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Paternity leave - Being used as summer contact time for DSD

(43 Posts)
AlizarinA Fri 07-Jun-13 09:55:31

DP is going through children's act proceedings for DSD (10) with EW. Latest hearing was to agree interim arrangements and summer holiday contact. DP happy as he managed to secure half of holidays, but had to work around EWs already booked holiday (which she'd just gone and booked without checking holiday arrangements with us). Problem is that we're expecting first child in August (due date August 03), and we now have DSD for practically all of August including week of baby's due date.

May not be a problem, as I've already been into hospital with severe abdominal tightenings and had steroid injections at 31 weeks. So baby may be early. But I'm getting increasingly pissed off at the thought that DP is planning to use his paternity leave for DSD. Might be being totally unreasonable, but this is the one time that I'll need looking after and he's just made himself completely unavailable. Seriously thinking of making my own plans for August (regardless of whether DS has arrived or not), and just let him get on with looking after DSD at home.

AIBU? Just so fed up of second families coming second. Just for once it would be nice for us to be the priority.

starbuckmum4 Fri 07-Jun-13 10:22:21

So, your DP has been awarded contact for half of the school holidays, but as his EW has already booked a holiday this years contact has been arranged around that, is that correct? If so, that doesn't' seem unreasonable to me really. Just make sure if the contact/residency order you have doesn't state specific weeks/days contact for the holiday period next year that it is agreed well in advance what days DSD is with you. Or you could return to court and ask for the order to be amended so it is specific about dates.

I'm don't think I agree with you about DSD being there during paternity leave or that you seem annoyed that DSD will be there during the week of your baby's due date. It doesn't seem like a case of second families coming second, more that existing children have to be taken into accoun when you have a new baby just like any other time.

She is his daughter remember, perhaps he is happy she will be there that week? I see that she is 10 years old, why does her presence in your home make him unavailable that week? At 10 years old she will likely be very excited about her new brother or sister and will probably be really keen to help with the baby and around the house.

Apologies if what I have said is a little harsh, I appreciate it's not what you want to hear but it's all a little close to me. I have a daughter who is a similar age and I have 2 step children who are younger. I am pregnant and my step children are due to be with us around the baby's due date and they are still small so need much more caring for than your DSD at 10. I hasn't for a 2nd thought about sending them back to their mums, just as I haven't thought about shipping my DD off for that week either.

What we have done (for all the the children, not just step children) is ensure that my mother is happy/available that week to come and babysit when I go into labour, but all the children will be there when I come out of hospital (hopefully the same day or next day). I would much rather them all there to see their baby brother or sister come home than not be there. x

flowery Fri 07-Jun-13 10:25:25

How has he made himself completely unavailable? Will he be taking DSD away or something? If he'll be at home as normal surely it's like any family with two children?

agnes2404 Fri 07-Jun-13 10:26:20

Congratulations on your about-to-arrive baby AlizarinaA! No, I don't think you're being unreasonable, its pure instinct to need your partner with you and giving you and your baby full attention. Can't emphasise enough how much physical, emotional and practical help new mums need. I have never felt so helpless and vulnerable as I did in those first couple of months after my daughters birth.

Maybe DSD can help though, as she is old enough?? My DSD was 3 when I had my DD (2 years ago), and I had to battle massive guilt feelings because I struggled with her around, she needed all of DH's attention (was going through a very emotional time herself I suppose with this new little thing for us to love). But perhaps your DSD can be an unexpected blessing. I know I treasure my DSD more than ever when I see the pure happiness between the two little sisters playing together. Maybe your DSD will help you hold and care for her little sister.

Also - prepare to accept some ambivalence toward DSD, I know I love mine and yet lordy its tough sometimes. I really get my knickers in a twist over not feeling like a good enough stepmother.

It sounds like a really tough situation, and in many ways your partner can't win. I hope you can trust him to be there for DSD and you and your new baby.

Good luck, I do feel for you xxx

doublecakeplease Fri 07-Jun-13 10:34:23

I can see why you'd bw initially upset op - lots of us envisage being the centre of dps attention when birthing etc and i don't think that's unreasonable to want - especially with your first. You should explain that to him - tell him that you're feeling that way, but that you know dsd is important too and that you're finding it hard to accept and will need his support - ie him letting you know that you and the newborn are equally important too.

Have you (as in you and DP as a couple, not just him, not just you) sorted dsd being looked after during the birth if she's around? Could she be sent with a gp to buy something special for the baby to give you some time?

You'll get a hard time about dsd being important - she is - but so are you. Its about finding middle ground.

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 10:34:32

I guess and I wouldn't mind were it not my first child. But, I'm already bricking it about having to give birth etc, not having any family or friends living nearby and having to deal with being a mum. I just wanted some time on my own to get used to having this very demanding and needy thing.

And unfortunately DSD is very demanding. She's been used to having her dad to herself for the first nine years of her life, and still has to be 'looked after' quite a lot whilst she's here. Which is normally fine. But I just can't cope with the thought of running round after her and DP, plus dealing with a new baby. And as you know, you can't deal with behaviour 'issues' in the same way with a stepchild as you would with your own.

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 10:38:27

Oops - name change failure blush. Just hope DP isn't anywhere near the Mumsnet step-parenting message boards!

flowery Fri 07-Jun-13 10:43:59

"But I just can't cope with the thought of running round after her and DP, plus dealing with a new baby."

Well that's the thing isn't it? You absolutely shouldn't be running round after anyone when you have a new baby, and should be able to just lie in bed/on the sofa with baby as much as you need, at least to start with. DP should be perfectly capable of running round after himself, DSD and you!

Ogg Fri 07-Jun-13 10:57:36

I think if handled well could actually be a major positive - DSD could end up having a wonderful bond with new baby, if she is included as much as possible and asked to help. <thinks also possible future baby sitter ;)>

starbuckmum4 Fri 07-Jun-13 11:02:00

Maybe I just don't get it then. I can't think of anything worse than the children not being around for the 1st week of new baby being at home.

Could you perhaps think up a list of little baby related "jobs" she can do when the baby is here? (Stacking the nappy stacker with nappies, washing up bottles, filling up the baby bath, "helping" to change nappies etc) That would give her something to do, make her feel part of what is going on and make her feel helpful and encourage her to be independent.

I do understand that this is your first child but I think it's important that it's not your DP's first. He is no less responsible for DSD now you are having another baby than he was before. It doesn't mean you won't get time on your own, I guess your DP will take DSD out too during that week, to keep her entertained, have some 1;1 time with her and to give you time to relax and sleep during the day!

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 11:16:17

Tried a few ways to explain why DSD might not be the biggest help with a new baby, and the best way I can think of is to say: They have a cleaner at her mum's house.

The girl is lovely, bright, articulate, confident - but even the concept of putting something back from where she got it from is completely alien to her. Sweet wrappers collect wherever she opens them, clean clothes stay on the floor after she's found what she wants to wear....And I'm someone who irons socks just so they fold neater in the drawer. And I've tried to get her to 'help' me - new laundry basket for bedroom, separating compartments to keep her drawers neat, waste paper bins, shelves and a new desk for her bedroom, reminders that we either put away our clothes or pop them in the wash, jokes about the 'naughty cats who keep leaving their sweet wrappers all over the house', but to be honest I think I'm onto a losing battle. She's at her mum's house for most of the time and their rules are different one's - more table manners, academic discipline etc. So it just goes over her head . Which is okay, some people are naturally messy. But I'm not going to be able to/want to run around after her whilst trying to cope with a little one as well.

Longer term, we'll need to discuss that our house rules as equally as valid as the ones at her mums. But in the short term, it just might be easier for me to decamp to my family for the month.

starbuckmum4 Fri 07-Jun-13 11:26:15

Jadems, I honestly think your expectations of a 10yr old girl are a little unrealistic (from what you've posted that is). The fact that you iron socks and have separate compartments to keep her drawers neat says to me that perhaps your standards are very high.

Are you seriously considering moving to your family's house for a month?

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 11:42:05

Seriously?? I don't expect her to do any household chores, just not make unnecessary work for me. I come from a household where I was expected to pitch in a LOT, so little things like not leaving the clothes I've just ironed in a crumpled on a heap on the floor doesn't seem like I'm asking too much. And the compartments are more to help me see what she's got clean to wear. When I first moved in we had terrible scenes on a saturday morning, because she didn't have right top clean etc and would basically refuse to leave the house because she 'didn't have anything to wear'. To avoid that, I have to make sure that she has the things she needs i.e she'll only wear a particular type of vest to school, or will only wear certain socks with specific leggings. So if the 'right' pair of socks aren't clean, then getting dressed will take several hours before attempting to leave the house in something completely unsuitable like a summer dress when there is ice and snow on the ground. So - no, I'm not OCD - just try to avoid flare ups where possible.

And yes, thinking of visiting family for that month. They'll want to see the new baby anyway. And my nan would be the perfect source of advice for all baby related queries.

flowery Fri 07-Jun-13 11:49:30

"But I'm not going to be able to/want to run around after her whilst trying to cope with a little one as well. "

Why would you need to though? If your DP would expect you to run round after DSD when he is at home and you have a tiny baby, then your problem is with him by the sounds of things!

I think it would be a real shame for you to move to family for a month at such a crucial time -your DP would miss those early days which are just as important for him as you. Have you mentioned that idea to him?

MandMand Fri 07-Jun-13 11:53:21

As others have said, since your DP is going to be on leave, its surely HIS responsibility to pick up after HIS daughter (while also taking care of you and the new baby). Does he not usually do much for his daughter/around the house? Its beginning to sound like he is the real problem, not the step-daughter.

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 12:19:53

I don't work, so I currently pick up all household related stuff. DP doesn't get involved in any of the household maintenance, cleaning, meals etc. If I'm not around to sort it out - washing/ironing etc will be allowed to mount up, meals will be stuff neither me nor DSD want to eat, stuff will collect wherever it is left, and it will just be a house nobody wants to spend any time in. Which is why I'd rather not be here. At least if I'm not here to see it, then it can't stress me out and ruin my first few weeks with my son.

flowery Fri 07-Jun-13 12:42:20

Well that's a problem with your DP, not your DSD.

If he can't be in charge of sorting the house out, cooking for you and looking after you and DSD when he's on paternity leave that's your issue right there. And as you are heavily pregnant he should have been doing a lot more of the house stuff already tbh, working or not.

Ogg Fri 07-Jun-13 12:50:03

'A house no one wants to spend any time in' sad - Its a house with a baby in it and a short period of warm messy chaos and making do while you bond.

JazzTheDog Fri 07-Jun-13 12:51:47

I can see where you're coming from. I gave birth on a contact day, DH's ex rang him to collect the kids an hour after I gave birth so she could go out. So he left me in the hospital on my own with new baby until drop off time later that day.

He then spent the 2 weeks of paternity having extra access to the step kids because he was off. Things like going out and doing the school run in the car so his ex wouldn't have to when I still had to get my ds to nursery. This was 8 years ago and I still haven't forgiven him! Having him off on paternity was just a PITA, if he'd been at work he'd have been away mon-fri and I could've had a much more relaxed time.

I did de-camp to my mum's for a week when the schools broke off for summer when ds was 3 weeks old because I couldn't handle 3 step-kids, my own ds and a newborn plus normal family routine. My mum was fab, all I had to do was feed the baby!

Stepmooster Fri 07-Jun-13 12:52:19

Hi OP, I had a similar thread recently:

I sympathise. My concern is not that DSS will be around in the first days of new babies life, just what happens when I give birth. He was here for my firstborn, and it scared him witless. We have no family nearby and I have a high chance of fast labour and haemorrhage like last time. My DH has told me not to worry and he will take care of things.... Not seen much evidence of that yet!

I think you'll find the last thing you will be doing when your baby is born is worrying about socks being ironed. Not to make fun of you, but boy my house still looks like a bomb has gone off and my first is now 11 months old. That sort of stuff won't be on your radar.

I completely understand why you'd want to be with your family for a month. I would love to go to my dad's but it's not an option. For me I just don't want the stress of worrying about DSS and how he is coping. At least my family are comfortable looking after my DD, they hardly know DSS and he them. There is no reason why your DH and DSD can't make the journey over to see you once things gets moving. Also in my local hospital, stepchildren are not allowed onto the labour ward, have you thought about what to do if you give birth when DSD is around?

Cloverer Fri 07-Jun-13 12:58:02

The issue definitely seems to be your DP, not the child.

He needs to take care of cleaning, meal prep and childcare while he is on paternity leave while you take care of the baby. You'll also need to drop your standards a bit, children are messy and ironing socks is a ridiculous waste of time I'm afraid.

starbuckmum4 Fri 07-Jun-13 13:54:10

OP Am I right in thinking you posted on another thread saying you don't want to have to do the school run for DSD because you will have to get a bus and don't want to do that with the new baby too so would like you DP to put you DSD in childcare for before and after school whilst he works? My apologies if that wasn't you..

But now you tell us you don't work at all and DSD lives with her mum most of the time. Why on Earth wouldn't DP expect you to do the occasional school run?

With that as the fact you don't want DSD there for DP's paternity leave or when the baby is born and are considering taking your new born and living with family for the whole of August because DSD will be at home with you and DP...

I have to say, and I say this as a fellow step mum who knows just how shit and unrewarding it can be, it very much sounds like you see DSD as an inconvenience and one you'd rather just disappeared now you are having the baby and that is really sad. I'm not being nasty, just stating what comes across to me when I read your posts. Read them back yourself, if this is true she will pick up on it and that would be awful for her.

Can't you try a little harder (with your DP) to set firm house rules for DSD and also to maybe cut the kid some slack and recognise that your standards of cleanliness may be far higher than what is considered normal.


starbuckmum4 Fri 07-Jun-13 13:55:21

Oh and yes, I agree with Clover, ironing socks is a waste of time smile I recently found out some people iron bed sheets - but they are there to be laid on and crinkles up! Relax.

Jadems Fri 07-Jun-13 14:58:35

Yep - I don't want to have to take my newborn son on a 20 minute bus ride to collect DSD, spend another 20 minutes waiting in the school courtyard in all weathers, and then another 20 minutes waiting for the return bus home. If that makes me unreasonable, then I really don't care. I don't work, but neither do I get any financial support from DP. He pays the bills for the house (his house), but I have to rely on family etc for things for me and the baby. So don't really see why I need to make myself available as an unpaid childminder. After the baby is born I want to go back to work, which will mean spending all my income on travel and childcare, so would prefer for DP to sort out his own arrangements for DSD rather than relying on me.

And it is all completely shit and unrewarding - I moved out to Herts to be with DP, but I hate it here. I would much rather live in a city than some rural suburbia. But that's the compromise I had to make to be with DP. But I'm fed up of making compromises. This is the first and perhaps only time I'll get the experience of being a mum, and I'm entitled to want it to feel right for me. My whole life has been about making things ok for other people. Priorities are my son, and then myself.

BTW - you have to give the ironed socks thing a try. Seriously. Feels so much better not to have to dig out crumpled socks from your drawers in the morning, but to have neatly folded rows of socks sitting stacked waiting for you. Bit of tranquility on even the most hectic mornings wink

flowery Fri 07-Jun-13 15:05:29

"I don't work, but neither do I get any financial support from DP. He pays the bills for the house (his house), but I have to rely on family etc for things for me and the baby... After the baby is born I want to go back to work, which will mean spending all my income on travel and childcare"

Whoa! Seriously?! You have way more problems than your DSD being around for a few weeks tbh.

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