My in-laws are wanting to stay with us after the birth for 6 weeks and that idea is totally freaking me out. My husband doesn’t really understand which is frustrating.
We live in Texas and they live in Chicago, so I know the travel is extensive, but they have plenty of extra money to stay in an AirBnB. I’d be happy to have them for maybe a week. My father in law takes a ton of Vicodin and I don’t want his energy around my baby. We are also planning to raise our children differently than they would. I know this will cause for my in-laws to step-in with their opinions during their 6 week stay.
My in-laws also want to put us up in a nice hotel after the baby is born for a weekend so we can rest while they watch the baby. The whole of idea of this (though kind) gave me so much anxiety that I spent the whole night crying over the idea. My husband thinks I already have attachment issues and is not understanding the connection breastfeeding and co-sleeping creates, let alone being a new mom!— Anxious New Mom
How would you deal with this?!
Hi Anxious New Mom,
First, CONGRATULATIONS! Expecting a baby is so exciting.
Second, I can understand why you’re anxious. There are some big requests here!
Your anxiety is your mother’s intuition already telling you that your in-law’s well-meaning offer will not be giving you the intended results. You are a sweet daughter-in-law + wife to consider everyone’s thoughts, but, first + foremost, you’re mom to a baby who needs you to consider his thoughts + yours *first*.
Stick with your gut. “No thank you” means no thank you. You can decline gracefully + without explanation. I think one of the biggest lessons of my first parenting year was to stop justifying/explaining my parenting choices. Doing so is exhausting + that energy is much better conserved for you and baby to bond!
Either way, I think having your husband communicate with his parents is the smoothest way to set boundaries.
For others listening — If they’re your parents who are extending the offer, I think you should set the boundaries for them. Its that child’s responsibility.
Here’s how I would handle the situation if I were you:
Politely Decline the Hotel Overnight Stay
First, prep your conversation environment. For me, I know important conversations with my husband do require some extra attention on him. I know he’s a better conversationalist when he’s eaten, hydrated, the dogs are outside, the TV is off, and our older daughter is asleep. It’s worth it to me to prep my environment for a few minutes before trying to engage in a more serious conversation.
Next, I would say to my husband, at that calm, quiet time without interruption or distraction:
“I don’t fully understand how I’m going to feel as a new mom because I’m not all the way in it yet, but what I do know for sure, is that I’m gonna need some space + sleep in my own bed to figure it all out.
I already feel that I’m gonna feel uncomfortable being away from my baby after I’ve been with the baby for 40+ weeks, so I know for sure that going to a hotel away from the baby definitely isn’t going to work for me. I need to take this option off the table until after the Fourth Trimester.
The “Fourth Trimester” starts once baby is born and lasts until baby is 3-months-old. There is an abundance of information about the importance of mother-baby connection during this time. A general Google search will yield you some decent results (but check back here, because you know I’ve got a 4th trimester post coming up soon!).
Unlike other mammals, humans don’t birth a fully functioning offspring and baby has a significant amount of growing to still do next to mom. Ask him to read up on those first 90 days — and what that might mean for you as a recovering mom, too — if he’s still resistant to declining the hotel stay.
Your decision might be unpopular, but if your gut is telling you that staying home is the best move for you + baby (and biology would honestly agree), then stand firm in declining. No one can make you go.
Option 1 — Offer Solutions
Now, you’re not obligated to come up with a solution or alternative. You’re able to just say NO to your in-law’s overnight stay(s) in your home and that’s FINE.
I tend to be a Mrs. Fix-It (and that bites me in the butt in a million other ways). If you’re a Mrs. Fix-It, too, and you just want to get this whole discussion over with, then do that.
This is how I would continue the conversation:
“I’m also pretty sure that having extra guests around who could be interrupting that rest + recovery time isn’t going to work either. I need the time to figure out what is going to work for the people under our immediate roof.
So, here’s what I have for a solution…
I found some AirBnBs that are within a 3-mile walking distance from our house and it looks like they’re available for this length of time (whatever dates/time you’re comfortable with).
How about you send them some links and say ‘Hey, we think this would probably be the best fit so that we can make sure we’re making the best use of the time that we are seeing you and so that everyone’s comfortable.’
They can use the money they’d be gifting us in the babysitting hotel overnight stay to apply towards this AirBnB and get the most mileage out of their money.”
You know, as a new mom, apart from just having guests pop in and out which can be a lot on its own, you don’t want to feel like you have to entertain. And entertaining is just one thing; it’s a whole other thing to feel like you can’t walk around with your boobs hanging out.
In order to get the hang of breastfeeding or to get the hang of bedsharing safely, you’re going to want to be able to just be comfortable at home. That often means not having any guests especially in the first few days.
Refer to your practitioner’s advice
My midwives said that an ideal span would be 2 weeks of no visitors. Only the midwife would be coming to our house for mom and baby wellness checks. It’d be dad’s responsibility to have an active role in my recovery — helping the house continue to run, make sure I’m fed, etc. and then grandparents can come. Ask your healthcare practitioner for their specific advice.
If you have a more natural-minded, organic practitioner chances are they’re going to encourage you to have a longer period of time before family comes bombarding you and you can use that as a factual point that you’re following if you feel like you need to come up with evidence to justify anything to your husband or in-laws.
I made the mistake of going against my midwife’s advice and invited my family to stay with us after 3 days postpartum. You can read more about my early postpartum days here.
In particular, I would make sure your husband is fully educated on what to expect with your intentions postpartum.
For example, if you’re considering a more attachment parenting style, you’ll want your husband to fully understand what it means by having the baby bedsharing with you, what exclusive breastfeeding demands will be, how he can participate in babywearing + bonding early-on, etc.
Your midwife will be a great facilitator of this conversation, especially regarding the first 6-weeks postpartum. You want him to be as educated as possible now, so that you aren’t trying to explain this later.
Option 2 — Just Say “No, Thank You!”
The other thing you could do — and would arguably be the best thing you could do — is not be a fix-it at all. Which is hard for me and people like me, so I get it!
The BEST thing you could do is to say that beginning part to your husband — “I’m not sure how I’m gonna feel about being a new mom, because I’m not all the way in it yet, and I need the space to figure it out. I want to be able to have my boobs hanging out (he’s your husband, he might enjoy having your boobs hanging out!).” Then add, “Can YOU come up with an alternative that gives me these checkmarks. I want to feel like I/we can do XYZ…”
And list your needs. He can add his own, too.
“I want to be able to do skin-to-skin, or to have intermittent naked nap time with YOU + Baby, so that we all bond together + its not just mom-and-baby all the time.”
Volleying this to your husband is a great way to get him involved and I’m sure he’d be happy to step-up.
The Boundaries Bonus
What’s also nice about your in-laws having an AirBnB down the street, is that it could be their “job” to host other long and short visit guests over there.
So, maybe you’re having other family members who want to come in from out of town — maybe the aunts + uncles who live out of state — they could all pool some of the costs even more, they could gather for meals over there — away from baby which allows a germ-free zone and more quiet time in your immediate home — and they could visit in your home during a certain smaller window of time like a “visiting hour”.
Just set the expectations up front of how you want people coming in and out, if at all. You’re giving your in-laws staying there an added purpose + they feel like they’re still doing something for you without necessarily being around you.
You are so within your mothering boundaries and rights to say “this is what works in my house, and this is what doesn’t, and I understand if you don’t agree with it, but I do need you to respect it.” and that’s it. You can say it nicely.
It’s a practice that you’ll really have to put into practice as a mom. And this is one of your first lessons in that!
Be grateful that something like this came up for you now, because its a great way to learn and practice using your mommy voice, and its also a great way to practice putting boundaries in place with your mother-in-law and father-in-law and whoever else in the future, because those opportunities are going to come up.
Hope that helped! Wishing you the smoothest birth + transition into motherhood. Congratulations again on your new baby!