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Mommy Dearest: Mom Is Giving Me Birth Anxiety

Mommy Dearest,

I'm preparing to give birth to my first child. Not only will it be my first, but it will also be the first grandchild on both sides. My mother assumes that she is invited to attend the birth. I have no intention of having her there. We have a good relationship, but we are not very close. She always wants to be the center of attention and she is incredibly high-maintenance. She nearly ruined my wedding with her insistence that everything go the way she thought it should and now she's working on ruining my brother's the same way. I can't imagine relaxing enough to give birth with her in the room. I'd feel like she was judging me — thinking that she didn't make that much noise, suggesting another position when I was happy right where I was. Not to mention, she and my husband don't get along well, especially in stressful situations.

To compound the whole thing, my parents are divorced and my dad feels slighted any time I involve my mom in something, but not him. My parents and in-laws are concerned about who will be the "alpha grandparents" (yes, they've all used that term). I have zero intention of letting my in-laws see my lady bits EVER. I don't think my dad has had that intimate a view of me since I was in diapers. And I can't even begin to imagine laboring with all six of them (counting my step-parents) in the same building, let alone the same room.

I can cut this whole disaster off at the pass by making sure my mom doesn't show up. However, she's the sort who will insist to herself that I didn't really mean it, that every woman wants her mom there beside her, and she'd bully her way past my midwife. I'm half inclined to just not call anyone to tell them that my labor is starting and just let them know when the baby has finally arrived (possibly waiting several hours until I think I can handle the onslaught of doting grandmas). All of my parents would be irritated about that though. They would want to know what was going on, but no one but my mom would show up uninvited. How can I stop this train wreck before it starts? I'm more nervous about this than about the actual pain of pushing another human being out of my body.


— Anxious About Birth

To see the response from Mommy Dearest,


Anxious About Birth,

I am sorry that you are having to stress about this during your first pregnancy, but there is a simple solution. You need to put yourself and the baby first. You are this child's mother and that infant's well being is your priority. Don't worry about your parents, stepparents or your partner's parents. Do what you need to and make labor and delivery the most comfortable for you. This will be one of the biggest days of your life and your wee one's welcome to the world so make it the very best you can for the baby and don't give another thought to anyone else.

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this series at the Mommy Dearest group on our new community page.

Source: Flickr User madaise

fashion_doll24 fashion_doll24 7 years
A lot of the above advice is very useful, so I hope AAB can work things out. On a side note, I was wondering... I'm European (Belgian) and here, it's definitely not customary to have family members present during the delivery. For most couples, it's just them, doctors and nurses. No mothers or mothers-in-law. Is this a common practice in the US, having relatives present at birth? I remember seeing a lot of mothers and aunts on MTV's 'Sixteen and Pregnant', but I figured that just had to do with the young age of those girls delivering babies. Of course, I mean no disrespect to those who chose to have their relatives present, but I'm wondering if some of you can explain why you opted to have them in the room during the birth?
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 7 years
to add to all the great advice, one thing you might want to mention whether you are talking about respecting your wishes for the birth of your child or not being eager alpha-grandparents who want to be more important than the other grandparents, is that there certain traits that you and your spouse to not want to teach your kid; narcissism, pushiness, lack of empathy, etc its offensive, sure, but also a hard point for them to argue with. you could mention that you love and respect them but also believe in lifelong learning and that grandparents should be patient, unselfish, and mature?i think the best point made here so far is that pregnancy/ childbirth is a great introduction to parenthood; everyone wants a piece of you (and to give you advice about what they think is best for your child) so this will not be the end of the battle! but don't stress about that- just look forward to your sweet bundle of joy! (on the plus side, i have learned to be so much more assertive since being a mom and really wish i had learned assertiveness years ago)
zoorph zoorph 7 years
Oh, hon... This sounds like a nightmare and one of the reasons I have not yet had children! Pushy Mom/MIL syndrome. The best thing you can do is not to let them know you have gone into labor and are en route to delivery. That way, they have no idea you're even at the hospital. If that fails, please follow the advice of others who have been there and tell the nurses and doctors (and hospital security if you have to!) that your absolute preference is that you and your partner follow through with delivery solo and that everyone else is to wait in the waiting room until summoned. Of course, then the problem is going to be who gets to go first... I say pull names out of a hat. That way, no one can accuse you of "favoritism." The other thing that you absolutely must do is put your foot down about this "alpha grandparents" nonsense. Your child is not a toy to be selfishly pulled apart by his or her grandparents! This sounds like a second disaster in the making. I can envision it now: Each set of grandparents continually asking the baby "You love Grandpa and Grandma Smith the best, right?" and completely upending the baby's relationship with the other grandparents. Tell each set of grandparents separately or... well, maybe it'll be better if you told them altogether! that if you hear this kind of language around your child the grandparents' punishment will be no visits and no gifts for a set period of time. The point of extended family is not to see whom the kid will love best, but to provide love and support unconditionally to that baby! If they can't get over their egocentrism, then they are the ones compromising their relationship with the baby, not you. Enlist siblings if you can and if that doesn't work, spring family therapy on them. Tell them that you've visited a therapist and that that person's suggestion was x, y or z (whatever it is) which is certain to be whatever makes you comfortable. Your sweet baby is depending on you. You can do it!
starbucks2 starbucks2 7 years
I say tell them beforehand that you want only your husband present and that due to the fact that you cannot trust her respecting your wish you will not call her until after the baby is born. That way she knows just how serious you are and can only be mad at herself for making you resort to this. She will be mad at you anyway, that just seems to be the way she is, but this delivery should be about what you want. Trust me, you don't want to add any tension to your delivery!
FireFly44 FireFly44 7 years
When my sister gave birth she let everyone stay until it was time to push. She had an epidural so it was a breeze for her to let us stay till then. She had given the doctor very specific instructions that ONLY she and her husband be in there for delivery so he kicked us all out. In fact the nurses wouldn't even let her nosey mother near the door to listen! They were that set on obeying her requests. The hospital also had a rule of no more than 4 people in the room other than nurses, doctors so that eliminated having lots of people in there anyway.
gigimama gigimama 7 years
I agree with the advice to simply not tell anyone until the baby has arrived. YOU are the mother and you need to assert your role now. If you can't stand up to family when it comes to the best interests of your child and your marriage, how will you be a forceful advocate for your child with teachers, doctors, and other people you'll encounter throughout the next 18 years? Keeping your labor and delivery as stress-free as possible is a mothering decision. Do not feel guilty for doing what is best for your growing family. Your mother brought this on herself.
Zivanod Zivanod 7 years
1. Wait until after the baby is born to tell them. 2. Explicitly say "Waiting Room Only" to family. 3. Scared to do two yourself, hire a doula to makes ure your requests are met so you can focus on the labour.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
i like your idea of not calling anyone - and phone them only after the fact you can easily claim it was a rush situation (which it will be) and that your husband was budy tending to you to make phone calls...i should hope that after the baby is born and present, your mother won't rip into would be pretty insensitive, and frankly, if she does, i would have your husband on hand to ask her to please give you some peace
MonkiChriz MonkiChriz 7 years
I agree - don't call anyone until after the birth. No one needs to be there but you and your husband (if you want him there, of course). I only wanted my husband at the birth. Not because of any family issues but because it's our own new family and special time. My son was actually born 2.5 weeks early (no complications). It turned out to be a great excuse for not calling anyone until after I was ready for visitors. =)
CandaceW CandaceW 7 years
Oh "Anxious About Birth," I feel your pain. I'm in the same situation only my MIL will be staying at my house straight through my due date because my husband will not be home (traveling for work) until the day after my due date. It sort of robs me of the opportunity to go into labor privately. Even though I'd never let her in my delivery room, she isn't the problem. My own mom is a the raging narcissist and I don't want anyone in the room with me except my husband who may not even make it. If you are delivering in a hospital, make it VERY clear with the staff and make it the first BOLD CAPITALIZED sentence in your birth plan. Hell, make it the only sentence in your birth plan if you don't have one. "No access to my room by anyone other than myself, my husband (insert name) and hospital staff." If you plan to have a home birth, well, don't call anyone except your husband and midwife. As long as they are in on "the plan," it shouldn't get out... unless your mom lives across the street or stalks you, then you've got bigger problems. I know someone will (or maybe has already) suggested you have a "heart-to-heart" with your mom and explain your feelings, etc. Barf! Don't bother. If she's like mine, she cannot absorb logical reasoning. Just keep it simple. I plan to do the same and the way I think of it, my mom can be mad that I called her late or she can come and make my life miserable during delivery and inevitably find something else to be mad about. Either way, it ends up being about her so I might as well have a peaceful delivery at least ;-)
amandachalynn amandachalynn 7 years
I had this same problem. We ended up telling everyone that it would only be myself and my partner. We told them that this was the beginning of our family, the first child that we created, just the two of us. We told them that we want the moment to be ours, and after we have our moment and are ready, they could come in. My mother tried to argue, but I stood firm and told her this was how it would be, and that she would oblige me if she had any love and respect for me and her grandson. I had a hospital birth, so I told the nurses and staff ahead of time that no one was to be let in until we were ready.
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