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How can we keep anxiety down with uninvited vistors to the hospital?
November 9, 2008 7:03 PM   Subscribe

New baby + uninvited family visitors = drama. More hormone-charged details inside.

We're due with Baby #1 in a matter of minutes/hours/days. We politely asked family and friends to please leave us alone for a few days so we can do some nesting and have some time for the 3 of us to adjust. This was intentionally done because of particular grandparents causing A LOT of anxiety to both of us.
We thought everyone was okay with this plan, which we've been quite vocal about. But now that L&D is almost here, the anxiety-causing grandparent has decided that she and spouse are flying out (across the country) immediately.
I AGAIN politely asked them to give us 2-3 days post-delivery to be alone (to nest, to figure out breastfeeding, to recover, to get past the hormonal stage, etc. I also made the argument "What if we have a c-section or the baby is ill, maybe we'll want you out here for 2 weeks? Why buy tickets for 2 days now?") but they are NOT listening and say that they're on their way out tomorrow or Tuesday.
They say "We aren't visiting you, we're visiting the baby." (Which strikes me as even less helpful and caring about mom's well-being and sort of hurts.)
They are planning on staying at a hotel (we helped them pick one out but thought it'd be for later in the month and they were upset that we asked that they not stay with us due to cramped conditions), renting a car, etc.
We know that we can put them on a "do not allow to visit" list at the hospital (I think?). This possibly will cause more drama though, of course.
So, the question, what can we do to keep anxiety down? This is a stressful enough time without this added drama.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (64 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
"You know we love you both very much and are very much looking forward to see you, but we want to have space and privacy for a few days following the birth, so we'll call you when things have settled down a little and we're all more relaxed, and you can come and see us then. Kisses!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:12 PM on November 9, 2008


We know that we can put them on a "do not allow to visit" list at the hospital (I think?). This possibly will cause more drama though, of course.

It's only drama if you listen to them. They can, of course, fly or stay wherever they want, but there's no rule that says you have to answer their phone calls, let them in the room or the house.

Put your foot down now, or this will be an ongoing battle as the baby grows up. Give them a call and inform them what's going to happen and then hang up the phone. Their drama is not your concern at this point unless you choose to listen to or entertain their demands.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:15 PM on November 9, 2008 [9 favorites]


Call them right now, this minute and say, "We've tried to be as polite as possible about this, but we absolutely do not want you here during this time. We absolutely do want you here in a few weeks after we've gotten settled. If you come now we will not see you, nor can you see your new grand baby. You'll be wasting money, time, and causing undue stress on mom and baby. Please respect our wishes. We will contact you again, by phone when the baby is here and we're ready for you to come out, but not until then."

Then hang up.

Be firm. They are being jerks. You don't have to put up with this.
posted by wfrgms at 7:18 PM on November 9, 2008 [54 favorites]


wfrgms's suggestion is absolutely correct. Should that be impossible, though... One of the roles I treasure as an L&D nurse is that of appointed Bad Guy when dealing with unwanted visitors. If they insist on showing up at the hospital, ask your nurse to kick them out. Your nurse will never see them again and will have no trouble with it if they hate her forever, and hopefully it will help keep things relatively peaceful between you and them.
posted by jesourie at 7:21 PM on November 9, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm a little unclear about the specifics here: is it your grandparents or your baby's grandparents that are flying out? Because if it's the former, have you considered asking the relevant parent (i.e. your/your spouse's parent) to intercede on your behalf? Because I think that's ultimately one of the more significant questions here: What impact will this have on your relationships with the rest of your extended family? I've obviously no idea myself, but it is something to think about.

I've been in relationships with people--family members in fact--where there really just isn't any way of getting them to understand the effects of their actions. Somehow they just don't get it, and there isn't anything that can be said that will get them to not be bat-shiat crazy. Sometimes staying sane yourself requires putting a little distance between them and you. If all they're giving you is stress, sometimes, as much as it sucks, you need to put a little distance there. The relationship may never be the same, and it may never be what you want from it, but that isn't always your fault.

I'm not close enough to the situation to tell you what I would do, but I know I'd at least consider saying "Okay, this is our first baby. This is a Big Deal. If we don't take some aspect of control in this relationship now, we may not get a chance to do so later. Grandma, you're just going to have to wait. We're not having visitors right now. So fly out on Tuesday if you want to, but we won't be seeing you until we're ready. We do hope you understand, but even if you don't, you'll just have to deal with it." If they flip out, odds are they'll settle down eventually. But if they don't, well, the true nature of your relationship with them has been revealed.
posted by valkyryn at 7:21 PM on November 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would agree with the first two responses. First, be completely upfront and lay it out like turgid dahila describes: we love you but don't call us, we'll call you. Then, make sure it is clear because like Brandon says, this can be a dumb game they play forever (I have a grandparent that counts the minutes a baby gets to sit on their lap relative to how much total time they visit other relatives and grandparents).
posted by mathowie at 7:23 PM on November 9, 2008


Yeah, being firm right now is going to save you boatloads of drama. Use any of the model conversations above, or just call and say,

"We have tried to be clear about this, but I need to tell you that we don't want you to come out to visit us now, and if you insist on coming out, we won't be able to visit with you (or tell you which hospital we're out, of if/when we go into labor) until a week after the baby is born. This is our first baby, and we're already feeling heightened anxiety because of this situation with you. Please respect our wishes."
posted by arnicae at 7:23 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


You need to call them up (or if these are your inlaws your spouse needs to do this) and tell them that this isn't up for discussion or negotiation. You will not be seeing them in either your home or the hospital during the time frame you have designated. It will simply not happen. Tell them literally "we will not be guilted or manipulated into a situation that causes us undue stress during this very important, but very draining time in our lives. We will tell you when you can meet our new child, when you can come to our home and if you are allowed to visit the hospital. Right now we are not extending such an invitation." Trust me once they realize you can't be manipulated ad that you hold ALL the cards when it comes to them having time with their new grandchild, they'll stop acting like children themselves and be decent houseguests who come when invited.
posted by whoaali at 7:23 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


PS- Any chance another family member can do this? Siblings or aunt/uncle that could call and talk them down from this, explain how anxious they are making you feel?
posted by arnicae at 7:24 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


They are being jerks. If you feel you absolutely can not tell them "no." after the baby is here, and you are all home, or even before the delivery, is there another less jerky family member in the area? Can you recruit someone to be the "bouncer", so to speak? Someone else takes the drama, you get to relax & hang w/baby & spouse. You should focus on the new family stuff, try to get someone else to pass off the drama to.
posted by kellyblah at 7:24 PM on November 9, 2008


Congratulations and wishes for a safe and healthy delivery. If your family members are persistent and show up the L&D nurse can help by telingl the visitors that Mom needs rest or limit the visitors. If they are already on their way to your town just make the best of it you can.its a stressful time buts its also a beautiful time. Let them know when you need the privacy as with breastfeeding for example. Having a baby changes things and the grandparents might just be too in love with that new baby to bother you. Also when they arrive is there certain tasks you could assign them to get them out of your hair-like a food run or last minute things you forgot to prepare for baby. Hoping that everything goes well.
posted by Snoogylips at 7:34 PM on November 9, 2008


You have to be as firm with them as they are being with you. After all, you told them clearly that you wanted a few days for just the three of you to spend time together, and they have completely disregarded your wishes and are booking a flight out to see you.

Their behavior is insulting to you and your wife --- they're behaving as though your wishes don't matter. You have to treat them as one treats such arrogant and inconsiderate people: you speak to them bluntly, unapologetically, and hold your ground without budging an inch.

Unfortunately, when people act crazy (as these relatives are acting) it is never fun to have to put them in their place. Reading between the lines of your question, I get the feeling that you and your wife are averse to confrontation. But an ounce of confrontation right now, will save you a lot of resentment and anger once the baby is born. And you really don't want your first days with your new baby tarnished by the intrusion of these inconsiderate people.
posted by jayder at 7:37 PM on November 9, 2008 [5 favorites]


There is a ton of great advice here, and I'll Nth the get-it-over-with-now. One of the hardest things that we had to do in this realm was to tell my mother that we weren't comfortable having her in the delivery room for the birth of her first grandchild.

Expected it to go over like a lead balloon, but she was remarkably ok with it. But we had to be blunt about it to get the info past the "OMG GRANDCHILD" reaction.

We also told friends and family to leave us the hell alone for the first couple of weeks. Actually, I think we told friends they were allowed to leave us food, but that was it. :-)
posted by griffey at 7:39 PM on November 9, 2008


You may be able to get the L&D and post-partum nurses to be the bad guys for a while (and you should if you can), but if the relatives are hovering around the hospital or your home, you may have to confront them at some point. To reduce that likelihood, you can avoid answering the door and phone for weeks. You can and should do this without a bit of guilt. I did this; even people with great friends and family do this.

If it does come to actual conversation--on the phone or at the door--the first line of defense is someone you do trust to have around. If it's just you, then I recommend the emotionless and repetitive demeanor of a broken record. Crack the door slightly and say: "Oh, hullo there. As I mentioned when you called yesterday, we are not having guests right now. Thanks for your understanding. Take care." Then Shut. The. Door. Luckily, sleep deprivation will mean you won't need to act like a zombie to deliver this line effectively. If you think it will be difficult to maintain your cool in a conversation, then definitely maintain the avoidance strategy above as long as possible.

If it helps, treat this as your first opportunity to rise to the role of mama/daddy tiger, protector of your young. This is precedent. You say what goes for your family, no one else. You can be ruthless the first few weeks and anyone who's a parent will forgive almost anything. If they really want to see the baby that much, they will come back in a month or two, and you can minimize your behavior (if you even want to) with a bit of a chuckle about how those first few weeks were the pits and thank goodness things are a little more normal now.

Or, what everybody else is saying.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:39 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seconding finding a friend or trusted family member to be the bouncer. Years ago, one of my jobs when a friend had a baby was managing her mother and running interference, helping preserve the boundaries my friend was setting: "Well, B. and the baby are going down for a nap. We should give them some quiet. Can I drop you at your hotel?" I also screened phone calls even when family members were like, "But I'm her brother, I know she'll want to talk to me." "I'm sure she will want to talk to you later, but right now she and the baby are resting." Etc. This was an important job! Maybe it meant I didn't get to see as much of my friend and the baby as I might have liked right off the bat, but it was a position of great responsibility, I could see how much it was helping, and I really threw myself into it.

Ideally, you should now engage in a two-step process: 1) is following all the advice above about telling them once more, as plainly as possible, that you do not want any out-of-town visitors for at least a week after the baby is born. And 2) lining up help in case they show up anyway, even though it sounds like you had hoped for your family of three to have some time just to yourselves.

Good luck.
posted by not that girl at 7:41 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


To your point about the "do not visit" list:

Our midwife at the hospital was more than happy to say, "I'm sorry, hospital policy is that only one person can be in the room with the mother during active labor". Of course no such policy existed, but it was a convenient way to take care of that without the hurt feelings associated with a more explicit exclusion. Assuming you have a close enough relationship with your doctor/midwife/whatever you should talk to them about this as they may have other - more subtle - options for restricting contact.
posted by true at 7:42 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


As jesourie says, you can count on your nurses to guard your privacy at the hospital. You can also count on the other staff. Ask that the phone number to your room is not given out, and no calls are transferred to your room from the switchboard or nurse's station to your room. If, by some accident, the phone does ring in your room, just say "Sorry, wrong number." and hang up, then shut off the ringer for a while. If there is anyone you DO want calls from, pre-arrange that, too.

At home, have an answering machine pick up ALL your calls. Turn off the ringer. You'll notice the machine picking up calls, but that's less intrusive than the ringing.

I'll chime in with the chorus of (my paraphrasing): "be firm and stay consistent". If you cave now, you're signalling that you can be swayed, and are setting the scene for years of harrassing manipulation.

Also, I'd be ready for some guilt-tripping by these people when they do get to visit. Don't buy in. Let it go right over your head.
posted by reflecked at 7:42 PM on November 9, 2008


Why not be a little flexible, and allow the grandparents in for an hour or so each day. A little flexibility will probably relieve you of a lot of anxiety.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:58 PM on November 9, 2008


Give an inch and they'll take your sanity, nerves, patience and soul.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 PM on November 9, 2008 [15 favorites]


Isn't it the husband's job (or non-birthing parent...whatever) to deal with the relatives in a firm and forthright manner? Don't knuckle under to their neurotic power play. It's surprising how fast the wounds will heal on this type of person.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:17 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


"I know you're excited about seeing the baby, and we're excited, too. But please, we've tried to be firm and you haven't listened. If you visit immediately you will stress us and child out. I know that isn't what you want to hear, but if you care about us and the baby at all you will give us some space to settle down. We will not be able to see you in the hospital or at home, and we don't want you to waste the money on the trip. Isn't the mom and baby's health, and our relationship as a family, worth a few extra days of waiting?"
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:34 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a grandparent that counts the minutes a baby gets to sit on their lap relative to how much total time they visit other relatives and grandparents

I'm SO sorry to hear this.

As for the poster's problem: another vote for having your husband stand up to them. My mother just went through this with the death of my father, where my father's sister (always a pain in the ass) insisted on coming in and "taking care" of my mother (which translated into "taking her peace of mind away"), saying things like "well, you shouldn't be suffering; you don't know what it's like to lose a brother" (when my mother has lost three brothers to date, and had, you know, LOST HER HUSBAND.)

Point being, this is a great time to stand your ground (ideally your husband, so you don't have the stress) and make things the way they need to be for YOU. There's no better time, because failing to do so will make you and your baby miserable. They'll get over it, and even if they don't, they don't need to. Better they suffer harm than you and your baby do.

Best of luck with the birth!
posted by davejay at 8:37 PM on November 9, 2008


Nthing all of this: do not give in. This time belongs to you (both parents and baby), absolutely, no ifs and or buts, no compromises or diplomacy required.
posted by madmethods at 8:41 PM on November 9, 2008


Having been in a hospital room next to a situation where the new mom really didn't want her in-laws there, but her husband caved under parental pressure, I really, really hope you don't end up in that situation. It was very ugly. Deal with the situation now, and best of luck and happiness later.
posted by dws at 8:44 PM on November 9, 2008


Nthing what everyone else has said. Stand firm. One of the most frustrating things about parenting and other people, is how much other people want to tell you how to raise your child/feed your child/discipline your child etc etc. If you cave in now, you are setting yourselves up for an endless stream of inappropriate behaviour from these relatives. They will believe that they can do whatever they want - to, for and around your child, even if it is in direct contradiction to your clearly stated wishes. Don't let them walk over you. I agree that the first few days are tiring and stressful (and wonderful!) and you don't want to be worrying and managing difficult people. If they get pissy then that's their problem not yours. I heartily agree with cocoagirl, this is the beginning of your new parenting life, and you will soon learn to be protective mama/papa tiger, who defends your young from all sorts of things. Call them up, make it clear that they won't be allowed in the hospital or your house and hang up. They chose to ignore your requests, so it is their fault, not yours, if the wasted trip inconveniences them (contrary to what they may claim). Mama and baby are priority number one right now, not annoying relatives.
posted by Joh at 9:40 PM on November 9, 2008


man, i feel your pain here. months prior, i was explicit with mom-in-law that i did not want her in the delivery room, yet she still showed up and asked the nurses to let her in. when the nurse relayed that she was waiting to come in as i was ten hours into a rough delivery, i let loose all the swearing that had been building up, finally getting the message across that she was not invited. one of you is going to have to be the tough guy and stand firm about your wishes. i advise you to do it before you sound like a quentin tarantino character.
posted by ms.jones at 10:41 PM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Let them come. Its their wasted journey, why should you care?

You've been very clear that you will not be accepting visitors for the first few days after the birth. They are choosing to visit within that period, tough luck to them. If you want to be nice about it and try to save them a trip you can call them up and make it clear that if they come down now, they will not get to see the baby (can you make sure the baby is kept in your room during visiting hours?)
posted by missmagenta at 1:21 AM on November 10, 2008


For gods sakes, just let them meet the baby. Tell them in advance that assuming all goes well you would love for them to visit briefly and meet the baby (then have the nurse throw them out) and that after that you guys want a few weeks in peace. I would be utterly gutted if I was told I couldn't even meet the baby for anything other than medical reasons. Give them fifteen minutes to pat and kiss it and you and then send them on their way.
posted by Iteki at 2:35 AM on November 10, 2008


The easiest thing to do would be to say something terrible happened and get them really upset, then a few minutes later tell them you were just kidding. But that's what they get when they don't listen to you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:11 AM on November 10, 2008


I would be utterly gutted if I was told I couldn't even meet the baby for anything other than medical reasons.

But nobody is saying "you cannot meet the baby." They're saying "you cannot meet the baby for the first three days." Three days is nothing over the lifetime of a human being.

Anonymous, perhaps try a new tactic.

1) "Mom, if you're booking tickets from Monday, make sure you don't book return tickets until Friday, because we're not having visitors until Wednesday." Then drop a basket with a city map and or guide book and a big note that says "See you Wednesday!" at their hotel. Before they arrive.

2) Lie. "Anonymous is being scheduled for an induction on Friday / we just got back from the hospital with suspected pre-eclampsia, so we're having a c-section on Friday / something else."

3) Cancel their plane reservations on Monday.

4) Call the meddling parent's spouse and say "I need you to make Mom understand that we love you but you are not welcome until three days after the baby's birth, end of story."

5) Or just say "fuck it" and call mom up and put your fucking foot down. Nothing you say can be any ruder than their behaviour. You have the baby, so you have all the leverage.

I'm all for family peace, but seriously - there are very few times in the family dynamic when a particular member's preferences trump everyone else's, and pushing a seven pound human out of your vagina is one of those times.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:18 AM on November 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


What pretty much everyone else is saying.

My parents had this sort of problem with my grandparents when I was born and it took a long, long time for my mom to finally figure out that they were batshitinsane and she didn't want them around her children: What started out as not knowing when they were stepping over boundaries turned into weird stuff like my grandmother trying to baptize me when she thought my mom wasn't around.

So if they're not respecting your boundaries now, there's a chance that they won't respect them in the future. They do not have some godgiven right to step on your toes and use the kid as an excuse.

Put your foot down, don't let them know which hospital you're at, and please, lock your front door.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:52 AM on November 10, 2008


For those of you encouraging the OP to let the Gparents see the baby:


I'm all for compromise, but both parties have to show a willingness to compromise for compromise to work. The Gparents have not shown a willingness to do so, being rather inflexible about it all. To wit: In hearing the OPs concerns, they did not modify their position, state that they would stay somewhere else, come at a later time, or stay for a limited time. They sound like they have been uncompromising. They have attempted the rather unrefined negotiation tactic of tin eared, unrelenting pressure, to outmaneuver (We're coming anyway) and overwhelm (But we want to come. WE want to come. WE WANT TO COME!) the OP to fulfill their desire.

Compromising with someone who's pretty carefree about rolling over your boundaries with their toxic plutonium tank of self-absorbed-me-me-me selfishness isn't really a skill that anyone should entertain, much less master. What are they, five? The OP doesn't need 3 kids around.

OP, just imagine that this folks are the platinum, big boss version of all those random people who in the last nine months tried to touch your tummy/hassled you as to whether you were planning to breast-feed/insist on knowing the baby's name or gender/etc./etc. They were just the warm up version for this style of play. Imagine these people are who look like familiar family members are really possessed zombies bearing down on your sweet newborn babe, and decide if you are going to let them mess with the mental and emotional wellbeing of the only two people who must focus all their care and attention to take care of your child (that'd be you and your partner by the way).

(yes, people, I know. I have to *stop* playing Resident Evil before I visit metafilter. I know. I Know.)

If you can't do it, sic your most pitbullish family member on them to give them a gentle word or two. Though I think you can do it. I will always remember the sight of a most timid looking mother metamorphasize into something like Kali, the hindu goddess of war, and deliver a well deserved verbal hailstorm of vengeance-is-mine smackdown on this random stranger that took to the ill conceived notion that he was going to yell at her child for accidentally running into him in the cereal aisle at Safeway.

In short - don't do it for you. Do it for your baby. S/he's going to be a recent arrival to the world. S/he deserves at least 72 hours of anger/drama free parents, who aren't mentally imagining themselves shanking their visiting, cooing, won't-leave family members so they can get some g*damn peace. No matter what you do, there might be drama. So go for the drama where you get what you, your partner and baby need.
posted by anitanita at 3:53 AM on November 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I am only posting to add my voice to the chorus of "their behavior is inappropriate and aggressive, it is your right to make your boundaries firm, clear, and enforced." If you are feeling now, pre-baby, that you do not want these visitors around postpartum, this feeling will be much stronger once the baby is born. If they violate your clearly articulated boundaries with their presence, than you have the right to go to whatever enforcement means work: enlisting the hospital staff and policies, hiring a postpartum doula to help out and answer the door, asking the home health nurse or lactation consultant (most states require that the mother and baby be followed up on once they are home in some way--ask if they can do home visits) to determine that it is medically indicated that you have no visitors, coming up with a script for your partner to repeat over the phone or at the door.

Don't forget to find some way to disengage from this a bit during this vulnerable and exciting time--you should try to fully enjoy nesting, and belly rubbing, and a last bit of time alone with your partner. Take good care of yourself, I am sorry that you are having this issue right now, and many, many congratulations on that little one.
posted by rumposinc at 4:31 AM on November 10, 2008


don't do it for you. Do it for your baby.
I really, really don't think a newborn baby will be harmed by being with their grandparents for fifteen minutes. It should be possible to arrange that without drama. I tend to disagree with the other posters that you have to put your foot down now or else you will have these problems forever. In my experience, it is the opposite: if you are so strict now that you will not even let them meet their newborn grandchild, you will set yourself up for more trouble. This may be worth it if there are big reasons, but since the OP actually mentioned the possibility of the grandparents helping out if necessary (they may want to have them for two entire weeks to help!), I assume the hatred is not that big now. If you want your child to have a good relationship with their grandparents, and if you might need their help in the future, I would give them 15 minutes with their grandchild, but stay very firm about that boundary.

But nobody is saying "you cannot meet the baby." They're saying "you cannot meet the baby for the first three days." Three days is nothing over the lifetime of a human being.
But a 1 day old baby is very different from a 1 week old baby. It is not the same.

They say "We aren't visiting you, we're visiting the baby." (Which strikes me as even less helpful and caring about mom's well-being and sort of hurts.)
It is indeed not helpful, but pretty normal, in my experience. People come to visit babies, not mothers. When people said that to me, I always took it to mean "Don't worry about how you look or feel, you don't have to entertain me, I just want to see the baby".

Whatever you decide: let your partner handle it. That's his/her job now, no matter whose parents it are.
posted by davar at 4:41 AM on November 10, 2008


You know, when I first read wfrgms' advice, I thought it was a bit too strongly worded maybe... but no, it really isn't, under the circumstances. Basically, you really want to keep them from coming anyway, and they sound like the sort who won't accept the message ("oh, they just say this now - once we're there, they'll be glad to see us!") unless it's stated in the strongest possible terms. And if they come, even if you don't see them, there is still that nagging worry and upset that they are there.

So yeah, be as blunt and unyielding as you need to be to make sure they don't come until you're ready. You'll have time to soften the edges of that conversation later, and until then, you'll have your blessed, beautiful privacy.
posted by taz at 4:41 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you want your child to have a good relationship with their grandparents, and if you might need their help in the future, I would give them 15 minutes with their grandchild, but stay very firm about that boundary.

Just a thought: children do not need to have a good relationship with the grandparents if they are unhealthy to the upbringing of the child.

First and foremost, the child needs to have a good relationship with the parents. That's going to be impossible if you have boundary exceeding grandparents who will just create drama and confusion. I can not tell you how lovely it's going to be to have a screaming, angry child because "Grandma/Grandpa said I could, why are you so mean!?" Believe me, it's easy for kids to have a good relationship with grandparents, as long as GPs respect the parents wishes in the major things. Ok, so the GPs might give'em more sugar than you like or other minor things, that's not big deal. But when it comes to the major issues, such as where the child goes, who they meet and how they conduct their, you do not want any relatives who are actively going against you wishes. The time to nip this in the bud is now.

The kid isn't even born yet and they're already trying to walk all over your boundaries, and at one of the most intimate times for a family. And for what? A newborn baby poops and sleeps most of the time, it's about 4-6 months before they're up and social and you can start have fun with them as person.

Swear to god, if I knew then what I know now about these situations, I would have gathered every family member into one room and bluntly told these sort of relatives, in front of everyone else, something like this, coarse language and all: "Do not fuck with us on these matters. We are the parents, our word and wishes are law and if you attempt to pull any of the shit that it sounds like you're trying to pull, you're banned for a year from seeing the kid, no ifs, ands or buts. Do not fuck with us on this."

I'm sorry you have to deal with this and I know what I've suggested sounds overly dramatic, but it comes from personal experience and that knowledge that ultimately, it harms to the child to have conflicting messages from boundary overstepping relatives.

Oh and congrats on the baby. Enjoy the time together, it's going to be fun!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 AM on November 10, 2008


Welcome to the wonderful world of parenting, and of saying NO. It's a word you'll get to say a lot in the next 20 years. The gods of parenting clearly think you could use some practice, and they are offering this situation to you. Think of it as boot camp. I've been through this boot camp myself, and it sucks. However, the ability to say no is lovely:

"No, he doesn't need a hat. No, I am not breastfeeding too much. No, I am not going to stop drinking diet coke while breastfeeding. No, I do not think my responses to my child's cries are excessive. No, I do not think I am underresponsive to my child's cries. No, I do not need to purchase a new vacuum cleaner two days after I gave birth."

You are now the parents, which means you now hold all the trump cards: you control the money, the schedule, and most important to this situation, you control access to the grandchild. You will not alienate the grandparents forever if you say no. They want access to the kid, and if they have to deal with your disagreeable ass to get it, they will cope. Rock on with your bad self! Be disagreeable! Giving birth is a tremendously physically difficult thing. You have a right to set the conditions you want.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:32 AM on November 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel your pain, anonymous. My wife and I are expecting in May, and her mom has been driving us nuts for some time now. She doesn't seem to understand that she needs to pace herself, that she doesn't need to do everything baby-related herself, that she needs to give my wife some space to figure out on her own what kind of mother she can be without her own mom trying to take over and direct every aspect of this childbirth experience.

I am assuming that, like us, you are dealing with a mother(-in-law) that you care about deeply, but one that still manages to provide massive doses of frustration and/or crazy insanity. I swear I don't know how my wife came out of that woman, they are different in every way imaginable. But she is still my mother-in-law, and my wife's mother; we still love her despite the crazy, and we want her to be as involved with our baby (her first and likely only grandchild) as much as we can - but major emphasis on the "we" part. She may be the grandma, but we are the parents, which means we get to set the boundaries somewhere. She seems to be hell-bent on breaking any boundary we try to set. I finally had to bite the bullet and spend over an hour on the phone being the bad guy and running damage control. It wasn't pretty but I somehow managed to get some points through to her - that we don't hate her, we don't want her not to show up, we don't want her to not be involved at all, we just need some space and time to figure out how to be a family once baby shows up, and the last thing that will help anyone at that point is new grandma camped out on our couch for the last few weeks prior to delivery.

It was NOT easy to make that call. I had to explicitly tell her that we want her to be an involved grandparent, but it is NOT her job to actually raise the child, and it is NOT her duty to break all of the rules we set, because we set them for a damn good reason. She didn't seem to take this well, but after a lot of talking - and crying - and threatening - she seemed to finally understand, and was able to have a normal, reasonable conversation with my wife afterward. She's been surprisingly reasonable and normal since this little talk.

As much as it sucks to be the bad cop, you have to do it and you have to do it ASAP. Good luck. Best to Mr, Ms and baby anonymous!
posted by caution live frogs at 6:43 AM on November 10, 2008


Just to provide a grandparent's perspective on this:

When each of my grandsons were born, I was in the hospital waiting; when my daughter-in-law was ready, my wife and I were shown into the room with her and the newborn and we got to hold him, ooh and ah, and (in my case) hum Mozart at him while rocking him in my arms. It was one of the great experiences of my life and I will always treasure it (and will doubtless bore them with my recollections of it in later years).

And you know what? If the mother and father had asked us to wait a few days before visiting, we'd have done it, no questions asked. We would have mentioned our regrets to each other, but never to them, and it wouldn't have affected our relationship with them or the grandkids at all, because we care about them and are not selfish jerks.

These people are selfish jerks. I am one of the many who favorited wfrgms's advice, and I urge you to follow it.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on November 10, 2008 [11 favorites]


stand your ground. I felt exactly as you did when expecting my first child, and lo and behold the in-laws showed up that day after I got home from the hospital anyway (flew in from out-of-town). I honestly still feel a bit of regret for not standing up to them then, but I felt guilted into it. I was so sore, so hormonal, trying to learn to breastfeed, and honestly just wanted to stare at and hold my baby...and instead I ended up washing sheets and filling out insurance papers whil MIL cooed over newborn son "since she would only be here a few short days" (which was FIVE). OK, YMMV, but still.

It became a slippery slope that continues to this day. Tell them to count 2 weeks from when baby is born and make their arrangements for that day. End of story.

But for God's sake, DO NOT call them on day 5 exhausted and crying for their help and can they please come early. If you forbid them to visit, mean it and stick to it.
posted by agentwills at 7:05 AM on November 10, 2008


Yah, these folks do not care about you, they care about themselves, THEIR little plans and designs. Drop the hammer, tell them nope, unh-uh, no way, etc and etc, as has been recommended here in this post many times. You've a right to live your life as you wish, in fact a responsibility to do so. wfrgms is dead right, yet again....
posted by dancestoblue at 7:06 AM on November 10, 2008


I'm 8 months pregnant right now and while so far the grandparents in our case have been quire reasonable, my husband and I have agreed to operate with them on an information sequestration plan. These are my intentions once it hits a few days before my due date:

1) DON'T ANSWER YOUR PHONE. Let your phone take messages and call back the people you need to call back.

2) CHANGE YOUR PHONE MESSAGE. My new voicemail will say, "Hi, it's Zizzle. There is no baby yet. Once we have the baby, we will inform everyone. If you are calling for any other reason, please feel free to leave a message."

3) Yes, absolutely, put them on the do-not-allow list at the hospital, or better yet, have only-these-people-allowed list. Labor nurses, OBs, midwifes, and doulas have all dealt with difficult family members before and likely have a lot of tact in doing so. Our hospital, for example, has the family waiting room outside of Labor and Delivery. To get into Labor and Delivery, you have to pick up the phone, dial the extension, and talk to one of the nurses at the desk on the other side of the door.

4) Don't tell them the baby has arrived until you are ready to do so. In our case, we are going to take one to two hours with our baby by ourselves, then let the baby get whatever treatment he/she needs. After we've both had a nap, have eaten, and whatever else we feel the need to do, then my husband will call the grandparents. In my case, most of them live within a 2 hour drive, so that will give us some more time than perhaps you will have if they are staying at a hotel.

5) Establish set rules for visiting. If anyone wants to visit, that's fine but time is limited unless they do something useful. I have yet to set up what I want from these rules but some of the potential items include washing hands immediately upon entry and before coming in contact with the baby, visits can only be for half an hour, visits can only happen during these sets of hours on these days (MWF 1 - 4 or, TTHS 2 - 5, for example). Anyone wanting to stay longer than half an hour has to use that time to do something like make a meal, clean the toilet, do the laundry, or any other household task that has to be done.

6) There is nothing that says you have to answer your door or let anyone in when you do get home with the baby. This very well may be one of the best defenses you have.

Be clear, be firm, and do it now. I've already been letting my parents and my in-laws know that it will be great if they want to come by and meet the baby while we're still in the hospital, but then they have to go away for about a week, after which I would like my mom and mother-in-law to stay during a consecutive week or two week period when my husband goes back to work --- with the understanding that they will be there to help with household tasks as well as to hang out with me and the baby.
posted by zizzle at 7:18 AM on November 10, 2008


Just a thought: children do not need to have a good relationship with the grandparents
Well, no, but still, I think for many people grandparents are important people in their lives, and I would think really hard before I burned any bridges like this.
if they are unhealthy to the upbringing of the child.
The grandparents are good enough to come help should anything (like a c-section, so that's not even a very small chance) happen, so I cannot imagine they are "unhealthy to the upbringing of the child".

I do agree that these people are selfish, BTW, and if there is any way they can be persuaded not to come (I still think that this is the partner's job), that would be best. But when that is no longer an option (it is already Monday afternoon where I live, and the poster mentioned that the grandparents would come Monday or Tuesday) I think that giving them a small amount of time with the baby will eventually lead to the least amount of drama, which is in the end what you want. While I agree that being able to be firm and say no is an important parenting skill, in my opinion being flexible (while still protecting your boundaries) and trying to see positive intent is also important.
posted by davar at 7:36 AM on November 10, 2008


But a 1 day old baby is very different from a 1 week old baby. It is not the same.

But similarly, a mother one day after delivery is very different from a mother one week after delivery.

If this mother knows she won't be ready to receive visitors one day after delivery, then she WON'T BE READY TO RECEIVE VISITORS ONE DAY AFTER DELIVERY. She is the mother. She knows what is best for her and her child. Thus, her word is final. Period.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:55 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


We had exactly this problem -- horrors. And my sympathies -- I felt exactly the same way.

We handled it by assigning times one day after the birth -- I had a c-section in the afternoon on a Tuesday, people were allowed up on Wednesday for ASSIGNED TIMES. Each set of Grandparents got one hour -- one between 11 and 12, the other between 2 and 3.

I couldn't bring myself to tell them to stay away for a few days, which is what I wanted. I have a reputation for being curmudgeonly and thought that crossed the line from curmudgeonly to 'mean'--so instead of a blanket restriction I settled for some boundaries.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:18 AM on November 10, 2008


Wow, you people are all wowing me with all your 'hell, no's'!

Jeez, if I'd known other people wouldn't think I was an ass I totally would have banned them. (I'm kidding, I just didn't have the heart. But I did feel the exact same way. The thought of having people around made me want to jump out a window.)

Keep in mind that some of the anxiety you're experiencing might be anxiety about the birth that's being redirected--I found myself terrified of the loss of control, especially because of the c section.

Good luck--it'll be okay.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:26 AM on November 10, 2008


If this mother knows she won't be ready to receive visitors one day after delivery, then she WON'T BE READY TO RECEIVE VISITORS ONE DAY AFTER DELIVERY.
No need to shout to me. I did not say anything about the mother. The grandparents did not say anything about the mother (though somehow the OP saw that as an extra problem). The grandparents can cuddle the baby while mom takes a shower or something. (The OP talks about "we" so I assume there is a partner to take care of those things).

But similarly, a mother one day after delivery is very different from a mother one week after delivery.
Exactly. One day after delivery, many women still have the happy hormones that make them feel they can handle everything. Four days after delivery (when the OP said she would be okay with visitors) many women feel reality sink in, get the baby blues, are tired, etc. I would have hated visitors then (we had the grandparents on day two and three, and the rest of the visitors a week after that - I really do understand the need to have alone time with the new family).

I found childbirth incredibly hard, and since the OP already expects that she may need the help of these grandparents, I just think it is smart not to shut them out completely. I agree it is unfair and that the grandparents are egoistical, but that's life sometimes.

Keep in mind that some of the anxiety you're experiencing might be anxiety about the birth that's being redirected.
That is a good suggestion.
posted by davar at 8:44 AM on November 10, 2008


My instinct here would be to tell them that we'd allow a short visit at the hospital on the day of the birth (along the lines of what languagehat described he had with his grandchildren) but to stress again that after that we would need several days of uninterrupted alone time to get settled before allowing more visits. I think if I were a grandparent I wouldn't understand why my kid wouldn't want to even let me see the baby at the hospital after it was born and have a quick look and smell (etc) of my new grandchild -- I just would not understand this position. It would seem mean and unreasonable. It would not seem logical to me, and while I myself would respect my child's wishes, I can see that someone else might decide that since the position seemed illogical my child would be bound to change their mind after I actually showed up at the hospital and the stress of labor was over, or whatever.

I'm just trying to explain where these folks might be coming from, even though I personally wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Recognize that this is coming from a woman who is herself five months pregnant with her first child and herself very much wants uninterrupted time to bond with the baby and figure things out before we get lots of outside voices and influence in the picture. In fact, thanks, because this question has helped me figure out what my own position on a hospital visit etc. with the grandparents would be.

The difficulty I see is that allowing this quick visit makes it harder not to allow other quick visits since the grandparents have travelled so far. I'm not really sure about what to do there. Believe me anonymous, I understand your position, and in fact I basically share it, but to me it seems a little mean to deny any contact at all until 4 days after the birth if the grandparents are so keen on it. I mean, the grandmom went through what your wife is going through when she gave birth at one point, and she probably did not deny the inlaws or her parents visitation rights for several days. I know the majority of people in this thread are saying "put your foot down and do what you want to do," but I just can't get my head around this position actually being reasonable.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:29 AM on November 10, 2008


I would be completely unsuccessful at putting my foot down. But, I will say that in the hospital for the first few days you have many reasons to easily kick unwanted people out. "Oh, can you go to the hospital coffee shop while I breastfeed/talk to the nurse/change clothes/get out of bed to pee/take a little nap etc." No one - not even you - is allowed to take the baby out of the room. So, you get left alone with the baby. Once you are home, you just have to sit and stare at each other, there's no where to kick them out for a while. If you want a nap, shower, they'll want to keep the baby while you go do what you have to do. I liked the hospital visits better, no one felt comfortable enough in the tiny hospital room to stay longer than half an hour or so. At my house with the big tv and comfy sofa... Also, the first few days, the baby doesn't cry so much - they are actually less stressful than later - I found it easier to deal with people early, rather than when a week or so of no sleep had set in.

Anyway, this is just to make you feel slightly better if they show up no matter what.
posted by artychoke at 10:33 AM on November 10, 2008


Echoing part of DarlingBri's comment, can't you just keep the baby's birth to yourself? Don't tell the grandparents when you are going to the hospital - reveal it afterwards or flat out lie. "Hi Mom & Dad, Baby Anonymous is here! Anony was born x days ago and is now ready to meet you!" I don't see how the grandparents could show up at the hospital if they don't know you're there.
posted by kidsleepy at 10:50 AM on November 10, 2008


No need to shout to me. I did not say anything about the mother. The grandparents did not say anything about the mother (though somehow the OP saw that as an extra problem). The grandparents can cuddle the baby while mom takes a shower or something.

The "raised voice" was to remind those who have forgotten that the most important two people here in this entire scenario are the mother and the child. With just about everything -- food choices, discipline, health, attire, etc. -- the mother gets final say when it comes to what is best for her and her child. That's the way it works. When the mother expresses a preference, everyone ideally should shut up and listen and abide by her preferences. Who cares if it doesn't make sense to you or if you disagree -- you are not that mother and you are not that child. That mother knows herself best, and that mother knows her child best. Will people be inconvenienced by this? Yes. Will people be hurt by this? Yes. But tough. People were inconvenienced and hurt by some of the choices my mother made in my behalf, but my mother chose right, because she knew herself, and she knew me.

Of course there are exceptions to this -- but those exceptions are if the mother's choices are clearly jeopardizing that baby's physical or mental development. Whether or not a grandparent first sees their child within 24 hours of its birth is not something that would affect its mental development. So -- the final word in this scenario is, "has the mother said 'no, the grandparents must wait three days'? Then the answer is no, the grandparents must wait three days. Voting closed, question settled, period, full stop."

So the grandparents will feel bad that they had to wait a couple days? They'll get over it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The "raised voice" was to remind those who have forgotten that the most important two people here in this entire scenario are the mother and the child. With just about everything -- food choices, discipline, health, attire, etc. -- the mother gets final say when it comes to what is best for her and her child. That's the way it works. When the mother expresses a preference, everyone ideally should shut up and listen and abide by her preferences.

I really disagree with this, because the dad has an equal role to play here as well. When the baby is percolating the mom may get the final say, but once it's out the baby is a shared responsibility and likewise decisions are shared.

And while it's true, for me, that mom and dad get to judge what's best for the child and the grandparent's really don't, it just seems rather unnecessary and sort of selfish for the parents to say, for their own convenience, that the grandparents can't lay their eyes on the grandchild until four days after the birth. Not even for 15 minutes a day, or 15 minutes total. I could understand not allowing any visits ever if one of the grandparents was a pedophile or domestic abuser or the like, but that is not the case here. Similarly, it does not appear as if the parents are super stressed out to the point that it becomes a medical concern or something like that. Maybe they are worried (as I will be) that the grandparents will want to "show me" how to take care of their baby, rather than allowing them to discovery it for themselves. Or will need to judge them on how well they are able to take care of the baby, considering that the grandparents are old hands at this while the new parents are, well, newbies. These are reasonable concerns, but a short visit each day isn't going to allow grandparents to really go down that road. And like davar says, a little bit of appeasement at this stage may go a long way down the road.

But I want to stress that I am only advocating allowing them to see the grandchild, and to do so for something like 15 to 30 minutes a day, and then go away. That's it. They can have a longer visit down the road, maybe, but after that time was up I'd say something like, "Well, it was nice to see you an everything, but I (mom) am getting really tired and I need some time with the baby before I conk out. See you tomorrow!" And let that be it. Better still if the dad talked to them before they came into the room and let them know that they could only visit for __ minutes because mom needed time with the baby before she had a nap, or baby needed to sleep and they didn't want the visit to keep him up and mess with the schedule that they were trying to create, etc.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:51 AM on November 10, 2008


I think what I find interesting is that many of those who suggest that the OP allow the Gparents in, is that they assume that they will abide by the boundaries that the OP has set and leave after a certain period of time. But the OP has given no indication that the Gparents have respected her wishes. Perhaps it's the case, but it isn't clear why they would suddenly be 'sated' by a short 15 minute visit and pack up and stay away.

I'm not touching the issue if the OP needing them for babysitting purposes later. But it seems more likely to imagine that they would welcome seeing their Gchild 3 days later - what will they say? I didn't see him/her on day one, oh nevermind?

OP, have you thought about sharing with them how you feel about the position you feel they've put you into? Do you have that kind of relationship?
posted by anitanita at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2008


I really disagree with this, because the dad has an equal role to play here as well. When the baby is percolating the mom may get the final say, but once it's out the baby is a shared responsibility and likewise decisions are shared.

A true point, and one I agree with (and should have made that clearer in my post).

And while it's true, for me, that mom and dad get to judge what's best for the child and the grandparent's really don't, it just seems rather unnecessary and sort of selfish for the parents to say, for their own convenience, that the grandparents can't lay their eyes on the grandchild until four days after the birth.

But I don't get the sense that the prospective parents are speaking from a sense of being inconvenienced by the grandparents' visits -- I'm sensing it's from a sense of mental resilience. They will have just been through a tremendous ordeal, and people who have just been through a tremendous ordeal aren't always mentally equipped to deal with people, even people they know.

It's kind of like if you've literally just today finished having the flu -- sure, it may be technically possible for you to try to get up and go to the gym today, but you're probably not going to nevertheless because you're going to want that one day of health as a buffer in between, right? After having had the flu bad you're probably not going to be all bouncy. So if your gym buddy calls and asks you to come to the gym today, you're probably going to say no -- not because of a convenience thing, but rather because it just plain isn't in you today.

This is the same thing. I didn't get the sense of the family swanning about and wanting to arrange things to their convenience, I got the sense that the family suspects -- and rightly so -- that they are going to be completely wrung out for a couple days. They sense that letting the grandparents come over is going to be akin to your gym buddy barging in on the first day in a week that you've not had a fever and saying, "how about we start with the elliptical machine? C'mon, get your sweats on!"

Not every couple needs this kind of day or two to catch their breaths, and to those who didn't need it, this may look like an inconvenience. But some people do need it. The parents here have clearly tried to state that they are those kinds of people. The grandparents are ignoring their wishes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on November 10, 2008


I think what I find interesting is that many of those who suggest that the OP allow the Gparents in, is that they assume that they will abide by the boundaries that the OP has set and leave after a certain period of time. But the OP has given no indication that the Gparents have respected her wishes.

You're right that these grandparents seem especially pushy, but I just want to note that according to the poster they have abided by the poster's wishes to some extent by accepting that they won't be staying with the new parents and making hotel arrangements. Similarly, at the hospital, to some extent the matter will be out of their hands. If you tell them to leave after a half hour because you need to feed the baby and go to sleep or whatever, I don't understand how they could stay. If necessary you could also have a nurse come in and tell them they needed to leave. This is why it's actually easier to have the grandparents visit at the hospital rather than after the baby is brought home, where no outside enforcement presence can unequivocally impose your visitation policies.

Again, I'm five months pregnant with a first child myself and will be facing the same sort of visitation issues, so I'm not completely without sympathy to anonymous. Even with EmppressCallipygos' gym analogy, I just don't see 3 days of uninterrupted time with no grandparent visits as a truly reasonable starting point. It might even be 30 minutes of unpleasantness a day for the new parents to deal with, but you know what -- the grandparents probably did the same thing when you were born, and they survived. Presumably you love these people. Forbidding any contact whatsoever would just, as the original poster him/herself indicates, seem to create alot of unnecessary drama. But I've spoken enough in this thread now, and will pipe down.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:37 PM on November 10, 2008


Our dear friends just had their first child two weeks ago. Before the birth, they were anticipating exactly what you fear from your relatives. I helped them compose some valid "instructions for new parents" -- baby must be fed every 2.5 to 3 hours, mother must sleep when baby sleeps, get used to each other before having visitors, etc -- and we put the obstetrician's or pediatrician's name and info at the top of each page. I edited the information given by the real doctors, the lactation consultant, and so on. The couple sent a set of copies to the very pushy parents of the mother-to-be, with a nice note telling them they'd get an invite when things became somewhat routine.

When the folks showed up anyway, the new parents made themselves say, "why don't you stop by for half an hour, about 11 a.m. tomorrow. We're sorry, but we have to make sleep a priority. The baby is very easily startled. (True, and also normal.) He'll outgrow it, but until he does, we need to keep visits to a minimum." All pestering requests were answered with, "I'm sorry, no." But for the most part, they didn't answer the phone -- because they were busy, or sleeping.

Do and say now what will make it easier to say no later. Be specific. Say "we can't" instead of "please don't." Say "it's not recommended" rather than "we don't want to." You have to let a lot of things slide so your baby can eat often enough and you two parents can get not-enough-sleep-but-it'll-have-to-do. If the folks say they want to help, tell them yes... after X date.

Those grandparents were the bosses of you when you were kids, and you're going to be the boss of everything having to do with your child. The grandparents will get used to it.
posted by wryly at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2008


This one interaction is not going to set the pattern for the remainder of your relations with the grandparent. If you are successful in a bid to have them not come right away, it's not like they're going to just start respecting your boundaries from now on. If you want to get them to respect your wishes going forward, start working on that, but a grand stand here won't do it.

I'd personally go with diplomacy before the nuclear option. Let them visit a few minutes on the day their grandchild is born, or the day after. Then have the nurses kick them out. Send them back home and tell them you are looking forward to an extended visit when the three of you are more able. (Here's where you can be firm, no letting them hang around town.)

That's not the biggest concession, and if you forbid any visit you are completely risking an all out war, and you know they are never, ever going to let it go ("and they wouldn't even let me see my grandchild!! blah blah blah")

Lying to them about the birth/not telling them about it? I cannot even imagine the trouble you're going to get into with that one.

Mom, stay as comfortable as possible, and try to focus on the happy parts. I imagine there are going to be a lot of inconvenient and uncomfortable things going on connected with a birth, and parents/in laws/family are just one of those things you have to deal with, lump it in with the rest of the annoying parts and cherish the really good parts.

Congrats!
posted by KAS at 12:59 PM on November 10, 2008


follow up from the OP
Thanks to everyone for their great concern and helpful comments. We feel so much better knowing that others have gone through this and/or understand what we're going through. You've been of great comfort. We wanted to update for anyone that was interested in how things worked out.

After rehearsing wfrgms's script, I ran it by my sister and she felt it was too harsh and would set our shared parent into a frenzy of crazy. She then offered to call parent herself and play mediator. I told her that my main points to get across were: 1. Do not come out until we've said we're ready for visitors, 2. The more we try to make things pleasant, the better for everyone, and 3. Saying hurtful things doesn't help. I also made it quite clear to sister that we aren't above not answering the door and that she should convey that to parent if it seemed to come to that.

Sister talked to parent and reported back that parent seemed cool with all three. BUT, I listened to my voicemail and parent called after speaking with sister and was quite passive-aggressive, i.e. "I'm sorry that you're hurt by the fact that I want to see my grandchild and you're denying me that right." But, as my sister says, I got what I wanted (them not coming out), so I should ignore the rest. I am keeping my guard up though. We are not going to call them, as some posters suggested, until baby is born and we've settled a bit. (Putting all family members who communicate with parent on limited profile on Facebook now so that they don't read a wall posting from the pet sitting friend or colleagues that notice our absence from normal life.)

And a few clarification points:

grandparent = my parents/baby's grandparents.

Some of the posters are right - they are bound to not obey our wishes for "only a 15 minute visit" - they are very good at manipulating and they would likely guilt trip/cry/scream/whatever to get their way. Our boundaries mean nothing to them.

My main concern is that this parent is high anxiety 24/7 and when this parent drinks (often), the anxiety turns to irrational behavior. I am always on edge when parent is around. When not pregnant I have to take anti-anxiety meds and use CBT techniques just to be around parent. We are not close at all.

When I referred to parent coming out to help, honestly, that is a total ruse to pacify parent. I'd pay for a doula/baby nurse in a second before I'd want parent in my house. Sorry for not making that clear.

Thanks to everyone again!
posted by jessamyn at 1:02 PM on November 10, 2008


My main concern is that this parent is high anxiety 24/7 and when this parent drinks (often), the anxiety turns to irrational behavior. I am always on edge when parent is around. When not pregnant I have to take anti-anxiety meds and use CBT techniques just to be around parent. We are not close at all.

Oh my sweet bungie-jumping Poptarts.

anonymous, if that's the case then you are absolutely in the right -- you know what's best for you, you know what this person is capable of and you have every right in the world to take that into account when you are deciding how to protect and care for your new family.

Best of luck to you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


What EmpressCallipygos said. Well done, anonymous, and I wish you the best of luck in dealing with this messy situation.
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on November 10, 2008


Yeah, if the prospective mom usually needs anti anxiety meds or other to stomach the grandparents, and won't be on them after the delivery, then this kind of veers into keeping the grandparents away as a form of medical necessity rather than convenience. Sorry I did not get that from the original question.

I would also stop holding out the possibility that you actually might want the grandparents around for 2 weeks after the birth if there is a caesarian. It sounds like you would want to rely on anyone but the grandparents, so manage their expectations now. Maybe even let it drop that you have found a doula or someone else to help out and stay with you in the possibility of a caesarian. This way if you wind up having a caesarian (which isn't necessarily predictable) they won't automatically leap to the conclusion that they need to be with you for two weeks as previously indicated.

I'm sorry you feel that your boundaries mean nothing to them, but I do just want to note that they have apparently acceded to your request not to visit until you call them, and they also accepted your decision that they would be staying in a hotel and not your house. I know this isn't anywhere near the same thing as parents following their children's wishes without a whole guilt-trip song and dance, but it does appear that if approached in the correct way they will listen to you. Remember this in dealing with them down the line, and you may be able to more easily figure out ways to get them to do what you need without too much craziness. Good luck to you!
posted by onlyconnect at 2:22 PM on November 10, 2008


I agree that the anxiety meds make the situation different. However, when you say: When I referred to parent coming out to help, honestly, that is a total ruse to pacify parent. I do think that it might be a good idea to try to set better boundaries. You say your boundaries mean nothing to your parents, but part of setting boundaries is not giving false expectations. When you say that you may want them over for two weeks and that you may need their help, you give them the message that you have a perfectly normal parent/child relationship and then I can see how it seems weird to them that they are not allowed to see their grandchild any sooner.

they are very good at manipulating and they would likely guilt trip/cry/scream/whatever to get their way.
People are only good at manipulating if you let them manipulate you. Treat them like you treat a toddler who does the same thing. You ignore the tantrum and keep repeating, calmly but firmly, that no, they cannot have the candy/see the baby right now. It is hard, but it will make you so much happier when you can do that.

I hope the decision will give you a little peace so that you can concentrate on better things now and have a good birth without the added anxiety of parents showing up.
posted by davar at 3:18 PM on November 10, 2008


Again, I'm five months pregnant with a first child myself and will be facing the same sort of visitation issues, so I'm not completely without sympathy to anonymous. Even with EmppressCallipygos' gym analogy, I just don't see 3 days of uninterrupted time with no grandparent visits as a truly reasonable starting point. It might even be 30 minutes of unpleasantness a day for the new parents to deal with, but you know what -- the grandparents probably did the same thing when you were born, and they survived.


onlyconnect, when I was three months pregnant, I thought about having my mother-in-law present for the birth as an additional support person. At five months pregnant, I shared your viewpoint and wanted my parents and in-laws to come as soon as the baby was born but they were not to be there for the birth, but at 8 months pregnant --- no way in heck do I want my parents or my in-laws there until I want them there, which right now is several hours to a day after the birth. A few weeks ago we were discussing not telling the grandparents until the following day.

Things happen with the pregnancy and with parent-child relationships during pregnancy that what the expectant father and mother want changes. Your needs will change as well in the next four months. Maybe you'll swing the other way and really want your parents waiting in L&D during your labor, which is fine. But I would be surprised if what you want now is at all the same as to what you want in another four months.

Anonymous, thanks for the update! Do whatever is right for you, which is not necessarily what your parents will agree with. The less added stress you can have surrounding you when the baby comes, the better for you, for baby, and for your partner. I wish you nothing but the healthiest of births and enjoy your time with the baby. And do not buy into the guilt tripping. Do not feel guilty for making the decision you need to make for your new family.
posted by zizzle at 3:52 PM on November 10, 2008


Good luck, OP! And congrats!
posted by anitanita at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


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