My parents as house guests for after birth, will it hurt our bonding? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My parents had these plane tickets that they ended up not using, and the expiration of the tickets was a week after my due date, so they decided to both come then, to see the baby. I actually told them I wanted them here not until 2 weeks after the baby was born. My logic was that in the beginning, I'd have my husband's help....he is taking the first week off, then doing half days the second week. Also, I really just wanted that time to bond with my husband and baby.

 

My parents can be very overbearing to be around, and sometimes it makes me tense, or managing them is more work than it's worth, because they ask a lot of questions, and don't just jump in and help. That isn't their fault, per se....but they really need to chill out. They know it's a problem, and they always say they will do better, but they honestly never do. Last visit, I warned them it was a bad time to come, and I was exhausted and busy, and they said, "it's okay, we'll stay out of your hair...this is the only time we can come." So I relented and let them come. I also warned them beforehand that they would have to find their own means of entertainment some of the time, which they didn't! They were always looking to me to have something to do with them. They didn't stay out of my hair. And afterwards, they complained that I was grumpy the whole time they were here, and they felt unwelcome. Well, I had warned them!!!!! Honestly, I did my best, but I knew my limits before they even came. Most people would have said it was a nice visit, but they are so high maintenence that they found a way to only see the bad, and they were upset when they weren't treated like royalty.

 

It's hard, because their heart is in the right place, but I am scarred from their last visit. The problem now is that it looks like the baby will be at least a week overdue, so this is turning into a worst case scenario for me, where they will be here when I bring the baby home, which is NOT what I wanted! I was looking forward to having at least a few days of hubby's time with the new baby, which is actually relaxing for me, before I have to babysit my parents and deal with them in my business all the time.

 

I was just wondering what you all would have to say. This is my first baby. Am I underestimating the value of having more help? Or am I right.....is having your parents staying with you when you bring baby home, just annoying!!!!?

 

I don't want to have to get dressed, I want to be left alone. It's been a stressful pregnancy, and I was actually looking forward to not having to get out of bed once the baby arrives, to just nesting and chilling. They will claim to do everything for me, but honestly, just having them here....I will hear them and not be able to sleep. They will make noise, they will ask where things are. They will talk on the phone. Etc. Ground rules will only go so far, when you have to expend your energy enforcing them. :( Help?!?!?

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#2 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 09:27 AM
 
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All I can tell you is my experience. My single biggest regret about my postpartum is having visitors. I did not mind the stop by for 40 minutes but the people who traveled and spent all day at my house really interfered with a lot of things. If I ever have anymore children I will not have visitors until 6 weeks or later.
 

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#3 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 09:45 AM
 
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if i were you ... i would try to find a student who needs to earn some money and write a contract of employment for the student, spelling in a very very detailed way what you expect said student to do for you => you could use that person as a "screen" between you and the rest of the world, the student wouldn't be there to address the needs of your guests but YOUR needs ... for ensuring you have quiet time to sleep WHENEVER you need it, for picking up stuff, for a quick wipe of the kitchen, or whatever you decide will be the most useful to you ....)

 

am just saying that because 13 years ago i was called to the maternity ward by a former collegue, who needed "someone" for taking the newborn from the clutches of the in-laws whenever she felt that was more than she could cope with .... (i had "done" my visiting of the new mom the day before)  i was just drafted in as an "extra" the next day with precise instructions concerning what she wanted me to do & we also had re-hearsed some sentences that i was to say loudly in a bid to establish her boundaries a bit more firmly - she was suspecting she would be over-ruled & wasn't sure she could stand up physically on that day nor stand up for herself enough .... the in-laws glared at me, not daring to say anything... but my friend got her boundaries respected  !

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#4 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 10:19 AM
 
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bobcat I'm so sorry you are dealing with this stress. I have a few thoughts based on semi-personal experience. My sister had my mother staying with her for the first two weeks after each of my nephews were born, and we have talked a LOT lately about what worked and didn't work for her about that arrangement in preparation for my mom doing the same with me, and also knowing my in-laws will want to come visit quickly after our baby arrives. The question of whether having them there is helpful or annoying I think depends so greatly on the people in question. There is no right or wrong answer. If YOU do not want YOUR parents there, then you can tell them not to come. It sounds like you would probably have to be pretty firm with them, and it might not be pleasant, but you do have that right to say No. So, anyway, assuming you do let them come, here are my suggestions:

1) Can they stay in a hotel instead? I know some people have strong feelings about this when it comes to family, but if it were me, based on the very little I know about them, I would not want your parents staying in my house. This gives you some guaranteed alone time and also gives them some space of their own too if they are feeling put off by however they are interpretting your demeanor on a given day. You don't need them sulking at your house because they think you are being "grumpy".

2) I definitely think you could benefit from a buffer person. Whether it is a friend or someone you hire as isa suggests, someone who can be independent of any family drama and be on call to look out for you and do what you (and only you) ask of them. I think they would need to be a confident sort who could be firm when needed. This sounds like it could be especially beneficial for those times when your DH will be back at work and you would presumably be home alone with your parents and the baby.

3. Set some ground rules that everyone is clear about. You and baby get to leave the room and have your privacy at any time, for any length of time, no questions asked. Also, if you are giving birth at a center or hospital, who is allowed to visit you while you are there? Who is allowed to be at the house when you first get home? If staying in a hotel is unpalatable for the whole length of the visit, could you maybe just send them to a hotel for those first couple nights to let you get settled?

My wife (30) and I (32) have been legally married since 2006. We are proud queer mamas to baby W, born 10/10/2013.
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#5 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 11:23 AM
 
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I am having my mom over in that time but ONLY because she's there to offer help and take care of me, and we have a good, respectful relationship.

If I had your experiences I would avoid this visit as much as possible. Almost everyone I know thinks house guests are a bad idea after having a baby unless they are naturally caregiver types and respectful.

I would either offer a hotel, a replacement ticket for another time, or if you can't afford either, a heartfelt apology and a "Do Not Disturb" sign.

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#6 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 11:34 AM
 
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Bobcat, that sounds like a tough situation given your parents' past behavior. They sound well-intentioned, but not necessarily that sensitive to your needs. 

 

I can only speak from my own experience, which is that, before my daughter was born, I was also very concerned about my husband and her and I having private bonding time. However, my mom really wanted to be there for the birth and stay for 2-3 weeks after. I was nervous about it, and said 2 weeks would be better than 3.

 

She. was. a. godsend. I don't know what I would have done without her there. I totally underestimated how completely overwhelmed I would be by having a newborn. She rocked her and quieted her so I could get a shower. She cooked and cleaned for us every day. She watched the baby so my husband and I could decompress and cuddle. She talked me through my many emotional freakouts. She made an appointment with a lactation consultant for me, and then did the dirty work of canceling the appointment when we realized we didn't need her after all. She literally hand-fed me while my arms were occupied with nursing. She made sure I ate lots of healthy stuff. She counseled me through my postpartum blues (she's a therapist). My husband helped with all this stuff, too, but my mom had perspective on it that he didn't, and he was pretty overwhelmed himself. It ended up being a real bonding time for us--definitely the closest I've felt to her since childhood. It changed our relationship--she stepped up to the plate in ways I hadn't anticipated.

 

My mother-in-law came for a week after that, and she was equally helpful. Just having someone to cook, clean, and rock the baby so you can get a moment to yourself might be invaluable.

 

On the other hand, when my expat friend had her baby, her mother came to Germany right after the (long, traumatic) birth, and basically complained about my friend not taking her sightseeing. With a newborn. And that made their relationship worse. So I guess it depends on the person.

 

I most definitely would not have wanted my dad there. If we'd had a bigger house, maybe, but we were in a small apartment, and with all the struggles of learning to nurse going on, I wouldn't have wanted my dad seeing me with my breasts hanging out, etc. Definitely not a time for modesty! It was a very female time.

 

If they can afford it, I'd say tell them they need to stay in a hotel. Or maybe you have a big enough space that you won't all be on top of each other, but it sounds like having that privacy/buffer zone is important to you. At the very least, if they come, I would be clear that they are visiting on your terms, and outline those terms if you are comfortable with that. THEY are there to see YOU.

 

Good luck!


Fiction writer by training, writer/editor of anything anyone will hire me for by trade. Me + D=my girls E (4/2011) and little N, 1/2014.

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#7 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 11:52 AM
 
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I'm so sorry you're in this position! My only suggestion is could you have a list prepared ahead of time of things you think you may need, that you could send your parents out for. Things like groceries - my sister bought a bunch of grocery store gift cards before she had her last baby so she could hand them to people who offered to get groceries and wouldn't feel bad about needing to remember to pay them back. This would also help get them out of your hair for awhile. You could phrase it like "We're so happy you're here with us to celebrate and help us bond in the first few weeks. Here are some things that would really help us out." You could also have them help with cooking dinner every now and then, laundry, and you could even buy them tickets to a movie or something "to show your appreciation".

 

I'm just thinking if you have a bunch of stuff for them to do, and they will still get to hold the baby at times and just chill, then it might keep them busy and out of your hair but still happy.

I love the idea of hiring someone as a buffer. It's nice when it doesn't have to be you or your husband so that there's no tension in your family afterwards. If they dislike the student, that's ok - they're not likely to ever see them again.

 

Best of luck and I hope it works out well for you!

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#8 of 14 Old 05-30-2013, 01:02 PM
 
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Oh dear. I'm having a similar issue.

 

I have let my mom know that I love her and that I absolutely want her here soon after the birth of her only grandchild. But in reality, I don't want a soul who doesn't live in my house to cross my threshold for the first few days at least, save maybe my BFF whose son I was invited to meet at 3 hours old and who I know won't hang around for longer than a few minutes (we're birthing at a birth center, so we will be home within 6 hours of baby's birth). The compromise is that we're buying her ticket, so we can schedule her flight for when I can stand her presence. And that's my mom; who I know will respect me, who I know won't bring tacky crap into my house and give me more to clean up, who knows from my youth how I want to be left alone if I'm feeling poorly or tired, and whose home cooking has always been a delight to me.

 

And then there are my in-laws. Ugh; my in-laws. I am sure they mean well, but damn I can not stand them. My MIL is passive aggressive and DH refuses to see it. She doesn't respect me at all and I know she will bring a bunch of crap I don't want and didn't ask for and will not use and will have to sneakily get rid of to fill up my house. I don't want to have to play hostess (and I have to with these people) with a newborn. I had to deal with them while ill in the first trimester and I had never been so thrilled to be nauseous; I could just come upstairs and nap without giving a flip about what they thought. When their other two grandchildren were born (who live driving distance for them), they arrived within hours of the babies being born. DH is sure they will want to get here that quickly after our baby comes. There seems to be no discouraging these people. The idea of having a house full of people while trying to bond with and get used to living with a new baby is just unacceptable to me. But we're not buying their tickets (they won't let us- they don't let us pay for things, which means they don't let us do things we want to do while they're here because we have to consider what they can afford- DH makes something like twice what his dad does 😠) so we have zero control over when they decide to show up.

 

All that to suggest to you the one thing that I have found that works. It seems to be working for me, and it worked for my BFF when her less-than-welcome family came to visit. It's a little desperate, and a lot sneaky, but sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do. Step one: Sabotage your space. My guest room is becoming a nursery, so there's nowhere to put people. My futon will, unfortunately, need it's mattress replaced right around that time, too. Literally- there is no place to stay in my house. BFF has more bedrooms than I do and had to apologize profusely for all of the baby registry boxes and sundry gift items and such that had filled up her other guest room that she just didn't have the time nor the energy to deal with. Help them find a hotel that's close, but not too close, and comfortable enough that they won't mind terribly if they have to cool their heels a lot. Step two: tell them to call before coming over and warn them that if everyone in the house is sleeping, then phones will be off, so they may not always get an answer. Then screen the calls, only allowing them over when you can handle them or if you have something you would like them to do for you (holding baby while one parent sleeps and the other one bathes is a very valuable service, as is mopping the floor and addressing thank you notes. My mom will be put to work sewing custom valances and dust ruffles). Step three: don't be afraid to feign 'illness'. Escape to your room with the door shut (baby in tow whenever you choose) as often and for as long as you want. In fact, if you don't want to get out of bed- don't. Let DH take baby to see the guests until he/she utters a peep and then it's right back to mama. Everybody wins.

 

I hope things work out for you and I hope your parents don't spoil your first few days as a mama. hug2.gif

 

-MQ


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#9 of 14 Old 05-31-2013, 10:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blanca78 View Post

I can only speak from my own experience, which is that, before my daughter was born, I was also very concerned about my husband and her and I having private bonding time. However, my mom really wanted to be there for the birth and stay for 2-3 weeks after. I was nervous about it, and said 2 weeks would be better than 3.

 

She. was. a. godsend. I don't know what I would have done without her there. I totally underestimated how completely overwhelmed I would be by having a newborn. She rocked her and quieted her so I could get a shower. She cooked and cleaned for us every day. She watched the baby so my husband and I could decompress and cuddle. She talked me through my many emotional freakouts. She made an appointment with a lactation consultant for me, and then did the dirty work of canceling the appointment when we realized we didn't need her after all. She literally hand-fed me while my arms were occupied with nursing. She made sure I ate lots of healthy stuff. She counseled me through my postpartum blues (she's a therapist). My husband helped with all this stuff, too, but my mom had perspective on it that he didn't, and he was pretty overwhelmed himself. It ended up being a real bonding time for us--definitely the closest I've felt to her since childhood. It changed our relationship--she stepped up to the plate in ways I hadn't anticipated.

 This was my experience except my mom came a few days after the birth and stayed for a full month.  I don't know what I would have done without her.  But then, she knew that the reason she was there was to cook, clean, and take care of me and that's where she thrives. She anticipated all my needs, which was amazing because I had had a very difficult labor and birth and couldn't really walk normally for that first month let alone deal with everything else that needed to happen.  This time I'm going to have her come a week before my due date so she'll be here for my 3 year old when I go into labor.

 

 

On the other hand, my good friend just had her first and she had an incredibly "easy" birth and was totally functional within days if not hours. She didn't have anyone, other than her husband, there to help out and she liked it that way.  I live 5+ hours away so I visited for a day and brought a week's worth of freezer meals for them. Her parents and MIL came a week or so later and I don't think they even stayed with her but it was more of a visit to see the baby than a visit to help.

 

Its kind of a crap shoot and depends a lot on how you feel after the baby comes and whether they will hear you when you say that you WILL NOT be a hostess in any way shape or form during that time.


mama to two little men...3/25/2010 and 10/3/2013
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#10 of 14 Old 06-02-2013, 10:44 AM
 
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This is a tough one. Mostly because it's one of the first time that you are not only the child, but a PARENT! It's the first time (usually) that we realize we get a say in things and may hurt our parents' feelings in order to help our new little family thrive. But your parents' hurt feelings are not because you are being irrational or hurtful, it's because they are feeling what it feels like to have grandchildren and for you to have your own little world going on. You can no longer just do whatever Mom and Dad say. You have your own health and your families' health to think about and it's not always going to be in line with what your parents want.

 

My parents came a few weeks after DS was born and they stayed at a hotel. I wouldn't have done it any other way. That beginning is so new and you and your husband are so vulnerable and parents who are overbearing want to FIX everything, even when things aren't broken. And yes, like you said, their heart is in the right place, but what they don't realize is that their "helping" can actually undermine your own instinct as a mother. In tough moments, having someone overbearing tell you what she did with you and your siblings and why her friend's baby always does XYZ and why nursing is so XYZ can really really have an affect on you (and your husband.) Those first few days with my DS and DH were some of my favorite - us both just falling in love with this being, not quite sure how to do everything, but learning together. 

 

There's a chance that your mom may actually be helpful (food, laundry, holding baby while you nap, etc.), but if they stay at a hotel, she can still be that helpful without having her in your immediate space. It's like a safety net. 

 

I am a childbirth educator and doula and I have seen grandparents come into the delivery room moments after the baby is born and dump their own opinions/worries/etc. on the new mama and it's really hard to watch. The last birth I attended, the grandma came in and was fussing about the fact that the baby needed more blankets, hats, etc, that he must be cold. She and the baby's mom were arguing about whether her baby was warm enough (he was skin to skin AND had a blanket). Then, the food menu comes because the mom is starving and she wants a chicken sandwich and her mom (the grandma) who is eating on some special diet, is like, "Oh honey, you don't want something greasy like that..." and I almost lept over there and strangled her! I'm sure there are grandmas out there who are totally respectful - both my mom and MIL really were. But you have to ask yourself, even if you set up boundaries, do you really think your overbearing parents will suddenly do a 180 and change who they are and have always been? I hope so, but people don't often change like that - in fact, grandparents can get even more overprotective. They too are going through a new transition and want the baby to be "safe and healthy" - whatever that means to them. Are your parents in line with your choices about birth, nursing, parenting, pacifiers, etc.? If not, you definitely don't want someone coming in trying to derail you from everything. Especially if nursing takes a bit to get the hang of.

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#11 of 14 Old 06-07-2013, 05:06 AM
 
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What I found both times and what I see echoed here is that guests who come take care of the parents, so parents can take care of baby are welcome and wonderful. That is my parents. They are here for day one.
People who bring their own wants needs opinions ahead of your, or just don't know what to do with themselves, so much less so. This can be my inlaws, but more from not seeing what needs doing, rather than being pushy. They get put off a few weeks, until I have the emotional reserves to deal with it all. I phrased it as help once husband is back at work to soften the blow.

Mama to Monkey (Jan '09), Bee (May '11), and Cat (August, '13)

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#12 of 14 Old 06-07-2013, 08:04 AM
 
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Here's what I've learned and what I wish I would have known during many times as an adult:

 

This is a really big moment for you.  Aside from giving birth and becoming a mom to a wonderful baby that you can hold and take care of, you are entering into a new role- the mom. You will love and protect your child with your whole being.  You do not have to take crap from anyone. Even your parents.  You are the parent now.  You have every right to decide who comes to your house and when. You get to decide how to learn about your child and your new family of three. 

 

If you have overbearing parents this may all be new to you.  But you are an adult and you are not responsible for their feelings.  I can tell from your concern that you will keep others' feelings in mind no matter what, and that's good.  But what really matters right now is you.  This is your one chance to set up this postpartum time how you want it. Whatever you want- Just do it.  Think maybe you can compromise and let them stay with you even though your heart is screaming no?  Don't compromise! It might be a hard transition for them since they are no longer the center of attention. But that is how it should be- you and your baby are the center of attention. There will be plenty of other more appropriate times to invite them over and show them around and cook for them.

 

I would rather have too little help, but peace in my household.

 

Do you have freezer meals, or friends who will bring you food?  For me, the most important things postpartum were: Food, not having people say stupid stuff to me, and peace.  When any of these things did not go right it felt horrible. Postpartum hormones mean that I am not able to put up with the same level of crap as usual.

 

Everything you said in your post indicates to me that these people should not be in your house.  If they stay somewhere else and you find them wonderful and helpful, then have them over a lot!

 

I'm looking forward to hearing how your thoughts are evolving on this. Maybe we can help you figure out a good way to talk to them about whatever you decide.

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#13 of 14 Old 06-07-2013, 06:37 PM
 
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This sentence screams, "Don't have them as postpartum houseguests!"

 

Quote:
My parents can be very overbearing to be around, and sometimes it makes me tense, or managing them is more work than it's worth, because they ask a lot of questions, and don't just jump in and help.

 

I would say no thank you.


Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#14 of 14 Old 06-09-2013, 04:49 AM
 
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honestly I'd tell them no because the only reason you're saying yes is not to hurt their feelings. Postpartum is not the time to do that, it's a time to be "selfish" and focus on yourself and the baby.

Mama to my little Lily luxlove.gif (09/2010), and a sweet baby boy joy.gif (12/2012)

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