Who’s Your Momma?

22 Dec

Letterbalm Woman Giving BirthDear LetterBalm: I’m six weeks away from having my first child. I’m lucky to have a loving husband and good relatives on both sides of the family, so everybody is very excited – especially because this will be the first grandchild. But my mother-in-law is taking things too far. She’s insistent about being in the delivery room. I’m a private person, and I want nobody there except my doctor and nurses. She says I’m being selfish about depriving her of the experience. My husband and my mom, who I think have a bigger right to be there, are much more understanding of my feelings. I’ve been reluctant to confront my mother-in-law because she’s usually a wonderful, considerate person. I have to resolve this.

–Delivery Date

It never fails to surprise Ms. L.B. that birthing triggers the most ill-mannered reactions. This isn’t the first time this problem has come up, and, in this age of relentless connectivity, it won’t be the last. Here you go: The mother and her doctor decide who is allowed in the delivery room. Since the imminent mom is pushing a fully-formed human through a small orifice, she gets the final word. Some women are happy with a three-ring circus; some don’t even want their husbands or partners there. (And, while you’re at it, sit down with your husband and draw up visitation and care-giving boundaries for friends and family. You’ll be exhausted and cranky; you and he need private time to bond with your new little miracle.) Ask your husband to talk with his mother. He needs to tell her in no uncertain terms that she and the rest of the family will be, along with him, in the waiting room. If she objects, then tell her that no one in the family will be told of the birth until after the fact:

Mom, you’ve been insisting on being in the delivery room with Mandy when our baby is born. She doesn’t want anyone in the room, including me. This isn’t meant as an insult to anybody. As the father of the baby, I certainly have a right more than most to be there, and my feelings aren’t hurt. I understand that Mandy is a private person. It’s her choice, and I respect it. Please stop persisting in this – it’s so unlike you. You’re usually a considerate person, and I know you love Mandy. But you’re stressing her in her final weeks, when she’s already uncomfortable and just wants the baby to be born. Mom, we both feel so strongly about this, that if you don’t stop, we’ll be forced not to tell anyone until after the baby is born, and we don’t want to have to do that.

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