two uteri, two mamas pregnant, AGAIN, with baby number two

Low Blows January 8, 2008

Filed under: ttc — charlotte @ 8:44 pm

Dirty fighting sucks.

S and I built some solid communication skills over the 12 years we have been together. These skills and our faith in each other were our rocks as we navigated TTC hell, but I have not experienced the likes of the fight we had last night since the early days in our relationship.

We resorted to some really low blows. The kind you never say out loud. I don’t even know where to start explaining what it was about…her mother, Smarty’s birth, our less than ideal financial situation coupled with unclear roles about who gets to stay home and why.

It was Ugly with a bold, italicized, capitalized U.

Lets start with her mother. Her mother was relatively normal while S was growing up. She’s an artist, very educated. But she suddenly turned in to an alcoholic at age 50. Like, hid wine in her trunk and under her bed. Showed up drunk to my wedding dress fitting. After finally getting that under control, and when I say under control I mean switching to prescription shit people can’t smell on your breath, it was right about when I got pregnant.

Let’s try to put this into a few sentences, lest I ramble on for paragraphs.

1. She called Smarty, in utero, Uncle D’s kid. When we told her not to, she told us we were being unrealistic. When we told her please not to use the word “father”, she basically implied that it was a semantic issue, and proceeded to use words like Uncle D’s “sire” or my personal favorite… “of his loins”.


2. She really wanted to be there for Smarty’s birth. I was really just a baby cooker to her.

Okay, maybe I need to tell you the whole effing deal. Sorry, this is going to be long.

MIL explicitly asked a few times about being there for the birth and we told her that I needed to feel really comfortable, we thought maybe only my mom would be there, maybe not even my mom. A normal person would have taken the hint. She didn’t. She soooooo didn’t.

She continued to ask, and said shit like this with a very bewildered look on her face: “But I have always wanted to be at a birth, my entire life.” And? Go be a doula then. Yes?

Anyway, when I was in early labor Uncle D was over fixing our outdoor stairs so we wouldn’t slip on the way down with our new baby, and she calls and hears his voice and says “who’s that?”. When we told her she said, “Oh, I see. He gets to be there and I don’t?”

Are you an infant? We told her we would call her and tell her when to come to the hospital…not to come before we called. She came anyway. At the time I was very protective about who could be there, in large part because I had to defend myself against insane MIL. But after 30 hours I got an epidural and the bloody, painful, screaming labor turned into me napping with S in the hospital bed. Some friends came by, Uncle D and Aunt NoMoreSpermForYou were there (back before things went to hell with them), and they were all sitting in the little private garden patio outside my labor room. It felt so good to have them there, close but not in the room. We were going to have them all come in when Smarty was going to come out. Unexpected, but lovely.

Cue evil queen music.

In walks MIL, uninvited mind you, and says, “oh I see that other people ARE here.”

She proceded to vibe everyone with her narcissistic pouty attitude and I couldn’t hang. I was in fucking labor, epidural or no, and I didn’t know what to do to get her out of there, so we asked everyone to leave, to spare her feelings.

After Smarty was born, I told my one friend who was there for the birth to go get Uncle D Aunt NMSFY and a good friend. She had to walk past and give an explanation to MIL, I found out later, who was steaming that she was not immediately allowed into the room.

There are more details, but I’ll leave it at that. I wanted my friends and family there and had to kick them out because of her. Granted, I could have made another choice, but I had not slept in 30 hours…not the circumstance to stand up to your MIL. I was angry with her for a year. She was unforgivably pushy, rude, and consistently overemphasized the genetic relationship between Smarty and Uncle D, making S feel disconnected from her own son. I don’t know if I am properly conveying how selfish, blind, rude and narcissistic she was, but holy fuck people, she was.

In the years since his birth I have made my own personal peace with MIL. She is much more mellow, and her inappropriate donor comments are of a milder variety (except that I never ever want her to meet Rocket Man) – more like commenting “oh, what a nice maaaaan your donor is…sticking with you through all of this [this being the miscarriage], can I buy him a gift?” Hells no lady! But my point is that I came to my own peace with her and we see each other regularly. I’m not a walking pile of resentment. We are fine.




I feel like hell will fucking freeze over before I can see her face at the birth of our next child. It makes my blood boil. Or curdle. It brings me to tears.

But S wants her there, partly because of an unexplainable desire to have your mom there (I get that) and partly because she doesn’t want to hurt her mom’s feelings and she knows it will be crushing for MIL to be told she can’t come. We are going to have many other people there, like 3 that I know of for sure (WTF, S’s best friend from high school and a close friend of mine who is one of the people who got kicked out the 1st time). MIL really will be crushed when she is not one of them, and then both of us have to deal with the aftermath. That sounds shitty to me too, mind you, but fear of her sadness and guilt is not a motivating reason to have her present at the birth of our child.

But ultimately, MIL is S’s mom, and S wants her there.

Hence the impasse.

I should be the bigger person and say ‘hey, even though it is our baby this is your birth and if you need your mom, I’ll deal.’ But I can’t.

She should be the bigger person and tell her fucking mom that she can’t come.

We tossed around the ‘if I were you I wouldn’t ask you not to have your mom there,’ and the ‘you wouldn’t have to ask me because I would never allow her to be there knowing how dreadful she was last time and how deeply upset it would make you’.

If I were you. If you were me. If MIL was different. If I was more forgiving. If you had balls. How the hell? What the fuck? How dare you? No, how dare YOU!

I won’t get into the specifics, but trust me it got way ugly. Saying regrettable things that you can never take back. UGLY. Uglier than any fight I can remember in a decade. And this is the 19th time we have tried to resolve this topic. The fight then morphed into who gets to be with Smarty when, how I only get 3 weeks off with the new baby when she had a year working form home, how she’s going to have to go back after 3 months…we were trying to win in a yelling crying snotty game of who has it worse. NEVER a good plan. Never ever. Ever.

Instead of feeling happy about the hospital tour, which was super fucking exciting, we are distant and shitty.

Obviously, this whole post is from my perspective, I know S would write it very differently. She might talk about how much she loves her mom, how hard her mom is trying to change, how she is a different person than she was 3 years ago, that she is distant from her mom in part because she is trying to protect me. She might write about how she presented compromises like having her there only for the actual birth and not the labor, and how she will tell her mom what we need from her (then I say but your mom will still feel left out and shitty anyway because this is all about her and not about you or me or the baby). S might forget to note that her mom will vibe and pout and feel left out if she is not allowed to be a part of all of it. S doesn’t understand how intolerable it is for me to have her there for ANY of it. I don’t understand how or why she wants her there so badly. But S must want it pretty bad because she loves me, and is a very nice, accommodating person. I don’t know what it feels like to have to choose between your parent and your spouse. I don’t want to put S in that position. I think MIL put her there, not me, but see? On and on it goes. Deeper and deeper into an unsolvable mess.

We have never ever had a problem we couldn’t solve. One of us always gives in, or compromises. Someone is more right. Someone feels stronger. We give in. We press our wrist tattoos together and say gooo team.

Instead we are both bummed and in tears.

We have considered lying to MIL like saying ‘oops we tried to call you’, but can’t come up with a really good plausible lie and that doesn’t solve the part that S wants her there. We have each given in at some point and then both of us feel miserable when we think about the birth. We have considered having my mom and MIL both on duty to take care of Smarty, but I know that MIL will ultimately leave Smarty with my mom and come to the hospital anyway, unless we tell her not to come, in which case she will be all butt hurt anyway.

So please tell me there is some obvious solution we are missing. That this is not an impossible impasse. Please tell me that one of us is wrong. I would even settle for me being totally wrong, like if there was a vote and everyone said, Charlotte you are being weak and immature and you need to buck up for your wife. I certainly don’t think that is true, but maybe it is? I called some therapists, and we will go spend 90 an hour to fix this because we can’t fix it ourselves…but I really don’t want to.



35 Responses to “Low Blows”

  1. gypsygrrl Says:

    single, non-ttc (yet) member of the IVP here.
    wow. i just wanted to write and tell you my heart aches after reading this ~ i cannot imagine fighting with a spouse…

    i dont think i really have a vote, except maybe there has to be some kind of MIL-can-be-there-for-a-LITTLE-bit to appease you all… it will appease you, because it wont be for ALL, it will appease S, cuz she gets to have her mom there for some, and well. damn. there goes that theory. because MIL will not settle for anything less than everything.

    i admire you for seeking outside help.
    i will also be looking on to see how you handle this. once i am done nursing school, i am planning on ttc and to me a single mom by choice [if the love-of-my-life isnt back IN my life] and i do not want my mom there. at all. and i am not even sure i want close friends there. i feel like this will be something i need to do on my own. because i have been in so much of my life being all about everyone else. i want that time to be just mine and my baby’s. [i do have a FABULOUS doula – whose presence will be requested. but no family, or friends.] and i know i will deal with the “you are so selfish – its my ONLY grandchild” guilt.

    hmph. sorry to hijack your post.
    much love,

  2. Bri Says:

    I am so sorry that you are having this problem.

    I’ll be honest.

    I have a very gut reaction to this that is of no use to you. It is not helpful or logical. But I think a person who wants her mom at her labor should get that. See how it’s not coming from anything other than how much IIIIIII wanted my mom? Yeah. So, not much help. But do try to remember how it felt to be pregnant and how very much it seemed like the whole freaking world SHOULD do exactly as you wanted (that wasn’t just me, right?). It is YOUR baby and you will have an experience of her birth. But it is HER labor and intense pushing out of a baby through the vag. Or, you know, the c-sec way. But if she has to be cut, your problem will be solved. Elective c-section, anyone?

    I hope you guys can come to a calm conclusion. Therapist may be good.

  3. Lo Says:

    I wish I had insight to offer; the $90 an hour might be necessary.

    My mom would have died and gone to heaven if she’d been invited to the birth of either of her grandsons, but my sister didn’t want her there, and Co certainly didn’t. However, our situation isn’t analogous to yours, because she isn’t Co’s mom, so it seemed reasonable for me not to have a say in whether she was there or not. I don’t really think I’d want her at my own birth, either, so it’s not analogous in that way either.

    What worked extremely well for us (and for my sister) was having her in the waiting room, so she could rush in and see the baby, and she was actually really helpful in that regard. My mom really was deliriously happy to be allowed to buy us vitamin water and hold her grandson and hang out in the waiting room most of the day. But it doesn’t sound like MIL can be appeased that way.

    You don’t want to hear this but I really think you both have extremely valid points. Of course S. should be allowed to have her mom at her birth if she wants to. But I *don’t* think it’s that simple, because she barged in on your birth and she had no right to do that. it sounds really, really awful. I am imagining my mom *not* being okay with staying in the waiting room and screwing it up somehow and I know that I, as her daughter, would be *really* angry at her, and it could affect the next birth (which will hopefully be mine).

    maybe Aunt NoSpermForYou can be required to promise MIL she can attend her birth someday? That seems like a fitting way to punish both of them…

  4. dayzofrain Says:

    What I have to say probably isn’t what you want to hear either.

    When you were in labor… she *should* have respected your wishes because it was *your* labor. You had every right IMHO to be completely and totally pissed that you felt you had to dismiss the ones you wanted there to be rid of the one you didn’t. All of that is justified to me

    However, in the case of her own daughter…if S wants her there then she should be there. S should have the final say in how involved and how much she is present for. S should be the deciding factor because in all honesty— this is her show. KWIM? My mother said to me when I got married– that when we fight….to remember how much I love him. Is the fight worth the bitter words? Is it going to hurt you more to give her what she desires or hurt her more to not?

    It certainly will take a lot of thought and alot of talking to get through this from what I read from this entry. But after 12 years..Im sure that you two will figure something out 😀

  5. Evelyn Says:

    I’m so sorry you had such an awful time with your MIL at Smarty’s birth — it sounds so miserable and infuriating.

    But you aren’t going to be able to fix your birth experience by controlling S’s. Imagine if you were a guy and you didn’t want your wife’s mother there during the birth because of a past slight. I think in that case it’d be clearer that this should be about what S needs, not about what you need.

    I don’t at all think you’re weak or immature, just that you need to make sure to get whatever support YOU need to be able to support S in the manner in which she wants to be supported. What could help you? That could cost $90 an hour or could be as simple as having the right friend with you.

    In short: I think the person extruding a human being out through her genitals should get to pick who’s in the room, no matter what. Period.

    I wish you both all luck and joy with your new baby.

  6. Clare Says:

    Charlotte – I am sorry I have a lot to say!

    I think what they up there before me think. I also think it is really really hard. Your MIL sounds like hard work. To start with lets promise each other (as I have my friends) not to be those sorts of mothers/MIL who feel like our children’s stuff belongs to us. That we allow them to allow us in when it is right for them.

    Off the point you are asking but I also think maybe you should re-think they having a ton of people at the birth. (OK maybe this is my stuff) but I reckon one extra person other than your partner is elegant sufficiency)

    Seeing the baby early is good I know – but I also think maybe you and S should think of this as your time (her labour – her decision thou) with this new little one… you get to share them for the rest of their lives. It is lovely to have something that just belongs you you three. Especially – can I say with No 2 – unlike No 1 Smarty you don’t get to go home and sit just three of you on the couch and gaze in wonder too much – cause much more often there is a No 1 to be looked after, reassured, loved, adored, cared for etc etc. Plus there is all that housework! You know how Smarty makes a ton of washing well No 2 in there will make 10 times that (remember?) and you remember how you lay in bed some mornings after a shocking night with Smarty in those early days – you just slept when the baby slept or lay in bed staring in wonder at your lover and your baby while they slept. Well Smarty will be there two – jumping on the bed, needing breakfast, getting up at 6 even thou you have been up all night …. you get my drift.

    And I know I am going on but from one bio (he is the big one 8 yrs and he has been completely gorgeous about they baby) then non-bio (he is the 8.5 month old) parent (and maybe a bit of a control freak?) to another – the biggest biggest thing is letting your partner have control of how they birth and feed whatever. To tread that line is hard but it is mega important.

  7. Bree Says:

    Oooh, this stirs up so much for me.

    I’m the non-bio mom, my mom is a narcissist, and my partner didn’t want her in the room during delivery. Mom was determined to be there, and would not catch a hint. Although I calmly explained that M didn’t want anyone there but me, my mom kept dropping hints.

    A wonderful trait in narcissists… they really can filter out anything that they don’t want to hear. It’s amazing.

    And so my mom found her way into our birth plan. Namely, she was the only individual named in the birthplan who could NOT enter the birthing room without our express invitation. A few of the nurses questioned this, at least until they met her.

    M’s mom and dad flew in from SF at considerable expense to be there at the time of Kiddo’s birth, but never presumed that they could be in the room during delivery. M wasn’t comfortable with that, and they never pushed the point. They did happen to be at the hospital when Kiddo was born, but were out in the waiting room until I came to invite them to meet their granddaughter.

    My mom, having arrived at the hospital just minutes before I came out to announce the birth and gender of our little Kiddo, assumes to this day that M’s parents were there for the whole gory thing. They weren’t, but the power of assumption is strong in my mother. She in fact DOES like to make an ass out of U and Me.

    If and when I ever give birth, I intend to keep her out of the delivery room again. Lack of boundaries + narcissism = all of life’s events somehow being all about her. Uck.


    Where am I going with this rant? Oh yes…

    I’m so sorry that your stoopid MIL went against your wishes and interfered with your birth experience. She managed to take away from your experience and will apparently never notice/own up to/apologize for her missteps.

    Your wishes, as the birthing mom, should have been tantamount. In a perfect world, that woman would not have messed up a good thing.

    Now that it’s S’s turn to be the birthing mom, her wishes should be followed, or at least respected. Even though you know that your MIL will do something(s) to interfere with the wonderful vibe, S’s vision is different.

    If she’s anything like me, she misses the mom she either used to have or never had at all. Narcissism is such a horrible ailment, because the person with it is programmed so that they can’t recognize it. It makes everyone around them–especially their kids who notice that their mom isn’t as capable of selfless love as she ‘should’ be–feel like they’re the crazy ones.

    But S wants that used-to-be-mom at her delivery. Suck. But… the best thing you can do is respect S’s wish on this point. As you know, births never go quite according to plan, but birthing moms still like to feel as though they have some control over the process.

    Sorry, because I wish that you had been more protected from MIL during your birth experience. But you weren’t. And excluding her from S’s birth experience couldn’t possibly right that wrong.

    Assvice transmission complete.

    Charlotte, I feel (part of) your pain. It was hard for me to be the non-birthing mom and I hadn’t even experienced the other side of the coin. I can’t imagine how different this feels for you. I’m sorry that it hurts.

  8. charlotte Says:

    Bree- you are so right. I felt unprotected from MIL at Smarty’s birth. ANd I know it won’t fix my birth experience to exclude her form this one, I’m just terrified that it will ruin this one for me too. The I am screwed for both births, and it makes me feel like MIL wins. I honestly don’t know if I can be the bigger person about this.

  9. jay Says:

    Oh jeesh, what a situation – I feel for you both :-s I can’t really add to anything already said… but I do wonder one thing – what would be the easiest thing to do in the long run (aside from the actual labour/birth etc), i.e. what would ensure a peaceful life, if that is at all possible??

  10. When I had my sons I WANTED my mom to be there BUT she wasn’t at one of theirs. My preemie. I was living in TX at the time. She was there for the birth of my first , last minute and wasn’t there in his first few months of life either. I REGET that.

    That same son is father to my only grandbaby and she stepped up for that one. As I was not in a position to do so. M, exes death, financial, unreliable transportation . And I am TRULY grateful!

    We have REALLY made some headway in our relationship and I can’t imagine HER not being there for a baby I may or may not have in the next year or so.

    Please don’t make her REGRET not having her mom there. Not on anyone’s side. But every one needs their mom. And as my mom so eloquently pointed out to me the other day. She can finally see that she also needs me.

    HUGS. Tough position I know, BUT mom should be there. OR it should be just you two. Keep everyone a way for a week or so.

  11. cooler*doula Says:

    Aieeee – as the 10 preceding thoughtful replies have made clear: there is no simple solution you are missing here. Pity, though.

    What a nightmare. I really feel for both of you. I hope you’re able to find a compromise that sits comfortably with each of you.

    It is extraordinary to me how many mothers/MILs feel entitled to be at births when their own were, due to the way things were done back then, solitary affairs.

    No parents in town, and not calling anyone until after the baby has been born has been our strategy, so I have nothing helpful to offer.

  12. shelli Says:

    Oh Lordy, MIL sounds JUST like MY mom. Except she gets that way all on her own, no drugs. UGH.

    I purposefully did NOT read the other posts, because I had an answer in my mind and i didn’t want to be swayed one way or the other.

    So here goes.

    Get over it, it’s her body, it’s her mom. You’ll just have to deal. She’s a WACK o’hormones right now, and even if her feelings are all enmeshed the wrong way with her mom, it’s her choice. It was SOOOOO unfair of her mom to do that to YOU, and it was SO unfair of S to stand up to her own mom to protect you during your birth experience. But all of that aside? None of that matters now, because this is S’s birth experience, and even if she’s a wimp, it’s her choice, and you need to respect that. Even if it sucks for you a little bit.

    But it’s all still hard, and I send huge love and sympathy for it. And low blows happen every so often. You are both strong enough to get through it. Don’t beat yourself up for it, just move on… {{{hugs}}}

  13. Boy do I see this issue from both sides…birth of my nephew BOTH sides of the outlaws were there. Only in this case it was MY MOTHER who wat the antagonising b*tch. It was at this point that my DH and I decide IF we have a baby she is NOT coming within 20 feet of the hospital until WE CALL HER. Of course that may change if I ever manage to stay pregnant…

    Anyway…for baby #2 as a result of the strife from baby #1 NO ONE was invited to the hospital…and it sucked for those of us who didn’t cause a problem…but as they say one bad apple spoils the bunch.

    Anyway…This is a very special time for spouses, and mom wasn’t there for the conception so WHY should mom be there for the birth? Can you find a compromise…call her say at 7 cm’s right at transition then she can come witness the birth of her granddaughter and then GO HOME? That way you both get your special time together w/out MIL from hell (she must share a room w/my mother in law by the way), adn that way you both will have conceeded some points?

    I am sorry to hear that your tour didn’t go as anticipated due to this argument…but hopefully it can be worked out soon.

  14. christyna Says:

    I’m going to put my 2 cents in because I had a monster in law. Back story is she coddled my ex husband so badly his whole life he was afraid to upset or disappoint her in anyway. If and when he did he received guilt trips we both received the silent treatment and she won everytime because he couldn’t handle it. She took over my entire wedding, booked the place and the food without me there, and he let her. She and her entire family of like 22 people had to be at the hospital the whole 17 hours of labor, delivery and then C-section…it only got worse after Anders birth.

    You mentioned that you have no idea what it would feel like to choose between your mother and your spouse. well that’s just it. you CHOOSE your spouse when you commit to them and start your own family that you have obligations to that superceed what your mother or father may want or need.

    When a choice becomes a fight because of how someone who is not actually in the relationship feels it’s very painful and damaging. I see both sides because I felt so bad for him but i ultimately let and helped her destroy our relationship. I told him at some point you choose your family because it is the family you chose…he ultimately chose them and we’ve been apart for 4 years in February.

    It shouldn’t even be a choice. and it sucks that your MIL puts her in the middle and makes it a choice. Obviously MIL being there or the thought of it has pained your relationship. That’s no good it really isn’t. I have no idea how to actually help or give advice on this because I couldn’t fix it in my life but I do know the struggle you are in and I also know how bad that struggle can damage a relationship. I wish you well and hope in the end that some kind of compromise can be worked out so that you and your spouse are happy without worrying if MIL is happy. good luck.

  15. Calliope Says:

    wow. there are some pretty smart & amazing comments here.
    I think it is really good that you & S are talking about this now and getting the messy on the table in advance. I don’t think there is an easy solution. I wonder if you give MIL a job to do during labor she would be less all up in the birthing. Maybe she could be in charge of Smarty’s well being during the birth?

    sending you love. & requesting a post about the new job at some point. (do you take requests?)

  16. I have been following your story (and the comments above) with great interest.
    Am I correct in seeing your not wanting MIL there as a way of protecting S/trying to make the Big Day as wonderful for her as possible? (In other words, I’m trying to say that I don’t think you are being selfish in your desire not to have MIL there)
    However, I do feel that if S really wants her mother there for the birth, well, then you ought to support that as best you can, difficult as that may be.
    Besides: you never know -on the day of The Event, S might change her mind and/or get fed up with her, and kick her out/not allow her in anyway. Just a thought.

  17. I agree with the previous posters that there is no good solution to this dilemma, and I am sorry that you’re in this situation, but I have to say that I think you are out of line in this case. Think back to when you were facing labor for the first time. It’s a huge scary unknown. You’ve given birth now – perhaps it’s less scary to you, but it may be even MORE scary to S having witnessed yours but not experienced it herself. So I think you should acquiesce, as hard as it is, and let her mom be there. It’s definitely not ideal, and I wish it weren’t so, but that’s my take on it.

  18. dlvc Says:

    You are getting a lot of comments something like “S is doing the birthing so she should choose,” and I do totally get that, but when our daughter was born, with my wife doing the birthing, I remember feeling like I needed to grasp at any input I could find anywhere in the process. Pregnancy is a pretty serious trump card.

    We agreed not to have any parents at the birth which was made easier by geography. My wife is very private so it was just us and the midwives (honestly, we probably should have had a little more support than that, but I digress). Our debate was about having my MIL (who is by and large great and reasonable) come right away after the birth. I wanted time just the three of us. I needed time to meet our baby, time to parent, before I felt pressure to “prove” myself as a “real” mom. My wife wanted her mom there sooner, and could have used her position as the pregnant mom to demand it. I am eternally grateful that she heard me on this; my MIL didn’t come for about a week. That week was hard but magical. It was the right thing to do for us, and we plan the same for the next go round, assuming there is one, in which I will (hopefully) be doing the birthing.

    Not sure how this fits with your situation as it was less about the birth and more about very early parenting and issues of insecurity about being a non-bio-mom (which fortunately faded quickly). Maybe I’m just trying to say something about how this is somewhat different than trying to imagine yourself in “dad” shoes and figuring out what you would do in that case (which was suggested above). Hang in there. Keep talking. Better to take care of this now than later, whatever you decide together.

  19. Jude Says:

    Here is my free therapy for the day. Since I don’t know you guys, I guess it’s easy for me to throw my crappy thoughts in. Tell me to screw at any time.

    1. You are still upset about your birth experience and it has been resurfacing because of the impending birth and all of this MIL talk. So your emotions are high, and S’s emotions are high because she is knocked up and thinking about pushing a kid out of her vagina.

    2. Your birth didn’t go the way you wanted because your MIL was a total tool about it. And perhaps S didn’t stick up for you the way you would have liked, and perhaps S tried and her MIL was too much of a tool to listen, but either way, that was years ago and no matter what, you are not going to get it back. You won’t even get it back by keeping MIL out of this birth. Instead, you will still be pissed at her about Smarty’s birth, AND S will have a less than savory birth experience for herself. NO ONE WINS.

    3. Perhaps if S is allowed to have the birth she imagines in her head, even if you didn’t get to do that, it can provide some healing for you. I know that seeing MIL in the labor room will be triggering and anger-provoking and probably downright annoying, but perhaps seeing S get what she feels she wants and needs for L&D will be rewarding to you.

    4. I think that the person who has to do the hard work should get Top Say in calling the shots for the big day. I do. L&D is hard enough, especially as a first timer, to have the added stress of having to choose between your partner and your mother. I didn’t want my mom at my L&D but I know a lot of people do. And if she thinks it will be helpful for her, then as her primary labor support, I think it’s kind of your job to make that happen for you.

    I’m so sorry this is a rough time for you guys. 😦

  20. gold star Says:

    First off, I’m sorry things got ugly between you two. I hate when that happens. I wonder if the ugliness is making it harder to go beyond the impasse.

    It sounds to me like you both have to give a little. You may need to give on allowing MIL to be there, but you should have some sort of pact worked out with S ahead of time that involves how MIL will be managed so she doesn’t interfere with the experience for you. Maybe part of why you’re unwilling to compromise on this is because you felt way unprotected from MIL at your own birth.

    Being a team is what counts. Go into the birth with an inpenetrable sheild around the both of you…then maybe it will matter less who else is there. It seems like together, you two are a force to be recoked with.

    It didn’t go right at your birth, and I’m really sorry for that. But this is a new chapter – and I imagine as hard as it is to let go of that shitty experience, it might be the best thing for you, so you’re freed up to enjoy your daughter’s birth.

    wrapping BIG LOVING thoughts around you both so hard that you’re smooshed together.

    BTW – when is S’s due date? E is June 2. Our girls should SO be pen pals! God that’s a fucking cute image.

  21. Chicory Says:

    hmmm, ok, as the non-bio mom I’ve got to say that I’m worried for you and the way S’s mom is so insistant on genentics. I can see you being pushed out of the way because it isn’t “your” baby and I can see what a horrible, horrible way to start your time with your new child that would be. I’m remembering here about when MIL sent S flowers when S got pregnant the first time, and about how she made a point of making sure you knew that the flowers weren’t for you because you weren’t the one who was pregnant. That’s bad juju there.

    Most of the women commenting above are bio moms. And I don’t want to say that this is a bio vs non-bio thing but I also think that perhaps they’re not taking into account how vulnerable your position is and that you need support too. It’s hell watching your partner go through so much pain and stress and not being able to do anything about it. To add a stressor that isn’t necessary to the mix… This isn’t just about Smartie’s birth, but also about how MIL minimized her own daughter’s motherhood of Smarty, and how MIL has treated and referred to you during this and the previous pregnancy. It’s about the fact that a big reason S wants her there is just to spare MIL’s feelings. I can totally see why you want to keep her from the birth — not only for your sake but also to protect S from the woman’s narcissism. S isn’t going to get the mother she wants in this, and spending your labor trying to manage and protect the feelings of someone like that is going to be horrible and draining for everyone, but especially for her.

    And all the advice about how whatever the pregnant mom wants should be given, absolutely no questions asked, because she’s the pregnant one? This is probably my own issue, but it tends (and tended) to make me as the non-pregnant, but still expecting, mother feel devalued and resentful. Yes — pain relief and laboring technique and location and all other things that have to do with the pregnant woman and her body and what she does should absolutely be up to her. Absolutely. But it’s your birth, too. You’re meeting your child for the first time. And that should be respected as well. Maybe what you most need is an acknowlegement of that. Like you were telling me last night — an acknowlegement that by having MIL there you making a sacrifice for the good of the whole family and having that sacrifice honored (and not as a martyr but as what we were talking about last night).

    That being said, I’m wondering if there is a solution that respects both of your wishes and both of your status as mothers. Can you get a doula? Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking that once labor hits things are going to change. S will be focused on labor and you’ll need to be focused on her. And S might find that having her mother there is making things harder on HER. Because, of course, at that point if MIL is there, you’ll totally be the bigger person, the more loving person. Love wins over fear. But it might bother S to see her mother acting that way. It might make S angry to see her mother disrespecting your family and her labor. S might find that she really doesn’t want her mother there but is still up against the rock of not wanting to hurt her mother’s feelings. If you get a doula and explain to her the situation — and that for the most part you want her to help smooth things over and not cause a scene, but that at a cue from S she needs to get pro-active and authoritarian and get MIL out of the room.

    if this happens then it gets to be the doula who was the bad guy and not S or you. I know you guys are strapped for money, but this might be worth it.

    Or, you could have MIL there but give her a specific chore — like keeping S supplied with ice chips and wiping her brow or something. Something that would satisfy her need to see herself as vital, without actually being vital. Something that would free you up to do all the eye gazing and baby catching and cord cutting that are the truly important jobs.

  22. Chicory Says:

    and, you know, getting to a place where love wins over fear and where love for S and wanting to make her happy is stronger than your fear and all the other negative emotions you’re feeling right now to the point where you can agree with a peaceful heart about letting MIL be there might help shift S back to a place where love wins over fear for her, too, and she’ll be back in a space where she will want to make you happy, too. And once you both get back to that space then you’re a team again and problem-solving will come more easily. You both want the same thing — a stress-free birth and a magical first meeting of your daughters — the rest is just details and issues.

    Let love win over fear.

  23. DeLurker Says:

    Delurking with my two cents, which should be taken with a grain of salt because I don’t know you and I only know what I have read from your site. I agree with the above posters that you won’t regain your past experience by prohibiting something your partner feels strongly about during her tough experience of birthing your daughter. My additional thought is that by allowing your wife the space to make this decision, you may find she reconsiders her opinion over time. There are many months before this event will happen, and she may ultimately choose differently between now and then or in the moment of the birth. Just as your birth changed course and you allowed yourself space to reconsider who you wanted present, so might she. By doing this, the gift you give her (and yourself) is the ability to make that decision as the moment flows, rather than feeling locked in from the months of struggle over it. You may find that her gratefulness in having that space will bring you far more reward than the reward of her acknowledging your frustrations about her mother in the past right now (which is sounds like she already has). Lastly, perhaps her mother will surprise you. Either way, she will either be predictably status quo, and thus you know how to manage your expectations around her, or she will surprise you, which would be a bonus in a moment that probably won’t be mired by all of this anyway given how special it is after all this time you have waited to have your daughter.

  24. cooler*doula Says:

    Just come back to read all the additional comments – and I love what delurker had to say.

    I think she may be spot on about giving S the space to make a decision, and that, within that space, she may find she wishes to change her decision.

  25. Wow! So sorry to hear of the arguing and the nasty blow up. I know all too well about those and how either TTC or pregnancy or babies or whatever can impact the relationship. We have been going through a hell of a time too and I thought we were done with, but we went through some couples counseling and both of us are in individual counseling b/c we both have our own shit to work through, that we thought we were all done with, but apparently not.

    I am a therapist and work with couples all the time and I think that those who seek someone to talk to, mediate or whatever, and who both want to work on things will persevere. Just my 2 cents. I wish you both the best of luck for whatever is meant to be in that delivery room!!

  26. TTC4years Says:

    Would it be at all helpful to incorporate her into a plan, with a job? Like telling her- we want you to be responsible for this task during the birth– something that keeps her in the loop, but out of your way? I know it is hard to have folks around that irritate you and inflame…but maybe she would be more satisfied if she felt included, even if it was peripheral….

    On my other note- and certainly I have no basis to compare on this, being un-knock-up-able– If it was me giving birth, and my mate was trying to tell me who they wanted or didn’t want around, I would probably tell them many bad words.. and I hate that part of it, because I want you to have an experience you love too… It has been so hard for you ( since I have been reading your blog) and I want SO much for you to be blissed out.. I do..but she needs it too:) ( ass-vice, I am so sorry)

    The pollyana in me wants to say that when that baby is a comin’, you will be so happy even SHE won’t rain on your parade…

  27. TTC4years Says:

    Oh yeah- and my MIL– she IS the devil.. so I know how that is… I basically smile and nod when she is around, and bite my tongue really hard. The mate is oblivious to these digs she throws my way, and it is maddening.

    My favorite from her– oh your sister had twins– she can give YOU one. Or – oh the cats- my GRANDCHILDREN.


  28. Clare Says:

    Hello Charlotte. I came back cause I was worried that I had said too much yesterday – and look so many people have said so much more!

    I do think the transition from bio to non-bio is mega weird. 8.5 months and I continue to struggle from time to time.

    I think delurker is right too. I don’t know your S but she sounds generous and kind – and maybe you just both need to get out of your corners and just let it be, let it mull, give real space for any outcome.

    Good luck

  29. ~ d Says:

    If MIL is as horrifying as she sounds, I envision S will boot her from the room.

    The transition from bio to non-bio is very tricky, I’ve certainly been there. I remember Tig and I arguing about birth stuff and my birthy friends telling me… ‘no vagina, no vote’. You have an idea of how you want your babies birth to be *from your perspective*… but what does S want? how does she envision her perfect birth? how does she see her mother being an asset to her birth? what benefit does she see by having her there?

    I don’t know how S is, but with Tig, it was best for me to speak my peace, give her some nuggets to chew on, and let it go. Usually she’d come around once she had a chance to mull it over in her own time. Sometimes too, it helps to write out your position/feelings and communicate that way – give you the opportunity to really think out what you want to say and how you want to say it… and then gives the other person the opportunity to read it without the pressure of responding.

    Just my thoughts… much love to you all…

  30. Clemency Says:

    As far as I can see it, and after reading all the comments here, there IS a way that your impasse might be resolved, although you can’t control whether it happens or not.

    Reading between the lines, I think you know, deep down, that it’s really S’s call who gets to be in the delivery suite when the time comes (if it’s a caesar then she won’t be allowed in at all, will she?). But I also get from you that you are deeply hurt and teed off at S that she didn’t stand up for you during your own delivery.

    So FWIW I believe that you need to hear a very sincere apology from S, where she accepts full responsibility for what she didn’t do back then, and that she recognises that because of that, your memories of your son coming into the world are tarnished. I think that if you two can reach that point, either alone or with the help of a therapist, you will be able to move on and recognise in your turn that if S wants her mother with her (ugh…can’t understand that myself but anyway) then that’s what she gets, as the more comfortable she is, the safer and shorter labour she will probably have.

    I think the suggestion of hiring a doula is worth its weight in gold, too. Having an advocate in the birthing suite for the rights of you two parents, as opposed to the MIL, would be great, as it will take the guilt and baggage of chucking her out off the two of you and onto her.

    I remember as a medical student I had to ‘deliver’ a number of babies , and one really stands out in my mind as an example of the kind of birth I think no-one deserves. The mother was a 22 year old girl, heartbreakingly sweet and trusting, with a loser of a boyfriend who was much more comfortable out of the room than in it and showed zero interest in the process of delivering his son into the world. So far, so bad. But at a fairly early stage in proceedings, the girl’s mother shows up with her aunt in tow – they’d been out shopping, the aunt had nothing better to do but come and attend her niece’s birth as a kind of afternoon diversion – certainly not from any desire to support her. It was clear the girl didn’t want her there in the room, but felt powerless to get rid of her….and she had no-one there to advocate on her behalf. The aunt ended up eating and drinking throughout the day, making loud inappropriate comments and laughing and having conversations with anyone who’d listen….when the labouring mother ‘evacuated’ during the early part of the second stage, as you do, this heinous bitch stood there at the end of the bed, just behind her ass, and snickered. The poor girl was absolutely mortified, and only then did the midwife FINALLY tell the aunt to get out (after asking the girl several times i that’s what she wanted…it was clearly agony for her to make this decision and risk all kinds of family ructions…but she did, in the end). It was all utterly horrifying.

    So since then I’ve been a firm believer in having a third person in the delivery space, wherever it is – not a midwife or a spouse or a family member of one spouse, but preferably a very strong friend to both partners or a paid attendant, to be that advocate that sometimes the birthing mother really needs. Someone that it sounds as if you could have used during your birth.

    I’m sorry you had that hideous fight. My god, have I been there before. Hope I never do again (wishful thinking).

  31. Brooke Says:

    Having now read all of the comments before mine, I have to agree the most with Chicory.
    So many people are saying that as it’s S thats giving birth, she should be able to make the decision. I dont agree with that. I also can’t agree that you need to put yourself in the “dad’s” shoes because this is completely different. The genetics and everything involved in being a non-bio mum make it different. (especially seeing as your MIL has SUCH an issue with genetics)

    I cant imagine how awful your own birthing experience was with such a negative MIL around ruining it for you. I truly feel for you.

    My first child was born before I met my partner. I was single, and chose to have my best friend and my mum at the birth. My mum was great. I really liked having her there. But this time around it has been agreed that she will NOT be there.

    Not because of anything bad that she has done, but because Kim and I have spoken about it and agreed that she wants to be the only one there. If I feel towards the day that I need another support person around off and on, or if she decides SHE needs a support person there, we will discuss it.

    I think that the whole birth experience needs to be the best for both of you. Non-bio mums need that time as theirs (imho).
    I decided that I needed to let Kim ‘have that’, as I am the one experiencing the pregnancy and making all of the other decisions. Any other decisions about birth (methods, where to do it, pain relief etc…should be all S’s).

    I probably would have liked having someone else there for this birth, but I cannot imagine letting someone in who might undermine Kim as this baby’s parent (which is what MIL will do to you, i fear)

    This experience is about both of you. It is YOUR child. And if S is saying ‘let her be there’ because she just doesnt want to hurt her feelings, or deal with her and the fallout after telling her she cant be there, well thats not really a compelling enough reason. If its because she truly is terrified of birth and really really wants her mummy there…well then that is another thing and you may have to compromise a little, becuase I can kind of understand that.

    Unfortunately I cant offer a solution, only that you should try to talk this through without fighting (haha easier said than done, i know) and let go of what MIL did to your borth experience. Really nothing can be gained bybringing it up over and over (although I can totally understand why you might).

    You just need to be clear about your fears about this birth, and how MIL might ruin it. hopefully in time, you can have a constructive conversation and find a way past this.

    (I apologise that this is so long and possibly muddled it is after midnight!!)

    Best of luck

  32. cori Says:

    Quite a bit advise you got there. My advise is to suck it up and let S have her mom there. Though you will have to deal with E-MIL it is her wishes.

    Some battles are worth fighting and this one seems like a never ending circle. She may change her mind as pregnancy progresses.

  33. Jennifer Says:

    Wow…there are lots of great thoughts here. I have no solution. Me, I can be bitter and that whole situation would have pissed me off enough to make me say NO WAY with Baby 2. On the other hand, I just read this amazing quote the other day, by Carrie Fisher, and it is this: “Resentment is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.” That just rings so true to me. I fill myself up with all this poison…I carry the weight of the grudges and bitterness and resentment…and the other person doens’t even care. So part of me says, F her, this is YOUR baby and you deserve a say in all of it, whether it is your actual birth or not. But the other side of me says, let it go. It bothers YOU not her and it is causing a problem in YOUR relationship not hers and YOU (and your wife) are the one one(s) suffering.

    Like I predicted, I am not help at all…

  34. meanmama Says:

    I’m late to comment- sorry. I don’t know, I would never, ever want my mom or mil at a birth. I only want my husband there, so that’s the perspective I’m writing this from – a personal, skewed one.
    I had a high-risk pregnancy last time and was in and out of the hospital and on bedrest, etc. The whole thing was scary. Even though I needed I lot of help from my husband during my pregnancy, I still do not believe that the pregnant person should get whatever she wants unconditionally. I think the feelings and well-being of the partner totally matter too. I think the pregnant person should get what she very truly, authentically needs, not whatever she wants. Both partners’ desires should be in consideration, but if no agreement can be made…. well, then I say don’t have *anyone* in the delivery room other than the two of you and make the experience a very intimate one that only you two share. On the other hand, if S is scared to labor and feels that she really, truly needs her mother to help her through that, then that is something to consider. But if it’s only a strong desire rather than a need, then I’m not so sure. Sure S and all laboring moms are special and important, but so are the partners, the co-parents. You matter too.
    Having said all that, if you can’t come to an agreement, it might eventually feel better to give in and know you are doing so because you love your wife. But again, you do matter.
    Good luck!!!!

  35. Julia Says:

    I would uninvite anyone you’ve already told could be at the birth and make absolutly no exceptions. Once the baby arrives, I would INVITE people in one by one to meet the new addition. Everyone needs to respect your privacy during the birth of your child. I understand that you may want other people there. Ultimatly though, this is the baby you two created together and you are the only two “entitled” to be there.

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