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Can't talk to adoptive mother about pregnancy - help!!

(25 Posts)
featherboa Sat 02-Aug-08 22:29:01

I am pregnant with my first baby. I was adopted as a small child and although I get on well with my adoptive parents, I am finding it really awkward to share this pregnancy with my adoptive mother in particular.

She is already referring to it as "our" baby and wants to know every last detail. I have always felt slightly guilty that she never had a baby herself even though of course it's not my fault but she poured her attention into me and didn't try to have a baby after she adopted me. There is a martyr-ish sort of element from her sometimes when she's feeling wronged.

Because she hasn't been pregnant or given birth it feels difficult to go on about being pregnant myself. Its not that I want to either, I don't. She is quite a forceful character and I feel like she's picking all the bits of my pregnancy away that I would like to keep private or as a special memory for me and DH. I feel mean if I don't share everything she wants to know.

Has anyone else had any experience of this?

madmouse Sat 02-Aug-08 22:58:46

I do not know how you feel as I have not been adopted. My mum, who would have been possessive, passed away years ago and my step mum has never had children. She is just totally supportive and interested. Dh is an only child and his mum has just always been totally supportive. It helps we live abroad grin although i have loved making my lovely step mum a nana.

Back to topic. I just want to say you need to find a way of dealing with this now, or you will be up the creek no paddle once baby is here. It is boundary time and I wish I could tell you where to draw them, but draw them you must. And no more feeling mean, some bits of pregnancy are meant to be between you and dh.

You may do well to seek advice/counselling seeing that you feel slightly guilty that she ony has you (dh has the same, aggravated by living abroad while mum is very fragile and so feeling bad son).

Maybe your dh can help set boundaries and even occasionally put the brakes on your adoptive mother.

I hope you will get some expert advice on here.

theinsider Sat 02-Aug-08 23:12:15

Agree with madmouse about the boundary-setting however also try to think about how she feels. She loves you massively, unconditionally, you are her (one and only?) child. Now you are pregnant and expecting her grandchild. She is very excited for you and for herself.

You may be over-egging the fact that there is much connection with her never have been pregnant. But maybe not, who am I to know? In your post it doesn't come across to me as anything to do with the fact you're adopted, just a normal problematic, maybe overbearing mother/daughter relationship.

Assuming you do love her (whatever her faults) try to bear in mind how excited she must feel, for both of you. She always wanted to be pregnant and never managed it and therefore your elevated to a much higher status, when maybe you'd prefer to be more "normal".

Don't feel mean if you don't want to share evrything. Most women wouldn't share everything with their mothers. How good is your relationship? It may be worth mentioning to her and trying to instigate a chat as this "pregnancy/genetic bond which your adoptive mother didn't have" issue may re-appear in various guises over the years and it's worth all knowing where you stand.

madmouse Sat 02-Aug-08 23:13:33

theinsider that is a great post

glasgowgal Sat 02-Aug-08 23:25:07

I think, like any mother, she is hugely excited for you and wnats to share in this exciting time. Perhaps because she has never experienced pregnancy she is even more excited and you are perhaps the only person she feels she can do this with. It may have been difficult for her in the past to enjoy anyone else's pregnancy if she herself was unable.Try not to shut her out. She might be the fist person you want to see when the baby is born. I know I did. When my mum walked in moments after I myself was a mother, I burts into tears. There were no words needed- we both knew what I was feeling and you mum will too.

Insaying that,this pregancy will obviously be special to you and your partner and you will find there are parts of it that you will not need to share. The dynamics are totally different.

Try to relax and enjoy it. It is the most special and exciting time and you will always remember it, especially your first.

featherboa Sat 02-Aug-08 23:27:03

Thank you madmouse and theinsider.

She is completely excited about it but she is making me feel territorial about my pg, I recognise this and don't want any bad feeling to overspill into when the baby arrives so I'm trying to get to grips with it sooner rather than later.

You are completely right theinsider, I most definately certainly would prefer to be "normal"! My mum is very extrovert whereas I am naturally quieter and more private, and I feel exposed by her constant attention and questionning. Sometimes I don't want to answer the phone to her because I haven't got the energy to be high-octane excited for her - and if I'm not, she suggests in a roundabout way that I'm being a misery guts. Then I snap - then I feel mean - then I feel guilty. I resolve to be all happy no matter what next time I speak to her but she'll say something that puts my back up (ie baby names - she asks, I tell her, she says something like "Hmm. Not sure I like it. I'll get back to you" hmm even if I haven't actually asked her opinion! She's quite self-centred and egocentric and doesn't realise how rude/upsetting that sort of response comes across. It's not intentional though.

She is also a bit of a drama queen and prone to flouncing and strops. She must have fallen out (to not speaking for over a year level) with virtually every member of our family over time. Then all of a sudden, the feud is made up and I have to listen (and pretend to care) about cousin Harry's bad elbow or whatever, once again.

Sorry for rant, it's all coming out hey! She is also very generous and would always help someone in a pickle with both time and money and she has loads of friends, so she is a good person - just quite hard work for a Mum.

ilovemydog Sat 02-Aug-08 23:27:07

You don't mention any connection about your biological mother?

I know some women who have been adopted who, once pregnant, go into biological mode and connect with the birth mother. Is this a concern for your mom?

But your mom sounds excited, enthralled, fascinated (because for all intents and purposes, she is going through it for the first time, albeit vicariously)

It is your and your DH's baby, but she will be a part of the baby's life too.

I had a similar problem with mil. My own mother is in California, and mil lives a few miles down the road, so is closer proximity wise.

It was difficult at first, but I would tell her things that I felt comfortable with - I wasn't happy for her to know about the baby being breech, that I had amnio etc. I was OK with her having a copy of the 20 week scan photo, and knowing the due date.

Realize though that it's your pregnancy, but she is just so excited about it all, which may be irritating at times, but in the scheme of things, is quite lovely smile

theinsider Sat 02-Aug-08 23:40:02

fatherboa - don't want to upset a pregnant women but it looks as if, had you posted in AIBU, there would have been lots of "yes" replies. smile

It really sounds as though the fact that you were adopted has very little do with this, for what that is worth. It's a story of a mum wanting too much involvement in daughters's pregnancy. Even relatives/friends with the best of intentions ask too many questions or think it's their right to know something or another.

I'm going to bow out here though as (as apart from heading off to bed) it was the adopted element of your story which struck a chord with me. I'm lucky my mum (biological, and only I've ever known) is pretty good when it comes to her grandchildren so I'm afraid I have no words of wisdom on how to deal with your mum. But even she is prone to saying "do you not think it would be better if...?" I just grit my teeth. smile

I hope you mange to get things sorted to your satisfaction. It sounds like you're child will be lucky to have you as a mum and your mum as a grandparent. Good luck.

featherboa Sat 02-Aug-08 23:41:26

I know glasgowgirl, it just puts a lot of pressure on me if this is the first pregnancy she has truly been able to enjoy in a - what's the word - altruistic way??! I have seen her friends have babies over the years and she was quite bossy with them and they indulgently let her be.

In a way, because she is egocentric it feels a little at times like I've got pregnant to please her and present her with a baby to enjoy, to which she has unlimited access. She is always trying to orchestrate people and set them up ie "Why don't you ring Auntie Sue tonight?" then later "Have you rung Auntie Sue yet? I said you wanted to speak to her".

For example I mentioned I had been to see a show with a friend recently. She got all huffy and said she had wanted to see that show but couldn't find anyone to go with. I pointed out if she'd have asked me, we could have gone together, easily. She said she would expect I would have told her I was thinking of going as didn't I know it's just the sort of thing she would like to see hmm. Etc. I am not a mind reader and actually it wasn't the sort of thing I thought she'd like, she has never expressed any interest in that particular performer before. I still felt guilty though and just stopped short of apologising before I realised how ridiculous that would be.

I am anticipating, because I know her very well, that if I so much as take the baby to John Lewis without asking her along she will pull a face about it. She was not pleased when I said I had bought the baby some outfits because she wanted to buy the baby's first babygrow etc. (she never said so before though).

Gosh it feels good to let this out!

featherboa Sat 02-Aug-08 23:51:09

Ilovemydog - I have been discouraged from connecting with birth mother, so much so that I have hardly thought about her even since I got pregnant. I know no details of my own birth.

Most women probably grow up hearing their mums talk about when they were pregnant with them, and if they breastfed and how much they weighed and if they were good sleepers etc but I know nothing of that. Consequently pregnancy and babies are a bit of a mystery grin It's all such an unknown quantity because I've never heard about my own birth/baby days.

The adoptive element is relevant because I feel I owe her the access and the detail because I know she never had it herself and this is the closest she will ever get. I don't think it's quite the same as just an overexcited granny-to-be. There again I'll never know smile

glasgowgal Sun 03-Aug-08 00:00:51

You are right , featherboa, she does sound a little forceful but ( and I am not adopted) this may be more to do with her as a person nd less to do with her being your adoptive mother).

Both grandmothers of my children like to be involved but they have always been clear on my role as the mother- not because I had to point it out I hasten to add.They are very good that way. Its not always easy however.

From your last post you sound as if you understand your mum well and I have no doubt you love her warts and all. Deal with this the way you deal with any of her other huffs/moods. You may have to bite your tongue sometims and other times you may have to say your piece (you'll probably be let off lightly anyway and everyone will whisper in a corner about you being hormonal).

Don't make it a big deal. I know it's tempting to but is it really worth it? I really hope you can all enjoy this time and the times to come.

ilovemydog Sun 03-Aug-08 00:03:22

Featherboa - oh please don't feel as if you owe her your pregnancy! And don't let her be indulgent!

I agree with insider - the adoptive element isn't really a factor here. She sounds over bearing and in your face.

So, you need to set the boundaries. You need to tell her what you want. For instance, if you and DH have a list of items you need for the baby, you tell her, 'I'd be grateful if you could help with this list of things we need...'

If you need help with domestics, ask her if she could help.

But ask her to do specific things.

(and think that what insider meant was that if you posted under AIBU, the response would have been, 'no..')

glasgowgal Sun 03-Aug-08 00:04:50

And under no circumstances tell anyone any baby names until the baby is here. It just misses out all that oh,no, not sure nonsense.

featherboa Sun 03-Aug-08 00:29:00

You are right glasgowgal, I am struggling not to let it bother me but I find I am yo-yoing on a daily basis. I really feel like there's a battle of wills to stake the primary claim on the baby, which I am fully aware sounds ridiculous, but it's because Mum is snapping at my heels all the time. I can't just relax and enjoy it.

All I want is for her to relax a little and just be pleased in a more natural way than in the manic way she's coming across to me at the moment. I love it that she's excited - course I do. It's just that I thought being pregnant would be the end of her treating me like a sixth former and of me feeling like one with her - and instead it's like I'm giving her another child rather than a grandchild. I can't explain it more clearly than that.

I think I'll make a list of all the positive things she does and is and read it every morning. I have a photo of her on the mantlepiece which always brings a lump to my throat because she looks so happy in it and when I see that picture I feel like such a cow for not telling her everything/feeling annoyed at her response to our baby names etc. She really doesn't mean it.

Perhaps some of this is the dreaded hormones too.. perhaps it's a protective thingy.

Good advice Ilovemydog re being specific, then I can channel her excitement at least and I'm sure she will love to feel useful. I will look into that.

Oh and I will not be telling anyone our names from now on until the baby's here, and I have asked DH not to either grin because if people don't like it, it's really mean to say so when it actually belongs to a tiny baby grin

dinkystinky Mon 04-Aug-08 12:17:20

Featherboa - it sounds really like so many experiences that I - and a couple of our friends went through - when we first got pregnant.
I know you've said your mum is touchy - would you be able to have a gentle chat with your mum, letting her know that you love her and love that she's so excited about this baby, but you also need a little space yourself to enjoy this pregnancy and work out your own feelings and do things (eg buy clothes and chose names) to prepare for this baby arriving. Or would you be able to speak to your dad about it?

I love my mum dearly but we have always clashed as we have quite different approaches to life, and we had some awful arguments in the run up to birth of my DS (my mum is a doctor and a bit of a pessimist and basically drove me insane for the 9 months of my pregnancy with things that I shouldnt do and should do (I mostly just bit my tongue, nodded at her and went off to do whatever I thought I should be doing)) and in the year and a half after DS was born (as I felt my mum was criticising everything about how I chose to parent my child and ignoring the fact that I am no longer a child myself). My poor dad was stuck in the middle as mediator. Things only got better after I sat her down and had a long talk with her about the kind of support I need from her, and most importantly the space and ability I need to be my own person and a mother to my DS. In hindsight I wish I'd done it alot earlier....

Wisknit Mon 04-Aug-08 12:27:50

Feather boa, I have no real answers for you just would like to reiterate what others have said about baoundaries.
I have an Aunt who is very similar, desperately loves babies , would have loved her own family but it never happened.
As a result she's always tried to 'share' my mum's family. To the point where she gets stroppy that my children see more of their grandma than her.
Smile and nod to lots of well intentioned advice and maybe have a quiet chat explaining how you feel if you have that kind of relationship.
Hope you get it all sorted out.

GrapefruitMoon Mon 04-Aug-08 12:35:54

featherboa, I think in some ways you are right that being adopted is relevant here - for example, it is very normal for first time mothers especially to be very possessive of the new baby - a woman who had given birth herself would probably remember that and give a new mother some space (eg not try to hog the baby) but one who hadn't wouldn't necessarily have had those feelings (if they were hormonally generated!)

And in any circumstances there will be scope for hurt feelings - MIL wanted to jump on a plane as soon as dd was born - dh discussed this with FIL beforehand and explained we wanted some time to ourselves (and that I wanted MY mother to visit first). MIL did get a bit upset and booked a holiday in Spain to be away for my due date!

dinkystinky Mon 04-Aug-08 13:06:37

P.s meant to say in my earlier post that am pregnant with no 2 and my mum has so far (though she's only known for 5 weeks now) been great - really supportive and letting me have my space when I need it.

roseability Mon 11-Aug-08 14:45:12

Featherboa

I am adopted by my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately we don't have a great relationship but out of guilt I agreed to her spending a couple of weeks with us after the birth of my DS. It was awful and nearly ruined those precious first days with my DS. One example (and there are many) was she kept trying to pressure me into giving him a bottle even though BF was so important to me. She actually left after a couple of days and we have never been close since

I am not suggesting you should push your mum away, or BF or that you have as bad a realtionship as that. But you must make it clear what you want and what the boundaries are. I know I probably sound like an awful and selfish daughter but next time I won't let that happen. Just because you are adopted, DO NOT feel guilty. It is not your fault your mother couldn't have children and this is your family now.

roseability Mon 11-Aug-08 14:50:04

Also I really recommend counselling to discuss any issues that bother you. I was hit hard after the birth of DS with emotions that I had kept buried. I had counselling when he was one but I should have had it before the birth.

Your mother has no right to deny you information about the circumstances of your birth and your birth mother. It is clear that she has issues of control and insecurity because of her background but that is not for you to resolve or feel guilty about. Please,please try and sort these issues out before the birth and allow yourself to enjoy those early weeks which are tough.

mammaof5 Tue 12-Aug-08 22:48:24

My mom is exactly the same way and though I'm working on baby #6 I still feel as though the info I give her is limited. If I ask her to buy a pink blanket and she buys a purple one she is the type to sulk if I either don't like it, don't use it or return it! I have filtered every conversation I have with her, mostly for my own sanity. On the other hand I wish I could include her more because I know how I would like to be treated, even with the same faults. The advice everyone has given has truly helped me as well! It is hard not to just move a few states away instead of facing the fury! I don't know if you're consiidering having her there for the birth but I would think hard about that one. It would be a great time for your family to bond and she would be a welcome addition, after you're ready to share. Just make sure she knows that she's the first one you'll call to come see baby. Be true to what your family needs as a complete unit! I've been married for 10 years and we are barely setting the boundaries for our family. It has been hardest on those we had to set boundaries for. Never underestimate the value and the power of an intervening hubby! Mine finally said that for the remainder of this pregnancy he didn't want me to talk to my mom (10 days or so) he said to blame him fully if anyone got upset. He knows me well and knew I couldn't take the pressure! I look forward to more advice from others!

mammaof5 Tue 12-Aug-08 22:48:26

My mom is exactly the same way and though I'm working on baby #6 I still feel as though the info I give her is limited. If I ask her to buy a pink blanket and she buys a purple one she is the type to sulk if I either don't like it, don't use it or return it! I have filtered every conversation I have with her, mostly for my own sanity. On the other hand I wish I could include her more because I know how I would like to be treated, even with the same faults. The advice everyone has given has truly helped me as well! It is hard not to just move a few states away instead of facing the fury! I don't know if you're consiidering having her there for the birth but I would think hard about that one. It would be a great time for your family to bond and she would be a welcome addition, after you're ready to share. Just make sure she knows that she's the first one you'll call to come see baby. Be true to what your family needs as a complete unit! I've been married for 10 years and we are barely setting the boundaries for our family. It has been hardest on those we had to set boundaries for. Never underestimate the value and the power of an intervening hubby! Mine finally said that for the remainder of this pregnancy he didn't want me to talk to my mom (10 days or so) he said to blame him fully if anyone got upset. He knows me well and knew I couldn't take the pressure! I look forward to more advice from others!

completelyconfused Fri 15-Aug-08 17:51:46

Featherboa - I have no good advice but just wanted you to know you are not alone - I some of the same issues in that my mother died when I was young and I have had a lovely stepmother since I was 10 - but now that I am pregnant, I feel mixed up about our relationship. I have no stories about what I was like as a baby or what my mother's pregnancy was like or how much I weighed etc etc - my Dad has a useless memory! I would love to bond with my real mother about these things but I have to accept I can't. I have also felt guilty that my stepmother didn't have her own babies (there were 3 of us to look after) and don't know how to deal with the fact that she is hyper-excited about my pregnancy. It's like she's going through it herself for the first time - she reads all the books and asks me about names and buggies and what my birth plan is before these things even cross my mind - it's quite a lot of pressure but I don't want to push her away. Also, she competes with my MIL about who we will spend xmas with, who will buy the baby the most stuff etc etc. It's like the fact that she isn't my biological mother has hit home for the first time. Sorry for rant!

QuintessentialShadows Fri 15-Aug-08 18:00:37

I agree that this does not sound like it is much to do with being adopted, but can be quite normal mum daughter issues during pregnancy.

I did not have this so much with my own mum, as she lived so far away, but with my husbands aunt and also somewhat with my MIL.
Dhs aunt was really very involved, she would pop by ever so often with things for the baby. Babygros, cuddly toys, etc. I let her believe she bought the first baby gro. To preempt any more bits and pieces I asked her if she would do me the honour of buying babys first stroller. Expensive item, would really mean a lot to us. She did. And that was her budget gone. grin

QuintessentialShadows Fri 15-Aug-08 18:10:46

Also, I would like to add, that any trip to John Lewis or Peter Jones (sloane square) is not for the faint hearted, on their own with a baby. If your mother wants to come with you, you are in a way lucky. Lunching alone with a baby on the top floor of Peter Jones after shopping is not the relaxing experience it could be with some company...

I understand your need to just be you and your bump, a little, but once the baby is born, you may welcome any help you can get, and a mother who can come and muck in is a really good help.

My dhs aunt took a whole week off from work, and came to our house everyday, where she cooked me gorgeous nutritious meals, did all my laundry, held the baby while I showered, it was a godsend.

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