Saturday, March 10, 2012

Full House

My husband and I are thrilled to be expecting our first child. My in-laws have informed us that they would like to be notified when I go into labor, so that they can come to the hospital. I'm not sure whether they want to be in the birth room or just the first to arrive, but I'm not really ok with either. I don't want to offend them, because they have helped us out substantially in the past (Re: $). How can I get them to ease up or is it hopeless?

I'm going to lose all my loyal grandparent readers. So much for my lucrative publishing deal with AARP magazine. Guess they will have to fill my spot with another article about phone scams.

They don't need to be in the room. They don't even need to come to the hospital, unless you want them to be there. Human babies stay pretty much the same (boring) for the first few days after birth. If anything, they get cuter and less swollen prize-fighter-ish as they adjust to being in the cold, non-aquatic world. Plus, for the first few days, they barely open their eyes except to make that shifty, rolling movement that makes all newborns look like they are plotting something. Since their eyes are mostly closed and they have the memories of goldfish (if even), they aren't going to remember if Mee-Maw and Pee-Paw first met them in the comfort of your living room, where, unlike in a birthing room, your lady parts are sure to be mostly covered.

This is not to say that some women don't want their whole family in the room or to say that there is anything wrong with having family members present at a birth. I support that choice. I don't support birth-crashing. How ever much money they have given you, it didn't buy them a ticket to the show. Gifts are gifts. They don't come with contingencies. Could they take it out on you later? Sure. But let's hope we can avoid that kind of scorn. What you need is a blocker. (I frame most social issues within the context of "Smokey and the Bandit.") You need someone to drive up in a black TransAm and take all the attention away from you and get some asphalt between you and the in-laws.

  1. Have your husband talk to them. He is their perfect, intelligent, handsome, darling boy, who just happened to marry you. Just have him say that it will probably be pretty crowded in the birthing room, what with all the skilled professionals who will be assisting, so it would be better if they weren't there. Note, the absolute WORST thing he can say is, "My wife, who replaced you in my heart and took me away from you, doesn't want you in the room when your grandchild is born." See the difference? In the GOOD example, the situation is beyond both of your control. It is just physical space limitations. In the BAD example, you are an evil succubus.
  2. Next, let the nursing staff at the hospital know that you want to limit visitors. They should understand and honor your request. If they don't, you should give birth elsewhere. They should ask you before they let anyone into the room and they should keep the number of visitors low (2 is the usual number). Again, this is distancing you from the enforcement. Have you ever argued successfully with a maternity nurse? Neither have I, and I argue for sport. They operate on a whole different level.
  3. When you get home, remember that you decide when you have visitors. Here is where you will need your husband to run blocker again.  Most people will call before they come over. Some may drop by with food, not expecting to visit. Let your husband answer the door and the phone. You should set yourself up in a private room so that you don't have to worry about greeting guests, washing your hair or being awake. If you are breastfeeding, this will limit the interruptions and allow you to feed on-demand. If you aren't breastfeeding, it will still allow you to feed on-demand and you won't have to explain to people why you aren't breastfeeding. When you are comfortable, you can either let your husband take the baby to the guests, or you can go out yourself. I assure you that no one wants to see you, so don't feel bad if you prefer to catch some much-needed sleep while everyone acts like yours is the first baby they have ever seen that doesn't look like Mr. Magoo

So that's the plan. It isn't going to solve all your problems with your in-laws. They clearly want to be involved and that should be encouraged, assuming they aren't going to teach your child how to count cards and smoke cigars...before you do. They are probably going to push the boundaries of your privacy and parenting repeatedly. The blocker plan sets up the way to handle all these issues. Resist the temptation to engage in any way. You may hear your husband on the phone and want to help him. Don't. You will feel the urge to yell when they yell. Don't. You will want to convince them of the merits of your position. Don't. When the baby comes, you won't have time for any of that. They need to put on their big-kid pants and respect your decisions. That's is the first rule of motherhood that takes the longest to learn. Momma doesn't have time to argue.

What was the final decision regarding the graphics for the website?

The final vote was in favor of keeping the original graphics, but I can't see alienating the 3 people who voted for the cartoons, since they make up about 20% of my readership. I guess I'll just have to compromise and make the creepy graphics more cartoon-y. That will be more work, so I expect to take out my frustration on my loved ones and my readers.

*Original post forgot the link to "Smokey and the Bandit." I guess not everyone has seen that movie, since it's 2012.

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