And the Negotiations Begin

In which EEP gripes about her in-laws, navigates new territory with T., and interviews a doula. So yeah, it’s all about the P-word.

Somehow I failed to notice that I had failed to communicate to T. that my parents are planning to come for a whole month around the time of my expected due date. My dad will stay with his sister’s family about an hour’s drive away, and my mom will stay upstairs in our landlady’s daughter’s room (said daughter is away at college). Whenever I go into labor, we will call my in-laws and they will come for a few days and stay at a motel. That was the plan, anyway. Once T. realized how long my folks are staying, we started talking about how small our apartment is, and actually running simulations. Six adults is a lot for our place. Even though there are two separate rooms (one kitchen/dining/couch room and one bedroom/office/sitting room), the door in between does little to block sound, so really there is no actual privacy. So now we are thinking of subletting a 2-BR apartment for the month of June where we can stash all relatives and visitors . . .

The other area of negotiation that this opened up was T. asserting a stronger idea of how he perceives his role in all this. Honestly I was pretty confused, because on the one hand he’s often said that he wishes it was the old days when dads just paced the hallway with a box of cigars. But on the other hand he’s recently been very clear that he wants to be by my side for D-Day. He also came along when I went to meet the doula, which frankly surprised me. So what I figured out this morning, while walking to campus lost in thought, is this: he feels proprietory and responsible, but the physical details of the birthing process completely wig him out. So he wants to be there in some kind of protective/guardian role, and does not want to be supplanted from this role by either my mom or the doula, but at the same time isn’t about to perform the “new age” dad role. There is no way on earth he is getting anywhere near that umbilical cord.

The bottom line is that we are going to have to continue to work out what everyone’s role will be – especially for my mom. Basically what I want from her is a comforting presence and the soothing sound of her voice. But T. worries that she is going to encroach on what he perceives as his territory (there is historical precendent for this).

Really the conversation with the doula was a springboard for beginning to talk about all of this. So it was good we both went.

And that brings us to the in-laws . . . why is it that my MIL gets so under my skin? This coming week is my spring break; I was prepared to spend the whole time in VA, but T. was inclined to spend at least half the week here. When we looked at the calendar, I realized that I had scheduled my next appointment for Wednesday morning – smack-dab in the middle. So we thought to drive to VA immediately after my appt. But then my MIL e-mailed inviting us to dinner early in the week, since they are leaving on vacation Wednesday a.m. and won’t be back until after I’ve returned to school. I told her about the appointment, and she wrote back:
“We’re disappointed that we may not get to see you before we leave for Costa Rica, and who knows for how long afterwards. I wanted to check out that ‘critter habitat’ which Terry says is bulging nicely!”

Why was this phrasing so freaking irritating to me??? It had occured to me, prior to this exchange, that if I didn’t see them now I probably wouldn’t see them again until after the baby is born, and I felt kind of bad, knowing that she in particular would enjoy seeing me pregnant. But for some reason, having her say it just rubs me the wrong way. Plus the last time we talked on the phone she said something about how we’re going to have to work on the house a good bit while we’re in VA on break, getting ready for the baby. It’s like any insinuation of being told what to do or how to do it just makes me want to hiss and spit like a cornered cat. It’s really not fair to her, because overall she is very sweet to me and talks like I walk on water. T. has often made the claim that I could get away with giving them both giant wedgies and they would just laugh and say what a wonderful wedgie-giver I am. I can’t figure out why I react to her this way. In some ways I guess I feel like I’m being judged on my performance of pregnancy by some rubric that I never had an opportunity to consent to or refuse.

In any case, I did get the appointment changed to Tuesday morning, so we can see them Tuesday night at least. But then T. told me not to tell his mom yet, because he has a soccer game here Tuesday night and he wants to keep the option open of deciding at the last minute which is more important – seeing his parents before they take off, or playing soccer.

So buckle up, folks, this summer is bound to be a bumpy ride.

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6 Responses to “And the Negotiations Begin”

  1. Grad3 Says:

    T sounds a lot like L to me… in how he feels about what his role is and what our doula is going to be doing. We have a meeting with her next week.

    I think that I would get irritated about that email too. I sense a little passive- aggressive under current there (in my humble opinion). My MIL did something very similar to me related to the baby shower my sisters are throwing.

    I hope that things settle down soon for you!

  2. tara Says:

    Yikes, I feel your pain and think that the extra space may be a good move. I felt like my house was overflowing and just went upstairs and cried for a while when I came home from the hospital.

    A didn’t want to cut the umbilical cord either so Mom did that one. I also told him that he could stand at my head and not look ‘down there’ if didn’t want to. For A the hardest part was seeing me in pain, which I can imagine is also going to stress T out as well.

  3. Elizabeth Says:

    Wow, I can’t believe anyone made it through that entire post…
    grad3 – passive-aggressive hits the nail on the head. It is highly characteristic.

  4. CO Cessnas Says:

    I think I had some ideas about what S’s role in childbirth might be. He had very few ideas about it all, and never got into reading all the moongodessy (his words) birth manuals w me, except to tease. But during, he was great to yell at when something was annoying me (music at the wrong time, wrong massage, whatever). And great to cry with. And he did follow the midwife’s directions really well…..So……

  5. Rachel Says:

    I totally feel for you. T. sounds like my M. He was in the delivery room but had no interest in cutting the cord or even looking “down there” 19 hours in though, he finally did.

    Even if you are close to your family, I think you will want some space when your bring your baby home. I think a hotel or an apartment for the guests is an excellent idea.

    I totally understand wanting your in-laws to butt out even if they aren’t that bad. I sometimes have trouble remembering that our son is related to them. When they came to visit me (actually LG) in the hospital for the 3rd time, I almost told them they weren’t welcome. I hated any idea that came from them even if it actually was good.

  6. niobe Says:

    It’s funny, but there are some people who, like your MIL, really rub me the wrong way no matter what they say or do. I try to swallow my annoyance, but I’m seldom successful.

    Re-reading this, I realize that it sounds like I’m saying that your MIL rubs me the wrong way, which actually, after reading that email she kind of does. “Critter habitat” = nails on a blackboard.

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