Right now all 3 of my kids are sleeping…and they will still all be going to bed at 8 pm, but in perusing an email a reader contacted me who asked that I not identify her by name but did give me permission to answer her question here.
The question: How does one tell her mother-in-law that she does not want her in the room when she gives birth?
Now, I was given permission to share these facts, the reader’s has a good relationship with her mother-in-law. The reader’s own mother lives in another country and will most likely not be able to get stateside until after the baby is born. Also, the reader’s husband’s two sisters and his two brother’s wives have all allowed his mother to be in the room when the baby was delivered.
My answer, follow Ms. Manners. Just say no. No need for explanation. I myself (although I’ve never given birth vaginally) did not want anyone but my husband and hospital staff in the room when my kids were born. Nobody. I just wasn’t comfortable with anyone aside from Jeff and medical professionals (the ones being paid to be there Mom, I know you’re a nurse, but you’re my Mom before that) in that state of affairs. Plus, even if I had wanted my parents present, that would then open the possibility to my husband’s family being present and his mother and I do not have the best relationship. Unfortunately she is the only person known to make me feel uncomfortable in my own home and as a result I take the baby back into our bedroom and LOCK THE DOOR to breastfeed. Lucky for us, no one expressed an interest and because of the hospital’s policies regarding c-sections with both Shelby and Joey (prior to the new Women’s and Children’s center being opened up) only allowed the father or one person (in the case of a single mother or mother of a deployed Marine situation, etc) in the OR with the mother. The only caveat I have to saying “no” with no explanation is before it is done (and by the way the mother-in-law should ALWAYS ask and never just assume she is allowed) is to ensure her husband is 1000000% behind her and will stand up in her defense should his mother decide she wants to make everyone’s life difficult about not being let in (a good friend at one of my former employer’s mother-in-law did exactly that harrassing them constantly and also calling her other children and making their lives miserable. As it turns out, the baby came at 37 weeks when she was out of town anyway for work.) This is not the type of “fight” you want to be invested in without support. You’re pregnant, you’re emotional, you’re uncomfortable, you need someone who is not all those things to help prop you up when you need it.
And beyond that (this couple in question is Catholic), marriage vows, once taken mean that a man and woman leave their families and are bound to one another. Of all people, I found even Michelle Duggar, extolling “cleave and leave” as she put it in regards to Josh and Anna and her other children when the time comes for them to make their own families. I am a mother of boys and I love them something fierce (yes I still have my Shelby too) but I would hope they would stick up for their wives whenever they feel necessary and not give a hoot (yes, that is my self-censor kicking in there, if you know me personally you can probably guess what I would really say) what I think. If your husband is any little bit wavering, you need to have a serious talk because you don’t want the birth of your child to be either painful from having someone you don’t feel comfortable being present there or painful because he feels torn and it causes stress on your relationship. I will admit that this is an area of marriage that Jeff struggles with sometimes because he was single for so long and I was his first ever serious girlfriend at age 36, as a result of spending so much of his adult life single and not having to focus on a wife and family, he sometimes forgets that his duties as husband and father supersede that of son now.
Remember, the world will not end if your mother-in-law is not in the delivery room when the baby is out. And remind your husband if he’s not behind you all the way that your mother will not even have the choice. You do not have to give in just because everyone else allowed her in (at their own comfort level) and frankly, most people would rather not be where they aren’t wanted. As I read on twitter one time, “it’s your, uh, birth canal, your choice!” I hope this helps.