements around your due date so that if the baby comes when they are with you she would swap days and have them? I know I would have done that for my ex if he had asked.
All due respect, but he's right that if it were your second or more, you would simply have to get on with having a newborn with the other children around
But it's not her second child, it's her first. We are more confident with 2nd children, we've done it before...
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