Berkeley Parents Network
Google Custom Search
Home Members Post a Msg Reviews Advice Subscribe Help/FAQ What's New

Grandparents visiting at baby's birth

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Pregnancy & Childbirth > Grandparents visiting at baby's birth


Related discussions: Advice about family relations (Grandparents)
  • East Coast grandparents want to come "help"
  • My mom wants to come out but I don't want her to

    East Coast grandparents want to come "help"

    April 2003

    My husband told me that we cannot be the only ones with this concern/problem, so I am seeking your advice. We are expecting our first baby- due in 2 weeks. Our families live back east and are already planning various visits during the first days and weeks of baby's life. Our visitors are planning on staying with us in our small two-bedroom, one-bath house. They think they are doing us a favor and are coming to ''help''. However, I am very overwhelmed about having a brand new baby to get used to and having out of town guests staying with us. When I suggested to my husband's mom (and new husband) that they may want to stay in a hotel, she said she wanted the ''full grandma experience''. My husband says it won't be a big deal, but I feel like the work involved with having guests falls on me (cleaning, cooking, entertaining while he's at work). I guess my questions are: how do other families solve this ''problem''..like where does everyone sleep (especially baby!)?, won't I be up all night and not really into entertaining?, do you feel like having guests is too overwhelming or is great for sharing your new baby?, will I be more sane if I really push the hotel thing?? I appreciate any advice and experience that you are willing to share. Thank you! Molly


    Molly, I have a month 6 old so I recently went through this experience. My mom came out and stayed with us close to 3 weeks. It was very helpful but her job was taking care of me, cleaning, and cooking. She left the baby stuff to me. I highly suggest that if your in laws or your family come to visit you set the expectations for their visit. You should not have to entertain anyone and should not feel like you need to lift a finger. Depending on your delivery you may be recovering for a while yourself. I think if you don't feel comfortable having anyone stay with you then you should insist that family stay in a hotel. Or perhaps they should come out when the baby is a month or two old and you and your husband have developed a routine. It is helpful having someone take care of the household issues but not at the risk of you becoming overwhelmed and stressed at the thought of them being there. Your family should understand this. Good luck! Stephanie
    When our baby was due in July, my parents came to stay -- not in our house, thank goodness -- to ''help.'' I completely regret not asking them to wait until after the baby was already born to come. Do you know when your baby is due for sure (i.e. scheduled C-section) or is there a chance that they'll be here before the birth? While grandparents love being able to participate in the actual birth activities, personally for me it was not helpful having them here. I felt like a watched pot. If they had been actually staying in the house -- argh! *I* would have gone to a hotel!

    As my Nurse Practitioner said to me in that week before my due date - ''This is your baby, not theirs. You need to do what you feel comfortable with and not worry about their feelings right now. If you ever have a right to be selfish, it's now.'' Unfortunately, my parents were already here, so I couldn't send them packing. But we did have about three big blow-outs because I was harboring discomfort and resentment and, oh yeah, I was about to pop!

    So, my advice is, hotel for sure. You simply tell them that you think your house is too small for everyone's comfort, including your own. You don't want the burden of having to worry about other people's comfort during your baby's first weeks, and even though they insist their comfort is not an issue, you still wouldn't be able to stop worrying about it and you just don't want to be in that position. Offer to pay for the hotel yourself so they can see how important it is to you. Best to you all


    HI Molly - First of all - by dint of giving birth you have the total right to be a Prima Donna and decree, ''No visitors until later, thank you.'' I really belive that. Just say no! Tell them to come around when the baby is three months or so and actually entertaining.

    That said, there is something to the idea of having a lot of help around in baby's first few days. I was happy to let my mom expertly take care of EVERYTHING while I slept and recovered for a few weeks. Only a real boor expects a new mom to entertain them when they show up on the doorstep. Are you the sort of person who can have guests in your home and let them fend for themselves? (I sure was)? We had two friends stay with us on an emergency basis just 12 days after my son was born. we live in a TINY student family apartment and they were in the living room. At first I was resigned, but they soon proved to be a godsend. They cooked, cleaned, did all my laundry, attended to my older daughter while I nursed the newborn, held the newborn to let me attend my older daugter, and watched the both of them so I could sleep, go out with my husband, etc. By the time they'd found their apartment I wanted to pay them to stay in my living room. My point - don't let a tight squeeze sway you from any possible help during the early days. You'll have an easier time of it going forward if you can get rest and recover now. Good luck to you! Jtil


    I felt similarly before my daughter was born, and so we told our families we wanted to have a month to get used to our new family and just enjoy our time together before we had any guests. This was more of an issue with my husband's parents, and they were fine with the decision, although probably a little disappointed. We did, however, invite them to come to the hospital, which they did - and that helped them to feel included, I think. They live in LA and came up as soon as the baby was born to see her and stayed (in our house) for a few days until baby and I came home. I was very, very happy not to have the stress of guests during those first weeks! The full month might have been more than necessary, but it was very good for us to have that time together without others around, and I'm very glad we made that decision. Even if you won't be ''entertaining'' and they are supposedly ''helping'' it is still a stress to have guests in your house. I think you are totally reasonable in asking guests to stay away or in a hotel until a later date when you're more comfortable. Sarah
    Ugh! You are in a tough situation. And, I think that you are quite wise to be concerned about your relatives' intentions to stay with you shortly after the birth. ''Familial help'' is GREAT in the first few weeks after birth, but ''visitors'' are horrible during this time. You'll need to decide whether your family will act as help or visitors during their time with you.

    I have offered friends the advice that unless you are comfortable sleeping in the same bed with whomever is coming to ''help'' then don't have them come until after the first five weeks. I believe that you need that degree of comfort -- plus good communication skills -- to make such an early visit succeed. And, if you are planning on breastfeeding, you need to remember that it is the most wonderful, but potentially challenging aspect aspects of caring for your new child. Will you be comfortable breastfeeding in front of these family members. Will these family members fully support your decision to breastfeed? Other questions to ask yourself: will these family members be comfortable -- making dinner, cleaning bathrooms, picking up after themselves, plus helping to care for a baby.... in your home?

    I urge you to have your family postpone any visits -- or at least stay in a hotel -- until after you have spent the first five weeks at home with your baby (unless, your gut tells you that they will indeed be helpful!). The first five weeks are the toughest, but then the baby starts to smile and respond and you begin to learn the ropes.

    I wish you luck and hope that your family is indeed ''help!'' I was lucky to have a mom who helped!


    We just went through this. I decided that it was ok if they new beforehand that this was not going to be a hotel experience and that we expected them to help around the house. It was very weird telling them, but while I was at the hospital giving birth I left a note at the house when they came in that this was a fend for yourself kind of deal (I already told them over the phone but reiderated it on the frig) and told them where the laundry was, how to work our stove and what was in the frig and how I liked the laundry. They seemed to get the idea and I made sure to tell them that my ONLY concern these first weeks was my new daughter and that I would love to talk to them and let them hold her and get to know her, but she came first. I was making no meals (especially if this is your husbands family--he can be in charge of that or his mother) and doing no laundry.

    It turned out great, and I was happy for the help. I didn't touch a piece of laundry for 10 days and they were ready to go home when they left. kristi


    I think it is wonderful that you have friends and family who are eager to visit and help--but I think you might need to let your husband know that the two of you need to be firm with visitors to protect your privacy. Your mother in law should absolutely stay in a hotel, and be advised that a couple of hours of visiting per day is more than enough for a new mom and baby pair. You might also consider suggesting to her that she visit for a brief time when the baby comes, and then prepare a more extended visit after a couple of months have passed and you aren't so overwhelmed by hormones, sleeplessness, and a passionate desire to hold your own baby. You will be happier to have her help after the first month passes and excited visitors have stopped showing up at your place to see the baby with casseroles in hand.

    People do things so much differently now, with attachment parenting styles etc., that some people don't understand how much privacy new parents and babies want and need. Be nice, but be firm--tell her that you want her to visit, but that you think you will need your space after the birth. Your new mother experience is more critical to your family's well- being than her ''full grandma experience.'' -elizabeth


    Not having had a lot of family around at the time of my daughter's birth, I would have had really appreciated the extra help, though my husband was home with me for three weeks. basically, I would recommend that you ''accept'' and welcome your visitors WITH the understanding that this is a transition time for you and your new family (baby and hubby) and not expect for them to be entertained and/or provided for during the visit--if anything, they should be helping you out, ie. cleaning , cooking, running errands, etc. that should be part of the ''full grandma experience'' It could be very beneficial for you to have this as all you will want to do is sleep and stare at your baby when you are not! Rememeber the first couple of weeks, a month if you're lucky, the baby will mostly sleep! But it's good to have someone around who has ''been there'' you can lean on their experience--maybe you will breast feed and it's not so easy to get started--a little help in this area is good to have. Ultimately though, you should be comfortable, so maybe add a clause saying that if it gets too crazy at your place, they could go to a hotel. Good luck. anon
    My mother-in-law stayed with us for two weeks after my baby was born and it truly was wonderful. She did all of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. It was so nice that my husband went back to work until after his mom left and then took his time off. Also, my husband and I stayed with some friends back east when their baby was only two weeks old. We made it clear that we did not expect to be waited on and we did laundry, cooked meals and took care of some things around the house. We even left some meals in the freezer for later consumption. I think that you should let grandma know what your specific expectations are now and see if she understands what you are going to need/want. You will not have any excess energy for entertaining, so don't worry about that. I have read a lot of articles in magazines about turning people away when you have a baby and while some people are not very sensitive or helpful, my experience is that most people understand that you need help and not more work. Allow yourself to be pampered. Joan
    Based on my limited experience, one month after birth is the good time to get ''help'' from those relatives. I had Sciatica and was very hard for me to even get up to pick up my crying baby for about 2 weeks. I couldn't even think about entertaining a house guest. Also, it takes a while to establish your routine in caring your baby, and also to study which cry indicates hunger and which does't etc. However, it was very helpful to have my parents in law to basically take over grocery shopping and cooking, have them hold crying baby to sleep (when the baby was not crying because he was hungry), and take care of my baby while I stayed in bed to continue my nap! To be honest, I was too exasted to feel bad for them and do stuff for them. But I just thank them for their help. After they left, kitchen was organized differently so I had to look for things. But it was not a big deal. So, my advice to you is to ask them if they are really willing to help, if so, you would like them to take over shopping and cooking and help you take naps. Give them chores in advance so both sides know what to expect. Also, I would ask if they can come for the baby's 1 month old birthday. Around that time, your bleeding and pain would reduce, so you are physically significantly in better shape comparing to right after the birth. Plus, you might be in baby blues (I was very emotional during the first month). If they really want to stay with you, you should warn them that they will hear the baby through the night. Good luck and enjoy your baby! anon
    You absolutely will not be in any shape to ''entertain'' or cook right after the baby is born! I think you need to have a very direct conversation with your in-laws, and make the expectations very clear. If they are coming to cook and clean for you, and help rock the baby at night so you can sleep, then they are welcome. If, however, they want to be treated like pampered guests who hold the baby when she's awake but hand her back to you for diapering, then suggest that they wait until she's a little older.

    My mother came and stayed with us for a couple of weeks after the birth of both my kids and she was a lifesaver. I had a difficult birth and couldn't do much for several days. My mom did everything around the house, cleaning, changing the baby, bringing her to me when she was hungry, etc. We had a small house and she slept on the living room floor on an air mattress (which we later found out leaked) without complaining. My husband said afterwards that if anyone had ever said that his mother-in-law would stay with us for three weeks and he would be sorry when she left he wouldn't have believed it. When the baby woke in the middle of the night she rocked her for hours so my husband and I could get some sleep.

    If your guests are like my mom, then welcome their help with open arms. If not, put your foot down and say you just can't have guests right after the birth, but they're welcome to come a few months later. You should make the decision based on your knowledge of your relatives. Don't let them tell you what they want! Your husband should back up whatever you decide. You, not he, are the one having the baby!

    Good luck. For your own and your baby's sake, you need to be firm in this. Lucky daughter and mother


    I posted already, but forgot to mention that your baby will most likely sleep in your room. Do you have a cradle or co-sleeper? It's so much easier than trying to have a newborn sleep in a crib in another room. You're up every hour or two anyway, so you'll not want to be running back and forth. If you don't have a bed in your spare room maybe you should get an air mattress. LK
    I had my first in September, and I would highly recommend not letting anyone stay with you or come from out of town for the first week at least. Have someone you trust available to help you (like a postpartum doula or a close friend who's had a baby), but it's too highly charged emotionally and physically to also have to deal with family. My mother-in-law came 5 days after the birth, and she was absolutely not helpful in the least. Just be firm but kind with your mother-in-law if you make the decision to have her stay in a hotel...this is your new family and you get to say what works for you! It's important that you and your husband and baby have private time to bond and sleep and figure things out. Good luck. Have a wonderful birth! Debbie
    I don't know what your mother-in-law is like, but you should make it clear to your husband that he needs to tell her that you are not doing ANYTHING to entertain them, and that if they are going to stay with you, that he needs her to help you by taking the baby out for a walk or just keeping her in the living room so that you can take a nap during the day (buy earplugs). Go shopping soon and get lunch meats, bread, cheese and fruit and tell your guests that they are welcome to make themselves sandwiches for lunch. Make a few meals now and put them in the freezer. When dinnertime rolls around, do not participate in the discussion about what everyone will eat except to offer up what you have already frozen. Let them know where restaurants are, and have plenty of take out menus available. If you don't feel comfortable asking, definitely have your husband ask if ''grandma'' can do the laundry. Otherwise, try to let them sort it out. My mother-in-law stayed with us for about 10 days after our baby was born, and I was very grateful for her help, since I had a c-section and actually asked her to stay 3 days longer than her planned week-long visit. It was very difficult for me to let go of all of my usual duties, but you will be very tired, and hormonal, so try to ask for help if you need it. Your primary duty should be to be with your baby (breastfeeding if you are going to) and sleeping. Good luck! PS - Try to limit other visitors to 1 group per day, otherwise you'll never get any rest or time to work on getting breasfeeding down. LK
    I am also due to have a baby in 2 weeks, and my husband and I decided to not let any relatives, friends, etc. who come from out of town immediately after the birth stay with us. It is not a space issue- we have space but really feel like we want that time to bond with the baby and, as you express, the thought of having guests and thus feeling like they need to be entertained is overwhelming, not to mention having many people around when I'm recovering, learning to breastfeed, etc. My parents had no problem understanding, but my husband's sister has had a tough time with it, and we have had to be really clear with her and let her know that it is nothing personal, we just don't know how we will feel during that time (it is all a new experience!)and want our space. My mother will come out again by herself about 5 weeks after the baby is due, and she will stay with us then- I know that she will truly help, and one person at that time feels doable. My advice to you is to follow your instincts and let them know how excited you are have them welcome your baby and help out, but that there are so many unknowns that you would rather them stay elsewhere. anon
    Insist on the hotel thing! We had both sets of parents stay with us after our daughter was born - they overlapped for a week - and it was sheer hell. Relationships that were not so good, got worse & even good relationships were strained. Tell everyone that you want a 'babymoon period' of 'X' weeks & then you would welcome vistors. Explain that newborn stuff takes up lots of space & you'll find somewhere for them to stay such as a hotel, or post to the household section & see if anyone needs a housesitter for that period. You might want to remind everyone that babies don't do much more than eat, sleep & fill diapers & you won't be able to act as entertainment central. Good luck & be firm. Been there, done that & never again
    As the mother of a 4 month-old (in other words the birthing recovery experience is still a fresh memory), two things immediately came to mind reading your message: 1) you will be in no shape to cook, clean, nor entertain, and 2) as hard as it will be not to have things as orderly as you would probably like to have them while having guests, you will have to learn to let that go. Your house and life will never be as organized as it was BC (before child). Instead of thinking of all the work having family guests will be, think instead of how much help they will be while you just rest -- let them take care of you and it will make them happy to be helpful. (Your resting for several weeks will be imperative should a c-section be necessary.) And just being with the baby will be entertainment for them. The adrenaline will wear off for both you and your husband after a couple of days, and you will be glad there are some extra hands to help (especially if your husband is going back to work shortly after the birth and needs to get some decent sleep), such as getting to just lay in bed while someone else changes the diaper at 3am. What we did at night for the first couple of days is have my mom on call for half the night and my husband for the other half should I need help.

    If during past visits you where a great hostess - making great meals, having fun things for your guests to do -- you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that your guests will not be expecting this from you after having a baby.

    Congrats on the new baby! anon


    Hi, I have been in your shoes, exactly. But in my case, my in-laws were the only ones coming, my parents live in another country. I was anxious as to how much attention I could give them with a new baby coming. But as it turned out, they were truly a major help! My mom-in-law took over the kitchen, so I was relieved from cooking, my father-in-law took over the driving-to-the-drugstore-for-baby-stuff trips, so I did not have to wait till my husband came home in the evening to do that. And my mom-in-law happily took my baby out for walks so I could grab a nap, watched her while I showered, was there for me to have an adult to talk to, and since I was suffering from the new-mom-nerves, it was good to have an experienced mom around.

    We were also in a 2-bedroom apt at the time, the baby slept in our room, in her crib for a few days and then I decided it was easier to just have her in bed with me, made nursing and going back to sleep less painful. My in-laws happily stayed in the second bedroom, even though it was an office-on-the-way-to-becoming-a-childs-room.

    All-in-all, I was sad when they had to leave and get back to their jobs. It was a tremendous help having them around. RJ


    We had a similar experience right before our baby was born, with my mother wanting to come from the East Coast and stay with us to ''help.'' The difference was that my partner was in complete agreement with me that this would be way too stressful for us and not what we wanted. So, he ended up talking to her (we thought she would be less likely to discount his opinion) and explaining that while we wanted her to come, it was really important to us that we had time to bond as a family so that we could get used to the new dynamic of three. She agreed to stay in a hotel and it ended up being great for all of us, since she would arrive at our place refreshed each day after a good night's sleep, which we weren't having, and we got the space we felt we needed.

    So, my advice is to get your husband on your side first, if you can, but even if you can't, I'd insist on the hotel. I don't think it's unreasonable AT ALL that you don't want houseguests with a new baby. Explain that they will get more sleep and therefore be of more help during the day; use the ''bonding'' issue, whatever. If they really want to HELP you, they'll do what you feel would be most helpful! My mom actually ended up reading some articles (I wish I could remember where she got them) about being a new grandparent, and thankfully the articles confirmed that new families ''these days'' often like to bond in the early days without grandparents around, and not to be offended. It helped her to feel better about it. Good luck! Been There


    When i had my first, both Grandmothers arrived followed by 2 Grandfathers (a few weeks later). I actually mentally decided that if they were there to help, then that is exactly what i would let them do. Grandmas organised homecooked meals (all my favourites), Granfathers organised groceries. Grandmas helped bath the baby, did all the laundry, dishes, housecleaning, changed diapers, had baby so i could sleep, gave me breakfast in bed. This may sound odd BUT it allowed me to spend all my time on myself and on building a relationship with the baby. You can spend all day nursing a new born! I did not entertain anyone and did not allow myself to feel i neeeded to. When postparum set in, new Daddy and i went to see a movie, new Grandpa took me to coffee.
    Do yourself a favor and don't plan on having anyone around for the first few weeks except your husband and a support person (someone is who is there to take care of YOU!). You don't know how you are going to feel, if your birth is going to be easy or difficult, if you are going to have post-partum depression and/or anxiety, if you are going to want to just be alone with your baby? Or maybe you will want everyone around, in which case they can get on a plane and come! But if they are already there, and you don't want them to be, you'll have to kick them out.

    I had a difficult labor resulting in a c-section, and then I had terrible postpartum anxiety. My husband came down with a bad cold and 103 degree fever, and my mother was worried that I didn't have coffee and wine in the house for guests. My husband ended up yelling at my grandparents, and I totally freaked out and told everyone to stay away for a couple of weeks. Then I got on some meds, let myself adjust to my new baby and my new life and after I felt strong enough, let the people come and visit. And I was glad to have them come at that point.

    No matter how much you prepare (classes, books, etc.) you just can't predict what is going to happen and how you are going to feel.

    About a year ago, I saw a woman with her three-day-old baby and a two tables full of family at the Kensington Circus Pub. She looked exhausted and miserable. I asked her how old her baby was and when she told me I said ''Wow, you really must be doing great'' and she said ''No, I'm not, but we have all these people in from out of town, and what can I do?'' I felt really sorry for her!

    Please, please: look after yourself and baby first! anon


    Trust your instincts on this one. If you're concerned that you are going to end up entertaining your in-laws, then I'd bet that is what is going to happen. And you've got a two-bedroom house? Tell them that there's no room for them! I know this is hard, but you've got to be firm and you've got to get your husband to understand that he's not going to be the one taking the brunt of the situation. Yes you will be up all night. No you won't feel like entertaining. Yes having guests is overwhelming. You should definitely push the hotel thing. And remember that this is the opportunity for you and your husband to bond with your baby as a family. It's the most important thing of all that the three of you have time together. Grandparents will potentially interfere with this and you need to get the family experience.

    I have heard so many horror stories about this situation and I decided I had to be very firm with my own parents and my in-laws that they shouldn't plan on staying at our house (and in one case even visiting) after our baby was born. I was very clear with them (and they're all divorced and remarried, so we're talking about four couples) that no one could come to my house during the first month after the baby was born unless they are going to cook and clean while they're there! And if they visited, they had to sleep at a hotel. The most difficult situation was my dad and stepmom from the east coast who wanted to come stay at my house. They also planned to bring my grandmother without telling me. This was all in the context of wanting the grandparent experience, too. I was very clear that there wasn't room and that I would be too tired. I made a deal that we'd visit them when the baby was two months old so that all the family out there could see her.

    My mother did come and stay for a week (but we have more bedrooms than you), but I didn't let her bring my stepdad, who would have been more work for everyone, not helpful. She was great because she worked her butt off and enjoyed watching us bond as a family. She never made it about her experience. We did have a long talk a few weeks in advance to set expectations and she completely understood because this had happened to her as a young mother. My dad wasn't supportive and she didn't have the guts to send her in- laws home. She ended up entertaining them for six weeks because I was born two weeks late. These conversations with my parents were hard. You're going to need to get your husband involved if you don't feel comfortable saying these things to your mother in law.

    It's important that you set the expectations now. This needs to be about *your* experience, not your in-laws! Sit down and tell your husband how you feel. Have him talk to other dads who've been through this!!

    Good luck! Lori


    I think our tolerance/desire for ''guests'' is very much culturally driven and I'm not entirely sure the Western do-it-yourself model of motherhood is healthy. Nevertheless, after I had both of my babies, I desperately wanted peace and quiet and no visitors. When I was pregnant with my first child, I asked my parents to stay away for a few weeks (they're also on the east coast) so my husband and I could adjust to breastfeeding, night wakings, parenthood, etc. They ended up making reservations for 10 days after the due date (!) and I let them come and had a horrible time. I was stressed by being up at all hours of the night, having to feed them and keep the house clean, trying to deal with the very new and amazing experience of being a mother, wanting to bond with my husband, and having to watch my heavily medicated mother every SECOND around the baby. It was exhausting.

    Three years later, when I was pregnant with my son, I made a much stronger stand: no out-of-town visitors for a month and very few local visitors for two weeks. It's one of the best things I've ever done for myself. I had two blissfully quiet, peaceful, bonding weeks with my newborn baby and when my parents arrived a month later, I felt very settled with him, aware of his needs and patterns, and able to care for him, my daughter, and myself before fretting about entertaining my parents. I really recommend taking the time you need to take care of yourself and your baby-- it's such a precious time and you'll go through a lot in those first days/weeks after birth. It's too hard to play hostess, too. anon


    Trust your gut and say no to the guests. You will be tired, your hormones may be raging out of control, and most important, you are going to be bonding with your new wonderful baby and you deserve to do it in peace, with your partner, without having 'helpers' around every minute. Tell the out of towners that you are going to be too exhausted to have guests, but you're really looking forward to the help they can give you while staying at a hotel. Or, if you think they're going to give you static, tell them your OB or midwife or whoever you have has forbidden you to have guests for (insert time frame here -- one month, six weeks, etc.) after delivery. Say that she or he feels that it interferes with post-partum recovery. My midwife actually did say this -- she recommended no visitors for the first two weeks, and since both my mother and my mother in law tend to be more work than help, I didn't let either one come for four weeks and then had them both stay in hotels. No, they weren't pleased. My mom actually threw fits, which proved to me that I had made the right choice. I hope your families will be great, will cook, clean, hold the baby when asked, and refrain from offering advice. But they can do all of that while staying at a hotel and letting you have some peace and quiet. Those first weeks are so magical, treasure them! knows from experience
    My husband and I had three weeks alone at home with our new baby. I felt ( in hindsight) that it was the best of both worlds. My parents came from NY to stay with us and were wonderful house guests. They did not take it upon themselves to cook or clean but they were not demanding of my time at all. We all sat around and held the new baby, i got to sleep quite a bit between nursing sessions and i enjoyed the company. Feel free to decide what you can handle. If they can stay close by and come over when you feel you are ready to entertain they will still get the full grandparent experience. If they can cook for you and fill your freezer with yummy food you will be forever grateful!! dawn
    You really need to take care of yourself here. Here is what I think is ideal. First of all, the first few days of a baby's life are the most magical and precious. You should have this time all to yourself and your partner. In fact, I would reserve the first 2 weeks for yourself and only recieve visitors a couple of hours per day. During this time I would welcome someone to help with cooking, laundry, cleaning and holding the baby, but this should be someone with whom you can totally relax. Then, after the first two weeks you may feel more prepared for additional people in your home. You might not be able to imagine it now, but this early time is incredible and is a time you will never be able to re-create in the future. My sister came to stay when the baby was two weeks old and it was great, but I couldn't have had anyone other than her stay with me that early on. Then, after the first month my mother in law came to stay with us for a month, which was wonderful.

    Please, ask them to stay in a hotel and have your partner protect the space for you after the baby is born! standing for peace in your home


    I am in a similar situation. My partner and I live in a very small 2-bedroom house. This is what I did: when my mother repeatedly insisted that she wanted to present for our baby's birth and stay at our home, I made a list for her of exactly what I expected from her. For example, 1) stay in a hotel, 2) do not expect to be entertained, 3) wait on my partner and me hand and foot, 4) help with cleaning, laundry, shopping, baby care, etc. In response, she said, ''That doesn't sound like very much fun!'' To which I responded, ''That's why you should come visit later.'' I appreciated this honest exchange between us, where I stated my needs and expectations and she stated hers. No one was to blame; we just have different needs and expectations around the birth. When this issue came up again and again later (she tried to say she would help as I wished), I said ''NO'' over and over because I just felt in my heart of hearts that it would not work. My mother has finally relented. I am organizing a ''family visit week'' to take place 2-3 months after the baby is born -- and have suggested that they all rent a house to stay in together because there is NO WAY they are going to stay in our house. Good luck to you! I hope you find a workable compromise. Anonymous
    When my baby was born last year, I felt very strongly that I didn't want anyone to be with us for the first two weeks. I talked to both sets of grandparents and explained that my husband and I felt that we needed time alone with the baby to truly bond as a new little family. I said I would love to have their help after the two weeks was up. They didn't like it, but they accepted it. I think it helped that the rule applied to everyone -- that my mom, for example, didn't get to come while I asked my mother-in-law to stay away. It also helped that I talked about it in terms of what I felt I needed -- not how they were going to act. For example, I didn't say that I didn't want them to come because I'd have to cook and clean for them (of course they would say ''no you don't!'') Anyway, I'm so so very glad that we were firm about it, because those two weeks were among the best of my life. If your gut says you shouldn't have people in the house, then you shouldn't. If you don't want people staying in your house, you have a right to say that. This will be a difficult enough experience without adding the burden of having guests. Tell the grandparents that they will have years and years to really get the true grandparent experience -- they don't have to get it in the first few weeks, when the priority should be on the new parents bonding with their new baby. Amy
    You have every right to insist on privacy during this critical time! You can very politely insist that your out of town guests and family find other accomodations. Perhaps use your house's small size as reason, but no reason is really needed. Be sure to thank them for their offer to help, and suggest some nearby places they might try. You can be firm and kindly decline in-house guests. This also is true for the delivery room, another place frequently overcrowded with less than welcome guests. Be firm and don't be afraid to speak up! Let your partner know how strongly you feel and insist on their support as well. Good luck! Katie
    Your husband is definitely right! I remember those couple of months after our daughter was born (almost 17 months ago) sooooo well! Thankfully in some ways they are long gone! Yes, Yes, and Yes. Our daughter was born mid November so we had the double wammy of multiple holidays and the baby being born. We too had a small 2 bedroom one bath and all of my husbands side of the family staying with us when they visited. It was definitely hard on us, but, I felt that we couldn't make them stay in a hotel since they have little money. I remember when his brother and fiance stayed with us over New Year's thinking how thankful I was this was our last in home guest and I could finally get a routine and life back!

    In retrospect, the first month or 2 of having a new born is very difficult and I think it would have been a LOT easier had we made everyone stay in a hotel. First my mom stayed with us for a week and a half (I wish she could have stayed MUCH longer since she's my mom and I feel comfortable around her), then my husbands dad stayed with us, then his mom and grandma came, and finally his brother and fiance. It was almost non stop through New Years and the one or 2 weekends we were alone were 10x easier! That said, we made it through and I know we did a huge mitzvah letting them all stay with us.

    If your out of town guests can afford to stay in a hotel I think you should strongly suggest that option. They can have the ''grandma'' experience all day long and you will truly love having the help (cooking, cleaning, and holding the baby so you get a little break) but at nite or when you feel like you need a break, they can go to the hotel. In a small house having the option of being alone with your new family and your new emotions will helpful.

    But, like I said if they have to stay with you, you will definitely survive! Where do they sleep??? My mom slept in the babies room since she slept with us for the beginning and like I said I was comfortable going in there in the middle of the nite to change her diaper (and my mom jumped up every time to help me!), but his family slept on the downstair couch and chair.

    I know this is a long reply, but I was soooo in your situation and am really happy you are getting advice before the fact. ( :

    I am curious to hear what others say! Best wishes with your new baby.

    Love a happy, happy mom who survived the out-of-town guests with flying colors! jami


    By coming to visit you after the baby is born, they *are* helping you -- IF they do the cooking and cleaning FOR you, while YOU get used to caring for the baby!

    Having relatives stay with you can be really wonderful or really a burden, and it just depends on your respective personalities and everyone's expectations. Be sure that the grandmas know they're to do laundry, fix dinner, and hold the baby WHEN ASKED while you shower or nap -- their primary role is NOT to ''help with the baby'', it's to help YOU so YOU can care for your new baby. Don't you DARE feel that you must ''entertain'' them! :-)

    As for where everybody sleeps, that depends on the arrangement of your home, but chances are the baby will sleep in your bedroom at night for at least the first few months, so you can use the ''baby's room'' as a guest room, or, of course, guests can sleep on a sofabed or similar in the living room. Another possibility you might consider, which may be more comfortable for you than having the relatives in your house and more comfortable for them than a hotel: Got any close neighbors with guest rooms?

    All the best to you My mother was a saint


    Right after our baby was born, we had 2 sets of grandparents flying in from out of town. I knew I couldn't entertain and clean up after guests with a new baby, so I found a couple of bed and breakfasts for them that were within walking distance from our place. I even made the reservations myself so there wouldn't be any chance that they would be staying with us. I told them that they could come over when the baby was awake, but I was going to need to sleep when the baby was napping, and everyone had to clear out. Even though the grandparents are usually helpful people, they were no help - they only wanted to hold the baby (their first grandchild), so I was really glad I pushed the B&B idea. My newborn also got overstimulated and would cry after being held and talked to by several people. At least after they went back to the B&B in the evening, the baby and I could have some quiet time. Newborns and new mothers are usually exhausted and need several weeks of unrestricted napping to recover. I would suggest you make a list of the closest hotels or B&Bs and send them to your relatives with a firm request to choose one

    The grandparents came visiting again once our baby was about 6 months old, and I was happy for them to stay with us. By then, I wasn't so exhausted and could manage guests. It was also much more fun for them because the baby could smile and play. Now my son is 15 months, and I'm begging the grandparents to come stay so I can have some free babysitting. Elizabeth


    If your family is coming to stay with you after the baby is born, it would seem to me that it should be to help you, not just enjoy the baby. I'd suggest you make it clear that if they come, they'll be the ones in charge of cleaning the house, making the meals, going shopping, changing diapers and pretty much doing everything that needs to be done and can be done by them. If they agree to this, it could actually work very well for you. You could concentrate in recuperating from the birth and feeding your baby. The key is not thinking that you are entertaining them, but rather that they are nursing you.

    When my baby was born my MIL came and stayed with me for a few days. She cleaned my house inside and out, cooked meals, etc. etc. My husband was at home in paternity leave, but it was great having her.

    In our case, we had turned our second room into a nursery, but we hadn't yet eliminated the twin bed there. So my MIL slept there. The baby slept in a bassinet in our room (you want the baby in your room anyway, you certainly don't want to have to get up and go into another room to breastfeed/bottle feed/change diapers every 2 hours) anon


    Molly - I had the same thing happen, and was very nervous about all the visitors. We have no family in the Bay Area, and all the grandparents, aunts and uncles came to visit (and stay with us) the first month after my baby was born.

    But, it worked out really well because they all helped out so much. I barely had to lift a finger while they were here. They all cooked, cleaned, shopped for groceries and watched the baby while I was able to take showers, nap, put away maternity clothes, write thank you cards, etc...

    Maybe you should drop hints in the next few weeks about how nice it will be to have their help. You might also warn them that you won't be doing any cooking, cleaning or entertaining.

    I was happy to have the company. Your emotions are so whacked out when you first have the baby, and I think the company is a good thing. Especially if they help out around the house! Good luck! Jennifer


    My first born (a daughter) was my in-law's first grandchild. She was born two weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm sure you can imagine the rest of the story, but they insisted (with my husband's encouragement) on coming out for the holiday. I was mortified. But, nevertheless, there were eight additional people in our house - not counting my new daughter for the holiday.

    This is a really tough situation. My husband and I are both close to our families and really want them to have active involvement by them. His family is geographically closer, and mine already had seven grandkids. Anyway, in words as clear as any I've ever used in my life, I told my husband that if this was to be, that I would not be doing one thing that was not on my agenda. If I was grumpy and wanted to be alone, I would not care about hurting anyone's feelings; if I wanted to nurse and they weren't comfortable with it, they would have to leave the room; if I was tired, I wasn't coming upstairs. And, Finally, and most importantly, that I would be the only person making decisions about the baby. (My husband was fine with this b/c he just was). It all worked out well. My husband did a good job of prepping them. I just recommend that you be careful what you ask for. You will, in all liklihood, want someone there to help immediately after the birth. My sister came for two days and was divine. She cooked, cleaned, changed diapers, and in general, was a godsend. My inlaws love our children immensly and it's all water under the bridge now. Remember, it's a long relationship. Hope it helps


    It would probably better for them to stay at a hotel, but if they don't, two hints came to mind that may help:
    1) Wear baby in a sling. It tends to help others keep their distance. Brush up on the benefits of the sling in case they question it. Oh, and sleep with baby too and be ready to defend it.
    2) Draw up a checklist of daily chores. Hand it to them. If they are sincere about helping, they will follow it. I wish you the birth you want.
    I would recommend that you insist that your place is too small and that your guests would feel more comfortable in a hotel. And that they wait until you have recovered from childbirth before visiting. I had a friend visit from the east coast when my baby was less than 2 weeks old, and it was a disaster, even though she stayed in a hotel; she had a 22-month old whom she brought along, mind you, but still, I was totally miserable, which showed. She ended up cutting her visit short because we were both unhappy. Jennifer R
    You need to go with your gut on this one and have the folks stay elsewhere! I remember being quite thankful that my parents and in-laws lived half way around the world when my child was born. I was tired and overwhelmed from the birth, and so happy to have just my tiny, new family to focus on for the first few weeks. Plus, there was all this leaking boobs, trying to figure out how to nurse, etc, etc stuff that I'd have been very uncomfortable having to deal with in front of parents. I think it's absolutely reasonable to ask your relatives to stay in a hotel and let them know that there will be plenty of full-on grandparent time in the future. Anon
    We had two different sets of guests after our baby's birth- one who stayed in a hotel and one who stayed in our two bedroom with us. The baby was in our room and not using his anyway so that wasn't a problem. I was actually grateful for the help- the grandparents cooked, picked up, did laundry and did things like diaper changes or played with the baby so I could rest. I loved having my family around and was sad to see them go.I know my husband felt like he was competing for the baby's attention and wanted some time to just be a family. I think it really depends on you and how you feel about it- if you think you'll be uptight about them being at the house then you should ask them to stay in a hotel (and make sure your husband has a united front and it isn't just you who wants this). By the way- the very best gift we got at the birth of our son was two months of housecleaning services- priceless! I am sure this helped me not being too uptight about the house being clean enough. Juliette
    We went through the exact same thing when our son was four weeks old. We had back-to-back visitors -- first, my in- laws, who stayed at a nearby B&B and then my husband's old high school buddy, who stayed with us. What I learned from that experience is that it really doesn't matter where the visitors stay, it's going to depend on a) what kind of people they are b) how assertive you are in asking for help and c) how realistic your expectations are.

    My in-laws visited for a total of about 5 days and although they didn't stay with us, it sure felt like they did. We, too, have a small house, and it was difficult to get the rest and privacy I needed (to, say, breastfeed). They arrived first thing after breakfast and hung around through the evening. They left dirty glasses and dishes out, never washed or cleaned, never cooked or picked up after themselves. They adored the baby and loved holding him, but handed him over as soon as he started to cry or needed a new diaper. They wanted to do impractical activities that had nothing to do with the baby, like visit Alcatraz and Napa Valley. To my husband's credit, he was horrified by his parents' behavior and did a great job of getting them out of the house for long stretches at a time. (In the two years that have passed, very little has changed with my in-laws but I now make a point of asking them to do small tasks around the house and, needless to say, my expectations have been lowered greatly.)

    A few weeks later, my husband's friend showed up, planning on staying only a few days (he was in between jobs) and ended up staying with us for a week. During that time, he cooked us huge meals, did his own laundry, went out sightseeing on his own, and even babysat numerous times (allowing us to see our first movie since the baby was born). He was the perfect houseguest -- one who helped out when you needed it and then disappeared when you needed space.

    If your in-laws are are clueless as mine, then my advice is to be prepared to ask them to help out -- load/empty the dishwasher, run a load of wash, hold the baby while you take a shower, etc. If you want them out of the house, ask them to do some grocery shopping for you or suggest that they take a stroll around the neighborhood. If you need some time alone, don't be afraid to excuse yourself, and go into your room with the baby and close the door. Don't feel obligated to entertain them -- you will be exhausted enough, taking care of the newborn. Yes, there will some amount of sucking up that you will have to do, but don't be a martyr. This is your time, your house and your privilege as a new mother. (BTW, feel free to counter any unsolicited baby- rearing advice with ''Yes, well, our PEDIATRICIAN says...'')

    As far as sleeping arrangements go, that's up to you and the baby's feeding schedule. It might be easiest to keep the baby in your room with you at night, either with you in a family bed or perhaps you can use a small bassinet or even the infant car seat if you want him/her to sleep separately. Good luck! Teresa


    We had our first baby last June, and my husband's Mom also wanted to come ''help take care of us''. I would recommend that unless you feel extremely comfortable with your mother-in-law and truly want to share this experience with her to make sure that she either waits a couple of weeks to come or definitely stays in a hotel. Looking back, we LOVED those first few weeks of ''just the three of us'' and bonding with our new daughter. Day and night become a mixed bag during this time and it's important to try to rest when the baby rests and to enjoy all of your waking hours. It's such a special/intimate time -and an emotional roller coaster - unless you truly want to share it - just say ''NO'' - we want to have the time to become a family! Good luck! anon
    In spite of what you might usually do or expect when having out of town guests, being a new mom means that nothing is usual and that you do not have the responsibility to take care of or entertain or feed anyone! Let go of the instinct / expectation! Your only job as a new mom is to bond with your baby, master the chalenging art of breastfeeding (if you plan to), heal your body, sleep when the baby sleeps and accept all offers of help from others to cook, clean, shop, do laundry, hold the baby, and let you sleep. Whether you want your inlaws and parents in your house is another question, but if you do decide to have them in your house, warn everyone now that they will need to fend for themselves and do things FOR you, not expect things FROM you. Good luck! went through this a year ago
    Stick to your guns and don't have your parents/in-laws come. My daughter is 10 months old and my experience of that early beginning was that I was exhausted and really in need of care and pampering. Entertaining guests was the last thing I wanted/was able to do. Luckily, my mother understood and she came out when my daughter was 8 months old (she lives abroad and she can only make the trip once or twice a year). We had an absolutely fabulous time then and I now feel much closer to her than I have in many years. I'm sure, on the other hand, that if she had come right after the birth, I would have been totally stressed out. As it was, I was sending my friends out of the door so that I could have some peace and quiet. Finally, it's your baby. While I'm sure becoming a grandparent is wonderful and exciting, your parents/in-laws should understand that their grandchild needs his or her parents in the best possible shape. Unless they are truly able to help (and the fact that they don't seem able to hear your concerns doesn't bode well), I would thank them for their interest and encourage them to wait until your new family has settled in to some kind of routine. Everybody will be much happier. By the way, what really helped us was that my husband made a website with pictures and short films of our daughter and that I, particularly in the beginning, sent written updates on my daughters achievements (like the first time she sucked her thumb). This way, my parents didn't really feel left out. -- Anna
    Follow your gut and invite your guests to stay elsewhere or postpone the visit! After the birth you are meeting your baby, falling in love and learning to feed him or her. That's all you should have to think about. Nothing else. Being a hostess is out of the question! And your husband can't be a host either.

    I would recommend having a relative stay only if there's someone who would be there as pure support, ie someone you feel very comfortable around (for example, your breasts will be bare a lot at first!). My sister was with us the first 2 weeks and was a nurse/housekeeper par excellence. She shopped, made rich nutritious meals, dropped off the laundry, in short ran everything so we could focus on baby!

    This can be an amazing transformational time for you; the bonding that happens sets a foundation for a loving relationship to your child. It can also be an enormous test of your endurance. I think your relatives will understand if you set the boundaries clearly for what you think will be best for you and the baby. Kristine


    Hi, I was very interested in your post -- there seem to be a number of issues in it, not all of which I (or maybe anybody else) can address for you. However, I am the mom of 3 kids, with family both near and far, so here goes: 1. The lives of you and your children will be greatly enriched by opening up and sharing your kids with any and all family and friends who are interested. They may not do things the same way you do, but that is GOOD for kids, and more relationships gives them a richer emotional life. Never too early to start sharing your child and family life with folks who care and fostering positive relationships for your kids. 2. You and your husband are REALLY lucky to have living, loving family who are willing to travel to see your new baby. Just keep that in mind even when they annoy you. My mom died a few months before my first baby and I would give anything to share a tiny apartment and bath with her. 3. The immediate post-partum time is a great time to get used to the fact that you need help raising your kids. Make a vow not to be a hostess and really let mother-in-law get the grandma experience by running to the grocery store for you, getting you a glass of water when you don't want to get up, and cleaning the house. Be specific in your requests. Tell her in advance that you are counting on her help. 4. If any of your potential guests are REALLY annoying, bossy or lazy, DON'T let them stay with you. However, make sure you're not being prejudiced against your in-laws (vs. your own family). Good luck! Susan

    My mom wants to come out but I don't want her to

    October 1998

    I need advice/conformation. My second child is due in a few weeks, and I am having a major conflict with my own mother. She wants to come out when this baby is born, but I don't want her to. She came out when my first child was born and it was a HORRIBLE experience. During this pregnancy I've told her the whole time that I want no visitors from back east, because it's so stressful etc. (I tried to make it seem non-personal.)

    But now she's started to call me and scream at me about how cruel I'm being to her, how petty and immature I am, etc. She says she's never even heard of anyone refusing the grandmother access to her newborn grandchild. I know it's within my rights to tell her she can't stay in our tiny 2 bedroom apartment for a week, but I feel like I'm so selfish and low. It hurts her deeply to be left out, but she demands so much attention on her visits, I just can't have her here.

    Am I being overly selfish, childish? I'm so ashamed of my relationship with my mother I can't even talk to friends about this. Can someone closer to the grandmother perspective explain why this is so hard for her? (She's even threatening suicide.) What can I say to her? Mom-to-be


    I believe that you have the right to ask your mother to wait a few weeks before arriving after the baby is born. Perhaps you can explain to her that you would prefer some time to get familiar with the new baby, and to work out a routine. You could also tell her that you will probably be tired, and wouldn't have much time to visit with her, and would rather wait until you are well rested, etc.

    My mother came to stay with me after my son was born. It was a terrible experience for me, as well. I was exhausted, felt the need to entertain her, and often ended up cleaning up after her! During this time, feeling that I should have been getting pampered, I instead ended up feeling cheated of the experience to rest, get waited on, get familiar with my child, etc. I swore that if I ever had another child I would not allow this to happen. I believe that you should stick to your ground. Having a child is not an everyday occurance, and you should get the experience, and time, that you want out of it. Don't allow anyone, even your mother, to take that away from you. Good luck!


    There's a very well known book on either Toxic Parents or Toxic Relationships. It may have been written by Susan Forward. It's easy to find at any bookstore. Sounds like it might be helpful in facing this situation. I hope you'll take care of your and both your childrens' needs first.
    My (formerly estranged; he left us when I was very young and stayed out of state to avoid paying child support) father came out shortly after our baby was born last month, and he stayed at a hotel. I recommend that approach, even if you have to pitch in on the room -- much less stressful than having a houseguest (ANY houseguest) at a time like this, and I think even Dear Abby would agree with that. Also it does not deny access, just limits it to reasonable levels. You can also coach your husband in saying "OK, mother X, daughter Y and the little one need to rest now. We'll see you tomorrow at Z o'clock." Or words to that effect -- would that help? With some relatives, words are not effective, of course. Threatening suicide is probably related to why the first baby-visit was so horrible for you... chin up, you sound a _lot_ more reasonable than your mother! :-)
    Dear author of the note about "Grandma visiting at baby's birth":

    Hello... I didn't want my mother to come visit us right away after my first baby was born... so I could totally relate to what you wrote in your note about your situation... and believe me, you are not selfish or mean. You're a mom who's trying to the best for herself and her family... and that's just what you should be doing. So above all else, please don't doubt yourself or your intuitions... you know what's best -- you really do.

    My mom was very eager to come to the hospital for my delivery, stay with us right after the baby was born, etc. etc... but something inside me just told me that I wanted that time with only my husband, me, and our baby... so we could all get to know one another together -- with just the three of us. My mom came later... and stayed very briefly... and that worked out fine.

    I encourage you to stand firm, and do what you know is best for you -- whatever that is... Moms know what's right for their children and their families -- they really do. If you think that time alone with just you, your spouse, your other child, and your new baby is what you need, then that's all that needs to be said. And that's what I encourage you to do.

    From the way I read your note, it sounds to me like your mother is not thinking about what's best for you, she's thinking about what she wants in this situation -- which is very hard to deal with, of course.

    I guess if I were you I'd just keep reinforcing with her that this is what your husband, other child, new baby and you NEED as a FAMILY -- time to be with eachother so that everyone can get used to your new family member. You can say that every family is different, but this is what you know is best for yours. You might also mention that your husband really sees it the same way... that might help her to back down a little...

    To me, your thought of saying that you were not allowing ANY visitors to come -- should help to depersonalize it. Another thought: maybe writing her about your feelings about the need for intimate, close family time would help... I don't know.

    Sometimes letters can work better than phone calls for me... of course, this takes time to compose a thoughtful letter, and no doubt you have little of that... but it does allow you to express yourself in a very calm, quiet, considered way -- in the way that a phone call sometimes doesn't allow.

    Most of all, I encourage you to believe in yourself and what you know is best for your family. You're not a terrible person, far from it! You're just trying to get things off on the right foot with your new family member. That's what's most important.

    My only other thought.... is in your letter... or next phone call, or whatever with your mother... is to decide and articulate WHEN -- if ever -- you do want her to come. If it's never, so be it. You would not be the only person in the universe to feel this way -- trust me.

    If you do want your mother to come visit at some point, then clearly define that for her... when the new baby is 3 months old, or 6 months old, whatever. And tell her exactly how many days would work for you for her to visit (i.e. 2 days, 3 days, 5 days, whatever).

    Also, if it'd make you feel better, consider having her stay at an inexpensive hotel nearby (or maybe with another one of your siblings/friends if they live in the area) instead of her staying with you in your 2-bedroom home... you could explain that she'll be more comfortable there because your home is now such close quarters, etc.

    In short, I encourage you to clearly and unemotionally spell out what you can live with where your mother is concerned. Then let her react to that and see where it goes... basically, your the mommy now.... it's your views ultimately that count, not hers.

    That she's threatening suicide is not something that I can evaluate, of course. My father used to do that a lot and never meant it, but everyone's different. Is there a relative -- maybe a sibling of yours -- who can help here? It's really unfortunate that she's escalating things by using language like that -- I can really feel for you -- having been on the receiving end of that kind of thing. I know that it's very difficult. But here again of course, it's her wishes that she cares about, not yours. (At least that's what it seems like to me).

    I hope my message is not too strong here... in places I'm afraid I may sound like a little bit of a mommy tiger... of course, you take it or leave it!... it's entirely up to you!

    Good luck to you! Feel free to contact me (through Ginger), if I can provide any other encouragement to you that might be of help. I'm very hopeful that you'll be able to work something out that feels comfortable for you. You and your family deserve that, and hopefully your mother will come around.


    Difficult mother/grandmother: My heart goes out to you. My mother is also very difficult and I was very leery of having her out to help when my son was born, tho' in that case she managed to pull herself together and actually was helpful.

    Here's what I would do in your position, for what that's worth. Try to shift my mother to coming out later (it couldn't be postponed indefinitely), when my new baby was, say, about 4 months. Most babies are quite charming at this age, smiling and laughing and friendly, pre-teething (for most) and pre-stranger anxiety. I would stress this point heavily with my mother, and point out that newborns are really not all that interesting (except to their mothers, fathers, etc.), as they just mostly sleep alot and can't see or interact all that much, compared to the later ages.

    I would not even mention the fact that it would be hard on me to have my mother around when I was exhausted and still recovering from giving birth. This argument (although perfectly true) would be met with 1) disbelief that my mother could possibly be a burden and 2) disdain for any pain, weariness, distress I might be in. I would be in much better shape to handle her visit by the time four months had gone by. Even so, try to limit the time as much as possible.

    I've finally come to the conclusion that my mother is just basically not a nice person. If I expect very little from her, I find this works quite well in that I am not disappointed, but sometimes (rarely) pleasantly surprised when she does act nice. Good luck.


    we have certainly never run into anything as drastic as suicide threats (though that seems to indicate a lot more is going on), but we lived in tiny 2-bedroom places when both our kids were born and it worked to ask mom to stay at a nearby bed and breakfast or hotel each time. discussing the high-maintenance issues and anything remotely personal seemed out, but it seemed to work to be very firm about the physical lack of space. try to stand your ground in thoroughly neutral ways.

    also, giving her a list of chores to do (or site-seeing to do) can work, depending of course on personalities.

    and remember that in a few years the stories about the ridiculous things that happen on these visits will seem very funny to you.


    Have you said "you can't come", or "I'd prefer you come AFTER (fill in the date)" ?? One tactic I used with my in-laws was to point out that the baby will probably be sleeping 20 hours a day at first, and if they waited 6 weeks it would be better for everyone (i.e., the baby would be more alert and responsive, making it more enjoyable for the grandparents; the baby would get more out of their visit because she would be able to really see them and interact, and also saying that I would need more help then because the baby would be awake more often and more demanding). In other words, trying to put any positive spin you can think of re: why later is better, instead of why now is bad. Also, when she DOES come out, are there ways you can give her ideas or opportunities to go do something out of the house, to give yourself a break? Maybe buying her theatre tickets? Or if she has other friends or relatives in the area, asking them to invite her to do things? Good luck. It's a tough one....
    Sounds like a really difficult situation. Can you enlist your doctor? It may be too late but perhaps you can get the doctor to act as a third party and declare that you need to be alone for a month after the birth. Anyway, you are WELL within your rights to ask her to leave you be for a while. You need to think of your health and the welfare of your family first. Setting the date for her to visit later might help.
    In response to the member who is concerned about her mother being present at the birth of her second child, I have to say that it is not at all selfish to expect your wishes to be respected and observed. Giving birth is a beautiful experience. The environment in which you give birth should be as responsive as possible to your needs and concerns. This is also a time that is very emotionally demanding on the mother giving birth, and it is therefore very important for her not to be expected to take care of her own mother's emotional (and, if I may say so, selfish) demands. It sounds as though your mother is in need of counseling. I would be very concerned about her suicide threats. They reflect both a manipulative streak (don't feel selfish for not giving in) and a deep need to get professional help. I suggest trying to provide her with the best advice and help you can give her while keeping the emotional distance that you need in order to maintain your own inner comfort at this delicate time in your life. Best of luck.
    I had the same experience with my mother. Although she did not scream at me or threaten suicide, she maintained a relentless campaign to be there, at the hospital, right when my firstborn was born. I was very firm with her and politely but consistently told her that the birth of our baby was a personal, intimate matter between my husband and myself, and that our new little family needed time to adjust and bond on our own before we introduced her to the rest of the family. My mother only lives an hour away and I did allow her and an aunt to come visit briefly (1/2 hour) at the hospital the day after the baby was born. After that, my husband and I spent two weeks alone with the baby before we had another visit with extended family members. Luckily for me, I have an angel for a mother-in-law, who wisely suggested that she wait six weeks to visit. Since your mother is so far away, how about taking some video of the newborn on the birth day and the day after, and then sending it to her by Federal Express so that grandma can see the baby as soon as possible. This gesture would acknowlege her own desire to see her little grandchild while allowing you to stand your ground. There are several baby books that discuss the conflict between parents and grandparents who want to be there during or immediately after birth. You might want to check around and read the discussions on this issue. All of the books I read said, stick to your guns, it's your birth and you must do what you feel right as you bring a newborn into the world and adjust the your expanded family. If you can't put your feelings into adequate words with your mother, maybe you could copy some pages from the baby books and send them to her. I have always felt entirely comfortable about my firmness in setting the rules about when I introduced my newborn to the family, and my mother did have to accept my decision.
    A screaming, name-calling grandma who threatens suicide? You want to know if there's anything wrong with you for not wanting her around??

    I have a friend whose mentally ill mother was behaving in exactly the same manner as your mother. This grandma is still not allowed to care for their baby at all.

    This is very serious, and very hard on you. You're not dealing with a reasonable person. There's probably nothing you can say to make your mother understand. It won't be easy, but you have a right and a responsibility to do what's best for yourself and your children.

    And certainly, without a doubt, there is nothing at all wrong with parents not wanting even the most calm and helpful of grandmas around right after their baby is born! It's a very stressful time, and even the best grandmas tend to increase the stress levels!


    Your mother is being a bully when she threatens to commit suicide to get her way. She'll fight until you're exhausted and give in. She's known you all your life, and she's an expert on how to get under your skin. My heart goes out to you. But you need to decide now whether you're going to spend the rest of your life being her victim.

    A counselor for battered women, or for other victims of bullies, could give you some really good techniques and pointers for how to deal with your mother without being stressed out yourself.

    In the meantime, consider some of the following techniques from an amateur on how to regain some minimal control of your life:

    1) Be as serenely calm as possible whenever you communicate with your mother. Cut off conversations with her before you reach the point of losing control.

    2) NEVER argue with her. Just stick to your guns. (You can't win an argument with her anyway.) Cut off the conversation if she insists on arguing. Let the answering machine answer for you if necessary. (You may need to get one with a time limit for messages.)

    3) Decide how soon you can survive a visit from her, and for how long. Acknowledge to her the importance of grandparents, and invite her for that date or later, but not one day earlier.

    4) DON'T FEEL GUILTY. After all, if you don't stick up for yourself now, you may eventually reach the point where you will have to exclude her from your life altogether.

    5) If you and she can't hold civil conversations, then don't talk. Write her letters instead, or find some other way to communicate so that she'll know that you haven't excluded her from your life. Even in letters, don't argue. Be chatty and newsy instead.

    Get your husband's support in this. If your first child is old enough to ask what's going on, explain it as honestly and non-judgementally as possible. It takes strength to regain control, but the payoff is well worth it. You can do it! Good luck!


    I'm not as close to the grandparent perspective as I hope to be someday (my children are 15 and 9 years old), but please accept my support. Your mother has big problems. You're the one who's having the baby; you're the one she should be supporting, with whatever suits you. If her presence helps, she should come; if it hurts, she should stay away.

    Of course it hurts her feelings to be told to stay away, but part of being grown up is realizing that our own feelings are not the most important thing in the world. Sometimes newborns and new mothers have to take precedence.

    You're not being petty and selfish. She is. She's treating the birth of your child as a three-year-old would treat a trip to Toys-R-Us. Maybe, as a compromise (I'm only half-joking here) she could come if she brings a responsible adult with her--someone who can make sure she behaves herself, and get her out if she doesn't.


    You are not selfish!! I had a similar experience when I asked my mom to stay at a hotel when she came out after the birth of my son. she is still making me feel guilty that she wasn't allowed to see the birth, and that she had to stay in a hotel,etc. Her mom would never have done such a thing, neither would she, etc, etc. and yes, I still feel terrible about it, but I also know it was absolutely the right thing to do. It is always all about her, adn she demands so much attention that I would have gone crazy with her in the apartment, not to mention the fact that she doesn't get along with my husband. But, enough venting. Have you tried allowing her to visit if she stays in a hotel? or would that still be awful? and what about letting your first child spend extra time w/ grandma at the hotel while you care for the baby? might make the firstborn feel special and keep grandma out of your hair. I obviously don't know her, so maybe she is so bad these won't work either. But, pleasse, try not to feel bad or selfish. You know what is best for your family, and grandma is being self absorbed and incredibly selfish. if she was trying to do what was best for you, she'd respect your wishes. I have just tried to remind myself that it was not me that made mom need to stay elsewhere, it was her behaviour. good luck, and be strong. you deserve it.
    After reading all the other responses about the grandmother who insisted on visiting right after the baby was born, I had two thoughts to add:

    1). Obviously your mother is not completely mentally stable (or she would not be threatening suicide). It would probably help her to get counselling, but it is unlikely she would willingly go. However, it would probably be an immense help for *you*, in dealing with this very difficult and stressful situation, to get some professional counselling yourself. A professional counsellor might have some very good suggestions and ideas for how to cope with your mother without feeling so horrid about it yourself.

    2). One tactful way to suggest she not be there immediately is to point out that the due date is only an estimate. The baby might come several weeks earlier or later. Since there is no accurate way of predicting when the baby will come, and since you couldn't *possibly* expect her to pay those ridiculous airfares where you give them less than 21 days notice ( ;-) ), suggest that you phone her when the baby is born, and let her make a 21-day (or later) reservation to come out and visit. That way she won't waste time visiting before the baby arrives, she won't have to pay a horrendous airfare, and she will get to see the baby when it is starting to be more playful and alert. (Notice all the solicitude for *her*? ;-) )


    I don't know if it's too late to respond to the grandmother-visiting letter, but... First, you are NOT childish, selfish, cruel, and so on. Second, if you can, stick to your guns. My mother-in-law was the same way. She very much wanted to be here for our daughter's birth. In order to balance her desire to be here and our desire for some privacy and time to ourselves, we found an apartment of a friend out of town and that friend's car, and offered them both to her. She refused to come out if she couldn't stay with us, claiming that she was too busy. Of course, as soon as we caved, she was here, and she was no help at all. She spent her time holding our daughter and leaving heavy housework, cooking, etc to me, because, she claimed, she was a better mother than I (what's worse, at a time when I was going through a very bad bout of postpartem depression and didn't feel like I wanted to be with my daughter anyway -- a time at which it would have been good to be encouraged in feeling like I could be a good mother). Basically, the best thing that you can do is to find people who can reinforce your need to not have her here, and who can give you strength when you need it. A husband can be good for that, of course, but I also bet you'll find that your friends can be VERY supportive about this kind of thing (probably more of them have the same kinds of issues with their parents than you'd think). Hang in there. It is WELL worth it to make this YOUR experience, and to not have bitter memories of what is a truly wonderful time.
    = But now she's started to call me and scream at me about how cruel I'm
    = being to her, how petty and immature I am, etc.
    = 
    = Am I being overly selfish, childish?
    
    No, but your mother is!! Under the circumstances you describe, you are being absolutely reasonable in your limit-setting. You have to take care of yourSELF and your own sense of calm in order to be there for your children ... the first born as well as the new born.
    = I'm so ashamed of my relationship
    = with my mother I can't even talk to friends about this.
    = Can someone closer to the grandmother perspective explain why this is so
    = hard for her? (She's even threatening suicide.)
    
    Why it's so hard for her is really HER problem. Think of yourself and your kids ... it is your right. I think the approach you took of saying you weren't up to having any (out of town? East Coast?) visitors was a good one ... trying to be non-personal. But ... since she didn't go for that ...
    = What can I say to her?
    
    That you want her to have a long and meaningful relationship with her grandchildren, that she is their grandmother, but YOU are the Mother, YOU are the one carrying the child and giving birth to the child, which is a very profound experience, and that YOU need the first few weeks to have that primal bonding time between you and the new baby, the new baby and the sibling ... e.g. the folks who live together. AFTER that initial bonding time, you'll be willing to add the folks who live elsewhere.

    Since your mom is being so unreasonable, perhaps you can get your ob-gyn to back you up and say that there are "doctor's orders" that you not "be disturbed" in the first 4 weeks after the baby is born, or whatever. Or you could go to UC CARE Services and ask the counselor there to help you find the appropriate words to set a loving but steadfast limit with your mother ... and then ask the counselor for ongoing support if your mom continues to try to guilt-trip you. Just an idea. -- Mary Carol


    Home   |   Post a Message  |   Subscribe  |   Help   |   Search  |   Contact Us    

    this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2003


    BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website! Read more, and see how you can help: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org

    The opinions and statements expressed on this website are those of parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network.
    Please see Disclaimer & Usage for information about using content on this website.    Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network