Dear Amy: My fiance and I are expecting our first child next month. During a visit three months ago, his mother declared that she would be present for the birth. At that point we hadn’t even discussed the baby’s delivery, let alone visitors at home or at the hospital.
We agreed to this, but now I’m resentful of her declaration and also stressed over the idea of his large family being with us during those early days.
I don’t like to be crowded when I’m stressed, and he has a large and tight-knit family.
I know they want to welcome our daughter into the world and to help out, but I’m not looking forward to it.
I want to breastfeed in private and bond with my new family without people breathing down my neck.
I thought I could compromise by stipulating that adults are welcome, but the young children are not. I told this to an older friend, who said I was being selfish to exclude the children and that they would resent this for years to come.
Am I being selfish? I know there’s a whole “no visitors” movement by moms putting their foot down because of the stress family can add after bringing a new baby home. I’m here for it.
I’d appreciate your insight.
Expecting in AZ
Dear Expecting: As long as visitors (young and older) are healthy they don’t pose a risk to your newborn, but your physical, mental and emotional health is paramount.
Yes, these early days are vital bonding times for your little family.
My personal insight and advice to you is that you have a short time to quiet outside voices, grow a backbone, and to be in charge of your life and your baby’s early days.
If you have told your mother-in-law that she could be “present for the birth” (I assume not actually present in the delivery room), then I suggest that you rescind this immediately. You can say, “As the date gets closer, I’m more aware of what I need, and I definitely need privacy during the early days. Let’s FaceTime with you on the delivery day and then schedule a visit for after that, once we’ve adjusted.”
The time when you might need and welcome the most “help” is when the baby is three or four weeks old. Your partner should work with you to schedule visits and to be a gatekeeper regarding his clan. This is an important role, and it is one way he will protect his new family.
Once you establish your feeding routine, your confidence and patience will grow. Give yourself time and give your partner’s family the benefit of knowing that when it comes to you, they need to respect your boundaries.
Dear Amy: I’m torn between attending a memorial service and a professional conference. I know the memorial service should take precedence, but the service is for someone I barely know — the wife of my husband’s childhood acquaintance “Barry.”
My husband’s family and Barry’s family were among several families that went camping together every year. The parents’ generation has continued to see each other regularly (except during the pandemic); my husband’s generation generally only does this for big events, like a big wedding.
I met Barry only once, briefly, and probably about 10 years ago. Neither my husband nor I ever met his wife.
The memorial service is a big camping trip. If this event were any other time, I would go and participate fully, but my two-day professional conference is extremely important to me.
The logistics are such that I can’t do both.
My husband has told me that I can go to the conference, and he’ll bring our kids on the memorial trip with his parents.
In general, I think a memorial service would outweigh any professional event. However, since neither my husband or I are particularly close to Barry, can I choose a work event that is really important, and not feel guilty?
Dear Torn: Your husband and children will be flying the family flag at this memorial event.
He will pass along your condolences.
You could follow up with a note to the grieving husband, expressing your regrets.
Dear Amy: I liked your comprehensive response to “Nice Guys Finish Last” the delusional landlord who wanted his tenants to thank him for basically doing what landlords are supposed to do.
I’ve been a landlord for many years. Peaceful and clean tenants paying the rent on time is all the appreciation that this landlord needs.
Dear Grateful: Exactly.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.