Oh my! MIL... (very long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-20-2006, 11:04 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm all getting nervous here. I *love* my MIL. She rocks. She was never very AP with my DH, but she's open-minded and wonderful. She's helped assemble our diaper stash, she is cool with homebirth, she's super-supportive of nursing (but is kinda' clueless--as in: "go ahead and take the formula samples, you might need them like I did" um, no.), and she's probably hosting our homebirth at her house and in her hot tub (although DH did have to agree to power-wash it after...).

She wants to be involved in the birth and I want her to be involved. She came to a prenatal with me a couple months back to meet the midwives. She was a bit blown away just by the nature of my midwife prenantals and didn't really process the birth part until this week. I suggested books for her to read (Ina May's books, Birthing from Within), even gave her one (Thinking Woman's Guide). Some stuff so she would understand our mental process and why we're doing this, some stuff about the safety and superiority of non-interventive birth.

We had our home visit a couple of days ago. Both midwives, an apprentice, DH, Me, and MIL. Hammered down a few things, talked about labor preferences, all sorts of late-term details.

MIL got a bit freaked out. She's been processing her own birth experiences quite a lot and is having a hard time reconciling with that (she had a mostly natural labor with her first--a stillbirth at 20 weeks, and induction/emergency c-section at term with DH bc her water had broken 12 hours or so previously). She is worried that she won't know what is "normal" in a homebirth, and she's worried that, in her words: "I'll do the wrong thing and you'll hate me because I don't know what I'm doing."

I tried reassuring her, but now I'm wondering if she might be right. Well, no, I won't hate her, but I might get annoyed at her.

She went out looking for books, didn't find the ones I'd recommended and instead picked up a couple of "method" books--the kind we're deliberately eschewing (didn't get the precise titles--from her description it seems like one is almost hypnobirthy, one is kinda yoga-y/breathing exercise type thing, etc.). Now we're leaving tomorrow morning to spend the weekend at the family cottage with her and hse wants to spend some time "practicing" with us.

I know she's most comfortable when she's in control--a tad OCD there, something she realizes but is not fabulous at controlling--but I do not want to be coached in how to breathe/sit/stand/think! I really want her there for the mutual emotional support of me, her and DH, but can't seem to convince her that that is a valid capacity and she really needs to just show up ready to listen to what I or the midwives tell her is needed.

It doesn't help that when I'm tired or upset I can get pretty snarky and downright b*tchy. Heck, we're all strong, somewhat weird people who all have our own issues and manage to get along pretty well in spite of it, but I'm worried her trying to coach me, or me getting too snarky with her in the middle of labor and really upsetting her.

It's *very* important to me that she be there, but I just don't know how to convince her to just *relax* and learn about the process without trying to run it or take it over or coach me in it (keep in mind she is an HR exec who runs a life-coaching business on the side). Letting go and just relaxing and not trying to run things is very foreign to her.

So I dunno. Don't even know what I'm looking for in this incredibly long post. If anyone has the perfect book that is easily obtainable, or a suggestion for how to give her a more specific structured role that might increase her comfort level, or anything really, I'm open to ideas. (This might be a good solution--to give her a specific job. It's hard though bc we don't even know where the birth will be. Weather allowign, it'll be at her house, possibly outdoors. In case of cold or rain, it will be at our house. All the logistical stuff is so last minute that we can't really assign jobs in advance. I don't want her to do food prep; I'm always picky and DH knows exactly how I like things; he has also decided that will be his job, since he's not 100% comfortable with being labor support.

Awright, end of novel. If anyone has any ideas...
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#2 of 8 Old 04-20-2006, 11:17 PM
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No grand ideas, just a big old . I'd say just be as straight forward as possible with her about what you will need from her emotionally and such. She really wants to be there and you really want her there. Maybe she'll have time to process this info and be able to support you w/o her own stuff getting in the way.

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#3 of 8 Old 04-20-2006, 11:18 PM
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Just lots of hugs! I have not idea how to help~ Maybe you can find the Ina May book for her~ That is really good about realizing that everyone is different hands off is most of the time the way to be~ It might help with the control issues~

Best of luck!
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#4 of 8 Old 04-21-2006, 12:03 AM
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Gosh that's tricky. I would not want to birth around a person like that but it sounds like it's important to you. It sounds almost like she is trying to appropriate the experience from you to deal with her own stuff - not appropriate to bring her own baggage and agendas to your birth.

Maybe first try a chat: "I want absolutely no coaching or advice while I am in labour unless I specifically ask for it. Can you commit to that?" and "I might want privacy at certain points - I don't know what to expect so I'm hoping that you can be totally flexible in your role".

Then try to help her understand natural childbirth. Even if you are planning an assisted birth, IMO unassisted birth stories and videos are invaluable for understanding natural childbirth in action. In UC videos, usually women are birthing with no coaching, "help", or interventions - the dad is usually holding the camera and dealing with siblings. If you could borrow some and watch them together it might be really helpful. Watching a few UC births might cure her of the preconceptions that develop in our culture that the medical professional "delivers" the baby, and someone has to "coach" the woman - hogwash! The birthing woman does all the work and everyone should just avoid interfering.

Oh, and look up some articles from Dr. Michel Odent and print them out for her. He gets it.

Good luck and good for you for trying to figure this out in advance.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-21-2006, 12:05 AM
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Even the people I love get on my nerves while in labor-maybe you could assign her some duties-like food,getting an herbal bath for after the birth,so that she has something to do while you are laboring. You could even run through it with her a little bit.
Maybe even allow her to "volunteer"for these duties by mentioning that someone will need to make sure the midwives are fed and that you have something after the birth. I bet she will jump on it as her chance to do something that she can feel in control of. My mom is sorta that way-except that she has not even tried to educate herself about homebirth. I think she may actually be here for the birth-I don't mind unless she starts "coaching" I don't like to be talked at during labor-I want quiet helpful people around who take orders well

good luck. I bet it will all turn out great

mother, wife, sister, friend--step mom to one grown man and mommy to 3 boys-ages 19, 10 and 4
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#6 of 8 Old 04-21-2006, 10:52 AM
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My MIL is a NOT supportive of this whole natural CB thing, and has in fact asked me "why can't you just get induced and have an epidural like normal women?": but what can I expect? She's a retired nurse.

She wants to be at the birth, and i flat out said, "I am hypnobirthing. It needs to be peaceful and quiet with no mention of pain or med options. If you think you can come and be supportive and quiet, you are welcome. If not, we will call you as soon as he is born."

I am one of those people who thinks it's just better to get it out there - let yur expectations be known - people might be irked at you, but there will be no feelings hurt or massive communication breakdowns that cause people to stop talking to one another.

Good luck!
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#7 of 8 Old 04-21-2006, 11:21 AM
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It sounds like you're really facing a quandry! It also sounds like MIL has been really supportive and interested in your wishes so far - I'd skip trying to get books at the bookstore at this late stage in the game and try to check out some Ina May, etc at the library - that's where I read all of my crunchy books. But, seriously, it sounds like you guys have a pretty decent relationship, and she's kind of mother hen-y - maybe make a nice dinner and have her over to talk about the birth. Then in a relaxed environment, you and DH can really plainly talk with her about your hopes and goals for this birth. I think that really talking to her plainly about this is going to be the best way to go - Tell her how grateful you are that she's been so involved and continues to want to be involved, but for that to happen and for everyone to feel like it was a positive experience, she really needs to understand that there doesn't need to be any 'practice' or any such thing - that Natural childbirth is just that - Natural. Nature will take it's course, and while it can be overwhelming for lots of people, especially people who have a fixed vision of 'how birth goes' in their head, your baby can (and will!) be born with no 'coaching' in a peaceful and comfortable environment. Because that is your ultimate birth goal! Just be really firm in what you're going for, but also be loving and respectful when you talk to her, of course. And, I think that having some good projects out there for her would be EXCELLENT - SHE is liable to be more overwhelmed than you - Make sure to have stuff on hand so she can make a birthday cake or prepare teas or snacks for other folks, so she can bow out gracefully for 45 minutes or so when she (and you!) need a breather!

I have five very lovely SILs who are totally freaked out that I am having a BIRTH CENTER birth. I scrapped the HB idea early, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the onslaught of stuff from hubs kind but very mainstream family. I still am getting a fair share of "Seriously - get the epidural and just let them take CARE of you for a few days!" argument. And I'm 37 weeks! Eesh.

Good luck with this. I hope it gets all worked out.
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#8 of 8 Old 04-21-2006, 09:38 PM
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I think that once you have expressed your wishes ahead of time and make it clear to your dh and midwives that if she is not acting in the manner that you have told her to, then they will need to deal with her (not you), then the pure atmosphere of a homebirth might be enough for her to "get it" when she's there. I mean, it's so different from a hospital birth, and once she sees how the others are responding to you and behaving, hopefully she will take cues from them.

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