When we found out I was pregnant, we decided that we wanted to tell our immediate families in person. A little harder because B’s family lives in Tennessee and his sister in Alabama. My family and part of B’s lives about two hours away. We knew that we would have to come up with an excuse to go to TN so we made up a visit to B’s former employer for a presentation, which he actually ended up doing. I was 16 weeks along and worried that they would be able to tell instantly but I wore loose fitting clothes and no one guessed.
Our second day there we had dinner as a family and we told everyone. It happened to fall on April 1st, so everyone thought it was an April Fools joke. Everyone was so excited and immediately started talking about who would come up when. His mom and sister both mentioned cancelling their “girls of the family” trip to the beach with B’s aunts since the little one was due that week. It is always stuff like that I notice. The “family” was planning a girls’ trip and I had no idea.
After the trip, things were good. Everyone called lots and asked how I was feeling, how the nursery was coming, yada yada. I can honestly say that this has been the only time in my relationship with my MIL that I would consider it good. Then… the we’re coming the week he is born began. Lots of them. My first baby. My girly business being all ripped up (or so I thought). Not sleeping. Trying to learn to breastfeed. And visitors. Extended stay visitors.
I immediately told husband that I wasn’t comfortable with so many people in our house right after the baby was born. I don’t think he truly got it, but fortunately his sister and her husband did. They made plans to visit a month after for four or five days. Perfect. His mom was dead set on coming right when he was born but never officially said when she would come and go. I was super nervous about this. I had heard about the hormones that go raging through your body and even though MIL and I were okay, we had about 13 years of not okay. But she kept saying how I could just relax, sleep and take care of the baby and wouldn’t have to worry about anything else. It sounded good, in theory.
I found out that I would be having a scheduled c-section and MIL was ecstatic that she could be there when things happened. But as baby tend to do, he had his own schedule and came early via emergency c-section. MIL got in her car the next morning and was there by evening. My parents came to visit with my little brother. My sister, our neighbors, my best friend and grandmother also came. And then MIL came. All visitors after she arrived were practically intruders taking her time away from the baby. But I was on pain killers and delusional from the newfound lack of sleep so I didn’t notice. It was pointed out to me later by my husband’s best friend and his wife. Ugh.
I was in the hospital from Friday to Monday around noon. I was exhausted and just ready to go home to my own bed and learn how to be a mom. But every single moment, there she was. By Tuesday, I could tell that something was off. I was sitting the nursery, with my boob out for the 8 millionth time and my boss called. I heard the house phone ring, MIL answer it and her say “ She’s up in the nursery doing SOMETHING.” Oh, you know, just having a party up here as my nipple bleeds in the baby’s mouth and I talk to my boss. Happy days!
When I got off the phone and was finished nursing, I came downstairs to make some lunch and she about flipped because I was making a sandwich for myself. Honestly, I had spent the previous five days as a milk cow for forty-five minutes every two hours and just wanted to make a damn sandwich. Then she made judgmental comments about how I didn’t eat anything on my sandwich (mayo, mustard, cheese, etc) and I just laughed it off until she honestly looked at me like I was a freak. Sorry, I don’t eat a lot of condiments?
She went upstairs to her work laptop and I tried to talk to her about my boss/ job. She never took her eyes from her laptop, so I let it go. Then the baby woke up and it was probably time to milk again. Those were fun days. When I was upstairs nursing again, she strode past the room, said she was going out for a while and left. At that point, I knew there was shit about to hit the fan. I was already over it at that point. When she made dinner that nite and we all sat around the table, I just wanted to plant my face into the table and go to bed. I didn’t care about eating a salad, meal and dessert. I wanted bed and pain free nipples. Maybe a non ripped open gut too.
On Wednesday morning we had our first dr. appointment and B’s aunts were supposed to come up. Originally to spend the nite. Why, yes! At our house! With a less than week old baby and only one spare bedroom for three people! GREAT PLAN! Apparently MIL picked up on the fact that I was not a fan of this idea when I told my husband I was not a fan of the idea of two MORE people in my house with my bleeding boobies and screaming new baby. Come for a visit, sure! But stay the nite? Not the best idea in my mind!
Apparently she had went to find a hotel room the day before when she ran out but due to big college football town, rooms were either not available or upwards of $300 a nite. The aunts live 1.5 hours away, not like they couldn’t visit her one day and then MIL go visit them another day.
Tuesday at some point, I said to my husband that I knew things were headed in a bad place with his mom. I didn’t know what I had done, I didn’t care. Please see bleeding nipples, ripped open gut and 45 minute nursing every two hours. I was learning how to be a mother and I didn’t need to deal with the drama.
Wednesday it all went to hell. We went to our doctor appointment and on the way back I told my husband that I was over it. I had greater things to deal with than worrying about his mother. He told me that his mother thought that I was hiding from her and didn’t want her help. I’ll be honest. Sleeping and nursing were about the only things that I was doing at that point. I wasn’t worried about our meals, the house, anything. I am a fairly modest person and not comfortable with anyone seeing my boobs, let alone my MIL, so I nursed upstairs in his room. Then, it made sense if I was tired to walk right across the hall and sleep in our bedroom. But that was a problem. She didn’t understand how why I didn’t just use that cover thing and nurse in the same room as her. Sorry, I don’t often shove my nip in a baby’s mouth. It took practice without a cover, let alone trying it on day five of nursing with a cover. I thought napping in my bed made sense. Silly me.
So the aunts were there. We visited for a little bit and then they wanted to go for a walk. I didn’t know any better, so we loaded up the stroller and started walking. Three houses down the street and I thought something was going to fall out the front of my stomach. Something important like internal organs. I started to cry and told husband that I had to head back to the house. Honestly I barely made it ¼ of a mile and thought I was going to pass out. Once we got back into the house I laid down for a bit and they began dinner. Other than nursing the baby, I slept. At dinnertime, husband asked if I wanted to come down. I told him honestly that I just wanted to lay in bed but that I would be seen as a bitch if I didn’t come down and I didn’t want to deal with that. He told me not to worry about them and to just sleep. So I did.
When I woke up, they had left. I ate less than half of the dinner my MIL made and went back to bed. At 11:00, husband came up to bed and told me that his mother was leaving because I didn’t want her there. I knew he was upset about it and in my mind I felt relief. Relief that I could just learn this whole new mom thing without worrying about making any one mad. But I heard the despair in my husband’s voice that this was his only family that was seeing our new baby and how much that meant to him. That she had driven nine hours to “take care of us.” And I got it. I understood that it meant a lot to him to have the support of his mother. So I heaved my lard ass out of the bed and went downstairs. I didn’t mince words and told her matter of factly that I didn’t get it. I am trying to do all these things to take care of the baby and was not even thinking about what I needed to do in order to treat her the way she felt she needed to be treated. We went back and forth about her leaving and I told her repeatedly that I thought that was a really shitty thing to do to her son that obviously needed and wanted her there. I never once said that I needed her there which I think is what she wanted to hear. I couldn’t say it because I didn’t mean it. It was so stressful trying to do everything else that catering to her ego was beyond my capacity at that time.
Again, like every time we have had rounds, I apologized. What did I apologize for? Hell, I don’t know? Breathing? I apologized for nursing upstairs, sleeping upstairs, not letting her make me a sandwich (seriously, the sandwich?), for growing up in a family where I don’t need to share everything under the sun about my life. You name it, I apologized for it. At no point did she say, Stephanie I know what you are going through. This is really a hard time for a woman. Maybe I should just ease up on you and not take things so personally.
At the end of the conversation, where again, I felt defeated and like I was some sort of horrible person, she decided she would grace us with her presence for the rest of the week. So the rest of the week, I had to nap on the couch, try to nurse under a cover with bleeding nipples and sit at the table and eat. Really I wanted to tell her to go f herself but I held back. I think there is a trophy somewhere for this.
The rest of the week was okay. I was seething inside but decided that I could handle it for a few more days. That her lack of respect for me as a new parent was simply how she operated and that once she was gone, I would be okay. That it would fade away and I would move on. But lawd. I was pissed off.
The best part – they all then planned to come for Christmas!!! Ah, the rest of the story to come.