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In-laws - surely this is not normal

(32 Posts)
tex111 Tue 26-Apr-05 13:20:11

I took DH into A&E on Sunday afternoon with abdominal pain and he was diagnosed with appendicitis. They decided to remove his appendix that night. We have a 2 year old DS who was at the hospital with us and I rang MIL to see if she could come down and stay with DS that night so I could stay at the hospital with DH and be there when he came out of surgery.

It was all very last minute, of course, and the ILs live about two hours away but they've always said that if we ever needed them anytime just to ring. We've never asked for their help before but this was a difficult situation. I could tell MIL was reluctant and she asked me to ring her back in ten minutes so she could speak to FIL. I decided to ring a friend and see if she could help. It meant more work for me because I would need to take DS to her house (she has two small children of her own) and pick him up that night. The friend said absolutely, anything she could do, etc, etc. So I rang MIL and told her I had made other arrangements. I could tell she was relieved.

I'm 12 weeks pregnant. We lost two babies last year and I have an ultrasound in London on Wednesday. Of course, DH will still be in hospital and I'll have to go on my own now. I'm a bit nervous about it and asked MIL if she could perhaps come down on Wednesday and watch DS while I went to the appt or go to the appt with us. Again, reluctance. I dropped it and will go on my own with DS and just make the best of it.

MIL and FIL are not planning to visit DH in hospital, they haven't sent flowers or a card. They have rung the hospital a couple of times and left messages. MIL tried to talk me out of going to the hospital the night DH had his op. She said there was nothing I could really do. I thought that being there for my husband was doing quite a lot and I know he would do the same for me.

Is this normal behaviour?? I know an appendectomy isn't necessarily life threatening but their reaction seems very strange to me. I am American and I know there are cultural differences and I do come from a rather dramatic family that would be at the hospital in a heartbeat and would camp out all night if need be. My mother even talked about flying over to come to the ultrasound on Wed! I just don't know what to think. Quite put out with the ILs, especially after years of 'Anything we can do darling, just ask.'

mancmum Tue 26-Apr-05 13:23:28

think they are odd, personally but I have a theory based on some experience that parents of men always seem far more distant and hands off than parents of women (meansing when kids are adults here not when they are kids).

Meggymoo Tue 26-Apr-05 13:25:03

Message withdrawn

Listmaker Tue 26-Apr-05 13:25:20

I don't think it's an English thing - at least I hope not! I think that's well out of order! My parents would have dropped everything for me or my brother let alone wanting to actually see their own son in hospital! They sound strange and very selfish as they know you don't have any family near by.

Definitely not you - them!!

Mum2girls Tue 26-Apr-05 13:27:05

Yes, IL's are odd not you.

Mum2girls Tue 26-Apr-05 13:27:14

Yes, IL's are odd not you.

fireflyfairy2 Tue 26-Apr-05 13:37:10

IMO all IL's are odd, esp mans parents! I was in hospital for 1 month last year, and DH had to drive 20 miles every morning to leave DD with my mother, even though MIL lived 5 mins away....and wouldn't off to have her, and shes a really really good little girl.

Look at it this way, it's their loss, and they'll need you again before you need them! ((Thats my attitude now))

bakedpotato Tue 26-Apr-05 13:48:08

Do you think ILs are nervous of being in sole charge of DS? Unless they have a lot of contact with him, it could seem daunting, I guess.
But, all the same... ewww. Not normal, even for uptight Britons.
Good luck on Wed.

tex111 Tue 26-Apr-05 17:57:52

Thanks so much. I'm glad to know that I'm not the odd one! I thought it must not be an English thing as I can't imagine parents of friends reacting this way. It's really thrown me as the ILs have always talked so much about being there for us. I guess it was just all talk.

I really feel for DH too. I can tell that he's a bit hurt that they haven't visited. Aside from coming down to help me I would think they would want to see their own son. All very strange and not something that I'll soon forget.

Distel Tue 26-Apr-05 18:00:55

I think it is odd, if I was in hospital and DH diddn't come to see me on the night after an op I would be more than peeved. Hope that you work things out.

Donbean Tue 26-Apr-05 18:12:07

It must be an IL thing because mine were exactly the same when i lost my 2 babies through M/C. The second one i was in hospital and i heard absolutely nothing from them, not a bean. Even afterwards, not a mention of either m/c.
It goes to show that there are odd people every where doesnt it!
ps sending big big good thoughts and vibes your way for this precious bubba you are carrying. x

eemie Tue 26-Apr-05 18:27:55

Just seen this - don't go to the scan on your own if you can help it. I know how awful scans are when you've had miscarriages. I always felt ghastly, threw up etc even when all was well - and that was with my husband there to support me. If it's too late for your Mum to fly over (I don't think that's over-dramatic at all, by the way) take a friend. Or just call MIL back and say you really need her to be with you. But if she's not genuinely supportive, a friend would be better. Good luck and hope to hear good news of your scan

Gobbledigook Tue 26-Apr-05 18:30:44

I think it's very odd - I'd have said something along lines of 'oh FGS, don't strain yourself' and then hung up

Trifle Tue 26-Apr-05 18:31:55

Looking at it from another point of view - I dont really understand the need to stay overnight in the hospital. The reality is that after the op your husband will be far too groggy to appreciate the gesture. Hospital beds for visitors tend to be notoriously uncomfortable and impossible to get a good nights sleep due to all the commotion and noise. I imagine your ds would have picked up on the anxiety and stress so leaving him overnight with unfamiliar PIL would only cause further distress. To be honest, I would have thought it easier and more comforting for you to stay at home with your ds, get a good nights sleep ready to visit dh the next morning and prepare for his homecoming as no doubt he will be bed ridden for a while.

Obviously your husband recovered from the op and his parents were in touch regularly to make sure. I'm not sure exactly what more you expect them to do or quite why you feel they should visit.

Gobbledigook Tue 26-Apr-05 18:33:54

When I was 13 weeks pg I was in a car crash (a girl pulled out of side road in front of me and it was a fast road and I just slammed right into her) - it was horrendous and I was in a right state even though I only broke my wrist.

We live in Manchester but dh was down in London for a course and was staying with his Mum - he was due to come back the next morning but I fully expected him to come back and support me but MIL told him there was no point as there was nothing he could do! I was well peed off - what is this 'there's nothing you can you do' business? OK, so you can't perform surgery yourself but being there for support is equally important isn't it?

I spent that night sat in bed, in agony, in tears on my own and I would have loved to have dh next to me to make me feel better.

Bloody outlaws.

Agree about the scan - def don't go on your own. All the luck in the world for Wed - hope everything is fine.

Philly Tue 26-Apr-05 18:49:44

I don't think its an inlaws thing,my parents would be most likely to be hands off my PIL would be there like a shot.I have 3 sons and would ahte to be like this.when ds2 was 5 months I fell and fractured my patella,I had to practically plead with my mum to help and then i had to go down there!300 miles!!

tex111 Wed 27-Apr-05 17:35:31

Thanks so much for the feedback. The scan went well today. I ended up taking DS with me for company and he was very excited to see the baby. Everything looks normal which was a huge relief to me. I had really been preparing myself for the worst.

DH is doing well. He's had to stay in hospital all week because his appendix had been so infected. Lots of antibiotics. He still had a fever yesterday but they say he should be able to come home tomorrow or Friday. Still no visit, card, flowers, etc from the ILs though friends and his office have been very kind and I know that each message has made a huge difference to DH.

LIZS Wed 27-Apr-05 17:58:29

Sorry you feel so let down and torn you could really do with some support right now.

Our inlaws were similar when dh was in hospital with kidney stones. It was only a couple of nights in the end but we had all had to go to A and E at 2 am, including ds, then 11 months, whilst he was assessed and adnmitted. I would also have preferred not to have had to take him into a busy Genito-Urinary ward to visit, but hey ho ! As he came out in time for the weekend they didn't even feel the need to come over then (about an hour - hour and 1/4 drive).

Glad the scan went well and hope dh recovers soon.

cab Wed 27-Apr-05 18:34:08

Tex that's great news about your scan. Sorry about your dh. Try not to overdo it!
As for the in-laws it does seem odd - but maybe one of them isn't feeling well but not letting on? Are the elderly?

wilbur Wed 27-Apr-05 18:50:43

Some inlaws can be crap, I agree, but my inlaws have often dropped everything to come and get ds and dd or help out, and they live 2+ hours away and have lots of animals that they have to get looked after in order to come to us. They are also as English as they come, but would not ignore a cry for help from one of their boys' families in a million years. Ditto a friend whose inlaws are a military family and they often screech down the motorway from Yorkshire to London to do what they can for their dgs and dgd. So you're not a drama queen, tex, maybe your in laws are just reaching that weird age thing where they just can't cope with upsets to their routine.

expatkat Wed 27-Apr-05 19:35:37

Tex, your story is like a mirror image of my life. . .no appendicitises here, thank goodness, but my (American) parents, too, would be in a flurry of dramatic how-can-we-help, whereas my more reserved in-laws would have more of a get-on-with-it-attitude. . .unless THEY'RE the ones in the hospital, of course--then there'd be a high expectation of cards, flowers and visits which would be duly tallied up on the imaginary scorecard. I know it's not an "English" thing per se, but I feel there's more of that kind of attitude in the UK than there is in the States, where grandparents (mostly) are more prepared, more enthusiastic and more willing to help. There are exceptions there, too, though--loads.

I have to admit that the kind of in-law attitude you described has been one of things to have a bad effect my marriage. I just don't understand or respect that level of remoteness--which, oddly, seems to go hand-in-hand with criticism--and it just makes me not want to live anywhere near them, sorry.

tex111 Thu 28-Apr-05 09:36:22

Expatkat, yes! You've hit the nail on the head about it not going both ways. I had almost forgotten that about three years ago MIL went through something similiar and had to have her appendix removed. We were very happy to visit her in hospital but it was duly noted that we brought flowers but no card.

My ILs do seem to keep a running scorecard yet they seem to feel no need to return the favour unless it suits them. They can be very kind about sending clothes to DS (though of course in their taste, not ours) but it's just on their terms.

I think the thing that is the most frustrating is that they seem to have absolutely no idea the stress and upset that they've caused. DH spoke to them on Tuesday and FIL ended the call with 'Tell Katherine if she needs anything at all just to ring us'. I did ring them and I did need something but they didn't seem to want to help. Then MIL rang that night and wished me luck at the scan saying 'I wish I could be there.' And I thought, just get in the car and you will be here. They run a rug business in Germany and don't work normal hours or on a daily basis.

I think Wilbur had a point about them reaching that age where they don't like to have their routine interrupted. They're in their late 50s/early 60s but then, my parents and parents of friends are the same age and wouldn't respond in the same way. It's a mystery to me.

The thing I find the most confusing is that they're usually not distant. In fact, they can be almost overbearing at times. It's just so strange that when there is a genuine emergency they're not here. Very frustrating.

purpleturtle Thu 28-Apr-05 09:44:57

Have they got a thing about hospitals? I got the impression from your original post that it might be the setting they're avoiding, rather than you.

acnebride Thu 28-Apr-05 09:49:55

This is terrible Tex111 and I'm glad the news is good all round. My mum is 70 and behaves absolutely nothing like this with me or dh, and my inlaws have to be physically stopped from doing stuff for us. However, I do feel that expatkat may be right and the balance is a bit more towards this kind of behaviour over here. Absolute damn shame and thank goodness you have friends who will help.

tex111 Thu 28-Apr-05 10:25:25

Purpleturtle, I don't think so. I hate to even go into comparisons but they've visited SIL in hospital loads of times, even driving up to Lincs (they're in Cambs) to see her. I just can't work it out. I don't know what's going through their minds.

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