Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My In-Laws Want to Ruin the First Week of My Baby’s Life”

Sad pregnant woman

My husband and I are expecting our first child in a couple of months (on Thanksgiving), and we are having some issues with my in-laws that I’m hoping you can help me with. My in-laws live out of state, and they are planning on coming into town to visit when the baby is born. I’m a pretty private person, and they can be very overwhelming. We’ve asked both families (mine is out of state as well) to please give us the first week to ourselves before coming to visit, in order to give us time to adjust and experience our new family without having to immediately start playing host.

His parents basically told us that they are going to come up for Thanksgiving anyway, because it is convenient for them and it’d be too difficult to come any other time (they are taking a month-long international vacation over Christmas). Essentially, it’s a “we don’t care what you want or need, we are doing what we want anyway” kind of situation. Both my husband and I are furious at this reaction, and my anxiety levels are through the roof. His dad has a tendency to lean in VERY CLOSE when he is talking to you (think inches away from your face), and his mom is the type of person to snatch things out of your hands if she wants them… I can guarantee that this will include my newborn child. We live in a very small apartment, and, if we tell them, “Okay, stop by for 30 minutes, but when its time to nurse/put the baby down we need you to leave,” they absolutely will not respect that request.

I don’t know how to handle this. I’m concerned about starting a huge family feud, but I also feel absolutely terrible for the position my husband is in. They are his parents, he understandably wants them to meet his child, and he doesn’t want to have a huge confrontation over their complete lack of disregard for our wishes. But I have incredible anxiety at the thought of his parents descending on our hospital room uninvited, refusing to give me privacy while breastfeeding, or snatching my baby out of my arms. Any advice on how to handle this?? I feel like I’m walking a fine line between protecting my own mental health, taking care of my new little family and standing up for our needs, and not making things even harder for my husband than they already are. – Anxious New Mom-to-Be

First of all, congratulations on your baby-to-be. This is the start of a wonderfully exciting and bone-tiring life-long adventure that will be filled with an abundance of love, joy, and, yes, lots of anxiety and tension. Get used to it. I guarantee this won’t be the last time you feel your boundaries are being tested and your privacy being encroached upon. Having a baby and being a parent strips your autonomy and disrupts any sense of control you might have felt (and needed) before. What’s that old saying? “You plan, and God laughs”? Well, there is a lot of laughing when one becomes a parent.

Here’s maybe one of the biggest laughs of all to your plans: that due date you’ve been counting down to? It’s pretty meaningless. You could have your baby two weeks past then or two weeks before. And, hell, people have preemie babies all the time. I mean, talk about really disrupting your plans! My point is, your in-laws could come at Thanksgiving, and there might not even be a baby yet for them to snatch from your arms. Or, you may have already had that week you want after the birth. There’s really no telling, and since your in-laws say Thanksgiving is when they can come and that’s what they’re going to do no matter how much you don’t want them to, what’s the point in fighting them? Especially if it may cause a huge family feud at a time when you want anything BUT added stress? You’d be fighting them for a week of time that, at this point, is arbitrary. I say let it go and hope that timing is on your side.

Hope that timing is on your side and come up with some back-up plans in case it isn’t. (You’ll be making a LOT of back-up plans, and a lot of last-minute plans, over the next 18+ years.). You can’t control when your in-laws come to your town, but you can control when you let them in your house (and certainly when they come to your hospital room, which is as simple as telling the nurses not to allow any guests). If you aren’t ready for them to come over yet, tell them you have doctor’s orders to keep your baby “quarantined” for a few days to protect her from germs. Tell them you were only allowed to leave the hospital if you promised to avoid the public, including extended family, for a week. Or, if you think they won’t buy that, tell them they can’t come to your house because it’s much too messy but you’ll bring the baby to their hotel. And then bring the baby to their hotel for 45 minutes (you’ll be bringing the baby out in that first week to go to the pediatrician’s office, fyi, so you already won’t be 100% house-bound). That way, you can leave when you’re ready.

If you simply cannot avoid having your in-laws at your house for longer than 45 minutes, take your baby to your room and lock the door and only come out between feedings to let your in-laws see their new grandchild. You’ll be nursing around-the-clock in those early weeks (I’m assuming you’ll be nursing since you mention breastfeeding, but even that is something you don’t have total control over…) and, truthfully, there won’t be a lot of time for anyone else to hold the baby anyway. You can bring the baby out for 30 minutes to be held and then take her back to your room, lock the door, and enjoy your privacy.

Finally, we’re talking about a few days here, right? A few days that may or may not fall in your first week of parenthood. And you’re so wound up about protecting your space which, again, may not yet even include a baby, that you’re concerned about starting a huge family feud over it? Look, I know how crazy the pregnancy hormones can make you feel, and I know how overwhelming the thoughts of first-time parenthood are. I know those early days as a new mother are so precious and it’s natural to want to protect that time and keep it as free from intrusion as you can. But I also know what the reality of all of this is. I know what the other side looks like and feels like. And I know that parenthood is nothing if not a very long exercise in sacrifice. You sacrifice your time, your energy, your own wants, and often your own needs. Most of all, you sacrifice your plans and fantasies of life with a baby or young child for the stark realities of that life — including a stunning lack of sleep (and privacy!) — and you do that over and over and over. And as you do that, you continue re-adjusting your boundaries and learning what your true deal-breakers are. You continue re-calculating and fine-tuning your needs, re-charging your batteries in the tiny pockets of time you find to breathe deeply, even if that means shutting and locking your door to the outside world for five minutes.

In short: In the coming years, you will be faced with many, many potential battles over what you want. I suggest you pick the ones that are really important to you and let the others go. It’s hard to know now what could be more important than the first week at home with your new baby, but, if you can manage to avoid a “huge family feud,” you will have more leverage in the future when the stakes might be higher and you won’t have doctor’s orders as an excuse or the explanation of breast-feeding to lock yourself in your bedroom and shut yourself off from the rest of the world for an hour at a time.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

57 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Anon September 28, 2015, 8:24 am

    I don’t think your in-laws will expect you to play host. I don’t know them obviously, but I think their visit could be a blessing. They will be able to help cook dinner and clean the house for you as needed.
    .
    I do not have kids, but a lot of my friends and coworkers do. They’ve all had in-laws and parents take turns staying with them for the first few weeks to help them get accustomed to the new baby and not one of them mentioned having to play host. It was the other way around and the new grandparents were elated to help with house hold chores.

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    • avatar

      lindsaybob September 28, 2015, 8:33 am

      I don’t think we can assume that the LW’s in-laws will be the way you describe. She knows them and presumably wouldn’t be so anxious if that was the kind of behaviour she thought she could expect. My parents were wonderful when my son was born and took care of all the chores for us, but I had two friends who both had babies around the same time as me and were terribly disappointed by their parents, who expected to do nothing more than hold the baby and be waited on. One of my friends was told not to drive for six weeks after a traumatic labour that ended with an emergency c-section, but had to drive after two weeks because her father came to stay and basically demanded to be driven around, cooked for and generally looked after.

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      • avatar

        AmyP September 28, 2015, 10:11 am

        Exactly.

        There’s huge variation in grandparent expectations.

        If the LW is concerned about being expect to host and wait on her in-laws, she probably has reason for those concerns.

        I’ve had a certain amount of experience with the “I will hold the baby for you” type grandparents. It was actually GREAT when we had a toddler around, but when it’s your first baby and you want to hold him or her, it can be annoying and a little sad.

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      • avatar

        Anon September 28, 2015, 11:31 am

        I see your point. And I didn’t mean to make it seem like all grandparents first visits would be awesome, just giving an idea that maybe she won’t have to host. It didn’t seem like that had even crossed her mind.

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    • Portia

      Portia September 28, 2015, 8:43 am

      It *really* depends on the parents. And setting up that expectation can be dangerous too and lead to laying damage to the relationship. When my future SIL had her second baby (so presumably she knew what she would be getting into), her mom came to stay for a week to help out with the 2-year-old. It got so bad that she left within a few days and visits ever since have been very different. Sometimes having parents/in-laws around can be a blessing (my own grandma was a shining example of this), but it can have lifelong consequences for those relationships if not. Not to scare anyone, but you have to go in with eyes open and without wishful thinking.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover September 28, 2015, 9:09 am

      Personally I find it stressful to have someone else do my chores for me. If my mom does it I’m ok, but other than that I really don’t like it. When my MIL came over she did want to help out, and she cleaned our kitchen and stuff, but I feel like it’s more work for me to tell her where everything is, where we put things, etc (she asks those questions, I don’t go in and tell her what to do btw). I’d rather she just relax and do nothing than help. But she won’t. 🙂

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    • avatar

      SasLinna September 28, 2015, 9:25 am

      Even if they could help her, this LW simply does not want them to visit at that vulnerable time. And that’s a completely reasonable preference to have, and they have already communicated it. Ignoring that and showing up anyway is incredibly rude.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous September 28, 2015, 10:46 pm

        It is rude but it is going to happen. So what can she do about it? Wendy’s advice is spot on

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      • avatar

        SasLinna September 30, 2015, 4:00 am

        LW confirms below that her husband hasn’t explicitly said no to the parents’ visit yet. There’s a chance that the parents won’t come if they receive a more explicit no.

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  • avatar

    Tanya September 28, 2015, 8:40 am

    One more piece of advice – these are your husband’s parents, not yours. He is the one who should be dealing with them, not you. You two have to agree on an action plan and then just let your husband manage his parents. You shouldn’t have to feel all this anxiety at what is supposed to be such a happy time…relax and enjoy your last days as a child-free couple. And when the time comes, if you still feel the same way (as hormones can change everything), let your husband be the one to speak up for his new family while you are at your weakest point.

    Plus, I don’t think anyone would expect a new mother to play hostess….

    Best of luck with your birth!

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie September 28, 2015, 8:49 am

    Your husband is going to have to block and tackle for you. And by that I mean physically step between you and his parents and gently redirect them to the couch or kitchen away from you. That will help with the close leaning and baby snatching. Not in a threatening way but in a protective dad way. LIke when someone is bothering you at a bar and your girlfriend just edges that person out of the frame. He needs to redirect his parents – like you would with a toddler.

    When it’s time for you to nurse, he should walk you to your room, following closely – basically he gets to play body guard, defensive lineman, He should carry the baby to his mother – direct her to sit, hand her the baby and then pick the baby back up and walk with it to your room after a half hour or so. It sounds ridiculous but it will keep the parents at a healthy distance and eliminate any perceived snatching (you taking baby back) from the folks from crazy-town.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse September 28, 2015, 8:51 am

      This is exactly what should happen!

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    • avatar

      SasLinna September 28, 2015, 9:28 am

      See, I think that’s exactly what’s problematic about not shutting this down immediately. Once they’re in town and come to the apartment, he’ll need to physically interfere, which is pretty drastic. If, in contrast, he gets up the courage to give an extremely clear “no” right now, then all of this stressful stuff won’t need to happen in the first place. There’s a strong chance they won’t come if he gives a firmer “no”.

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      • avatar

        eelliinnss September 28, 2015, 10:43 am

        Agree… In a perfect world the blocking and helpful bodyguard thing would be a great way to go about it. But the odds that the husband’s timing will be perfect, and that the parents won’t push back are just too small. With polite, non-intrusive parents this would work better, but then you wouldn’t need to use this method anyway.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie September 28, 2015, 11:42 am

        Ok not to get snarky here but I wasn’t assuming that the husband would just act like a silverback gorilla and grunt at his parents – of course the husband should be using words and being vocal. But stubborn people are just that: Stubborn. They don’t listen, they think they know what’s best, what’s right, what ever. So the new dad says “You’re welcome to come over now until x pm.” When the parental units get there he says “Come sit. When LW feeds, she wants privacy. I’ll see if the baby isn’t eating right now.” When the mother tries to barge in to the bedroom – the husband physically but gently blocks her and says “No Ma, go sit on the couch. If the baby isn’t feeding, I’ll bring it out. I need you to respect my family’s privacy during feeding right now.” Those gentle but clearly physical barriers are the companion to the words. When you put up a physical barrier it lends emphasis to the words. Words without physicality will be ignored by the obnoxious. Physicality without words will be threatening (and weird).

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      • avatar

        SasLinna September 28, 2015, 12:04 pm

        If they actually do visit, I agree that your suggestion is helpful, and the husband should definitely play this role. Reading the description of what he would have to do just also created a vivid impression of how stressful it would be. So it kind of reinforced for me that the should really fight this visit.

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  • Nookie

    Nookie September 28, 2015, 8:49 am

    I might also suggest coming up with some game plans with your husband for potential situations with the in-laws, like ‘what will we do if this happens?’ scenarios. You can’t plan but you can be prepared for things you’re really worried about.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse September 28, 2015, 8:50 am

    When I had my first, both moms came out to stay for over a week at different times. Neither did any housework or even changed a single diaper during either of their stays. One mom couldn’t cook, so I was responsible for anything more complicated than a sandwich for dinner.
    They held my baby so I could take a shower, and babysat for about 90 minutes each so I could get a haircut and a massage.
    I am glad they came, even though it was not what I was expecting as far as support…one mom even got lost for hours in my car and wouldn’t answer her cellphone…needless to say, it was stressful having them.
    Even though the small breaks for a shower or to use the bathroom are golden when you have just had a baby, you can’t just assume all parents cook, clean and take care of you, especially given what the LW wrote.
    I would ask my husband to firmly tell them whatever you want: you won’t be admitted into the hospital room, etc etc. And have him ask them again to come visit later. If they won’t postpone their trip, they will have heard what your husband has said over and over, so if they get upset or whatever, you can all at least refer back to what your expectations and limitations were.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna September 28, 2015, 9:19 am

    I disagree with Wendy on this one. Your concerns are absolutely valid (and yeah, you might get lucky with the birth date and then again, you might not) and you have every right to say no to this visit. It’s a basic boundaries question, and in an especially vulnerable time, protecting boundaries is especially important. Tell your husband he simply needs to to say no to his parents. He needs to tell them it just won’t work. You already know he wants to – so it’s not a conflict between the two of you. And as a new father, it will serve him well to stand up to his parents a little bit more.
    (PS: I wouldn’t assume this will cause a huge feud. The parents might actually listen to their son. He has not said “no” so far, he needs to at least try. And if there’s a conflict, will it really be any worse than the visit? I doubt it.)

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  • avatar

    dinoceros September 28, 2015, 10:13 am

    There are things you can control about this and things you can’t. You can’t control whether they get on a plane or in a car and come to your city. You can control whether you let them in your home or whether you entertain them. You can’t control whether your FIL tries to stand too close, but you can control what you do after he does that (i.e., move away from him). I get the anxiety over this, and you shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of your in-laws being obnoxious when you’re tired and anxious over a new baby. But you have to learn how to set boundaries. When you say you can’t stop them from doing things, I assume that you’re basing it on the idea that it’s not OK to be blunt with them or to refuse to let them into your home, etc. But if this is causing you so much anxiety, you’re going to have to be willing to set boundaries, even if it feels awkward.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna September 28, 2015, 10:28 am

      I totally agree with being blunt! Isn’t the whole control thing a bit of a red herring in this context? Of course she can’t control whether they get on a plane and come to their city. But why not strongly & bluntly request that they don’t? There are unfortunately a lot of of people who will not listen to the first, soft no because they know they can get their way by ignoring other people’s politely expressed preferences. But there are not so many people who still don’t listen to a more strongly expressed no.

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  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice September 28, 2015, 10:28 am

    I had an issue similar to this. Basically my husband’s parents (finally) moved out of our home and to another state. I just couldn’t deal with them afterwards. The 6 years they lived with us were a complete nightmare. His mother wanted to come and stay with us the first week the baby was born. He said NO!. And I am forever grateful to him for that. Besides the fact that I was extremely angry with them, there was no way I was going to have my MIL trying to butt in. She is here now (3 months later) to see the baby, and she is leaving on Wednesday (thank god). But the point is, he stood up and told his mother, NO. She could not come. And she eventually understood why. She might not have been happy about it, but she respected his wishes, and she ended up having a good time and I was able to actually be happy with having her here. My FIL on the other hand is never allowed to see my child, but that is a story for another day.

    Your husband needs to stand firm on this and tell them they are not coming. I know it’s hard to stand up to our parents sometimes, but if you two feel so strongly about this, then he needs to.

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    • avatar

      PumpkinSpice September 28, 2015, 10:52 am

      Just to clarify, she came for a month long visit when the baby was 2 months old, to see friends, 50th high school reunion and the baby’s christening. Most of her time here, she only saw the baby a handful of times due to myself and my little girl staying with my parents while renovations were being done on my home. But my MIL has been with the baby for the last 2 weeks as we had moved back in.

      Her being able to see the baby when she was a little older/bigger, was a lot less nerve racking for me then if she came right after she was born.

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  • avatar

    keyblade September 28, 2015, 11:17 am

    Letter writer, congratulations on the baby to be :). You have my sympathy with your husband’s parents. It seems like common sense that you should be able to tell people that the birth of your first child just isn’t a great time to visit and that if they cared about you, they would respect that. Unfortunately his parents aren’t the kind to respect and work around your wishes. I have parents that are like this and I truly understand how difficult it can be (consistent boundary assertion in the face of violations has made them much, much better over time) I can appreciate how hard you need to push with someone who has no sense of shame and doesn’t view a person’s feelings as enough reason to respect their requests. And I’m sorry for that because it is very stressful.

    I think you might have to accept that confrontation is inevitable. If you are a sensitive and conscientious person you may care very much how you treat people and try to avoid conflict. But hurt feelings might be inevitable. With some people you just have to make a choice that their feelings are their own to manage. You have no control over their reaction or their judgments of you. They might think you are neurotic and high-maintenance. So be it. His parents are coming the first week to see their grandchild. It is unavoidable. So you and your husband will have to sit down and decide how you are going protect your recovery/bonding time in the case that baby has arrived. The grandparents will obviously want to hold the baby. They may wish to get in your personal space. I would make a general rule that visits are to be limited to around an hour at a time and no more than twice a day, tops. You and your husband need to decide together. Your husband might want to allot some time to visit with his parents away from your home. He might want to look at some activities in the area to suggest to them. You guys are going to have to accept that confrontation is unavoidable. When it is time for mom and dad to leave you need to say “I’m tired, and the baby and I need to rest. Please go now.” After you have told them your feelings your husband needs to get them out. Even if they stall, manipulate, or balk. He needs to stay calm and get them out. You should feel free to take yourself and baby back to your room while he handles them. I would also make another rule that no one picks up the baby before they wash their hands and are sitting down. It will make you look neurotic. But it gives you a line to say and repeat. “Sorry mom but you need to be sitting down before I hand you the baby”. Let them judge. It’s not your problem. And you can always just say “no”. It isn’t your job to fumigate the awkwardness with an explanation or to keep talking until they seem at ease. Let go of that.

    I can definitely feel anxiety in your letter. I love that Wendy addressed it because it will be very valuable to you to honestly examine yourself. I can remember how incredibly anxious I felt towards the end of my first pregnancy. I think I might have been the only mother in the world that was perfectly happy to stay pregnant at nine months. One of the ways I coped with that anxiety was trying as well prepared as possible. I read baby book after baby book. I went to classes and read entire reference books on breastfeeding. I bought and watched DVDs. I hired a doula and created a labor plan. I joined consumer report and researched everything I could about paint, cribs, materials, toys, rockers etc. It helped to have a feeling of being in control. And it worked through the pregnancy. All the planning kept my mind distracted and my over-whelming anxiety focused on one controllable thing. Then, a two days before my due date a terrible hurricane-related wind storm blew through our area. We lost all power and electricity. I remember laughing with my husband how lucky we were that it hit before we were in the hospital. I won’t tell the whole horrible saga but we ended up having no power, heat, and light, warm water for two weeks. And I went into labor the night before my due date. All my plans, my nest, were no longer available to me with my newborn. I ended up staying over an hour away from our pediatrician. I won’t even start on breastfeeding, and jaundice, and what ended up being a cow milk allergy. My point is that Wendy is so right. Even though it feels like you should have every right to dictate your own terms, life throws curve balls. I would have been so much better off post-partum if I had learned some internal techniques to manage my anxiety. Because you really can’t control everything on the outside. All the preparation and resources in the world won’t change that. Learning to cope in the face of change and randomness is a great gift to yourself and your family. I really hope you will take it seriously. It is good, sound, advice. All the best to you and your beautiful new baby.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph September 28, 2015, 11:54 am

    I would agree more with Wendy’s advice if this wasn’t Thanksgiving we were talking about. Thanksgiving is no ordinary visit, it carries strings– expectations of a big turkey dinner and hours of shmoozing afterwards. Even if the baby comes late (meaning the LW is very pregnant and probably uncomfortable) or comes a little early, this is still a terrible time to be hosting family for a holiday.
    I recommend trying again a firmer, stronger no before giving up the fight. I think the LW’s concern for her husband, while sweet, is misplaced– he needs to step up and forcefully tell them “No, sorry you are not invited for Thanksgiving. Do not visit us then.” If they come to town against your expressly stated wishes, though, there’s not a whole lot that can be done but to follow Wendy’s advice regarding limiting their contact as much as you need.
    Also I doubt that saying “no don’t visit us at this time” is going to start a family feud. I’m sure if they are this overbearing, they will stick it out to meet their grandchild when you let them.

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  • avatar

    LW September 28, 2015, 12:26 pm

    Hi guys – LW here. Thank you for your kind words! I definitely feel myself riding the anxiety train, and I’m trying to talk myself down from it, but things keep popping up that remind me exactly why I’m worried and it spirals all over again. Currently, his parents are planning on coming up the entire week of thanksgiving (arriving the morning of the preceding saturday and leaving the following sunday), so they’ll have lots of time to sit around and wait. And, my FIL is retired, so he’s up in town very frequently (he’s actually currently up here and has been for the last two weeks). Last night he was repeatedly and forcefully saying that they are planning to come over to take the baby for a few hours every day so i can “rest”. There was plenty to say about that, but when I responded, “well, i’m planning on breastfeeding, so I’m going to need to feed the baby every hour or two and won’t be able to just ‘take a few hours off'”, he waved me off with “you can pump”. Short of getting into a drawn out explanation of why i will NOT be pumping that early on, shutting that kind of statement and those expectations down feels really tough.
    *
    With respect to my husband putting his foot down, his response to their travel plans was repeatedly telling them “we would really prefer that you don’t plan on visiting that week, can you PLEASE try to make another time work, even a long weekend”. But, you guys are right, there was no actual “no”. He’s never been successful at drawing the line with his parents, and we’ve been working on setting boundaries for YEARS.
    *
    I really appreciate all of the tips and strategies, and will definitely try to discuss those as our game plan before the baby gets here (whenever that may be!). I feel like I have so little control over any part of this process, so establishing any kind of game plan will hopefully be reassuring, and I will definitely try to keep in mind Wendy’s advice about re-adjusting my boundaries and expectations.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna September 28, 2015, 1:51 pm

      I feel for you. The comments about pumping are pretty out there!
      Your husband needs to frame this as: “A visit over thanksgiving just doesn’t work for us and we ask you to respect that.” It has to be a hard line rather than a plea to reconsider. It’s better not to get into the reasons for your decision at all, as the conversation with your FIL shows, they will not listen to your arguments at all.
      It will be scary for your husband if he never sets boundaries with his parents, but it will be worth it. I would predict that they get mad, but ultimately fall in line because they’ll realize that seeing their grandchild at all is more important.

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    • avatar

      anon September 28, 2015, 5:53 pm

      Sorry that you have to put up with that kind of intrusiveness. Some people just don’t have limits.

      If your hubs does not have the guts, then don’t worry about being the bad guy who says no.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning September 28, 2015, 6:59 pm

      You’re the (new) mother, no one gets to tell you that they’re going to take your baby. Ugh!

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    • avatar

      snoopy128 September 29, 2015, 3:50 pm

      I think you and your husband need to come up with a joint statement for when your inlaws (or others) make very demanding and controlling comments.

      In your example, when they suggested you just pump and they *will* take your baby, there are two things that I see here. First, you didn’t directly confront them. Instead of saying “I’m not comfortable with you taking my baby.” You used the softer approach of “well I’m breastfeeding so I will need to be near the baby every 1-2 hours”. This tells people that a) you are ok with them taking the baby and b) you don’t have hard boundaries with this issue. Should they say something like that next time, you and your husband need to have pre-set boundaries and something to say. Something along the lines of: ‘We am not comfortable leaving the baby. We prefer to use this time to bond and breastfeed.” You then give them an option (i.e. you can come over for 1-2 hours and hang out with us if it works with our schedule).

      Next, when they wave you off and make some comment like “you can pump”, you need to be firm and let them know they are disrespecting your (the joint *you*) choices as parents. Again, set boundaries with your husband and have a joint statement. “We feel that you aren’t listening to our preferences with our baby. SHould you not be able to listen to and respect our choices, you will not be able to see the baby until you prove that you can respect our choices and rules”.

      In both situations, you and your husband need to have had a conversation to set your boundaries AND what you (well, he) will say in the moment. As it stands, neither one of you seems to have given them a firm no or firm boundaries.

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    • avatar

      _s_ October 2, 2015, 12:04 pm

      “shutting that kind of statement and those expectations down feels really tough” You’re right, it IS going to be tough. Get used to it – being a parent is going to be tough. Advocating for your child and doing what is best for yourself and your child is going to be tough. So what better time than now to learn how to grow a spine and make tough decisions for your family. The longer you let people run over you, the harder it will be to create and enforce boundaries. The word “no” is your friend. Start learning to use it. Never be ashamed of advocating what is best for your family.

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    for_cutie September 28, 2015, 12:27 pm

    LW, your scenario was my exact scenario for my first child (except it was my Mother and she stayed at our house). She came for Thanksgiving and my baby came 11 days late. I had no visitors in the hospital, by choice. We had few people threaten to not oblige my request; I told them I would simply not tell them of the birth until I was ready for guests. With a “flu season” birth, my doctors did recommend a quarantine on visitors for the first week, which we did. We also required our family members to get flu shots before meeting the baby – in our situation they stayed in our house for the visit which was hands down the worst decision ever. At least you have that figured out better than I did. Congratulations and good luck!

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 2:11 pm

      I’d definitely require a flu shot and since it takes two weeks for full immunity to develop after the shot they need to get the shots at least two weeks before they see the baby. We’re expecting an especially bad flu season this year. It would be worth suggesting that they get the flu shots now so that they won’t be taken by surprise if the baby is born early.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 2:47 pm

        An alternative would be to say nothing until after the baby is born and then tell them that the doctor says they must have had a flu shot at least two weeks before seeing the baby. If they haven’t had one that will effectively prevent them from seeing the baby. They’ll probably say that they never worried about things like that when they had kids and you can tell them that doctors have found it to be important and you will follow the doctors orders. If they show up at your door, and they haven’t had the proper vaccination at the appropriate time, you tell them that you are sorry but they can’t come in and you hope they have a nice visit in your city/town.

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        ktfran September 28, 2015, 4:09 pm

        Hahaha. That’s so devious. I love it.

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    keyblade September 28, 2015, 12:34 pm

    I hear a lot of people giving advice to the letter writer’s husband. But he isn’t here. I think we need to be careful about assuming that the way he feels is completely identical to the way the letter writer feels regarding his parent’ meeting his new child. He might not be happy about the timing but he might still not want to refuse to let them see the baby if they come or risk severing his relationship with them. I agree it would be best if the parents just didn’t come but I’m weary about assuming they are toxic human beings that require a nuclear response. They might be, but it is up to the husband to figure out the role he wants his parents to play in his life. The letter writer is not the only new parent whose comforts matter. These might be good grandparents and overall decent persons that are dysfunctional in a limited context. In which case boundaries need to be negotiated and discussed between the letter writer and her husband. If the husband really wanted to put an ultimatum on his parents and their visit, he might have already done so. Maybe he just needs to give himself permission but I’d be careful about playing amateur family therapist, letter writer. Not that it isn’t fun around here, but it’s different in real life.

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    Shanon September 28, 2015, 12:36 pm

    I’d tell them they can only come if they agree to make the most extravagant thanksgiving dinner ever. Complete with pies (lots of pies) for dessert (& none of that Sara Lee frozen stuff). And they’ll have to be the ones who go to the grocery store for all the supplies, since you’ll be in no shape to do this, and pay for half the bill since they’ll be eating half the food. It’s the least they can do, in celebration of thanksgiving, your baby’s birthday & as a gift to the new parents! That way they’ll be slaving away in the kitchen cooking & baking for a few days.

    .
    And if they don’t know how to cook? Then they can’t come. Because no one will be able to do Thanksgiving anyway. So what’s the difference if it’s “Thanksgiving” week or some week in January?

    .
    As much as I hate my in laws, I’d be willing to put up with a few days in exchange for a glorious turkey dinner with leftovers. And LOTS of pies.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 2:12 pm

      I’d certainly tell them that if the baby is born within a week of Thanksgiving you don’t plan to cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

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    anon September 28, 2015, 1:09 pm

    Yep. Just say no to your in laws visit and stick with it. Your husband may or may not understand your concerns. That does not matter. This is your choice and he needs to respect that.
    If they have plans for Christmas, they can come in new year.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 2:07 pm

      As half of a couple this isn’t just the LWs choice. This is as much the choice of her husband as it is hers.

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        SasLinna September 28, 2015, 2:34 pm

        But LW is the one who will just have given birth and who will just be starting to nurse during that time etc. I honestly think that the mother has a veto right regarding visits so soon after giving birth.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 3:13 pm

        The long term happiness of the marriage is the most important and you get that by talking until you can come to a compromise that works for both of you. Setting a precedent where one partner is considered more important or with more claim to decision making will cause problems over the long run. It sets up the idea that whoever has the greater claim gets to make the decisions. That isn’t healthy in a marriage. Her husband is also a new parent, this is his baby and he has as much right as she does to have an interest in its well being. Researchers have found that if a new father is shut out by his wife he ends up doing little in the early life of his baby, to the detriment of the father baby relationship. It is important that he be included in this decision.
        .
        Since the LW will be the one who gave birth the husband will be the one doing a lot of the normal, routine tasks around the home. He will be providing most of the meals, doing the dishes, washing laundry and he will be doing his share to care for the baby. This does affect him.

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        SasLinna September 28, 2015, 3:28 pm

        I’m not recommending shutting the father out or anything of that sort and frankly I’m not seeing how I was advocating for an adversarial approach to solve this. I’m simply saying that if a mother who has just given birth does not want visitors, there should be no visitors. I just can’t see a scenario where it’s fair to ask a woman who has just given birth to get visits she doesn’t want. (And if the father is in fact doing a lot of work around the home and it’s him who doesn’t want any visitors early on, I think he should get a veto right, too.)

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        anon September 28, 2015, 4:18 pm

        Of course the husband has rights. So the wife will deal with in laws at times even if inconvenient.

        Just not right after delivery, when she is feeling vulnerable and not settled. That is why they can visit a month later or if they have plans at that time, even later.

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        SasLinna September 29, 2015, 2:25 am

        Agree 100%.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 29, 2015, 7:36 am

        Learning to work things out is critical to the marriage which is important to the long term well-being of the baby. This is only one of many, many decisions that will have to be made about this child and it is a bad sign if they can’t work this out in a way that makes them both happy. They will need to name the baby, if it is a boy they have to decide whether to circumcise. They have to decide if there will be a religious ceremony like baptism or bris. They have to agree on whether the child will be raised in a religion or not. They will have to decide on whether the child goes to preschool and if so, whether that preschool is a cheaper one or a more expensive one or a hugely expensive one. The same for school. Do they buy a home based on the school district. How much are they willing to pay for better schools. Do they send the child to an expensive private school. Do they send the child to a private religious school. How will they discipline the child. Will they have a stay-at-home parent or use daycare or have a nanny or au pair. They have to learn to work things out together or they will be in constant conflict over this child. The most critical thing is not this specific situation. The most critical thing is that they learn to communicate. They have to learn to talk through things until they come up with a solution that works for both of them.

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        keyblade September 29, 2015, 7:45 am

        My experience tells me the same thing, sky blossom. There are no perfect bubbles and there are always difficult people to deal with in life. The letter writer has a need for rest, recuperation, and bonding with her new child. Stress should be kept to a minimum. If she focuses on her needs and getting them met instead of concrete plans for the future, her and her husband will have a more productive conversation with each other. Unless they schedule a C-section, the baby might not even be born yet. It’s okay to have a preference for no guests but if the husband doesn’t want the same thing (enough to put his foot down) then they will need to work out a solution that honors both of their needs. I know that isn’t popular on this thread, but I think it will help the letter writer a lot more in real life than demanding specifics, even if lots of third persons consider them reasonable.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom September 29, 2015, 3:11 pm

        I very much agree with you. I’m also not saying that they should just let her husband’s parents come over if his parents decide they are coming over. I”m saying they need to work together to come to a solution that they both like. Parenting is a joint affair, a shared occupation and long term commitment. They need to come to joint decisions, including joint boundaries. The LW will also find that you can’t totally control life. This is much more than what they will do for the first week after the baby is born. They are establishing how they will work out solutions to problem that arise that involve the baby. They have lots of time before the baby is born to work things out.

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    Texas T September 28, 2015, 1:23 pm

    I have to disagree with Wendy. Now is the time to make boundaries that your in-laws respect since you have not been able to make them before. It will be hard but necessary unless you want this kind of intrusion for years to come. Having a baby is much like the mind set of a wedding. It is YOUR event and you need to do what makes YOU comfortable.
    If I were in your shoes I would have my HUSBAND tell my in-laws that we are sorry but if our week of rest and bonding happens to fall during that time, we are sorry but you will not be taking visitors, and that means you both too. However, if they would like to stop by after you boh would love to see them and can help them find a nice hotel to stay (if you do not wish to host anyone in your home). If they protest, just repeat calmly. Then tell you that you love them. And if they really can only make it then, which I doubt and feel this is more of a power play on their part, tell them you and the hubby will stop by to see them with the new baby soon. Be firm and stay true to your word. Good luck!

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    keyblade September 28, 2015, 1:42 pm

    Letter writer I just saw your update! Again, you can say no. No arguments, no debates. Trying to be considerate and waiting for reciprocation is not useful with people who don’t respect consideration. You can’t make your husband stand up to his parents but you can stand up for yourself and your own needs in kind way (I’m assuming your husband is not like his parents). You decide on your own limits. When you are done you can take the baby and go to your room and lock your door. You can tell your husband specific things you want him to do to support you. (When I’m done visiting, please do what you need to in order to get your parents to leave) You might have to be patient with your husband. Be clear about your needs. They are not up for debate, but you may need to be flexible with how they get met and what that looks like.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom September 28, 2015, 2:37 pm

    Your in-laws can’t ruin your first week with your baby. Even if they show up when asked to stay away and even if your FIL stands to close to talk. The MIL grabbing the baby from your arms is bad and I’d keep an eye out for that to happen and move away from her if she is approaching. Even if they show up at your door and you let them in, which you don’t have to, they can’t ruin your first week. You can go to your room and shut them out. You can spend most of your day there if you wish. The thing that will be more limiting is the episiotomy or tears that you will probably have during delivery or an incision from an unexpected c-section. Those things hurt for a week. They hurt when you move and hurt when you cough and hurt when you sneeze and hurt when you rollover. That, combined with a period like you’ve never experienced in your life will keep you from doing much. On top of that you’ll very rapidly be sleep deprived from feeding the baby around the clock. You won’t want to spend much time moving around. If you want to spend a lot of time laying in bed you can (it is one easy way to feed the baby) and your husband can spend time talking to his parents. He can also leave them sitting alone in the living room and go spend time with you and the baby. If you need a nap he can take the baby out of the bedroom to his parents. He could also send them out on errands like to the grocery store to pick up something for lunch and dinner. He can tell them that he knows that they were planning to take the baby for a few hours every day to give you a break but that doesn’t work so the things that would help the most would be if they….fill in the blank. It wouldn’t hurt to send them information about breastfeeding and nipple confusion and so bottle feeding not being recommended in the first weeks after a baby is born. If you ask them to help in some specific way, say preparing a meal and running an errand, thank them. They are much more likely to be helpful in a good way if they feel appreciated. You or your husband can ask their opinion on irrelevant things, like which of these outfits do you think would look cute on the baby today and go with the one they choose. Ultimately, they can only have your baby as much as you allow. In the grand scheme of things they are your child’s grandparents and unless dangerous, will be special people in your child’s life and they are wanting to bond with the baby. Overall, that is positive for the baby.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar September 28, 2015, 2:39 pm

    Sorry mom and dad – that won’t work. You don’t have to say why. What the hell? So you can hear some man try and tell you what you can do with your breasts? Seriously? These people need boundaries. Nobody absconds with a newborn without the parents’ blessing. You want to be more passive? Let’s putput a pin in that – We’ll let you know. Even more? Don’t answer your door or phone. When there is fall out – I’m sorry mom and dad we said it wouldn’t work then. I thought you heard us. How’s next weekend? There are countless ways of addressing bullies. Pick one.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 28, 2015, 5:34 pm

    Wendy nailed this one. I would have been a bit harsher… I dunno. The LW is just SUCH a DRAMA QUEEN. I got a headache just reading this one… Just much ado about… NOTHING.

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    • avatar

      Anonymous September 28, 2015, 5:55 pm

      Since you cannot deliver a baby or had to put up with intrusive in laws, how would you know ?

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      RedRoverRedRover September 29, 2015, 9:47 am

      Was gonna say… it’s an extremely vulnerable time what with your body being fairly battered, possible issues with sitting/standing/moving, and the newness and challenge of breastfeeding. I hated having visitors in the first two weeks (besides my own mom), but thankfully my visitors were all just stop-ins for an hour or so. It would have been awful to have someone staying with me who I wasn’t comfortable with.
      .
      The only thing I can compare it to is if you had major surgery, and then you had to entertain a house guest. You’re not in as much pain or on drugs as you would be with surgery, but you’re still in pain, your movement may be restricted, you’re often partially undressed, plus you’re sleep-deprived on top of being exhausted from giving birth. SOME women are lucky enough to be up and around the day after, but many are not. I definitely would not have been up for what the LW is describing.

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    Lissa September 28, 2015, 7:39 pm

    I’m hippo-ing, but yeah, my parents totally did this to me too – only it was a THREE week visit. Wanna know what happened? I went into labor 8 hours after they left and had a happy and healthy 42 week baby 🙂 So yes to WWS – you can try to plan, but it probably won’t work out quite the way you fear, or hope. And the stress of the visit may well keep you out of labor!

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy September 29, 2015, 9:17 am

    LW, when I had my last child, my husband’s parents did the same thing. My MIL is a handful and my FIL is a wimp who cowers next to her, so visits from them can be a real peach. But guess what? At the end of the week of the visit, I was practical hiding their luggage to keep them there longer! Know why? Because when you are a sleep deprived, hormonal mess, any spare sets of hands can be a godsend! My advice to you is to take advantage of the inlaws. They want to come so badly? Okay, put them to work!! Have MIL make dinners while FIL and hubby watch the baby so you can nap, shower, read, etc.. Enjoy these moments of help, because when the dust settles and the inlaws jaunt out of the country for a month, that baby will be all yours!! And that is not as relaxing as it sounds….

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