In-laws and delivery rooms can be a touchy subject
Ah, the delivery room. Where everyone in your immediate and extended families feel they belong, and have no problem telling you so. It can be a battle, to be sure. But in a recent “Dear Prudence” advice column, one mother-in-law took her delivery room demands a little too far.
OK, way too far.
Writer Nicole Cliffe often finds controversial tidbits like this online and shares them on her Twitter account. So when she came across the “advice” this mother-in-law was asking Slate‘s Dear Prudence for, she had to share it with the world.
— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
“My son, Steven, and daughter-in-law, Julia, are expecting their first child and our first grandchild next month,” the woman, dubbed “Second-Class Grandma” begins in the column. “I had what I thought was a good relationship with Julia, but I find myself devastated. Julia has decided only Steven and her mother will be allowed in the delivery room when she gives birth.”
Which is not totally unheard of, is it? Most women I know feel a thousand times more comfortable with their own moms. And most hospital delivery rooms only permit two people in there with you — your birth partner, and a guest of choice. That’s how mine operated, anyway. Well Grandma wasn’t having it.
“I was stunned and hurt by the unfairness of the decision and tried to plead with her and my son, but Julia says she ‘wouldn’t feel comfortable’ with me there,” she writes. “I reminded her that I was a nurse for 40 years, so there is nothing I haven’t seen. I’ve tried to reason with Steven, but he seems to be afraid of angering Julia and will not help. I called Julia’s parents and asked them to please reason with their daughter, but they brusquely and rather rudely got off the phone. I’ve felt nothing but heartache since learning I would be banned from the delivery room.”
SHE CALLED HER DAUGHTER IN LAW’S PARENTS TO TRY TO GET THEM TO BADGER THE POOR WOMAN INTO LETTING HER ATTEND THE BIRTH— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
“Unfairness.” There is no fairness in birth! The person having the baby invites you to be in the room or not, and if the answer is “not,” you do not make a fuss.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
Not to mention the “I was a nurse for 40 years so you don’t have anything I haven’t seen before” made me incandescent w rage.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
So. True. While I will say my own mother-in-law was in the room with me, and she is also a nurse, she’s also the closest thing I have on this planet to an actual mother and it was a last minute decision to invite her. But my husband and I were terrified and I just needed a mom, you know? But poor Julia in this story ALREADY HAD ONE, and her mother-in-law is behaving rather beastly about it.
IT IS NOT THE EQUIVALENT OF A GRADE SCHOOL BALLET RECITAL, IT IS A PRIVATE MEDICAL PROCEDURE— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
Grandma wasn’t done. “Steven told me I could wait outside and I would be let in after Julia and the baby are cleaned up and ‘presentable.’ Meanwhile, Julia’s mother will be able to witness our grandchild coming into the world. It is so unfair.”
Yeah. That’s the thing about birth. If you’re not the one giving birth or being born — it ain’t about you, toots.
For the record, I had seven (7) people in the room for my last birth other than myself, plus briefly 5 NICU peeps, and at one point a plumber attempting to fix the sink, so I am not a NO ONE SHOULD BE THERE EVER lady, just a RESPECT THE WISHES OF THE PERSON GIVING BIRTH lady.— Nicole Cliffe (@Nicole_Cliffe) February 6, 2018
Twitter seems to agree, with many sharing similar delivery room dilemmas.
A former colleague of mine had the worst instance of this kind of thing I’ve ever heard of: her husband’s brother, his wife, AND THEIR THREE CHILDREN showed up in L&D while she was in labor with her son. Uninvited. She was at an 8. They stayed for an hour.— Miriel Thomas Reneau (@mirielmargaret) February 6, 2018
OMG. The mere idea of that scenario playing out has me reaching for my smelling salts.
My mother-in-law literally tried to break into the delivery room when her first grandchild was being born.— Donut Dad (@DayOldDonuts) February 6, 2018
And THEN tried to lay a guilt trip via phone while they were on their way home from the hospital w/ new granddaughter. “I already love her so much, and one day she’ll be having a child and you won’t be able be there for her and it will be the worst day of your life…"— Donut Dad (@DayOldDonuts) February 6, 2018
Grandma Guilt Trips are real, y’all.
We imposed a no-visitor period for the first week (all our parents live away). My mom called it "The Grandparent Ban" and booked her flight for my due date in defiance. Baby ended up being early, so we didn't have to lock her out of the house. But we would have.— Kate Andrews Hoult (@kateality) February 6, 2018
I feel like the choice for who gets to look up your vaginal canal should be explicitly granted to the person to whom the vaginal canal belongs to. 100% of the time.— RedMenace (@maurinsky) February 6, 2018
Without a doubt. How is this a difficult concept to grasp? Labor and delivery isn’t, like, getting lip injections. It is a very serious medical procedure where lots of bodily things happen you don’t want everyone to see!
Luckily for all of us, “Dear Prudence” had no problem shutting Grandma down and bringing her back to earth by telling her she was “entirely in the wrong.”
Because giving birth is the most intimate process on the planet. Women have every right to decide who they wish to be present, and how it’s all gonna go down. The personal comfort level of the mother and what’s best for her and the baby should be non-negotiable. Here’s hoping Julia and Steven have exactly the birth experience they want to have.
BOUNDARIES, GRANDMA. BOUNDARIES.
“Let this go,” Prudence advised. “Do not rob this moment of its joy by keeping score and demanding more.”