I am having a home-birth in December (or early January). I have an almost 10 yr old DD and an almost 8 yr old StepDD. I've been having a lot of anxiety about having SDD at the birth. Both of the girls want to be there and I can't imagine excluding SDD.
We will have a friend there just for the kids and he knows them both very well....is a dad himself and experienced the birth of his son at home. He's a very conscientious person and will be good with SDD, I hope. She goes to school in Vermont and my DD, partner and I live in Hawaii. SDD comes to Hawaii as much as we can possibly arrange...usually the whole summer and 2 or 3 extended "vacations" per school year.
Part of the issue is her Dad, my partner, feels terrible about being away from her. He took a job at the University here almost 2 years ago and we're always reevaluating whether it works for us to be so far apart from her. They are VERY close. He is the more stable of her parents. Ideally, we would have her come out to live here full-time but her Mom manages to keep things *just* above water enough for us to not have any leverage in terms of the health of her environment there (the bar is set pretty low). DH and she have a fairly cordial relationship, as he believes (and I agree) that when possible, it's better for kids to have their parents non-contentious. So, we won't be having any custody "battle", prefer mediation, but have genuine concerns about her environment at Mom's. There is always the chance things will totally fall apart on her end...really, and we will be ready to be her full-time household.
Anyway, the chaotic environment SDD is often in has created some behaviors over time that I have a very hard time holding space with. her energy is very manic and she is intensely needy, especially for her dad's attention. I have plenty compassion for this but her dad and I "get into it" at times about appropriate boundaries - mealtime manners etc. He is more lax than I am - but I also appreciate our differences because it benefits my own DD at times to have someone softer and understanding to contrast my usual "no BS" demeanor ;)
I tend not to push behavior changes too much b/c SDD is only with us for weeks at a time, and I can't expect her to do a 180 from her Mom's environment every time she comes. I also don't want *our* relationship to be mostly about me trying to get her to meet some expectation that I am the sole person invested in. This includes - eating with a utensil and not SCARFING down food without closing her mouth - spit and food flying everywhere...ewww....being able to fall asleep without Dad lying next to her...not interrupting when people are talking (saying "excuse me" and such)... not barging in on people in the bathroom...practicing decent hygiene...not telling fibs, cleaning up after herself etc.
ANYWAY these are behaviors which do occur that are hard for me to handle, and her over-all energy is very grating on me. It wasn't always - she was younger when we first met and it felt more acceptable to me then, but neither of her parents have helped her to an age-appropriate (IMHO) place. Her Dad sets fewer limits with her I think because he feels guilt about seeing her less - and I think she is less stable in general as a result of being more influenced by her Mom and that environment (CONSTANT chaos, 5 dogs 3 cats, birds, rats, fish etc. as well as hoarding and not cleaning...ever).
Wow, this is long...
I can usually hang with the issues and do my best to pick my battles and communicate with SDD and DH about stuff when it comes up. But I'm concerned about being in labor and having visceral reactions to her and her energy...if she's hyper and needy of Dad or really anything other than quiet and mellow it may have a negative effect on my labor. In my experience with DD's birth, if I felt like something or someone needed "taking care of" I would have a hard time being inward in the way you need to birth your babe. I'm worried about having tension with DH about this too - before or during the birth.
My plan so far is to have a private convo with our birth-buddy to let him know I'm especially concerned about SDD and have him be ready to take her out if I need that. Also, I plan to continue to educate the girls as much as I can before the birth about what to expect and what is expected of them.
DH's Dad remarried when he was very young and his Step-Mother was of the "wicked" variety - referred to him and his Sister as "that woman's children" and was generally crazy , violent, and not accepting of he and his Sister. From what I know, DH's Mom was also not one for instilling manners, social graces, etc and I think his Step-Mom was raised very strict Mexican Catholic with a HEAVY emphasis on manners...so there was some inherent tension there as well. At any rate, DH is extra-sensitive to SDD not feeling excluded from our family and bristles at some of my concerns about manners and things...though he is generally very supportive of me.
Does anyone have experience with blended-family situations around birth?
I should add that I'm also VERY happy about our family and excited to welcome this baby as the first member with blood-ties to us all, and I love SDD very much and would prefer she be there at the birth - just possibly hog-tied and muzzled? JUST kidding - I just would like to find a way to feel secure that she will not be disruptive.
TIA for any advice or BTDT...Hillary