My mom wants to come out but I don't want her to
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!
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!
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.''
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
any rest or time to work on getting breasfeeding down.
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.
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!
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
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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.
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
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)
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2003
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