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Old 03-23-2006, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Alright ladies, I need some advice, and this post will be a bit lengthy, as I feel I need to give some back story.

My mother and I have a fairly tenuous relationship. She is bipolar, and an alcoholic. Most recently, she left my brother at college in Indiana (my parents live in PA) for an extra day, because she had a migraine (read: hangover) and couldn't drive out there to pick him up as promised. His campus entirely shuts down when break begins, so he was without food or running water for roughly 36 hours. Thankfully, he had a pack of poptarts and a bottle of water in his dorm, but other than that was out of luck. My mother is 4'11" and goes through about a liter and a half of wine every two days, by herself.

When my mother is sober, we get along fine. We can laugh, and share stories, and joke around. She has always been fairly selfish, and very take-charge, and doesn't really seem to care whose feelings she hurts. She has told me on many occassions that I won't really know what it means to love a child until I have a "real child." I have two daughters (she claims I don't have children yet, because they're step-daughters) in whose lives I have been an active participant since they were both very young (DD1 was 2.5 and DD2 was 18months when I met my DH), and who call me "mama" and refer to me as their "second mommy" when talking about me to friends/biomom's family/anyone who will listen.

Here's the deal:
After everything we have been through, and all the crap she's given me over the years, she is still my mother. Part of me wants her to be at the birth of our DD3, and part of me is terrified she'll show up and take over. My DH is against having her around, as her presence tends to stress me out. If I tell her that we would rather she come *after* delivery, she may be alright with that, but I would really like to have my SIL there with me during labor, as she is the next best thing to having my sister with me. My sis is 700 miles away, and there's no way she could make it for the birth. I'm afraid that if my mom found out my SIL was invited and not her, she's get angry and possibly not speak to me.

I don't know what to do! She's my mom, and I need her now, even though I've not been able to depend on her one iota since getting pregnant. Half the time, she's still asleep when I call at 3 in the afternoon to tell her about my latest midwife appt, so I've just stopped calling. It's easier to live with no contact than the realization that she doesn't care enough to answer the phone.

Should I ask both of them to be there? Just as my SIL and deal with any backlash my mother spews at me? Tell my mom I need her help *after* the birth more than during? Try and hide my SIL's involvement from her?

Help! It's so hard going through pregnancy without a mom. I hate this.

Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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Old 03-23-2006, 04:35 PM
 
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First, . I'm sorry you're having to go through this, and that your mom isn't there when you need her.

I'm a first time mama, so I'm not speaking from a place of experience. But I've been reading all morning in Ina May's childbirth book about the major impact that people and emotions can have on the labor process - being uncomfortable, stressed, scared, etc can totally impact the progress of your labor. If I were in your shoes, I would either a) not want her there at all, because she sounds not that reliable or b) want her in the waiting room until *just before the actual birth* and then call her in. There most likely wouldn't be enough time at that point for her to take over or have much effect on you.

I also just want to say that my mom and I have a great relationship, yet I STILL am not sure that I want her at my birth, and in fact, I'm pretty sure I don't want her there unless it's right when he is being born. She's really pro-medication, loved her epidural, and although she respects that I've chosen not to go that route, I'm afraid that if she were in the room with me and I was having a hard time, she would just tell me to get one and I just might do it. I can't have that in the room with me. I need everyone there to be 100% sure that I can do this, 100% supportive of me. I don't want to be worried about it. I just want to be relaxed and concentrate on bringing the babe into the world, not worrying about other people and their feelings, etc. My mom will be coming to spend any time from 2 weeks-1 month here with me after the baby is born, and I think she knows that that is when she'll be most helpful to me.

About having your SIL there - that's a tough one. On the one hand, I would say have her there unapologetically - say she's playing the role of your doula or something. If you think your mom still couldn't handle that, then I would just not mention it beforehand. Hopefully after the fact she'll be too interested in the new grandbaby to worry about all the birthy details. But I couldn't tell from your post - has your mom expressed a lot of interest in being there, or are you just worried about inviting/not inviting her? That could make a big difference. If you just never bring up the idea that she'll be there, but talk matter-of-factly that she'll come after, maybe you could avoid the whole "not invited" aspect?

Good luck, mama! Mama drama is intense.

Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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Old 03-23-2006, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My mom has asked if she can be there, and I've never really said yes or no. I said I "want" her to be (because I really do) but that DH and I need to decide if it would make the house too crowded to have more than just he and the midwife with me! (planning homebirth)

My mom has always been very vocal about how much she loved her drugs, and how proud she was that she screamed like crazy and had the nurses talking about her for days. I don't know. She finds it hilarious to think that I would be shouting explatives at DH during labor. She's (mostly) supportive of our choices in child-rearing, but again, is very opinionated, stubborn, and selfish.

And my SIL has never given birth, but I feel very close to her, and I've leaned on her in the past with other issues. Maybe it would just be better to say that the house is closed until after delivery, and then let anyone who wants to come and see us?

Any other mamas have ideas?

Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:00 PM
 
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You said that she's your mom, and you need her now.

I wonder, do you really need *her*? Or do you need the mom she should have been?

What need do you hope she can fill? Is it realistic to expect her to live up to that?

You also said you haven't been able to count on her at all during your pregnancy. Why do you think that would change at the birth?

Pregnancy is a time for working through a lot of feelings about your mom, whatever the state of your relationship. Just make sure you're not projecting some maternal fantasy onto her in the process.

As far as your SIL goes, I'd say invite her. Then decide if you prefer to just let your mom get pi$$ed, or if you can come up with some other "vitally important" job/role for her.
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Old 03-23-2006, 05:28 PM
 
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I'm sorry you have this tough situation to consider. I'd advise going to a few AA meetings or seeing a counselor who specializes in addiction. I mean for YOU to get the support and insight that you need, not for her to go. You can't change her, basically. She would have to accept that there is a problem and want to change herself. But AA has friends and family groups. There are a lot of guilt and co-dependence issues that run pretty deep for children and loved ones.

Personally, I'd want the safest and calmest environment for my homebirth. That includes reliable support and no judgment or control issues. If that means your SIL or a doula, I think that's great. Allowing someone to share in a critical experience at an unknown cost to your emotional and possibly physical health does not make up for water under the bridge and magically change the relationship into what you may want it to be. We are not having family at our birth unless something radically changes, and I think that's OK. That maternal support will come from the doula and midwives, so maybe you can think about answering that need in other ways. I really hope you can find a workable solution. The key thing to remember is that you wouldn't be preventing your mother from attending, her past and current behavior is doing that.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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KC in KS-

You're right. In a lot of ways, I probably do have this maternal fantasy that I'm hoping will come true. At the same time, I can remember being happy and content and feeling supported by her, and wonder if all of that is gone.

I think it is gone, unless she gets some much needed help.

Her psychiatrist doesn't help much, given that her (the doc's) advice to my mom was to distance herself from her children and divorce my dad (they've been married almost 30 years) because *we* all had a problem dealing with her illness, and that was the issue at hand. Not that she mixes alcohol and anti-depressants on a daily basis. But that's a whole other can of festering worms.

I hate this feeling. Feeling like no matter what I do, I will dissapoint someone/hurt feelings/make someone feel unloved. I've struggled with it for a long time, and DH has done a lot to help me get over it and realize that I don't have to please everyone, only myself, but it's still tough sometimes to be "selfish" and do what I know to be best for me and my family.


Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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Old 03-27-2006, 12:03 PM
 
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I'm sorry you are going through this. I can only offer my experience. I had to sever all ties with my family of origin because that is what is best for me. You may not have to make the same choice. I had to work through all those feelings of "this is the way family should be" and accept for my family for who they were. I wouldn't hang out with them or tolerate their crap if they weren't family so why was I doing it just because they were family.

It was tough, but once I accepted how things were then I was able to grieve and move on. It sucks, but I'm doing my best now to create my own family with friends, dh and the kiddos.

Like the other poster said if your mom hasn't been supportive thus far then she's not going to change for the birth. Your birth space is a sacred safe place and you need to feel absolutely secure there. Plus if your DH doesn't want her there then that's extra stress you don't need.

I proposed to DH that his mom attend our last birth. I'd love for her to be able to attend the birth of her grandchild and I think she would love that. But dh said there was no way, because his mom is a worrier and very "the sky is falling" and he didn't want that negativity around us.

I agree with the other poster that suggested you attend an ALANON or family of AlAnon and talk to one of the counselors there.
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Old 03-27-2006, 07:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KC in KS
You said that she's your mom, and you need her now.

I wonder, do you really need *her*? Or do you need the mom she should have been?

What need do you hope she can fill? Is it realistic to expect her to live up to that?

You also said you haven't been able to count on her at all during your pregnancy. Why do you think that would change at the birth?
AMEN!!!

you're just setting yourself up by hoping she'll just happen to be "fun" mom while you're in labor. don't. do. it. she is who she is. stop blaming yourself that she's someone she's not. for that matter, why blame her either? move on. ask your SIL to the birth if you want, but you don't owe your mom an invitiation just b/c you ask SIL to be there.

Quote:
I hate this feeling. Feeling like no matter what I do, I will dissapoint someone/hurt feelings/make someone feel unloved.
so, you're suggesting that if you don't invite your mom (being who she is) that it'll be YOU disappointing HER? it'll be YOU hurting HER feelings? it'll be YOU making HER feel unloved?

think about if someone else suggested this to you - how would you respond? you'd tell them they are crazy! yes, maybe your mom will feel dissappointed, unloved or just have hurt feelings but ... SO WHAT? does she seem to mind hurting your feelings? disappointing you or your siblings? is she working hard to make you feel loved? you get back what you put out in life, yk? perhaps "just desserts" are in order here.

and think about this - would it be better that you end up disappointing, hurting and making your dh feel unloved b/c you went against his good judgment? judgment it sounds like he's making on your behalf? he's been there for you and will be in ways that she can't and won't and ignoring him to chase this maternal fantasy is the emotional equivalent to a "slap in the face" yk? saying what he does in reality is just as deserving as what she's done when she feels like it and what you hope she'll do in fantasy...why would you give her the same presence (undeserved) that you would give to him or your SIL (who it sounds like deserve it?) just to avoid hurting someone's feelings who doesn't care about yours? that doesn't make sense

You don't deserve this mama. I'm really sorry you got a crappy mom. That stinks.

WOHM married to SAHD, living the dream w/our: 3 girls (14,12,10) and 3 boys (7,5,3) and tie-breaker due Jan 2014

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Old 03-27-2006, 10:11 PM
 
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Oh Sarah...

I went through the exact same thing when I had dd#1.

My mother is also an alcoholic and has a personality disorder that she denies and refuses to get treatment for. I had to finally cut off contact with her about a year ago because I just couldn't take her mood swings, suicide threats (never serious - they were meant to get my attention), pill-popping, and whatever else she dealt me. She is very manipulative and very controlling. Like your mom, she had moments where she could be fun and charming, but it wasn't very often, and those times were very unpredictable.

I knew back when I was pregnant with dd#1 that she would try to take over if I had her in the delivery room (and she had asked to be there), and I wanted one of my good friends to be there with me in case my husband couldn't handle the blood & stuff (turns out he did super). I told her that I only wanted it to be me and dh and although she wasn't real happy about it, she didn't push the issue. She just said, "Well, it's your delivery", and I said, "Yes, it is". When it turned out that I was scheduled for an induction, I didn't tell her. I just decided that we would let her know after the baby was born. I felt a little guilt about it, but like your mom, she was never very supportive during the pregnancy, so I didn't expect any different later on. Actually, when I first told her that I was pg, her response was, "I don't know how I feel about this". As if it mattered.

So the day I had the baby, my husband called my mom and let her know. She was there in seconds...trying to be the star of the show. It was sickening, and it ruined that time for me just a bit. Once it was obvious that she wasn't going to get the attention she wanted, she didn't hang around very long.

I am so sorry that you are having to go through the stress of making a decision, but this is YOUR special time. Don't let her ruin it for you. Do what YOU want. I promise you that you will never forget a second of the birth of your child, and you don't want the memory marred by unpleasantness.

Good luck to you!
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think we've settled it that she won't be there when I'm in labor. Just my SIL, if anyone. It may come down to the wire and I'll only want DH with me. My siblings and I recently confronted our mom about her behavior/drinking and offered to be as helpful as we can, as long as we see positive change.

I'm guessing I'll have to sever ties soon as well, as her selfishness with more than likely not allow her to change.

So it goes.

Thank you all for your support and, in some cases, the swift kick in the butt I needed to make this decision that is best for my family. I deeply appreciate it!

Sarah - Mama to Vic (1/19/00), Syd (4/06/02) Sam (4/20/06-born at 30wk2d), JackJack (2/14/07) and Charlie (4/30/10)
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