How Do I Forgive My In-Laws for Trying to Crash My Kid’s Birth?


After they spent my pregnancy telling me what to do...

by Liz Moorhead, Editor, Ask APW

baby photo

Q: My husband and I have been married for about a year and a half now and have a beautiful three-month-old daughter. I generally got along with his family pretty well before I had our baby, but I noticed when I got pregnant that my in-laws became more and more opinionated and pushy about my husband’s and my decisions regarding the baby and her birth. Case in point, my father-in-law tried to tell me that I shouldn’t get pain meds during birth after I casually mentioned I hadn’t decided yet whether I wanted unmedicated birth or not (I shut that shit down fairly quickly). I took their comments in stride and let them know when I felt they were overstepping, but then something happened when I gave birth to our daughter that I felt was a huge overstep on their part and I’m having a difficult time moving on from it.

About a month before I was due, my father-in-law mentioned that he and his wife were planning on heading straight to the hospital to wait out my labor and that he expected my husband to come out and give him updates about how dilated I was and then come out and tell him when the baby was there. When I told him I wasn’t a hundred percent comfortable with having people waiting in the waiting room and knowing the intimate details of my cervix, he brushed it off by saying that he wouldn’t come in the room, and it’s okay that he knows about how dilated I am because he has multiple kids and grandkids and will understand what it means. When I told him that there would be at least a few hours of bonding with the baby before we’d allow visitors he responded that he wouldn’t even expect to see the baby that same day. The family would just celebrate for a second then go home. After much discussion with my husband about this, my husband and I came to a compromise for his family—they can wait in the waiting area if they’d like so long as they don’t expect to come anywhere near my delivery room (the waiting area and delivery room are on different floors at my hospital). They were also told that most communication would be via text as my husband might not have time to go to a different floor to give updates about the baby. We thought this settled it.

Fast-forward to the baby’s birthday. When the in-laws weren’t satisfied with the amount of updates my husband was sending them, they showed up right outside my labor and delivery door and called for my husband to come out so they could ask him what was going on. They also showed up immediately after I gave birth and was still getting stitched up asking to see the baby and acted hurt when my husband stood his ground and told him that, as initially agreed, we would let them in to see her after a few hours so that we could have bonding time as a new family.

This entire situation has left a very bad taste in my mouth with his family. I feel that they agreed to something they had no intention of following through on just to shut us up before the baby got here. I also feel like it was unbelievably selfish of them to expect my husband to leave his newborn daughter just so that he could let them know in person that the baby was here. I thought I would get over this and be able to move on but I’m at the point where I can barely be in the same room with my in-laws. My husband has moved past this issue, and my inability to get over it is causing some discord in our marriage.

Do you have any advice on how I can forgive and forget so that family gatherings aren’t awkward?

—Anonymous

A:

Dear Anonymous,

Well, yeah. It makes sense that this bothers you more than it does your husband. In-laws typically do bug us more than they bug our partners. He loves them. He’s used to them. No doubt he’s experienced this same kind of situation with them so often, it’s no longer a big deal. And also, importantly, he wasn’t the one in labor. It’s going to feel intensely personal to the one having a human taken out of her body while some relative-by-marriage tries to elbow his way in the door.

Don’t be irritated that he’s not irritated. (I know that fight well.) Your partner did exactly what he was supposed to in the moment—he stood his ground, he blocked the door, he defended the boundaries you guys established together. And now it’s just not bothering him as much as it bothers you, for totally normal reasons. But on that same token, he can’t fault you for still feeling hurt by this. Now, his job is to validate your feelings, not dismiss them. And your job is to be alright with the fact that he isn’t feeling them. You guys aren’t the enemies here.

Your in-laws are the enemies.

I’m kidding. They sound like perfectly nice, pushy, irritating, run-of-the-mill in-laws. What they did was really invasive and selfish. But if we’re being fair, you probably could’ve predicted this, right? I’m guessing they completely planned on following the rules, weren’t intending to be dishonest. But then push came to pushing, and birth can be sort of uneventful in general, but especially when you’re in a boring waiting room two floors away from the action. They’re getting occasional bland, “Still waiting,” texts (what more is there to say, really?), they’re feeling fidgety and figure, “Oh I’ll just pop down real quick to make sure everything is okay.” I read your story and was incensed! I was outraged! And I also thought, “Well, of course they did.”

So you’ve learned something here. Do not give these people an inch, they’ll take a mile, and then they’ll expect a snack at the end for walking so far. It sucks to have any hurtful situation chalked up to “learning experience!” I know, but once these feelings lose their heat and sting, you’ll feel more empowered to lay firm boundaries, to go with your gut, to not be pressured into a compromise.

And these feelings will lose a lot of their intensity. You’re three months postpartum, which could mean a whole lot of factors are coming into play here. Not only did this situation just happen, it’s all fresh, but you’re simultaneously dealing with adjusting to the new baby, perhaps some sleeplessness, probably some hormones that are still leveling off, maybe even a smidge of baby blues. These things won’t make it any easier to handle some justified resentment. So don’t push yourself.

Birth is a big moment, and as the women who experience all of the scary bits and the bodily bits and the emotional bits, we can have some specific expectations. There’s a bit of a cult of birth right now (did you pick a birth playlist?!), but also it’s a long-awaited beginning, and we can have very real hopes for how this grand first step will unfold. (We’re a wedding website; we completely get this.) If things don’t go as you envisioned during your labor, it can be really, really hard to let that go. Untangle if you’re just annoyed with your in-laws because in-laws be annoying, or if you have some intense birth disappointment you’re grappling with (maybe even apart from the family burst-in, maybe whatever other things were outside of your control).

For now, seethe silently. Don’t take it out on your partner. Don’t you (or him!) push yourself to get over it if you’re just not there yet. Give yourself some time. The sting of the emotions will pass, but hopefully the lesson learned will not.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)

 

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.

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  • Amy March

    Have you said anything to your in-laws? Has your husband? I think it’s okay to demand that they get the message “we were extremely disappointed that despite repeated discussions you disrespected our wishes for the baby’s birth and came to the delivery room. It was disrespectful, hurtful, and makes it hard for us to trust you right now.” It might help you move on to know that you’ve told them how you feel. I don’t think you should go into that conversation expecting an apology but if all you expect is that you will know you advocated for yourself, that might be enough.

    I agree with Liz that there’s lots to learn from this and that letting it go will serve you well, but I might need to have them know how I feel as well.

    • rg223

      Yeah, I think it’s okay to have a talk about this too – given that it basically just happened. And, we don’t know how the in-laws are with boundaries historically – it might help them stick to the set boundaries in the years to come if they know how much they upset the LW and her husband here. (Or not).

    • sofar

      Agreed that husband should have said something to the in-laws in the days after the birth. May be too awkward to just bring it up now. But he should DEFINITELY bring it up the second it becomes relevant. The first time they start making demands about how the child should be parented and what say THEY get to have in the matter, husband needs to have a prepared statement ready: “We’re very unsure how to include you, since you violated our trust when the baby was born and deliberately didn’t follow our wishes. We feel like we have to constantly be on guard and assume you’ll do the opposite of what you agreed to. I’m sure we’ll work past this, but it will take some time.”

      I have extremely pushy in-laws and I’ve found it’s best to have my husband “handle them.” Sometimes, when I make my mind known, they kind of dismiss it as some “white people thing.” But when my husband co-signs what I’ve said, they know we mean business. Granted, my MIL is getting WAY better at working with me, but I have to be WAY more direct and forceful than I am comfortable being with an MIL. So husband (who has no problem telling his parents to take a pill) usually does it.

      • rg223

        This is interesting, because it’s the exact opposite with my in-laws – they respect me as a white person and listen to me over my husband, who they feel comfortable bossing around. It’s been uncomfortable for me, since conventional wisdom says for my husband to handle his parents… but it’s the only way they respect any of our boundaries, so boundary-enforcer I must be.

        • sofar

          You are brave. I don’t know what I would do in your shoes.

          • rg223

            Thank you! It’s tough, but my husband completely supports me, and we often tag-team my in-laws, so that helps. They just really don’t listen to him on his own! One time he was alone with his mom, and she went on a little rant about everything we do with our son that she doesn’t like, and when my husband called her out on it, she said, “Well rg223 isn’t here so now I can say what I think.” Whoo boy. (ETA: perhaps obviously, these were all joint decisions)

      • K. is skittsh about disqus

        Oh man, so many of my choices during pregnancy have definitely been passively dismissed as a “gringa thing” until my husband laid down the law. My MIL is ultimately respectful, but quite, uh, opinionated. It comes from a place of wanting to make sure enough of their cultural values are passed onto my daughter (which is a huge priority for us) that I think sometimes anything of my own that counters her conventions in any way is seen as an attack.

        I try to be respectful and compromise as I can, but also know A) when I’m not willing to budge and B) that the lack of willingness in certain cases doesn’t make me disrespectful of her culture. But it can be tough.

        • I’m laughing at this because I am the latina one and my husband is the gringo and we make it a huge priority to teach my son Spanish, and my MIL hates it. my FIL let it slip one day that my MIL tells my son he’s not allowed to speak spanish… (he’s 18 months)

          • LucyPirates

            WHY would you ever want a child not to be able to speak more than one language??! One of the few smug points I ever allow myself to have is that my step-son lives in france so is bi-lingual. It’s one of my choice bombs for throwing back at anyone who raises an eyebrow about Husband having a child from a previous relationship (insert eye-roll emoji here)

    • WW

      Hi! LW here!

      Thanks for that. One of the things that did bother me the most about the whole situation is that my in-laws were never directly confronted about the situation. They were sent away but I never got the chance to voice my displeasure with them. So this could be something to try if we can find a time to make it less awkward (than it already would be) to bring it up.

      • Laura C

        I bet there’ll be a time to get the message across, even if you come at it kind of tangentially. Like, I haven’t had a moment when I thought it would be not-weird to directly resurrect how annoyed I was that my MIL came to our hospital room 18 hours after he was born to try to convince us to change the baby’s middle name, but I have found the moment to convey firmly that if we’d chosen something else it would have been off of our list, not hers. When people don’t have boundaries, they tend to continue to not have boundaries in the same way so you get entry points.

        As a side note, one thing I really appreciated was that our hospital was firmly on our side in keeping my MIL away — everyone from the birth class teacher to the midwife to the nurse was like “our waiting room is uncomfortable on purpose — to keep family away” and I’m not sure you could even get buzzed in to the area outside our delivery room without some kind of permission. Which meant that we got to use the hospital as back-up for our refusal to let MIL sit in the hospital while I was in labor. Not that the hospital’s discouragement would have been sufficient on its own.

      • Kara E

        Sounds like your husband did a great job heading them off and sticking to boundaries. Do you think that additional direct confrontation would have been helpful? Could this be a bit of a mama bear reaction? My guess is that there will be more than one opportunity to enforce boundaries without needing to relive the delivery day (until round 2 of course). In that case, given past behavior you get to draw the line that they will NOT be in the hospital and probably won’t even know if you’re there.

    • Nell

      Agree! If your FIL was big on advice and updates when this kid was in utero. . . I can imagine he’ll take the same approach to all the things that involve raising said kid. What I would say is, “Hey, father in law, I know that you’ve had a lot of kids and grand kids, but this is our first one – and your son and I are gonna figure it out together in our own way.” I’m hoping you can get him to a place where he can express empathy and love without telling you what to do.

  • Esther

    As a midwife – birth is definitely not a spectator sport. The Maternity Unit I work in allows only two partners (no swaps) and no general visiting until the postnatal ward. That said we do still get alllllllll the relatives of the day trying their best to charm/barge their way in (we midwives can be very stubborn creatures when we need to be).

    I think it’s one of those things – talk it out with your partner and let the family madness be at a distance until you can tolerate it without it making you super cross. And boundaries. Always boundaries.

    • Laura C

      That’s what my hospital was like — I assumed it was standard! We were so appreciative of those policies being there to back up the boundaries we wanted to set.

      • quiet000001

        Yeah, I haven’t had a kid myself, but my mom is frequently in the local hospital that is the main mom-and-baby hospital in the area, and they have some pretty aggressive policies about visiting and those nurses can be FIERCE even though a surprising number of them are tiny. (I have no idea why they seem to have all the petite nurses in the city, but they do. I mean even on the non-birthing floors.)

        So based on that and other experience with nurses helping deal with problem family in other situations, I would say don’t be afraid to recruit the medical staff to help you keep people in line. They’re there for the PATIENT and want the patient to have the best stay possible so the patient gets better and gets out of the bed so they can use it for someone else. :D So often they can be quite helpful and consider maintaining an environment the patient feels comfortable in (even if that means wrangling visitors) part of the job they’re there to do.

    • Rachael

      Yes! I was going to say the same thing! Birth is not a spectator sport!

  • Mary Jo TC

    When I read this headline I thought the story would be much worse. The in-laws could have been there for hours staring at all her parts, while the husband let them. Instead, it sounds like they were headed off at the delivery room door. And yeah, they shouldn’t have been there, but they didn’t get in, and that’s the important part. I’m another one of those people who has a hard time ‘getting over’ things, so I totally sympathize. Liz is right about how the LW might be focusing on this violation as part of a total experience of giving birth that makes you feel so incredibly vulnerable. Maybe it helps to have an outside POV telling her it sounds like her husband is on her side and doing all the right things.
    Honestly, if it had been me, after FIL announced his intention to wait and get updates, I would have gone home and told husband that he was not allowed to inform his family we were going to the hospital until the baby was 100% out. Just the way the FIL decided for her what information he was going to get and when tells me the boundaries need to be drawn firmly, and completely withholding info until you’re ready might be the only way to do that. Besides, waiting like that is pointless. Before my first birth, I was afraid that knowing people were waiting on me would make me anxious and stall my labor. Turned out, I didn’t care either way because nitrous oxide. My second birth was in the middle of the night, so we didn’t make calls to inform people and wake them up until after the baby had been out for a while. If you’re thinking ahead to another baby already, a good job for in-laws for a second birth is watching the older kid, and that’s something they can do much easier at home, rather than in a waiting room. To keep them away, give them a job to do.

    • emilyg25

      I really wish we had just waited till the baby was out to let people know. I texted a few key people that we were heading to the hospital and then my labor was 46 hours long. Kept getting texts like “…baby yet?” NO STILL WAITING THANK YOU. Waiting is seriously so pointless.

      • WW

        Yes! In retrospect I wish we had done that too.

      • Ashlah

        This is what I’d like to do, despite my extended family’s expectation (due to other family births) of either being at the birth or receiving regular updates. At Easter, one cousin told me he’d take the week off work when he heard I was going to the hospital (WHAT?!) and an uncle said he’d “better get a phone call!” I figure most of them can’t be too upset after the fact. And if they are, too bad.

        The only complication is that I’d probably like to tell my Dad’s family, who live 2 hours away. I’m just not sure how he’ll/they’ll respond to me asking him to keep it a secret from the rest of the family. And of course, if my labor ends up being that long, they’ll have to reach out to family for a place to stay, so hm. I’ve got four months to figure it out, I suppose. I could certainly find myself in a situation similar to the LW’s, if word gets out and people start showing up. Hopefully my husband will do his part to stick to our wishes and stand up to family. That’s something the letter writer should focus on, despite her upset at the in-laws–it sounds like her husband did do a good job and didn’t let family into the room.

        • Amy March

          I think if you don’t want people to know, then don’t tell people. No matter what they tell you, people are absolutely terrible at keeping secrets, particularly this secret!

          • Ashlah

            Oh, I know. I guess it’s mostly a matter for me to decide whether it’s more important to keep it secret from the family at large or to be able to have my dad involved/in the know.

          • another prego (former)

            only tell the parents or your dad, and tell him to not tell others until you have told them first. tell him that you want to share the exciting news personally with as many other close family members as possible. I think he can keep it quite for a few hours!

        • Mary Jo TC

          Screw their expectations. It doesn’t matter what your sisters or cousins did. They’re not you. If you don’t want them to be there or to get updates, that’s how it goes. Call them afterward if you want. Honestly, from their point of view, I don’t get the appeal of sitting in the waiting room or even getting a call or text that someone is heading to the hospital. Finding out within 24-72 hours of a birth is good enough for me, even for very close friends and family.

          • JLily

            Yep me too. I love the text message with a photo and just like an, “all 10 fingers and toes are there, mom and baby are doing great!” But that should come if or whenever the parents are ready.

        • another prego (former)

          my husband and the nurses played defense. we told the family ahead of time that no one was allowed in the hospital room or waiting rooms except for me and husband. we also told them that husband would be informing a couple key family member and that they could text or call said key family member for updates (we chose my local sister, and both sets of parents). we told them not to text husband or me as we would be super busy! also, our hospital has a policy where you can request that no one be allowed in your room ever or until a certain time. (it’s probably for domestic abuse or media situations, but I used it to provide defense on the pushy in laws). the nurses were told that I was on the ‘no visitors list’ and that I did not want anyone else in the room. they then said that they would tell anyone who asked for me that I was not in the hospital or in labor if they were asked. I was allowed to tell them if/when we wanted visitors. We waited until a few hours after delivery. Also, we were not allowed to actually have visitors once baby was born until he was doing well, had eaten, I was cleaned up, off epidural, etc. so, ymmv, but use the hospital’s policies and nurses to your advantage. I even had a super helpful nurse tell us that she could tell family members to leave and make up a reason (the baby needs to be checked by the doctor, etc.) if we wanted her to. it was great to know that they were on our side and would help us if it came to that!

        • JLily

          “better get a phone call”–ugh! Because what you want at that time is clearly most important. I get it, people are excited, they are trying to be supportive, etc. But the way to do that is to offer whatever you can to the parents and then take a step back. This “expectation” makes me so mad. It’s not about you, in-laws and extended family!!

          • another prego (former)

            right! We royally pissed off both sets of grand parents (my parents and in-laws) on the day that our son was born by not letting them come to the hospital ‘soon enough’. got a call from my parents – ‘we’re on our way to the hospital and should be there by x-time!’ … ‘um… no you’re not, we’re not taking visitors, baby is still being checked out by the doctor for various issues and mom doesn’t have pants on yet…’ and husband got a call from the in-laws… ‘it’s been x amount of time since he was born and we haven’t been allowed to see him yet… we are the grandparents you know!’ well… we are the PARENTS and we say that we are not ready yet, so stay home for a while longer! we also told them that the hospital’s visiting hours weren’t until x time, so they couldn’t come until then. that one was ‘slightly’ true. it kept our sanity and having those couple hours of alone time with him was precious to us as new parents. I wouldn’t change that even though we made the grandparents made. we explained our reasoning later and they got over it pretty quickly. cute baby won them over! (as history – my in-laws did almost this exact thing as what’s in the letter with my sil when she had her 1st and the 1st grandchild on their side. they literally waited for 30+ hours in the hospital, then got po’ed when they couldn’t see him right away because they were tired and hungry from waiting for so long! you know who’s tired and hungry – mom and baby!)

          • Lmba

            Also, the quality of said phone call may extremely questionable. I called my parents and sister after delivery, said about three words and then promptly fell asleep on the phone…

    • Jane

      “To keep them away, give them a job to do.” For the win!

    • rg223

      My in-laws live within walking distance from where I gave birth, and we purposely told them after my son was born so that they wouldn’t show up and wait.

    • Lisa

      This was my thought, too. As Liz said, the LW now has valuable information about how her in-laws behave in times of stress. If she has any other kids, she should use that as an opportunity to establish clearer boundaries in wake of the events of this birth. I’d probably have the conversation that @amymarch:disqus mentioned, and if/when the next birth occurs, she can reference back to that talk and hold more firmly to her stance.

    • K. is skittsh about disqus

      I also thought that it was going to be that the husband caved and let them into the delivery suite! I went prematurely apoplectic with rage. I still get her frustration and anger though. Pregnancy/birth/newborn parenthood is just such a vulnerable, intimate time.

    • Catherine McK

      Yes, I definitely thought they were going to right there in her business…and have been there. We had no intention of parents in the room, so when the nurse said, “your mom’s here” I said “no she’s not” but it was my MIL. My husband hadn’t eaten in a day and she brought lunch, so he still thinks it was a good thing. I was delirious from pain, pre-epidural and not happy to have her see me that way, but so it goes.

      • Amie Melnychuk

        I get ya. My MIL was in the room when I was getting my IV put in for my induction. I was a complete mess as I am terrified of needles and was screaming from the pain of getting the IV jammed in me. Even looking at an IV makes me want to hurl.

        I heard her say to the nurse, “If she thinks that was bad, how will she handle delivery?” Well, I rocked delivery with only 20 minutes of pushing, and no screaming.

        • Irena Belaqua

          Ugh, how infuriating, discouraging/put-down-ing, and disrespectful of her! Grrr! :(

        • anonforthis

          OMG I would die of rage.

    • WW

      Yep, I’m the LW and while I am so grateful they took my question, I saw the headline and was like… well, my thing doesn’t seem so bad in comparison. Ha!

      The plan is to have them watch my daughter whenever we have a second baby so hopefully this doesn’t happen again. Makes them feel useful and, more importantly, keeps them out of the way.

      • anonforthis

        We used this exact strategy with our 2nd to prevent a repeat of the first time around. :)

    • penguin

      Yeah I think the headline is pretty sensationalist and inaccurate here.

      • stephanie

        Hey guys! We adjusted the title to more accurately reflect the letter! I’m just now catching this thread. :)

    • BSM

      Not the point of your comment, but I’m planning on nitrous oxide for my birth and am weirdly excited about it. How was your experience with it?

      • Mary Jo TC

        OMG loved it. I felt the pain, but didn’t care. It took the edge off. I floated above it. My anxiety disappeared and I was able to lean into the contractions rather than cringing away from them. If I could, I would use it recreationally. I really think this should be an option for women everywhere, and wish it were more widely available!

        • Kelly

          Umm I didn’t know this was an option at all lol…do you just ask for it and its yours like an epidural? I don’t have kids/not pregnant, so I lot of the pain aspects of labor freak me out

          • Ashlah

            Not sure where you’re located, but it’s largely unavailable in the US. Sad face.

          • Kelly

            I am-bummer! :/

          • Ashlah

            There is a short, slowly-growing list of places that offer it, so it’s worth asking at least! And maybe if more patients show an interest, they’ll work harder to get it? I certainly wish it were available to me!

          • Liz

            Birth and meds and pain stuff is so personal, but fwiw, I had great epidural experiences 3x! Pain was dulled, but I could feel the action and pushed effectively, and then got up and walked around not too long after birth.

          • Antonia

            Me too! Wanted and rec’d an epidural. My birth plan (literally): A healthy baby, delivered as painlessly and undramatically as possible.

            I was completely dead from the waist down, and even so, pushing was super quick and easy for me — I think like two pushes and two coughs (apparently coughing is a thing when baby’s *right there*). The epidural just relaxes everything; labor progressed much more quickly once I’d rec’d it.

            I know a lot of women desire and plan for an unmedicated birth, and that’s great! But drugs, man — they exist for a reason and are fan-freakin’-tastic under the right circumstances.

            The other good thing about epidurals (that I don’t often hear mentioned) is that they don’t affect your mental state. I was able to be 100 percent “present” for my birth, minus the unwanted physical side effects.

          • Jenny

            Agree! I know it’s not the same, but my thought process was if I was in 7/10 -10/10 pain for anything else, I would take pain meds.

          • JR

            I actually felt way more present for my first birth, with an epidural, than I did with my unmedicated second birth. With the epidural, I got to sleep for a few hours, plus I felt generally in control of my body. (I was able to feel to push and also move around in different positions.) With my second, I felt taken over by what was going on with my body. That said, I had a c-section with the first (not because of the epidural – the baby was huge and labor had already stalled before I got the epidural, he was turned funny and just couldn’t fit out) and a VBAC with the second, and who knows what would have happened if I’d changed things up. There are definitely pros and cons either way, but for me, being less present was absolutely not a con for the epidural. (That said, I imagine that, for some, feeling the labor pains is more a part of feeling present than feeling in control/aware of surroundings, which was what it meant to me.)

          • WW

            I was planning on a natural birth and then the reality of the pain set in and I changed my mind. I know the meds vs. no meds thing is very personal, but I had a very positive experience with my epidural too.

            According to my nurses, the pain was causing me to tense up so much that I was actually hindering my own baby’s birth.

          • Jenny

            Agree! I had back labor and I was at a 7/10 pain pretty early on (4cm dilated). My thought going in was that I’d do NO for a while so I could walk around and have an active labor, but I was in such pain I had no interest in walking. Got my epidural and if we hadn’t already had a name picked out, my kid would be Gregory, after the anesthesiologist who gave me the epidural. I was able to watch a movie and sleep some. But still felt the pushing.

          • BSM

            This is kinda my plan wrt NO, but I could foresee switching over to an epidural pretty quickly if necessary. I have had some bad reactions to intravenous drugs in the past, but I guess that’s something to discuss with the anesthesiologist.

            I realize this is A Practical WEDDING, but maybe we could do a pregnancy/childbirth/newborn thread? Hearing everyone’s experiences has been hugely helpful and encouraging.

          • Jenny

            Yeah, it actually took my husband and nurse sort of talking me out of using NO (in the way they should have). The nurse asking why NO, and my husband reminding me that it was because I wanted to be able to have an active, was I feeling up to that (FUCK NO, I was not). It really underscored why it was important to talk about “your birth plan” with your people. I always kind of eyerolled at birth plans because really who is in charge? Babies don’t care about your plans. But when it came down to it, it was helpful to have talked about what we were thinking and most importantly the WHY of those decisions, because it was really my husband knowing why I wanted NO that he could remind me that maybe those reasons no longer applied. One of the things I’m hoping for most in the compact is more of the pregnancy/childbirth/newborn/child rearing/ baby #2/fostering kinds of conversations. Seriously, people with 2 kids, how does the newborn phase work? When I was delirious from sleep deprivation in those early months, I several times thought, how do people do this with a toddler in the mix too?

          • Mary Jo TC

            On newborn + toddler: We did/do a lot of divide and conquer. I took the baby and husband was in charge of the toddler. Also for the first week or so we had my mom and then my dad visit, and my MIL helped some too. The toddler went to his regular childcare during the day while I was on maternity leave, and that was also a lifesaver. And to be honest, TV time doubled or tripled. For us, spacing the kids was essential. They’re almost 3 years apart, so that means the older kid was sleeping well and halfway potty-trained and can play independently sometimes. And he still takes an afternoon nap! There is free public preschool in our city, so we’re only paying for childcare for 2 kids for 1 year.

          • Jenny

            Thanks! Good to know. Yeah, I think spacing is important, we are balancing that with the fact that we started the parenting game a little “late”.

          • Jenny

            I think it’s becoming more and more common. I think it’s over 300 birthing centers/hospitals that offer it now. Which is up from just like 10 3 years ago.

          • Mary Jo TC

            Not all hospitals offer it. Ask about it ahead of time, and maybe choose your hospital accordingly. For me, it was a nice middle ground between epidural and nothing. It’s inhaled, so the effects wear off as soon as you stop breathing it. I’m in the US, and I know that as of 2013 only 2 hospitals in the country offered it. But hopefully that’s changing!

          • BSM

            That’s what I’m looking for! We were originally going to go with a different OB, but I *really* want N2O, so we switched so that I could deliver at one of the few hospitals that offers it.

          • Mary Jo TC

            I hope it works for you! I have heard that some people don’t react well to it. I’m glad you have access to it as an option!

          • SarahRose472

            In the US it’s very uncommon; in the UK it’s pretty much standard, and I believe it’s widely available across Europe although it’s still more common to have epidural. Not sure why it’s not more widespread in the US. One of the nice things about it is that the woman can control her usage and you can also continue to have an active birth (e.g. get up, move around) which isn’t possible with the epidural.

            I live in a country that has it, so probably planning on this as my first choice.

          • Lmba

            Very common in Canada as well.

            Best thing about it is that it leaves your system within 10-15 seconds once you stop using it, so if you don’t like the effects, no problem. And it has no impact on the baby even if you use it right up to delivery.

          • Jenny

            It’s becoming more and more common. If you are freaked out by pain (I was), the epidural was amazing! Highly recommend it!

        • BSM

          OMG, this sounds perfect for me. I’m still going to meet with an anesthesiologist at my hospital (a nice, free service they offer) to discuss all the pain management options, but I’m feeling really good about this choice. Thank you!!

        • Amie Melnychuk

          I am opting for gas, too. It wasn’t an option with my first, and because my first happened so quickly, I don’t get an option of nubain (sp?) this time around.

          Call the Midwife makes the gas look like a miracle worker :)

      • Leah

        I used nitrous during the birth of my son last year. I had an incredibly intense labor – nonstop contractions for ~6 hours – and nitrous did very little to make it hurt less, and certainly nothing to make an emotional difference (since I had no in-between-contractions time to think about my emotional state) but I do think it took just the very edge off the most intense moments, and probably allowed me to continue without an epidural. If nothing else, you have to breathe quite deliberately to activate the valve, so it was useful as a breathing exercise :)

        • BSM

          Good to have another take – thank you! Are you glad you went with nitrous rather than an epidural?

          • Leah

            I am. Mostly because I think not having an epidural allowed me to push more effectively, and change positions while doing so, etc. Totally YMMV, and honestly I think if I’d had a moment between contractions to think about it, I might have opted for the epidural at some point anyway :) But yes, I feel really good about the decision.

      • I used nitrous oxide for my birth in January. I liked it but I found that I basically had to breathe it in constantly in order to get the relief I was looking for. I also had really strong contractions because my baby was posterior (sunny side up) and wasn’t able to fit down the birth canal. I ended up getting an epidural but I’m happy I started with the NOx.

        • BSM

          Super helpful! I could totally foresee doing something like this (starting with nitrous and moving on to an epidural). My mom keeps trying to freak me out about how painful labor will be (I know it will hurt a lot, lol), so I’m having a hard time deciding on what pain management to go with.

          • emilyg25

            I have to say that I really, really wanted a med free birth and did hypno babies and ended up with an epidural and loved it. Based on my research, it has fewer complications compared to other methods and provides more complete relief. I was able to move my legs and feel when to push. I’m still a huge advocate of med free birth for women who want that, but now realize that epidurals aren’t that bad.

          • BSM

            Oh yeah, totally not against getting an epidural. Until nitrous became a real option for me, I was definitely going to go that route, and I may still.

            I feel a little weird because I just don’t have a strong preference for any kind of birth plan (other than I really want to try nitrous, lol). Plenty of time to figure it out, though, and I assume the baby will arrive just fine even if I never come up with something solid.

          • JR

            You totally don’t have to decide now. I went into both births knowing I’d ideally like an unmedicated birth, but not for any clear reason, so I didn’t feel super strongly about it and was open to making a decision in the moment. That ended up meaning an epidural with my first, when labor stalled at 9.5cm (and ultimately a c-section when, after 3 hours of pushing, he still hadn’t entered the birth canal), and an unmedicated VBAC with my second (though I did ask for an epidural at one point, but I was basically at 10 at that point, so I just went with it). Two different scenarios, two different choices, in both cases made in the moment.

          • BSM

            Thanks. That is really reassuring.

            I think my philosophy on it is becoming something like baby is born healthy, I am healthy, and try not to hate/be absent from the experience. Still 6 months to go :)

          • Amie Melnychuk

            Same! My thoughts were, “here is no need to be a hero.” You have options if it gets to be too much or not what you were expecting.

          • Amie Melnychuk

            Hypnobirthing, then adding in whatever pain management you need, is what worked for me on my first. People love to freak you out on how much it hurts and horrible it is. But my mind works better when I know the “Why” of what is happening. Hypnobirthing classes and books really helped me understand more the reasons why things hurt or are moving the way they do, and they teach you how to go with the muscles to relax, much like yoga, to get baby out with as little pain management as needed.

            Also, talk to other, more recent, moms. Moms who went with your midwife/OB/hospital to know more about what to expect. There is a huge range of birth experiences, and we hear more about the rough ones than the good ones.

          • I encourage you to think about a hierarchy of pain management – what do you want to start with and then progress to if you need it? Instead of saying “I don’t want an epidural” I decided to make an epidural my last choice, after laboring the tub & using NOx. For me, it gave me peace when I did get the epidural, cause I didn’t feel like I “gave up” or anything. In the end, I got the birth I wanted and was able to try the methods I wanted, but my birth was unpredictable and an epidural was truly the best choice for us.

          • BSM

            Great framing, thanks.

            We’ve also hired a doula to help us through the pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum period, so I’m hoping she’ll also be able to help jumpstart/guide my thought process on this.

      • Al

        I was induced and used nitrous oxide- it was great! It wasn’t ready until after I had gone through transition (there was some problem with the first tank they brought), so I only got to use it for the first 20 minutes or so of pushing, but it totally took the edge off and really helped me chill out and focus. I also liked yelling into the mask because it muffled the sound. :) I had to drop it at some point when I needed to use both arms to help with pushing (I’m sure you know a big rule is that you have to hold the mask yourself), but would have loved to use it for more of my labor. It was a great alternative to an epidural or other pain meds, in my experience.

      • anonforthis

        I used it during transition (no other medications up to that point) and found it… not very helpful as pain relief. The plus side is it forces you to regulate your breathing a bit. But it just made me dizzy and unable to maintain focus on what my body needed to do.

        After the birth, I had a bad tear and required quite a bit of stitching up. That was horribly painful because the doc was not able to administer freezing to all the areas that needed work. I used the gas during that time to distract/reduce my awareness. I think it helped then, since I didn’t want to focus on what was happening.

  • Kelly

    My jaw dropped reading this, this is such an invasion. I would be PO’d to the nth degree, and I would tell your husband. You don’t have to necessarily take it out on him, but yeah my SO would be Very Aware of my feelings. I would also tell the in-laws, and this may or may not be the right thing to do, but this would affect how much time you and by extension the baby, spend around them, at least until they act like more politely. Actions should have consequences.

  • laddibugg

    I gotta wonder if there’s some PPD that’s not allowing her to move past this–at least with her husband.

    Also, what, if any, were the rules for your family? Maybe his in laws felt slighted (not that you should care, because it’s your legs up in the air or your belly exposed, so it’s your choice who you want in the room. But it could explain some things)

    • WW

      Hi! LW here. My family were given the same requests and they weren’t thrilled with not being allowed in the delivery room (especially my mother) but they ultimately understood and chose to abide by our requests.

      As of this point my husband and I are in a good place with the whole issue, thankfully. But I’m still having trouble getting past it with the in-laws.

      • K. is skittsh about disqus

        It sounds like it was a breach of a trust that was already on shaky ground to begin with. And you’re still newly postpartum! It makes all the sense in the world that it would still be a source of discomfort and even anger for you.

        Really, I think it’s very loving of you to be actively trying to figure out how to forgive or move past it.

        • another prego (former)

          you will continue to move past it the longer your are from the experience. we are almost a year out and I don’t think about it or hold it again anyone any more. getting into these conversations still makes me a bit upset and edgy, but I don’t really think about it around them anymore. now, we just focus on the cute kid and all the fun stuff he is doing!

  • K. is skittsh about disqus

    Family dynamics with a new baby are insanely difficult to manage, even when you have great, perfectly well-meaning in-laws. I’m sure your husband feels that he dealt with it the way it needed to be addressed, but it sounds like you wanted something more definitive and clear which is a totally reasonable request. Especially if you’re seeing years and years of the same kind of boundary crossing but with the greater stake of your daughter at the center of it all. It is totally reasonable to talk to your husband about the best way to avoid this situation in the future and what you need from him. He can disagree and you can both talk about it, but it sounds like you weren’t happy with the outcome here and it’s important to figure out what could have been done differently to prevent this same thing in the future (even if your in-laws will inevitably try to cross boundaries too)

    In my case, I have not only family-cultural differences to contend with, but also cultural-cultural issues. In my MIL’s Latin American country of origin, birth is absolutely seen as a family event. I’m an intensely private person and quite American in my implementation of it. My MIL is going to be very hurt when she realizes that we’re allowing “a stranger” (our doula) to be in the room and not her. And I have to remember that her hurt is coming from a cultural place that is outside my immediate scope of understanding. And I hope she offers me the same courtesy.

    But at the end of the day, even with all the understanding in the world? Boundaries are boundaries. I know she’ll hate it, but I’m also going to be insisting on 3-5 days alone with my husband after we get home from the hospital. I don’t actually feel bad about it, even though I know it will create tension, especially with my MIL feeling like her cultural values are being undermined by my own. However, recovering from birth–as far as I understand as a T-90 days mom–is not only emotionally taxing, but also physically painful and exhausting. Throw in breastfeeding (if that’s your choice), the deep desire to bond with your newborn, and sleep deprivation? You’ve got potential disasters on your hands, especially if you’re a hardcore introvert like me.

    Boundaries are the only way to avoid those disasters (in my case and beyond), especially if you have good give and take in general. You’re not wrong or pushy or lacking empathy for wanting them. Reasonable, clearly established boundaries are kinder and better for relationships overall, even if they sting to implement in the short term.

  • K. is skittsh about disqus

    [Reposting this, because it’s my second comment that’s been “detected as spam” and yanked since I signed up for an account. Is it because I’m too verbose? Or are my stealth “oh shit I want a different, more specific word there” edits my downfall? :p]

    Family dynamics with a new baby are insanely difficult to manage, even when you have great, perfectly well-meaning in-laws. I’m sure your husband feels that he dealt with it the way it needed to be addressed, but it sounds like you wanted something more definitive and clear which is a totally reasonable request. Especially if you’re seeing years and years of the same kind of boundary crossing but with the greater stake of your daughter at the center of it all. It is TOTALLY reasonable to talk to your husband about the best way to avoid this situation in the future and what you need from him. He can disagree and you can both talk about it, but it sounds like you weren’t happy with the outcome here and it’s important to figure out what could have been done differently to prevent this same thing in the future (even if your in-laws will inevitably try to cross boundaries too)

    In my case, I have not only family-cultural differences to contend with, but also cultural-cultural issues. In my MIL’s Latin American country of origin, birth is absolutely seen as a family event. I’m an intensely private person and quite American in my implementation of it. My MIL is going to be very hurt when she realizes that we’re allowing “a stranger” (our doula) to be in the room and not her. And I have to remember that her hurt is coming from a cultural place that is outside my immediate scope of understanding. And I hope she offers me the same courtesy.

    But at the end of the day, even with all the understanding in the world? Boundaries are boundaries. I know she’ll hate it, but I’m also going to be insisting on 3-5 days alone with my husband after we get home from the hospital. I don’t actually feel bad about it, even though I know it will create tension, especially with my MIL feeling like her cultural values are being undermined by my own. However, recovering from birth–as far as I understand as a T-90 days mom–is not only emotionally taxing, but also physically painful and exhausting. Throw in breastfeeding (if that’s your choice), the deep desire to bond with your newborn, and sleep deprivation? You’ve got potential disasters on your hands, especially if you’re a hardcore introvert like me.
    Boundaries are the only way to avoid those disasters (in my case and beyond), especially if you have good give and take in general. You’re not wrong or pushy or lacking empathy for wanting them. Reasonable, clearly established boundaries are kinder and better for relationships overall, even if they sting to implement in the short term.

  • Green

    I’m not sure if I complete agree with “But if we’re being fair, you probably could’ve predicted this, right?” Based on the contents of the letter, it sounds to me like the letter writer was doing everything she could to prevent the situation from happening. The new parents are also pretty newly married, which might make it difficult to predict in-law behavior. So the letter writer’s understanding that an agreement was in place, seems pretty reasonable to me. I second all the comments encouraging a discussion because this is pretty rough and worthy of an apology. Also, congratulations on the birth of your daughter!

    • Ashlah

      As soon as I read that they were going to be in the waiting room two floors away, I was pretty sure they were going to show up in the delivery room. Because why would you go to the hospital just to sit around and get text messages? That said, it was still an agreement that they could have easily stuck with and chose to break. So while I sort of agree that it was a predictable potential outcome, that doesn’t make it any more okay. I agree with you that the letter writer and her husband communicated their expectations well, and it’s totally fair that they believed her in-laws would follow their wishes.

    • WW

      Thank you! She’s perfect. I’m so in love!

  • Kate Stein

    I get it. We told our parents (both sets live out of state) that we would update them by text and that they were welcome to come into town and even stay in our home (since we would be at the hospital), but that it was crucial that they contact us and get the ok before coming to the hospital. We also sent out an email to our extended family, including our parents, asking anyone who wanted to visit the baby to A) make sure they were up-to-date on their vaccines and B) contact us before making plans to come into town.

    My inlaws “surprised” us by showing up at the hospital 4 hours after my son was born. They had the front desk call my room and say there was a flower delivery, did I have someone in the room who could come pick it up? I sent down my husband and he called five minutes later to say that his parents were there and wanted to come up. I was still naked, covered in grime from a 48 hour labor, and I hadn’t yet had a chance to sleep. If we hadn’t been exhausted, we might have handled it differently, but I put on a shirt and pants and they came up. They stayed until my folks arrived (as planned and well-communicated), so I still hadn’t had a shower or nap before my family’s visit.

    We found out later that because my inlaws had decided to come into town at the last minute, they also hadn’t bothered to update their vaccinations.

    Their disregard for our clearly-stated boundaries has definitely affected our relationship, and because I know they don’t believe they did anything wrong, I still feel a lot of hurt and anger over the incident, a year and a half later.

    • Ashlah

      Oh man, that is so disrespectful. Rage.

    • Kelly

      I just feel for you and the LW…I’m having a difficult time understanding why people choose not to respect reasonable requests for something as significant as your time recovering and baby not potentially being exposed to illnesses

    • WW

      I’m so sorry that happened to you! That was such a blatant disregard for your wishes.

      The whole mindset of them not feeling like they did anything wrong absolutely applies to both of us. My in-laws seem to think that because it’s their granddaughter they are entitled to whatever access and information they want. It’s incredibly frustrating.

      • Violet

        I’m not sure if this describes you, but sometimes I have a hard time when I think someone has done something so clearly, obviously, blatantly wrong, and they just don’t see it that way. Even when it doesn’t matter whether they agree with me or not, because what I want carries the day. I could easily see myself in your position, where I technically “won” (I mean, they didn’t make it into the delivery room, your husband enforced the boundary, they did not get what they felt entitled to.) but still harbor a grudge because they didn’t see it that way. It’s not a quality of mine I’m particularly proud of, but it’s often my first reaction until I’m able to process my way through. (Or stop thinking about it enough to finally move on.) If that’s you, too, I don’t have answer for you. But I feel that way sometimes, and it’s hard to shake off.

      • Kate Stein

        I’m sorry that this happened to you, too. Generally I find that Liz’s advice is pretty spot-on with what I would recommend, but I have to say in this situation, the more distance I’ve gotten from the event, the more angry I am about it. We are hoping to have a second kid in the future, and my inlaws will not be welcome any time within several days of that event, even (especially) if they show up at our door.

        It has also impacted my willingness to invite them into other areas of our lives. I’ve had to veto their involvement more than once since then on the grounds that they do not respect our boundaries (note: the birth day event was not the first offense, although it was and remains the most heinous offense.)

        If I were offering advice, it would be stick up for yourself and your boundaries going forward, even if your SO/inlaws don’t understand why you feel so strongly. Use this event to bolster your confidence, if need be. Good luck!

        • Violet

          Hmm, your talking about these repeated offenses has me wondering. Maybe this is why I have trouble moving on when people don’t think what they did was wrong. If they don’t think it was wrong, what’s to stop them doing it over and over? Nothing, probably.

    • Lexipedia

      They basically tricked their way into your hospital room?! Hell no!

      • Kate Stein

        Pretty much. Or at least, they tricked us into being in separate places so we couldn’t discuss how to handle the situation without them.

    • Abby

      I’m sorry this happened to you. And as someone who isn’t yet at the baby-making stage but whose friends and family are starting to be, I want to say thanks for sharing the gritty details. It’s so easy to get caught up in “yay new baby” as an outsider and forget about how rough (though wonderful) the time is on the mother. You’re a champ for getting through it as graciously as it sounds like you did. Hugs!

  • Sarah Porter

    As I do whenever someone reveals their true self to me, but they’re a friend or a relative: take notes, don’t take it personally (even though I always Reaaaaaly want to), and set boundaries so they won’t mess with your mojo in the future. I spent too long being called “emotional” when I got rightfully upset about someone doing me wrong, so setting boundaries and keeping those people at arm’s length was the way to fix this.

  • Violet

    Just a general comment, but as a young kid, I remember hearing in a very vague way about in-law difficulty. I didn’t understand why it was a *thing* so many people dealt with. I miss those naive days….

    • Alli

      Oof, yeah. I do love my in-laws, but they like to film everyone’s births and be there to give advice. Childbirth already scares me, I can’t wait to have to fight off nosy in-laws as well. Hopefully baby-having is still a few years off for me!

      • another prego (former)

        don’t let them and in and definitely don’t let them film it! ew… no! use the nurses to your advantage and tell them that no one else is allowed in! in my experience, they were willing to be the pushy b**** if needed! what do they care? they are not going to see these people again!

      • Jess

        OMG No! Carrying a pregnancy and giving birth already my personal nightmare, but HAVING PEOPLE THERE AND FILMING IT?!

      • Jane

        Yeah – FH and I aren’t even 100% sure we want kids and this post is making me break out in hives.

  • Sarah

    We had similar interactions w/ my in-laws when our daughter was born. They respected our wishes generally when it came to delivery, but after delivery my mother in law crossed some boundaries. We were actually pretty generous with visitors – like, we’d have about 5 people at a time in the room during most of labor (I had an epidural and was just laying there, so what did I care) and during the next 2 days after delivery. We have large families and lots of friends and we were happy to have them share in that moment. BUT, we still have boundaries. When the pediatrician heard a weird murmur and our daughter needed an echocardiogram, we sent everyone out when we got the results. We wanted the space to have our own reactions. My family respected it but my mother in law tried to stay in. When the cardiologist came in we had to be like “mom, LEAVE.” She said “I already know what he’s going to say…” No she effing didn’t. The doctor said the opposite of what she thought, but that is beside the point. Then another time, after a day and a half of horrible struggles with breastfeeding, a lactation consultant finally came in. Finally. I just wanted someone to help me, without judgment or an audience. We told people that. People left. But halfway through my mother in law tried to get back in. Like she just tried to open the door and come in. NOT COOL. Other family members later told me that they had tried to stop her from going in and she didn’t listen. It still bothers me. I’m not sure if this is the “right” response, but my response has been to forgive BUT NOT FORGET. I don’t trust her. It’s a shame, but it’s deserved.

    • LadyJanee

      I think forgive but not forget is definitely the right response.

    • Eh

      My daughter had a tongue tie and some other minor health issues. Nothing to worry about, a few things (heart murmur, umbilical hernia, febrile seizures) that are still being monitored (she’s 20 months). When my daughter was 2 weeks old she had her tongue tie clipped. My MIL found out (probably from my SIL as I was talking to her about breastfeeding) and texted me in the middle of the night (knowing my husband was at work, and I was alone with my newborn) upset that our daughter had “surgery” and that we didn’t tell her. I was livid. It wasn’t “surgery”. The doctor took a pair of scissors and cut a piece of skin – no anesthetic or pain meds and no blood. It wasn’t the huge deal she was made it out to be. We still only tell her what she needs to know about our daughters health. When my daughter has febrile seizure and we don’t tell her (luckily she hasn’t had one in months) because she blows it out of proportion. She is always wanting us to push for the doctors to do more (e.g., not just monitor) even though what she has are fairly common (or at least not harmful) things that she will probably grow out of in a few years.

  • janie

    I just wanted to say it is so funny to me reading these comments that it is all (at least that I have seen anecdotally) in-laws that won’t respect those boundaries, and that the moms seem to be respecting them.

    I don’t have kids, but in the wedding planning process my mom has been very respectful (almost detached) of my boundaries while my future MIL is not (to put it lightly). Don’t know why it is, but I find that interesting.

    • Abby

      I think a lot of it is just that many people are (for the most part) more comfortable with their own families of origin than with their in-laws at moments like this. When I visited the hospital after my sister-in-law had a baby, my in-laws were hovering/crowding the room in a way that made me panic even as an outsider. But she was super happy to have everyone there, because they were her parents, and their being there made her feel safe and cared-for in her vulnerability. Whereas no matter how well you may get along with them, your relationship with your in-laws is an adult- to adult- relationship and that makes it weirder to be vulnerable around them.

      • S

        This! The idea of having my mom, dad, and sister in the room during part of or shortly after birth doesn’t make me nervous. In fact, I think it would make me feel safe and happy. However, I really don’t want my in-laws anywhere near the hospital. Like, I’d rather they come a few days or a week after birth once baby and I are home. I also love the idea of my mom coming to visit for a while post-baby to help me but do not want my MIL there in the same way. On one hand, I feel like I’m allowed to make judgement about family access to me and baby because it will be my kid and I’m the one birthing it. On the other hand, I feel like making everything equal is the best way to avoid conflict.

        • Abby

          “Who am I comfortable seeing me x hours after labor” is definitely 100% your call as the one giving birth, and hopefully you and your partner can be on the same page with those boundaries being your call. Once recovered from the ordeal of birth, though, I’d tread very carefully with the “it’s my kid because I birthed it” line of thinking, especially if your partner is an involved and loving parent. I don’t think equality in terms of which relatives are first in line matters so much as making sure all (reasonably well-behaved, respectful, vaccinated) family members are accommodated in a way and on a timeline that feels fair to both you and your partner.

          • Laura C

            The way I thought of it was that it was my call as long as we were functionally talking about my body — pregnancy, labor, and immediately after delivery.

          • Abby

            Absolutely. Who gets to touch your belly? Who gets to know the details of your labor? Who gets to see you before you’ve slept/showered/eaten/left the hospital? All 100% your call.

        • Different S

          To me this also ties into the fact that after birth it becomes all about the baby and it seems like some people forget about the mother as being more than just the way the baby came to happen, but also a human being. Like, for instance, I think a lot of the same In-Laws who struggle with birth boundaries would generally be fine with their daughter in law’s parents being the only ones visiting her in hospital shortly after a different surgery/serious medical event, because when you’re sick and in pain and/or have been through something Big and Traumatic of course you want your mother there and maybe not your in laws. But suddenly when it’s birth they forget about that aspect and it’s like, “Why do HER parents get to be involved? We’re grandparents too!” Your daughter-in-law is more than the vessel that brought your grandchild into being. She’s a human being who gets scared and feels vulnerable and maybe doesn’t like people who aren’t her immediate family being around her when she’s feeling fragile or in pain or awkward or learning how to do something new. She’s a person who deserves medical privacy and maybe she just wants her mum and dad. You have the rest of your lives to be equal grandparents. I don’t know, I just feel like In-Laws who are concerned with everything in the hospital being “equal” are missing the part of the equation where the new mother is still just a person, and if someone wants to deny me my humanity, I’m not jumping through hoops for them.

          • WW

            Yes! The closer I got to having my daughter the less my in-laws seemed to care about me as an individual. They would ask deeply personal questions and then balk when my husband and I refused to answer them, citing my preference for privacy. Their response? “We aren’t asking about you, we just want to know about the baby.”

          • Solidarity

            There are so many similarities here that I really wish I could bring you some post-partum snacks and commiserate in solidarity with you. There is a lot that we will do differently with baby #2 based on how people behaved with baby #1, and if they have a problem with it I have NO problem sharing that it’s because of xyz during the first pregnancy. I will say that it has become much easier to set boundries. And my husband and I discuss a lot more hypotheticals before we tell his parents things, like well if they respond like this how would be feel, what about like this, what would be do if even though we’ve said this they do this. I think we’ve both evolved in how we handle them, my husband has gotten much more forceful, and better about talking to me about things involving them early so it’s not trying to solve/walk some thing back, but more prevention. and I’ve gotten better (I think?) at remembering that these are his family, and even when they do shitty stuff he still loves them, just like I do when my mom messes up. Best case scenario this is something only related to grandchildren, but even if it’s not (like our wasn’t), I think a silver lining is that we’ve gotten a lot better about talking about stuff, dealing with stuff as a united front, and foreseeing and heading off problems.

          • WW

            Thanks! Yes, it seems like our situations are super similar. I think I’ll use some of your tactics for dealing with your in-laws. Especially discussing hypotheticals and figuring out how we want to respond to their reactions/requests before the fact.

          • solidarity

            For us, it also helped that my husband started going to therapy. It sounds like maybe it’s not a big issue for you, but it really took a third party for him to understand that his mom was being manipulative/insanely unsupportive under the guise of worrying and lots of guilt to go with it. Once this clicked, I could start pointing things out like, it’s not normal for her to promise to pay for let’s say a crib, choose to throw a baby shower that neither of us wanted or could attend, and then right before the crib is suppose to be delivered and set up claim that the won’t be buying a crib because they threw “us” a party instead. Leaving us to pay for a crib, and figure it out when we weren’t expecting to. (this hypothetical is actually much less crazy than what actually happened, but because of anonymity, I’ve changed some details. ) Anyway. It has helped to have him understand and be frustrated about some of the things as well, but I also make sure I vent a lot of my frustrations to 2 close friends. I’ve sent them several Holy shit, you are not going to believe this messages to them, which means i’m a little more likely to be pragmatic rather than furious by the time I discuss it with my husband.

        • Eh

          My mother passed away when I was a teenager so my MIL offered to stay with us after our daughter was born. I said I didn’t know if we needed help but we would call if we did. I can’t imagine my MIL staying with us. I would not be comfortable at all. We had a lot of issues breastfeeding and that’s not exactly something I want to talk to my MIL about. She also isn’t all that great at visiting people after they have a baby. She doesn’t help (e.g., clean or make food), holds the baby all the time, expects to be entertained (when the new mom probably wants to be sleeping) and outstays her welcome.

      • Laura C

        I think it’s also that we’re more likely to have a similar sense of boundaries to our own parents/know how to enforce those better and not be working through the intermediary of our partner. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted my parents there — and they didn’t even want to know I was in labor until after the baby was born. I grew up hearing the story of how it just so happened my grandmother was in town when my mother was in labor with me and my uncle had to distract her all day and not let her know anything was happening. But my MIL has very different assumptions about how it all should go down, so we were just coming from incredibly different places as far as what we’d want or expect.

      • Yes! I have no problems with my parents coming to stay with us and the baby, because I can tell them that they’re driving me bonkers and not feel like I’m going to hurt their feelings. I don’t feel like I can be that direct with my in-laws.

    • emilyg25

      I think it’s a combination of feeling less comfortable with in-laws and the fact that your partner is the one dealing with them and is also not dealing with being pregnant, so might not realize how intrusive certain behaviors can be.

    • Eh

      I agree with the others that say it has to do with how comfortable you are with your parents vs your inlaws, but I think it to some extent (at least in the case of my MIL) has to do with the fact that MILs feel less connected because of traditional roles/stereotypes and because the wife is closer to her family she feels like she is missing out so she pushes harder and crosses boundaries. My MIL has two boys and no girls. Her sons do no communicate well. She is traditional and believes that the wife is the social convener (which is not true in either of her son’s relationships). My family lives 8 hours away so we don’t see them much (and I’m not big on talking on the phone, we do text though). My inlaws live an hour away. We spend all holidays with them. My MIL feels like we keep things from her. The thing is, we tell her more than we tell my family (since we don’t talk much). She tries to pry because she feels she’s missing out.

  • Amanda

    I have legit zero experience in this matter. But I bet, in addition to what has already been said, this is one of those things where forgiving and forgetting can be helped along with a little dishing about your frustrations with a girlfriend. Maybe it feels better to just let it out here too. I mean, sometimes talking in circles about something is bad. But sometimes, you’re trying to be good by keeping it in, and it’s just better to say it to someone who’s not involved.

  • Rachael

    Yeah, I have a lot of feelings about this.

    My husband and I tried for many years to have a baby. It was hell. I gave absolutely zero fucks what anybody else’s expectations were about birth. That belonged to my husband and I, and no one else. And I have unmedicated births, so even more reason to not have any distractions. We don’t tell anyone when labor begins, and don’t allow visitors until 2 weeks postpartum when my husband goes back to work. That is time for us to bond as a family.

    Do our families complain? Yeah. But they aren’t the one pushing a human out of their vagina and having a (essentially) giant hemorrhage afterwards. They can wait. Babies don’t spoil.

    As for the LW, I would have a hard time being around my in laws after that kind of behavior, too. I would be very cautious around them now and have even firmer boundaries so that poor behavior isn’t rewarded. We teach people how to treat us, after all. I will say I’m glad your husband protected you in the moment, though. That makes a huge difference.

  • I can so feel this. My father in law is a doctor so feels like he knows everything. When I was pregnant there was a lot of judgment and making fun of me about wanting a natural birth center birth. Then they all showed up during the labor while my husband was gone (I was emergency induced and spent about three days in labor and my husband came and went until the last six hours-another issue altogether) and stayed two hours. Even with the induction I still did the birth without pain meds, which I feel like a warrior for, and when I mentioned once that I owed that to my prenatal yoga classes my father in law said yoga didn’t seem to be helping me while they were there and he was the one who taught me how to breathe when he called himself coaching me for a few minutes. On top of all that we had to live with them a few months after the baby came home from NICU because of a safety issue in our building and it was like I had to fight for my child that I already had to watch nurses take care of for a month. if I was holding him my father-in-law would say, “Is he eating,” and if I wasn’t nursing at that moment he would literally pull him out of my arms. After we came home, he would show up, unannounced almost everyday and butt in on everything, trying to “help”. They bought the baby a walker though physical therapist said he shouldn’t use one which I told them repeatedly, bought him Similac though I was nursing and supplementing with organic formula…the list goes on. My child has medical issues so my father-in-law has been extremely over-involved, to the point of calling and talking to surgeons directly, yelling at us about choices that we make involving his care, offering the same unsolicited advice over and over again, calling and texting three times a day to check on him-its crazy. I have started speaking up when he oversteps and ignoring excessive phone calls and my in-laws attitude towards me has completely changed in response. But that’s what you have to do. With pushy, entitled people there is no compromise possible. You have to draw lines and learn to not care about people approving and being happy. This is really hard with in-laws, who you don’t have the comfort level and unconditional love that you do with your own family. I find that a lot of people I know are so sweet and tentative and wanting approval from their in-laws during dating and marriage, like you’re auditioning to be fully a part of their family. But when the babies come, that shit shuts down. I have a lot of anger towards my father-in-law that I often feel guilty about, because he does love his grandchild so much and in his mind, he is only helping and trying to support us. And there are times when, medically, his insight can be helpful. But feeling like someone does not care about your boundaries or your feelings and that there is not much you can do about it, even when its the smaller thing, it’s so grating and invasive and just gives you a generally bad feeling about that person. Once that energy has been created it’s so hard to get past. Vent sessions with friends seem to only make me madder, I’ve had to take the issue up in my therapy.

  • Yet another Meg

    Oh my goodness, that sounds terrible! I know they didn’t make it into the room, but that still had to be super frustrating.

    I’m due with the first grandchild in just a couple of months, and I’m a little concerned about something similar…except I’m worried about it being my mother, which makes it even worse. She’s already mentioned several times about wanting to be in the room. On the one hand, it’s my mom which would be nice…on the other hand, my mother has very definitive views on how the world should work ( the way she wants it too) which means the moment my labour doesn’t go the way she thinks it should ( ie exactly like she has retroactively decided hers went) it will not be so great. She’s also announced that she plans on waiting at the hospital once I go into labour ( why I don’t know since my parents live 5 minutes from the hospital). I can total see her trying to insist on getting to see ( and hold!) the baby as soon as we tell them s/he’s arrived because “I’m the grandmother” and generally being a bit of a nightmare. Setting boundaries is pretty impossible because if they don’t fit with how she wants things to go it’s like you’ve never said anything…anyway, we’ll see how things go I guess. I suspect there will be a lot of plotting with my dad and brother to keep things in check.

    My in-laws on the other hand are great, and I more or less expect to show up whenever we tell them they can (there is a possibility they may not even be in town for the birth, even though we all live in the same city)

    TLDR: LW that sucks and I’m sorry it happened. I’m worried about something similar and hope you can get past it eventually.

    • LadyJanee

      This is exactly how I expect my mum to be when I eventually have a baby – though she lives 3 hours away and so thankfully won’t be able to just zip over to the hospital!

    • zana

      …just don’t notify her until after the baby is already born? “Oh, we just got so caught up in the moment, we couldn’t contact anyone!”…if she says anything.

      • Eh

        She may not believe her (my MIL insists we had time to call her while we were driving to the hospital and my contractions were every 2 mins) but at that point it’s already done. Someone told me that the distraction of the new baby helps the mother/MIL to forget. I was really hoping that would work for us but it didn’t (and the crazy birth story didn’t help either).

    • Amy March

      Setting boundaries in this situation is easy. Don’t call her until the baby is born and you are ready for her to barge in.

    • We called my parents when we went to the hospital, but they live 3 hours away and we wanted them to come up in the morning (I went in at 8pm) to let our dog out. :D

      We didn’t tell anyone else until after she arrived (and took joy in waking them in the middle of the night, because she was born just before midnight). More importantly, our hospital had a form we could sign that said they wouldn’t tell anyone we were there. So I signed it, just in case anyone showed up early. That meant they couldn’t even tell my husband if I got moved to another room, but also meant they wouldn’t give out my location to well meaning but overbearing family.

  • Laura

    Thank you for taking this question. I have a very similar experience, but with my own mother, and she did barge in seconds after my son was born. She took pictures of me completely naked, and acted like she was doing us a favour. She did all this, despite the fact that I had said from the get go that my partner and I would be the only ones present at the birth. I confronted her about it, probably too early, at 10 days post-partum on the anniversary of my father’s death (bad timing, I know). Since then, I was able to forgive her, but that’s not to say it came easy. I tried my best to see things from her perspective, which is even though she was not respecting me or my wishes, she was acting out of love. I also allowed time to heal the wound. But it did take a long time. Birth is so emotionally charged, and we attach so many expectations to it. This makes disappointment very hard to let go. It sounds like if you communicate openly with your in laws you may also be able to let time heal your hurts. But your hurts are very real, and justified. I hope you find peace. Good luck.

  • Sara

    This is so awful, and I’m so sorry it happened to you, LW. Your in-laws do not seem to respect you as a person, let alone as a family member – you seem to be just a woman your husband married to be his baby vector. I do hope that your husband learned as much from this experience as you did and will cut these types of situations off at the onset before anything ever goes this far again.

  • Pingback: How Do I Forgive My In-Laws for Trying to Crash My Kid’s Birth? | Wedding Adviser()

  • Megan

    Man, I feel for you LW. Boundaries are HARD, but I feel like, especially when it comes to in-laws and babies, there is also this air of entitlement. It’s like a territory war – they feel like it’s THEIR grandchild and have so much hope and excitement that they literally take a bulldozer over the established boundaries. There’s also something to be said for parents who can’t acknowledge their grown children as capable, autonomous adults.

    I think it’s worth a conversation because – knowing me and my experience with my boundary bulldozing in-laws – just dealing with the feelings can breed resentment and create a lot of animosity going forward (why would you ever want to invite them to anything/be around if they’re not going respect your wishes with something as big as this?). At least you can lay your hurt and frustrations out and see where they fall on the issue – can be introspective and recognize their mistake or will they act defensive and entitled. At the end of the day, they’re not entitled to anything in your lives and if they want to be part of this new life, they need to show that they can own their mistake and be willing to respect boundaries going forward.

  • Ugh. We didn’t tell my in-laws until after our babe was born, but I also signed a form when I checked in that said the hospital wouldn’t even tell anyone I was there. So maybe other hospitals have this? That way, our family had to call us and ask the room number, so they could find us.

    I don’t have any advice for dealing with it, but I think Liz’s advice is good – it takes time to get over things like this (it took me years to get over the hurtful things my MIL (unintentionally?) said to me at our rehearsal dinner) and I wouldn’t rush it. Just enjoy snuggling that baby, and have your husband run interference.

    • Eh

      I’m not sure about signing something that said the hospital wouldn’t tell anyone I was there, but in the package of registration papers there was a visitor list section (split up but time/location, e.g., during labour, during delivery, right after delivery, while in Mom & Baby unit) and the hospital was serious about enforcing it. The only people allowed in before we were in the Mom & Baby unit were my husband and a friend (who was supposed to be there to support my husband – but do to unforeseen circumstance she was unable to make it). So even if my inlaws had found out that we were in the hospital they wouldn’t have been allowed in to see us.

  • z

    Sigh. This is so unfortunate. I wish I didn’t have to say this, but you can NOT trust them. It sounds like they just aren’t able to make good decisions regarding what they want vs. your role as parents.

    Be on your guard about safe sleep and car seat rules. Sometimes older people are genuinely ignorant of the changes in this area, and sometimes they just don’t care. The first time I let my mom watch my daughter at 1 week old, she put her down to nap on the couch, which is so not okay. When I woke up and realized my daughter’s safety had been jeopardized, I was unable to relax enough to nap again until my mom read a SIDS pamphlet and apologized. My dad, the first time, let her nap on an adult bed– he thought checking on her every 15 minutes would prevent SIDS. How that makes any sense, I do not know. Then he got all huffy when I told him that SIDS research has come a long way since the 70s. He was not sorry, and it has really colored our relationship. His indifference to safety and lack of respect for me as a parent is a huge disappointment.

    • Eh

      My inlaws think that the new guidelines are too complicated. And that fact that we use different guidelines than my BIL/SIL did a few years ago with their youngest confuses them (most of the guidelines we use were new when my niece was born but my BIL/SIL used the guidelines from when their older daughters were born). For example, my niece was forward facing as soon as she met the legal guideline (there is a doctor where they live that believes that rear-facing is dangerous so he advises all her patients to change them ASAP). My daughter is 20 months and still rear-facing – my FIL has made comments (she doesn’t look comfy, I can’t see her, it’s too difficult to install or to put her in). My daughter did BLW and it terrified my inlaws. My inlaws complained that we always had other people babysit and that they wanted to but I couldn’t leave my daughter alone with someone who was scared to feed her. Even when she was 10 to 12 months old (an age where infant traditionally are eating pieces of food and not just purees) my inlaws were scared to feed her. I remember my SIL’s biggest (safety) fight with our inlaws was that they had to use bottled water (which my BIL/SIL provided) to make bottles of formula because my inlaws have well water (I’m not 100% sure the reason but she explained what was in the well water that was the problem – since my daughter was EBF I never looked into this). My inlaws commented that they raised their sons there and they were fine (note: they moved to that house after the boys were done drinking formula).

  • Eh

    When I was pregnant my MIL made a comment about being at the hospital during the birth (not in the room, in the waiting room, seeing our daughter shortly after she was born), and I responded with a comment back that there was no point waiting in the waiting room for hours while I was in labour so we’d call them after the baby was born. She was not happy with that but we stood our ground. My inlaws live an hour away so I could see them camping out in the waiting room so they could be there right when our daughter was born and see her as soon as we would let them. They are also selfish, invasive and distract my husband so they probably would text him or call him and we didn’t need that. Plus how boring would it to be in a hospital waiting room for hours upon hours waiting for a baby to be born (first labours are usually long – or so I hear). My SIL had a C-section (at a hospital 15 minutes from where my in-laws live) so my inlaws knew exactly when they should show up.

    Anyways, I went into labour at 6:25pm and my daughter was born at 9:18pm the same day (*please don’t kill me*). We didn’t get settled on the Mom & Baby unit until close to midnight and we hadn’t had supper so we ordered pizza and got some rest/sleep. We called our parents early the next morning (we had texted a few people earlier). My in-laws drove up right away to see us. My MIL questioned why we waited so long to call them. My husband mentioned that we didn’t have supper until 1am and then we wanted to sleep, and it wasn’t like they were going to drive up in the middle of the night anyways so there was no point in calling them earlier (ok so my inlaws probably would have wanted to drive up in the middle of the night but we wanted the rest). She claimed we agreed to text her (this was down from her original request that we call her) on our way to the hospital. This was after she heard that my labour was less than 3 hours. I flat out asked when we had time. She said when we were driving – it’s a 30 minute drive from our house to the hospital and I was having contractions every 2 minutes and they were lasting at least one minute. She still felt that we could have texted her.

  • spinning2heads

    In general this is good advice, wait it out, it’ll get less intense, etc. But I disagree on the “don’t talk to your husband” portion of this. Talk! Community support and lots of processing are the antidotes to the baby blues (at least when below the medication level of concern). Talk to friends, talk to your parents(iif you know they’ll be supportive), and please talk to your husband. Explain that your feelings are completely yours and you need him to listen. Explain that you’ll listen to his. Talk about how you’ll handle this next time if you’re planning more (tip: make the in-laws take care of the older-sibling to be, at home), and how you’ll handle this type of request next time even if you’re not planning more children (tip: expect them to try to cross boundaries again). Talk and talk and talk and talk. And love on your baby and trade naps where the other parent takes the baby for a while on the weekends, and muddle through together. You’e got this.

  • anonforthis

    Hey LW,

    I’m super late to the party on this one, but if you do come back and read comments, I wanted to chime in and let you know that I had a very similar experience and I totally get you.

    My MIL actually (without my or my husband’s knowledge) had ASSUMED that she would be attending the birth. Which, nope. She was hurt when we revealed our plan to have a doula attend and no other relatives, but she thought about it for a bit, and then more-or-less got over it.

    Fast forward to the actual labour. I’d been in hospital since about 1 AM. MIL happens to work at the same hospital, though in an entirely different wing. Hospital has a policy of only allowing 2 attendants at births (my husband and my doula, in our case). Around 9 AM or so, MIL, wearing her work clothes and hospital-issue name tag/headset was able to casually breeze past security at the L&D entrance, and actually came into our room where I was in the transition stage of labour. Her excuse/reason for coming was to deliver a bag of snacks that she had prepared for us. Fortunately, I didn’t see her come in, and my husband so VERY quickly ushered her out, so I was unaware of this breach until a few days later. Still, I was incredibly angry. So very very very angry. It’s actually still a bit upsetting to think about four years later. It was completely inappropriate and a violation of trust for her to go against my wishes and just let herself in to the most intense, personal and difficult experience of my life up to that point. NOT OKAY. Also, yeah, she is just kindof like that. She hates to be left out of things, she always wants to kindof ‘over-help’ with unnecessary fussing (snacks, gifts, etc.), and has a limited understanding of boundaries. That’s just who she is. What she did is outrageous and also not surprising. She’s not a bad person. She’s just who she is.

    So I KNOW all of this in my head. But, like, actually getting over it on an emotional/visceral level? That was a process. Like, a years-long process. What happens in and around your birthing experience goes to a level way beyond what we expect. WAY beyond. My MIL gave us all kinds of support when we had our baby, but there were a couple of key ways that I felt *unsupported* by her (the 11th hour barging into L&D was one of them, but there were a few others as well). None of these things were intended by her to be hurtful. But my goodness, it took me forever to stop having that “I need to cut this person out of my life and never see them again because I am so upset and betrayed” feeling. It’s hard. It will heal eventually if you let it. Don’t rush yourself. Just try your best to not actually be a jerk while you ride out the painful feelings; you won’t have them forever.

    Much love. I get it.

  • Noraa

    This is an old post but I hope you read my response. My in-laws called me from the airport, 16 hours into my labor (16 more to go…yeah, 32 hours total it took to bring my son into this world). They called to see how I was doing while boarding an airplane to go on vacation. Now, THIS is not the feeling you want to live with. No matter how much I pray I just am not able to forgive them. I think this hurt is something I will be thinking about on my death bed, that’s how deep the wound is that they left on my heart and soul. I would love it if my husband’s parents did what your husband’s parents did (considering that they are the only family I have here, I had a wonderful relationship with them before, I did not go into labor prematurely, I am almost 40 so it was a risky pregnancy, I was just a few minutes away from a c-section, and did I mention that the rest of the family (brother with his family, and sister) also thought it was the season when vacation was more important than being in the hospital for help, support and to share our joy? Yeah….). Trust me, you are one LUCKY woman to be married in to this family. I wish you many blessings <3