New Momma Drama With The Visiting Grandmomma

by admin on March 6, 2018

More red letter responses from The Dame…

Background: My husband and I grew up in neighboring towns and now live 9 hours away via car from our families-of-origin. We host our parents several times throughout the year, and we always make it a point to be a good hosts & make everyone feel welcome (deep clean the house so it’s spotless, make sure we have their favorite foods on hand- including brands my husband & I don’t consume, make at least one fancy dinner during their stay, make a full breakfast every morning, take them to dinner for local cuisine, and plan fun outings, etc).

My husband & I recently welcomed a new baby boy, and both sets of parents generously offered to come visit in order to help out. Due to medical indications, I knew in advance I was having a c-section, and was instructed not to lift anything heavier than the baby and minimize stair-climbing post-op- so I was looking forward to some help. My husband was able to take the first 2 weeks off, but we thought I would likely still need help for a few weeks after. With our new baby, we’re down to just one guest room, so we thought it best to stagger our parents’ visits, pending their schedules.   Tiny newborns do not need their own bedroom at this age. A bassinet by the new mom’s bed works just fine and strengthens the idea that this new baby belongs with the new mom.  A separate nursery room segregated the baby in such a way that your mom could commandeer control of the baby easier. Btw, your bedroom you share with your husband should be sacrosanct, as in no one goes in there unless invited.   It’s the one place in the house you can retreat with the baby that everyone should honor.   My mom even suggested we not have everyone visit at once, but told me to “make sure I knew who was using the guest room first”- meaning my father & her. As it turns out, my in-laws couldn’t visit until the baby was a month old, due to work schedules. We talked to both sets of parents, explained my post-op restrictions, and how I wasn’t going to be up to my usual hosting standards, and if they wanted to come visit to help, I could really use assistance with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. We asked that they not come visit until after my husband’s paternity leave was over, since that’s when I would need the most help. I figured this would give us a chance to establish a routine & breastfeeding, and bond as a new family.

Both sets of parents were on-board with this plan earlier in my pregnancy, but as we got closer to my due date, my mom became more demanding. She started referring to my unborn child as her baby. Pretty common. Ignore it.  She started insinuating that it “wasn’t safe” for my husband to take care of me and the new baby during the first 2 weeks alone, since he has minimal childcare experience- trying to angle for an earlier visit for herself. When that didn’t work, she decided as maternal grandmother, she had exclusive rights to be the first to hold the new baby, and was going to come visit (9 hours away) in the hospital, and then since they were “already there”, they wouldn’t need to go home for 2 weeks just to come back. She happily informed me they could just stay for the whole month! We told her that wouldn’t work for us- they were welcome to make the trip to visit in the hospital but were going to have to leave when we were discharged because we were really looking forward to those 2 weeks at home to bond as a new family, and they could come back as scheduled (their plane tickets had already been purchased for the later visit).

-During their stay in our home, my mom sat on the couch holding the baby the entire time. When the dryer would buzz, she’d say something like “oh, is that your dryer? Someone should get that” and then look at me expectantly. So me, with my fresh post-op body, would be folding laundry, while my mom bonded with my new baby.

Ornery me would have simply piled the clean, dry laundry and left it unfolded in an ever increasing laundry mountain.

-She “helped” in the kitchen by unloading the clean dishes from the dishwasher and leaving them all over my counter because she “didn’t know where anything went”- despite the fact that our cabinets have glass fronts so you can literally see where everything goes without even opening them, but whatever.    My mom did the same thing.  She’s trying to be helpful but is self limiting that help out of a concern to not make it hard for you to find things she’s misplaced unintentionally.   My husband still puts kitchen stuff away in the wrong drawers and cabinets when he empties the dishwasher.

-During my third trimester, I had made a bunch of meals for my freezer, so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking. My mom decided we should save those for when I went back to work, and thought it was somehow “more convenient” for me to go to the grocery store every day to purchase whatever she wanted for dinner- which she offered to make, but never would, and then wouldn’t eat once I cooked it- saying “you know I like to eat dinner late”- meaning like 10 or 11 pm. Such a late dinner was not working for me or my baby’s schedule, and she insinuated I was being rude because they were guests and we should alter our dinner time to accommodate her. She would refuse to tell me what she wanted to eat for multiple days in a row, so we had to make a daily trek to the grocery store. My mom refused to drive the 1 mile to the store by herself, because the roads in our suburban neighborhood were “too dangerous” for her.  Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.   This would have happened about 3 times before I caught on to the manipulation and simply said,  “Dinner is XXXX and is being served at XX:XX time,” and then stick to the menu and dinner time.  Your mom is not under any obligation to actually eat anything you prepare but she’s also not allowed to whine for different accommodations of her eating preferences.  If grandmom has a problem with that, provide her the addresses of local restaurants, phone numbers of restaurants that deliver.

-She would insist I needed to nap, and then once I would lay down on the couch to nap (& inform her of my intentions), she would strike up a conversation and get offended if I ignored her. (I was supposed to minimize stair-climbing, which is why I didn’t attempt to nap upstairs in our room at first). The one time I did nap upstairs, she left my kid in a dirty diaper and onesie soaked in spit-up for 3 hours, because she didn’t want to put him down and refused to change any diapers. That was the last nap I took during their stay. Your mom and dad didn’t change a single diaper?!  How useless!

-She would wait til my baby was screaming in hunger and my poor, engorged breasts were leaking before relinquishing my son to eat. I had to request she hand him over multiple times, while she tried everything to soothe him herself.

Where was my husband in all this? Working. Where was my dad in all this? Working from the home office he set up on our dining room table. Also, he saw no problem with my mother’s behavior. Why didn’t I have a shinier spine? My parents were visiting for 2 weeks, had non-refundable plane tickets, and my mom has a tendency to be a drama-queen. If you get into an argument with her, she WILL NOT let it end until you agree she’s right- going so far as to follow you into your bedroom and prevent you from sleeping. I bit my hormonally-charged, sleep-deprived tongue the whole time in order to survive the visit.

According to my sister, after my parents left, my mom was under the impression that they provided “so much help” for me, and how her only wish was that I would’ve napped more. According to my sister, she felt I had been rude about “hogging my baby” to breastfeed, when she could have fed him a bottle. She felt I was rude for going to bed early (she goes to bed at 2 am), and for scheduling repair men to come to the house to fix the furnace at 8 am while I was on leave because it interfered with her ability to sleep in. She felt I was rude for not appreciating the fact that I still had my freezer meals and instead had to make multiple grocery store runs. She felt I was rude for not taking her shopping for clothes and baby accessories more. My sister’s take is that while our mom is annoying, I should just appreciate what she did for us and cut her some slack because she’s excited to be a grandmother. E-hellions, what is your take? Is it rude to not play hostess to out-of-town guest while recovering from major surgery? Should house guests that are visiting a family with a new baby be expected to pitch in- in a way that’s actually helpful to the new parents? You cannot have an expectation that someone owes you anything.  If the prospective house guests take the initiative to state a desire to assist the new parents in a specific way during their visit, invite them to come.  If there is no offer to extend specific help to the new parents, you say, “I’m sorry but we cannot accommodate your visit at this time,” because the latter has an unfortunate expectation of being served like a guest when the host is post-operative.  Or by inviting guests to stay, are you obligated to cook/clean/provide preferred foods, Not if you are post-surgery, and unlimited baby snuggles? I don’t know about you but I found it impossible to snuggle my newborns 24/7 so all the love the baby can get is great regardless of who is doing the snuggling.  If this is your mom’s first grandchild,  remember that she is almost 10 hours away and likely not see her grandchildren frequently.  She was soaking up the baby love to store it for memories later.   Cut her some slack. I promise you that by the fourth grandchild, she won’t be this hyper.   For what it’s worth, my in-laws came, changed loads of diapers, cooked & cleaned, and allowed me to nap & breastfeed my kid with little drama.   1025-17

A new baby changes everyone’s lives and can bring out the worst and best in people.   Any baggage you and your mother had is going to magnified in this “hormonally-charged” time period.   You do not have baggage (or very little) with your in-laws so neither of you were primed, locked and loaded to get offended.


{ 118 comments… read them below or add one }

drAK March 6, 2018 at 10:44 am

The fact that the baby *can* sleep in a bassinet is not relevant. The new parents wanted the baby to sleep in his own room, which is their choice.


admin March 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm

And there are consequences to choices. Suck it up and live with those consequences.


Queen of Cupcakes March 6, 2018 at 6:42 pm

Yes, there are consequences to choices like the grandmother’s awful behavior will hopefully lead to her being cut out of their life.


admin March 7, 2018 at 8:55 am

There is a crucial element to this story that no one appears to be seeing and that is the reaction of the OP’s sister to hearing of the issues with mom. The OP’s sister knows the two main characters in this story far, far better than you or I ever will and thus she cautions the OP that while “…our mom is annoying, I should just appreciate what she did for us and cut her some slack because she’s excited to be a grandmother.” I suspect the sister had routinely played peacemaker between two strong personalities of her sister and mother.

You and others counseling a complete removal of the grandmother out of the OP’s life are being blog drama queens. It’s easy to recommend that solution without noting the long term effects this will have on all the relationships in the family. It’s the nuclear bomb solution to a situation that does not require it.


dippy March 7, 2018 at 9:39 am

If my mother showed up after I had just given birth and had surgery and expected to be waited on hand and foot and was generally a PITA, I’d send her home and not cut her slack.

That was not excitement over a grand child, that was pure self absorbment. (is that a word?)

Did we get a new admin, because this whole thing seems not like the regular one.

Mrssaint March 7, 2018 at 10:17 am

Wow admin! Spot on! I get so tired of the people who can’t figure out a solution other than “drop them” ,”cut them out of your life” ,”don’t have anything to do with those toxic personalities”! I mean oh my gosh people yeah…there are annoying people in our lives and you just learn to deal with it. If you cut out every annoying person in your life,you’re not going to have any friends or family at all left. We love and support oye families, not cut them out over ever little issues ( and believe you me these are all little issues).

jessiebird March 7, 2018 at 11:06 am

With all due respect, Admin, and you may be right, but there also situations where people excuse and accomodate bad behavior for myriad agendas of their own. I think we call them “flying monkeys.” I’m not saying that’s the case here or that you are wrong, but the sister’s quote doesn’t give enough information to be sure it is just a a matter of two strong personalities conflicting. And even if that’s the case, I think we are supposed to give some leeway for postpartum, postoperative women. Just some.

In fact, the quote raises my hackles.

Anon March 7, 2018 at 12:25 pm

That’s one possible reading. Or, the grandmother could be a total narcissist and the sister is really good at appeasing and diffusing. Someone with experience with narcissists would read this situation entirely differently. Without more information, it’s impossible to tell what “truth” there is. But…complaining about repair men?? So much of GM’s complaints are objectively beyond the pale. Refusing to give up a crying baby to its mother? Forcing daily trips to the market? I trust the OP’s account.

Dee March 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm

When my mom and I had “falling-outs”, she would implore my siblings to get me to “take her back”. She did not mention an apology or anything of the sort, just would harass my siblings. They, in turn, would harass me because they didn’t like being harassed by mom. They didn’t care how badly she had crossed the line with me or how I felt about things, just that they didn’t have to suffer the consequences. That’s how life in a dysfunctional family works.

My one biggest regret is not putting my foot down harder and letting the chips fall where they may, even if it meant my mom refusing to have anything to do with us anymore. Oh, and she was so excited to be a grandma, too. I was the only one of us “kids” to have kids. But I can’t say the effect she had on my kids was particularly positive, and she certainly contributed to my own stress, and that most certainly affected my kids.

AS March 7, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Admin – with all due respect, I disagree. My father’s sister and mother used to gang up on my parents. I can totally see my grandmom pulling some stunt like this, and then my aunt patronizingly tell my parents to appreciate her! (In fact she has done such things, and a lot more!). And I never knew anything about it growing up, because my parents didn’t want to pitch me against my grandmother, but grandmom used to complain about them to me. So, I saw the and figured out the whole dynamics of my grandmom and aunt being mean to my parents myself. And following you around until you agree that she is right … grandmom used to do that too! She once followed me around the house when I had just come home from University to visit my parents (my parents weren’t home as I had arrived earlier, and she was visiting too;) to complain about how I did not call her to wish her for her birthday, but my cousin (the aunt’s son) had called, blah blah, blah. She totally ignored that 1) I had my exams going on, with lab practice going very late in the evening, and 2) there had been in murder on campus several months ago, and hence the hostels had an earlier than usual curfew, whereas my cousin stayed in the middle of the city, with a phone in his hostel that he could use (this was pre-cell phone era, and the phones in our hostels were only for incoming calls, and emergency outgoing calls).

I might be projecting (don’t we all do?), but my sympathies for the OP is way higher than for her mother. The sister was NOT in the scene; and if mom got to her first (which is what it sounds like), she probably shed crocodile tears to say how horrible the OP was. And the sister believed it; if she doesn’t have kids of her own, she probably didn’t have to put up with the mom yet.

I would blame OP’s husband for spending the whole time working though. If OP’s mom was not helping (as the admin said, you can’t have an expectations for house guests to necessarily help), why didn’t he step up? Wasn’t he planning to do so anyway during the first 2 weeks that he had his paternity leave? Why didn’t the OP tell him anything about doing household work? He is the father. And his wife just had a baby cut out of her! He better step up to his added responsibilities!

Llama March 7, 2018 at 2:09 pm

I often wish my Mother had cut off off her parents. But no. Because “family” and “grandparents blah blah blah special blah blah horse crap” reasons I was forced to have a relationship and spend time with two very toxic people. I do not have fond memories of the times I spent with my maternal grandparents and was so happy to cut them out of my life once I reached adulthood. Not having their negativity and drama in my life was wonderful.

But yeah, I guess cutting off grandparents is bad.

ErindV March 7, 2018 at 3:45 pm

I think you’re jumping to some conclusions here. You read that the nursery meant there was only one guest room left and assumed the OP was putting her baby down to sleep in it, when an equally likely (and in the end correct) explanation was that the nursery was set up with baby stuff for when OPs child was going to be sleeping there in the future. What really made that comment stand out was that that particular issue really had nothing to do with the crux of OPs problem. There was zero need to weigh in on how OP chooses to handle sleeping arrangements for her newborn. I think it’s easy for moms from a pre-internet generation to underestimate just how much judgement new moms encounter online nowadays. Please don’t add to it unnecessarily.
Now you’re assuming that OP has a ‘strong personality’ that causes clashes with her mother because her sister is telling her to let this whole disaster of a visit slide. But maybe sister wants OP to let things slide because she lives closer to mom and is tired of hearing about it. Or maybe sister was their mother’s favourite and has a skewed perspective on the situation. Or maybe their mom has always been this way but OP is super hormonal because she just had a baby and major surgery and deserves some slack.

MzLiz March 7, 2018 at 5:18 pm

I dunno, I bet Mom expects ‘slack’ every time she’s out of line – and I bet she gets it too. Mom’s SPOILED for slack, by the sounds of it. My reading is that OP & Sister so under their mother’s thumb that they’re too paralyzed to push back when Mom’s a bully. I don’t buy a ‘strong personality’ clash since there’s no mention of them actually arguing or butting heads, just the OP passively giving into her Mom at every turn & being so weary of standing up to her that she let herself be steamrolled. Sister telling her to suck it up also speaks volumes. There’s a word for that – Conditioning. They’re probably both so used to Mom being domineering & narcissistic that it’s become the family status quo. From what the OP described I can’t fathom anybody, parent or not, being so selfish & disrespectful in a person’s OWN HOME, never mind just after giving birth/recovering from surgery. But when you’ve been raised by a narcissist, (and this Mom sounds textbook), it’s your ‘normal’ to always put them first. However, maybe becoming a mother is finally opening up the OP’s eyes to her Mom’s flaws & realizes the relationship needs to evolve. OP doesn’t have to cut Mom out (I agree that’s the nuclear option) but she’s obviously unhappy so it’s time to take charge & change the relationship, because Mom won’t. Since Sister is no help, OP should check out online support groups aimed at adult children of narcissistic parents. She’ll find some applicable advice and/or a sympathetic audience. At least she’ll know she’s not alone in dealing with a bratty parent. Good luck, OP!

psammead March 7, 2018 at 9:19 pm

I have to disagree that relaying Mom’s complaints and nagging OP to appreciate Mom’s (non)help is “playing peacemaker.” The sister looks more like a flying monkey to me.

Bagpuss March 8, 2018 at 8:46 am

Taken together with the fact that OP wasn’t able to stand up to her mother’s horrible behaviour, I’d say that it’s probably far more likely that both she and her sister have got used to having to cope with and accommodate their mother’s unreasonable behaviour and have learned habits of minimising or trying to excuse it.

The fact that OP’s Dad also let all this go also suggests that this is nothing unusual for OPs mum.

By any objective standards, the grandmother’s behaviour was totally inappropriate and OP should not be told that she should simply ‘suck it up’. Why on earth should she be expected to put up with the consequences of her mother being selfish and inappropriate?

OP, decide what will work for you in future in terms of your relationship with your mother. This might including limiting the length of any visits, telling them that they will need to stay in a motel or similar (so that things such as their meal times, bedtimes etc are not your concerns) etc.

If the consequences of your mother’s behaviour are that she sees less of her grandchild, or that she doesn’t get to stay as long as your in laws do, so be it – her actions have consequences, and it’s reasonable for those to be consequences for her, not for you.
Of course, you can take into account how that will effect your relationship with her, and decide whether *for you* the price of perhaps having a less close relationship with her, is worth not having to put up with her selfish behaviour.

Kali March 11, 2018 at 12:04 pm

To me, that sounds like the mother is a narcissist – also supported by the details of the story – and that sister is the golden child and less inclined to see it. I freely admit to being biased by my own experiences in that interpretation.

Kelly March 15, 2018 at 3:47 pm

That sounds an awful lot like the relationship between my late mother and my father’s family. At best, she tolerated them but most of the time, she loathed them. His parents were awful to her. She got so much backlash for wanting to breast feed my sister and myself in the mid 1980s, before it became more common. It wasn’t just his mother who criticized her for that choice – it was his harpy sisters. The same attitude still persists – my cousin who just had her first girl in December ended up formula feeding after getting no support from both her and her husband’s family for breast feeding.

My mom got pretty good at accommodating his obnoxious family. They’re very Catholic and Lentan Fridays were always fried fish. My mom’s favorite comment was that they had a side of fish with the main course of tartar sauce. When she still served fish when they visited, she’d buy a gallon size container of tartar sauce with the pump and put in on the table. Those of us who lived with her, including my father, thought it was hilarious. My grandmother and head flying monkey aunt didn’t think it was as funny.

She ended up serving more vegetarian and meat less pasta hot dishes instead, which suited my dad more because she was a very good cook. One time his mother had a tantrum when we had baked mostacholi instead of fish.

Chelle March 7, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Yes, but those are consequences that one shouldn’t have to worry about in their own home.


Calli Arcale March 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm

True, but your criticism of the choice seemed to come out of the blue. What’s more, maybe I’m blind, but I’m not seeing anything in OP’s post where she indicates where the baby was sleeping in the first place.

For both of my babies, we had a nursery set up, even though the baby was sleeping in a bassinet in our bedroom. It was very helpful to have a dedicated room where the baby’s clothes and the changing table were, and where one parent could take the baby for changing/feeding/etc in the middle of the night so the other parent could sleep. I was breastfeeding so all the feeding duties fell to me, but hubby changed a lot of diapers and did a lot of between-feed soothings, and I really appreciate that he could let me sleep during those. 😉


JS March 8, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Also, there’s nothing in OP’s post that indicated that the baby sleeping in the nursery lead to any problems, if that’s where the baby was sleeping. She didn’t say that her mom swooped into the nursery and commandeered the baby. I agree that it’s difficult to see where this criticism from admin is coming from.

Plus, newborns often sleep very loudly, with grunts and cries, even when they’re deeply asleep. If you’re a light sleeper, like I am, this robs you of any sleep between night feedings. It was unsustainable for my newborns to sleep by my side, so we used the nursery. The bassinet approach doesn’t work for every family.


JJ March 8, 2018 at 9:34 pm

Exactly. My twins did sleep in our room for the first couple months, but we set up the nursery while I was still pregnant (two cribs, changing table, etc.), and only the smallest of air mattresses would have fit in there for an overnight guest.

Not to mention judging new parents for a sleeping arrangement that works best for them is rather rude. Anyone who’s ever been a parent knows that there’s not One Right Way to do things, even with kids within the same family, and to declare that someone’s method is wrong just because it’s different than yours gets all the eye rolling it deserves.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:09 am

It becomes an issue when the new parents do not actually like the arrangement they have made because they whine about it and are resistant to any suggestions to change it.

Tan March 9, 2018 at 4:42 am

This- regardless of where the baby sleeps post birth most people will have a nursery set up so they aren’t decorating with a 3 month old


Rebecca March 7, 2018 at 12:43 am

The consequences being that they needed to put up with rude, pushy behaviour from guests?


admin March 12, 2018 at 9:20 am

Once you’ve issued an invitation to someone you know has the potential to be a royal pain in the rear, you put up with behavior you expected because to rescind that invitation or throw them out would be rude.


EchoGirl March 9, 2018 at 4:45 pm

I really don’t see how any of what happened in this story can be attributed to the baby’s sleeping arrangements. Based on OP’s description of her mother, I doubt keeping the baby in the parents’ room would have made any dent in Mom’s entitlement behavior. That kind of attitude will not be deterred by the symbolism you attribute to the parents’ bedroom.

My brother had his own room from the day he came home (well, he ended up sleeping in the living room for a week and change because of jaundice treatment, but that’s beside the point). Somehow, our various family members still managed to figure out that it was my parents’ baby and they didn’t get to call dibs or override the parents.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:06 am

You are missing the point which I probably didn’t articulate well. If the problem appears to be grandmom’s continual access to the baby, you devise a “safe harbor” where Mom can retreat without grandmom following. To my thinking that is the master bedroom with a bassinet or porta-crib, …it worked for me with my mother and I respect my daughter and son-in-law’s master bedroom as off limits as well after a new baby.


Ashley March 12, 2018 at 11:40 am

Based on the grandmother’s behavior, I highly doubt she would have respected LW’s space if she had retreated to her bedroom.

shel March 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Looking again, OP even says below that the baby was sleeping with them in their room in a bassinet… Grandma has no boundaries and should rightly have been asked to leave if she couldn’t follow the boundaries set by her daughter.

imc March 10, 2018 at 2:39 am

From how the maternal grandparents’ visit went down, I’m not sure having the in-laws there at the same time wouldn’t have made everything worse. Which, I guess, was the point about keeping the nursery available as a second guest bedroom in the first few months.
There’s nothing in the letter indicating that grandma would have been more accommodating with the in-laws than with the mother, so the in-laws would probably have ended up doing all the chores (because they sound like helpful people) while maternal grandma hogged the baby.

Besides, I actually read that as context filler. The whole point of the letter is how the OP’s mother behaved during her stay, not why the in-laws weren’t there at the same time.


Kathryn March 7, 2018 at 7:35 pm

We cannot share a room with our babies. All the noises made by 3 people trying to sleep keeps everyone awake. 1 parent trying to quiet down baby keeps the other parent awake in bed (we take turns to try give each other as much sleep as possible).

We always try room sharing, but end up moving baby after a couple of sleepless nights. We’ve had 3 babies, we know our routine.

Honestly OP, your Mum sounds awful. There’s nothing to do about it now, but be aware of who she is the next time this happens, or the next time she visits. She was obliviously selfish and demanding, and I’m so sad for you that she was a greater burden on you in your time of need. And the fact that she expects you to be thankful for all the “help” she provided just reeks of narcissism!! When someone shows you who they are, believe them.


Kirsten March 6, 2018 at 11:36 am

OP, your mother was selfish and unreasonable, as was your dad. But given that degree of cluelessness, it might have been helpful to be stricter and more direct with her. “Please could you empty the dryer while I nap?” “The baby is crying because he is hungry. Could you please vacuum while I feed him?” “Thank you so much for offering to help while I recover from my surgery. I’m not allowed to drive so could you please go to the supermarket?”


Ashley March 6, 2018 at 11:42 am

“Any baggage you and your mother had is going to magnified in this “hormonally-charged” time period. You do not have baggage (or very little) with your in-laws so neither of you were primed, locked and loaded to get offended.”

Maybe I’m just reading way too much into it, but I feel like this line really minimizes just how overbearing OP’s mother was during her stay. OP has every right to be offended, and Grandmother does not. Grandmother’s behavior is not acceptable, and I feel really bad that OP did not feel that she could stand up for herself.


Elisabeth March 8, 2018 at 10:49 am

I agree! Hormonally-charged tension or not, Grandmother was being very unhelpful, bossy, and abusing OP’s hospitality (demanding that a new mother drive to the grocery store and prepare special meals for her daily, on her personal schedule?!!)

The Dame’s final word here also doesn’t offer any suggestion as to how the situation could have been avoided. Is the implication that OP should have not allowed Grandmother to come over because she was hormonal? Grandmother would have been badly behaved no matter what, from the sound of it.

OP, I’m sorry that you had two demanding, needy people to care for during this very tumultuous time!


Dee March 6, 2018 at 12:20 pm

OP, if your mom is a drama queen then why did you invite her to stay at a time when you needed the focus to be on you and your baby, and not her? You knew she couldn’t do it, but you still hoped for it anyway. That’s a recipe for disappointment, at the very least.

Our first born slept with us in our room for one night. Never again. My mom, who bragged about being able to take care of any baby in any circumstance, was exhausted after caring for him for a day and night when he was 6 weeks old. My stepfather, who initially agreed to have baby sleep in the master bedroom, declared he’d never do that again. Our second kid never slept with us. It just wasn’t feasible; I was exhausted getting about 3 hours of sleep a night but my husband absolutely had to have more than that, since he was working and driving a truck during the day.

So, yes, a second bedroom could very well be necessary.

Overnight company at our house knew, in advance, that they if they wanted the “guest” bedroom it came with a baby/toddler/kid. Take it or leave it. But we had to deal with the kid every single day and night as it was, and couldn’t sacrifice one more moment of peace and sleep by having him sleep with us.

When OP realized the visit with her folks was far too stressful she, and hubby, should have laid out a new plan. The folks should have been informed that the visit wasn’t working out and that a live-in caregiver was being hired for a few weeks, and that guest room was now needed. Either that, or the new mom and baby would have to live with the caregiver. And make it so.

In the future, don’t make arrangements for company you’re not ready to handle, OP. If that means your in-laws can stay overnight but your parents can’t, so be it. Nobody needs to know the particulars and any arguments can be shut down, immediately, by putting down the phone or walking away. But if you want to keep it all from escalating you need to set some firm boundaries and stick with them. Your mom won’t change but you don’t have to put up with her drama. It’ll only get worse now that you have children of your own.


lakey March 6, 2018 at 12:49 pm

I get so frustrated with posts like this. When people take advantage of us, sometimes it is because we allow it. This whole business of asking mom what she wants to eat, running to the grocery store, then cooking what she has asked for has me flummoxed. I wouldn’t do that even if I wasn’t recovering from surgery. I was taught that a host provides a meal, and the guest eats it.

My suspicion is that these problems have always been there. Having someone who is a demanding drama queen visit for 2 weeks is a bad idea. Your mom has a particular personality, and it probably won’t change. If she can’t change her behavior to adjust to your new baby, next time limit the visit to 3 or 4 days.

I do sympathize with you because I have a relative who has similar personality problems. When she comes to visit she stays in a hotel. This has made me like her a lot more.


Miss-E March 6, 2018 at 7:02 pm

I had my first baby this fall via c-section. Everyone in our large families wanted to visit and I told them all they were welcome but not to expect a home cooked meal or a spotless house (which used to be the only way I’d allow anyone in my home). Everyone was great, they fought food, offered help. Only one relative (who usually expects to be waited on) was thrown when she asked for some snacks and I told her I had nothing but condiments (we’d also just moved). She was upset but I shrugged and said we could order takeout if she wanted. Post-op I was offering no apologies!


doodlemor March 6, 2018 at 8:58 pm

This, absolutely.

OP, it’s time to shine up your spine.


doodlemor March 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Adding more………

OP, it would have been appropriate for you to stay upstairs with your baby beside you, and let your mother deal with everything down below.


admin March 7, 2018 at 8:26 am

Yes! C-sections are major surgery and can take up to 3 months to recover completely. Parking oneself in the room best situated for recovery from surgery while “guests” have the obligation to keep the common areas of the house tidy is a great solution.


Devin March 6, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Not a mom here but a frequent visitor to see new babies. Even for friends who I saw in the hospital post baby, once they go home I wait for them to let me know when they are ready for visitors. Sometimes it’s a week later, sometimes it’s 2 months. When I am invited I ask if there is anything I can bring, and whatever it is, I bring it. If they insist in bringing nothing I still bring food and/or wine ( wine can keep till mom is ready for it). Once I’m there I try and fit in to whatever is going on as best as possible. Baby is down for a nap, then I pitch in to help with chores while we catch up. Baby is up but fussy, I let mom handle baby while I tidy up and we chat. If I get to have a few minutes of baby cuddles great, if not, I’ll see them again.
I know this is no ehell approved, but I would have used my sleep deprived brain/ hormonal body to take grandma down a peg. The last straw would have been leaving baby in a dirty diaper. You might as well have not had any help at that point!! Admin is hopefully correct that grandma will calm down if/when for grandchildren come, but that in no way excuses her boring behavior.


Gena March 6, 2018 at 1:13 pm

I’ll have to disagree with the below:

Tiny newborns do not need their own bedroom at this age. A bassinet by the new mom’s bed works just fine

Many professionals are of the opinion that the baby doesn’t sleep as well in the parent’s room.

If this had been me, I would have told my mom that since she came to help, she was going to help. And I would have either endured the drama or sent them home, regardless of non-refundable ticket.


Zhaleh March 7, 2018 at 5:44 am

By Professionals do you mean doctors and nurses? I’ve never heard that babies don’t sleep well in the same bedroom.
That’s one thing about my family’s culture I kept. My kids slept with me, in my bed until they were around 17 months. There’s no need to go on about how you’re not supposed to do that, I’ve heard it all before. In my country of birth, that’s what women do.
I think Eastern Europeans tend to do that to.
I slept better with my babies closer, when I did sleep. But there was no expectation of sleep.
But I’ve never heard that babies sleep better in a different room.
I can’t beleive how many rooms Americans seem to have. I don’t know anyone who has a guest room. Why do so many people have them? Is four or five bedrooms the norm in the US?


jokergirl129 March 7, 2018 at 9:29 am

It depends on the house/apartment and on what a person can afford. Now I don’t know how common it is for people to have a four or five bedroom house but if a couple is planning on having more than one kid or they have people staying over often (like family or friends) then it does help to have extra bedrooms.


Miss-E March 7, 2018 at 11:28 am

It depends entirely on where you live. In places where the cost of living is high like New York City or Sam Francisco people would be lucky to afford a one bedroom walk up. In the suburbs of Kentucky you can get a 5 bedroom house for the same rent!


Dee March 7, 2018 at 1:09 pm

Zhaleh – The first house I lived in was very, very small. All us kids, as babies, slept in our parents’ room. But that also meant my father didn’t get a lot of sleep, either, and that led to a lot more anger and strife than if he had gotten more sleep.

My firstborn woke up at every little sound and he made loud sounds and moved constantly while sleeping, so nobody slept if he was in the same room. I’ve heard people say it’s easier to have baby in the same room but that length of screaming while waiting to be fed and diaper changed has to have a negative effect on the dad, too, and he’s usually the one who has to be alert the next day, for his job and driving, etc. On the days when I had appointments I found driving to be very difficult, so I wouldn’t want my husband to have that experience EVERY day.

I grew up that kids sharing bedrooms was still acceptable. My mom grew up sharing a bed with two sisters, and at least two beds in the same room. But expectations are higher now and that’s partly why housing is so very expensive and unaffordable. In a way, those high expectations don’t help a young person to achieve their goal, they prevent them from achieving ANY housing goal.


Zhaleh March 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Yes, so it’s a personal thing for sure, and a room thing for sure. But I was really wondering about the poster that suggested the *baby* sleeps better. That is something totally new to me.

I slept with both my girls and it wouldn’t have worked any other way. It’s definitely not the same for everyone.

But I also had no expectation of sleep. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t groggy, grumpy and crying mess a lot of the time.


EchoGirl March 9, 2018 at 5:10 pm

I doubt that’s the main reason “housing is so very expensive and unaffordable”. House values in relation to what the property is are skyrocketing; they came down when the “bubble” collapsed in 2008 but are rising again. Even if you’re saying that what’s being built now is fancier (a statement I’d agree with), it wouldn’t explain why even old properties are pricing out of reach.

When my parents bought their turn-of-the-century (that’s turn of the 20th century, not the 21st) 4-bedroom house in the 90s, they paid $67,000 for it (that’s about $115K in today’s money). The estimated value of that house is now around $250,000. It’s been renovated some but not enough to explain that. It’s not gentrification either; the neighborhood is virtually the same as it was 24 years ago.

What it comes down to is that housing prices are rising much faster than wages, and that’s not even taking into account the difference between the average wage for a person in their 20s now versus 30 years ago. Economists are now saying prices might start coming down in the next 10-20 years as current homeowners age and start to sell, but there’s no telling how accurate that will be, and it’s little comfort to anyone looking to buy now.


Dee March 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

We didn’t have a collapse in 2008; we’ve had a steady increase in values over the last many, many years, with crazily inflated prices these last few. We are quite close to a major immigration city and so the locals move to outlying areas when the prices get too high, increasing costs far along the corridor. But young people absolutely don’t want to live like our parents had to and so all the little old houses, fixer-uppers and sad one bedrooms, they’re all gone, replaced by what sells. Gotta have more than one bedroom, more than one bathroom, and at least carport, if not a garage. We saw the huge mortgages start when we became adults and they’ve climbed since, debt that we never would have accepted ourselves but that others thought was worth it so as not to look like paupers. Which is ironic, because those people had to pay that debt with their grocery money, so they certainly ate like paupers.

So, yes, part of the reason young people cannot afford housing is because there is so little first-time buyer housing left, as per their (majority) choice. Developers are only too happy to tear down the little shacks and replace them with higher-end housing. And of the young families that cannot afford to buy I don’t know of a single one that chooses to rent a one-bedroom unit in order to save money. Sharing bedrooms is no longer a thing around here, I guess having your own room is a status symbol now.

EchoGirl March 14, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I respectfully disagree. You may be right about there being less first-time housing, but it’s not because no one wants cheap housing anymore, it’s because *someone* wants fancy housing. Developers will always want to build the most expensive thing they can sell. As long as there’s someone out there to buy the fancy condos and five-bedroom houses, they have no incentive to build or maintain anything more reasonable.

I know a lot of young people too (being one myself; mid-20s), and you’re right that we’re not buying. But not one person I know has ever said or implied that it’s because what’s available just isn’t fancy enough. (If anything, it’s the opposite; they complain that all the fancy developments are pushing out everything affordable.) IME, either they can’t afford it (and are smart enough to know this and act accordingly) or they’re afraid to commit to it in case they have to move to follow work. (If you rent, moving is easy enough. If you own and you have to move, then you have to deal with selling, which may not be easy or even possible. My aunt had to deal with owning/paying for a vacant home in Michigan for two years after moving to New York because they couldn’t find a buyer or even a tenant.) It may well be a demographic thing, I concede, but it makes me question the idea that entitlement is the problem more than financial factors.

And in terms of what they rent, while I don’t know how many bedrooms people have, I *do* know that many of my friends and peers are living in situations that, in my opinion, should be illegal, because it’s all they can afford. The people who rent the fancier places are the ones who *do* have the money to do that. Apart from the fact that the poor tend to be frugal, most landlords won’t rent to someone unless they’re satisfied the person will be able to keep up with their rent. (Also, size doesn’t always imply price; where I live, many of the one-bedroom units that are realistically big enough for more than one person are crazy expensive, because they’re all in the new developments, while most of the older stuff is 2 and 3 bedrooms and is actually cheaper, flat out, than one-bedrooms.)

Also, sometimes the would-be buyers really do get trampled on. In the city I grew up in, there was a program set up where the city agreed to sell foreclosed properties in a certain area for a dollar apiece and provide an additional 10K grant for repairs. A lot of families in the area were really excited, there was actually concern there might not be enough houses to go around because so many families wanted to buy…and then it came out that in order to be eligible for the program, you had to buy five properties, which none of these private citizens had the means to keep up with. These people just wanted to buy homes in their neighborhood, and the city basically handed those houses to developers instead, against the wishes of community residents, basically setting the stage for gentrification and “redevelopment” (to more expensive properties).

AngelS March 7, 2018 at 4:58 pm

I think it depends on the individual child: some babies sleep better in the room with their parents, and for others it would be out of the question. I know this from personal experience: my eldest and my youngest both slept in the room with my husband and I when they were infants, and it worked beautifully. But my middle child was different from her siblings: she was a sleepy baby, and started sleeping through the night at four months. Sounds great, right? But there was a catch: she was a light sleeper who got enraged when awakened…and my husband sometimes snores. Loudly. With the occasional snort added in for good measure.

Our baby had her sleep requirements, my husband had his, and never the twain shall meet. She rested better in her own room, and my husband and I rested better with her in her own room!


Kelly March 7, 2018 at 5:10 pm

I don’t know what professionals you are referring to. Certainly not medical professionals. The Safe Sleep guidelines from the AAP recommend the baby sleep in the parent’s room for the first year.


B-Rock March 16, 2018 at 7:37 pm

Yes, this, thank you! I’m a pediatric ICU nurse, and we certainly do not recommend that babies sleep in their own rooms until they are several months to a year old.


MickiSue March 9, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Or, at the least, to a hotel. They were worse than no help.


Anon March 6, 2018 at 2:52 pm

OP, what a nightmare. Truly. It is sad to realize that your parents care more about their own habits, comfort, and preferences than they do about helping you at a difficult and vulnerable time. But here you have incontrovertible proof. When a woman has a baby, those two people are at the center of (their) universe. It’s physically traumatic, and especially when there’s breastfeeding involved the priority is: 1)baby’s needs and 2)mom’s needs (because mom has just been through the wringer, and she is the only one that can satisfy baby’s needs. 3) dad 4)everyone else. At so many points, your mother tried to insert herself into that list of priorities well above you, and sometimes above the baby. Wow. It would be a long time until I could bring myself to welcome them back into my home again, and not without a real apology. I’m sorry you had to go through that!


Anon March 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm

One note on the number of available rooms question. The OP may have had baby in a bassinet in her room, but that doesn’t mean that the nursery was available for others to use. When we had our daughter, we got the nursery full in order prior to birth. There was not an adult-sized bed in it, nor was there one we could have even temporarily installed. It would have been a major disruption to try. So, it may be entirely true that they were down to one guest room even if the baby wasn’t using it regularly.


Teresa March 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm

I have some issue with some of the admin’s responses. First, under no circumstances should a grandparent call the unborn child “my baby”. The implication is that the actual mother is just an incubator carrying the baby to term to pass off to the altar of the grandparent. Their “baby” is now an adult (and, hopefully, an independent adult who puts their partner first).

Second, the rules of the parents regarding their child should be respected by all guests. Shaming the mother about the sleeping arrangements of the newborn is in poor taste. Not all newborns do well sleeping in their parents’ room (and sometimes it benefits both the baby and the parents). The rudeness falls on grandma for not listening to her daughter’s wishes.

Third, any person who withholds a screaming baby from his/her parent is not serving the best interest of the baby. This is exacerbated by the fact that the mother asked for the baby back to feed him, and grandma refused. If a mother asks for her child back, the child is to be returned immediately. Grandma put her want to soothe the baby over the baby’s need to eat and the mother’s obvious discomfort. Also, sidebar: breastfeeding a baby in no way constitutes “hogging”.

Finally, anyone who has given birth should understand that visiting a brand new parent (whether by birth or adoption) has a different set of rules. Sleep deprivation. Stress. Hormonal shifts. Fatigue. A pregnant woman may have one set of ideals about how the postpartum period will go, but actually living and experiencing it is often completely different from those initial expectations. Grandma, having gone through the birth and newborn period at least twice (based on the post) should have been more understanding of what the mother is going through. Imagine if this was a different surgical procedure that did not result in the birth of a baby, but grandma still behaved in the same manner. Would we have the same reaction.

I find that this not a case of “overexcited grandma” but rather an instance of “supplanting the mother for the grandmother’s wants”. Now that the dynamic has changed, future encounters can be reforged with new expectations. A simple “we are a new family now, and this is how we have decided to move forward” is a polite yet direct way to assert yourself as a family unit. If grandma continues to undermine and ignore the requests of her daughter, then she may become the grandma-who-never-sees-her-grandson.

To the letter writer: it is clear that your mother does not respect your wishes. It is probably best to keep her at an arm’s length to maintain your sanity while you adjust to your new nuclear family. Perhaps future stays at a hotel might mitigate the friction that grandma tends to cause with her dramatic nature.


dippy March 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

um…I would have sent them home after two or three days tops and hang the cost.


NostalgicGal March 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

I feel sorry you had such a mess of things when you could cope with them the least. I would have set suitcases outside far enough (even if I had to make several trips to haul the contents) that the front door could be locked when they went out to get them, and left a list of hotels and motels on top. Might be several etiquette faux-paughs there but enough would be enough. One day of the mess and I would have been done with it (remembering how bad I felt after some surgery of a similar sort after I got to go home). They can disown, it’s their grandkid they’re cutting themselves off from. I’m glad you did get some help there after all. It doesn’t help that the sibling thinks it wasn’t as bad as it was.


saucygirl March 6, 2018 at 3:08 pm

The drama of the (grand) mama. I can’t believe you kept your calm for two whole weeks. There is no way I would have lasted. Especially with the trips to the grocery store. That would have been my breaking point.

I would say though, that I disagree that the baby doesn’t need its own room. When a baby is two weeks old, most husbands are working while the mom is still on maternity leave. So the mom is the one getting up in the middle of night for feedings while the husband sleeps. Being able to be with the baby in a separate room, watching tv, listening to music, whatever you want to do while up for that feeding, and not worrying about waking a sleeping husband, only makes life easier. And I liked sitting in my rocking chair to feed my daughter, which would not have fit in our bedroom but did in her room.


kgg March 6, 2018 at 3:44 pm

OP, your mom is a jerk. While your parents don’t have to be Cinderellas for you – working their fingers to the bone and catering to your every whim – if they are going to come visit for an extended period of time at a point in your life when when you are recovering from surgery AND a new mom, it goes without saying that it is NOT a vacation.

I’m sorry your own mother put her needs first. I’m sorry that she prioritized herself above you and the baby. My suspicion is you were hoping she would be better, but not wholly surprised she wasn’t. You grew up with your mother, know she is a drama queen. Please use this as an opportunity to not let her walk over you ever again. I’m so happy you got awesome support from your in-laws.


Miss-E March 6, 2018 at 3:46 pm

“With our new baby, we’re down to just one guest room, so we thought it best to stagger our parents’ visits, pending their schedules. Tiny newborns do not need their own bedroom at this age.”

You don’t know that the OP wasn’t keeping her baby with her. She just might have meant that since they filed a nursery with furniture it cannot fit a guest bed or air mattress. I have a 6 month old who spent the first 4 months in our room but our second bedroom is small and has been packed with a crib, changing table, etc since my 3rd trimester.


Princess Buttercup March 6, 2018 at 4:01 pm

If mom is such a chore (as you stated) why did you invite her to come to begin with? Especially so close to the birth.
I’d have responded to the “I’ll stay a month” with, “that’s going to cost a lot in motel and food fees for you”.
When she said stuff like “someone should get that”, yes, thank you for being here to help me after my surgery, I’ll hold baby until you get back.
And yeah, meal is x at x time. If you want to make something here are directions to the store.
You aren’t 16 anymore. Time to grow up and be an adult.


Trichele March 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

I disagree with the advice that a newborn doesn’t need their own room. That is up to the parent completely.

Otherwise I think that what happened here was the OP asked for help but didn’t get it the way it was envisioned. Despite our best efforts, not everyone operates like we do and in your mom’s mind she was helping the way that she knew how. The OP didn’t want drama so she remained a doormat and was miserable while grandma happily went about her business “helping”.

My best friend just had a baby and I’ve visited multiple times, fully intending to clean, cook (plus I brought food) and run any errands that needed to be done. Instead she handed me the baby and every time I wanted to give the baby back and do something to help she insisted that holding the baby WAS helping her. I sat for 3 hours holding and feeding the baby each time while she happily went about her home, cleaning her home the way she sees fit. That worked just fine for me. My point is that not everyone defines help in the same way.

Hopefully your visit with your in laws will be much smoother!


staceyizme March 6, 2018 at 9:04 pm

I love that you were flexible and willing to help in the way that was most supportive. Nice to read a HAPPY anecdote!


Nicole March 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm

Similar experiences visiting my friends and their new babies.
The first asked me to wait a couple of weeks. When I arrived, she happily handed me the baby and took the opportunity to do a little cleaning and take a shower.

Another friend had her second child only a few days before I visited. I got to house and she looked terrible. Friend told be she’d just been to the doctor that morning and had a blood infection. I told her take a nap, borrowed her car (& carseat) to take her toddler to the park and then grocery shopping. By the time we got back, Friend was looking much better (sleep and meds will do that) and her fiancee was home from work. I didn’t really get a chance to see the new baby until shortly before I left, but it was worth it to help a new and sick mom.


AMacQ March 6, 2018 at 5:05 pm

How horrible for you. I cannot fathom how a mother could do this to their own child. I have absolutely no words or advice but am just so sorry that you did not get the help you so clearly needed.


staceyizme March 6, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Your mom can only do what you allow. Her “in” with you is that you’ll avoid drama if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable. Maybe reflect on that a bit? And ask yourself, honestly, what your personal non-negotiable boundaries are, and enforce them. Your parents can go to a hotel or swap a flight if needed, you aren’t responsible for their distress if they are unreasonable.


ladyv21454 March 6, 2018 at 6:10 pm

The fact that Mom felt it would be perfectly okay to visit with you for a month, despite knowing that you wanted bonding time and ESPECIALLY knowing you would be recovering from surgery, would have been my first clue that she was NOT going to be reasonable during her stay. However, people can only take advantage of you if you let them. It would have been great if you could have laid out some rules and boundaries before the visit – ie, “I really won’t be able to do meal prep, so we’ll be eating meals that I’ve already prepared and frozen. If you want anything else, you’ll have to either order from a restaurant or go grocery shopping by yourself.” – but since this didn’t happen, every unreasonable act/demand by your mother should have been met with “That won’t be possible.” As Admin said, you already had baggage with your mother, so you must have known there would be issues.

The one thing I disagree with Ms. Jeanne on – at least partially – is the whole issue of Mom “hogging” the baby. It’s fine if she wanted to snuggle him when he wasn’t hungry – but to consistently refuse to hand him over to you when you needed to breastfeed put both you and the baby through completely unnecessary discomfort. Personally, I would have just grabbed the baby out of her arms and left the room!


DancerDiva March 6, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Every time I read one of these letters when the OP states upfront what they want and then proceeds to cave at every possible opportunity, I just shake my head. I love my mother dearly, but if she were this much of a drama queen and disregarded everything we discussed prior to the visit, I would either rebook her flight and send her home, or to a hotel. But really LW, you should’ve known your mom would pull this kind of behavior. You told her when you wanted her to come, and she tried to disregard that by coming to the hospital for the birth and then “staying a month”. She let you know then that she wasn’t paying you any attention. Just like you aren’t owed any help from those visiting you, you don’t owe your mother the type of situation she wanted for visiting her grandchild. I hope you grow a (not so) polite spine before your mom’s next visit.


Wanda March 6, 2018 at 7:15 pm

For what it’s worth, I used to have a lot of conflict with my mom. However, right after I had my child, she started to be super-accommodating and supportive in a way that I could never have predicted beforehand. I was actually quite nervous at how it was going to be to have her around for a month after giving birth, and it turns out that it was great, and I was actually quite grateful. Some of the conflict-producing behavior has since resumed, but she continues to be very helpful when she visits about anything concerning taking care of my child.

For what it’s worth, some of the mother/daughter conflict might be cultural. In many cultures, there is a much stricter hierarchy between the generations, and the daughter in this story would be considered rude for trying to prioritize the needs of younger generations (herself and the baby) over older generations (her mother). Moreover, different cultures (different people really) have different implicit models of parenthood- what constitutes a good daughter and what constitutes a good mother. The daughter may be caught between different cultures and these implicit models of parenthood, and unless both parties agree to discuss these things sociologically, it’s very hard to explain these things to one another.

I would cut both parties some slack. The mother here is sleep-deprived and recovering from major surgery, and I don’t blame her at all for trying to minimize conflict in her life by going along with what her mother wanted. The grandmother here may have been following a script she didn’t realize she was following about what she was owed and what constitutes “helping.” In the future, though, when she’s recovered more, she needs to consciously decide which type of stress is worse: the type of stress that comes from giving into her mother or the type of stress that comes from standing up to her. She’s going to get stress either way, but the stress you choose is better than the stress that just finds you.


jessiebird March 7, 2018 at 11:21 am

This is an interesting argument. Cultural issues may be at play, but I can’t think of a culture where the grandmother is prioritized over the mother and new baby. However, overbearing people (who may become grandmothers) exist everywhere.

In the societies I’m close to besides the US, Japan and Romania, there are very explicit expectations. In Japan, women go back to their childhood home for several months surrounding the birth so their mothers can cook and help take care of the mother, and so the daughter can feel close and cared for. In Romania, there is a special word for the month after birth, termed “lauza,” and it’s a time when everyone is supposed to take care of the mother and baby. It’s a liminal time, when the mother is considered fragile. In Korea, there are special foods made, usually full of iron and minerals it turns out, that are given to postpartum women while they lie in bed for a month. I think they aren’t supposed to get up. Even in the American past, we had the “lying-in” period, and the seclusion surrounding the birth, which was often a good couple of months.

In fact, I think the contemporary US, culturally and structurally, is rather insensitive to postpartum mothers. Maybe that is part of the cultural problem in the OP’s story?


admin March 12, 2018 at 9:13 am

Interesting. When I had my firstborn 31 years ago, the expectation in our community was that mom stayed home with the baby for at least the first 4 weeks, often for 6 weeks. Family and friends brought meals. I never saw a baby younger than 6 weeks until I had my own. Now I see new moms out and about within days of the birth.


Ashley M March 6, 2018 at 9:07 pm

I don’t plan on having kids, but stuff like this is why I am glad that there is a hard fast rule within my whole extended family that you do not visit new parents until you are invited to do so. It has never NOT been respected.


Maggie March 6, 2018 at 9:28 pm

What is wrong with using your words? The word “no” comes to mind. And what is wrong with kicking out a “guest” whose stay is detriment to your mental health (thinking about how this can cause PPD in some women whose 4th trimester is disrupted)?

You invited her to stay. You let her do these things. You let her be in charge. You let her keep your child from you. You. You. You.

Sorry you are so afraid of your mother that you refuse to be an advocate for yourself or your child. I would suggest some therapy, and build some self esteem, otherwise this won’t be the last time you can’t/won’t put your and your child’s needs first.


OP March 6, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Thank you, Admin, & everyone for your advice/feedback. Sorry this wasn’t clear- baby slept in a bassinet in our room, but his nursery was too full of furniture (crib/change table/dresser/rocker) to accomodate an adult-sized bed or air mattress. (Our room isn’t large enough for me to change the baby without waking my husband, who was back to work and needed sleep, so we changed his diapers in his nursery- but he slept in our room).

And many of you are right- I need to re-examine the dynamic with my parents now that I’m a parent myself. My parents verbally agreed and even suggested ways of helping (cooking/cleaning/etc) before their visit, but once baby was born, their expectations seemed to have changed to that of houseguests instead of helpers. (In retrospect, I shouldn’t have trusted them in the first place).


Cat2 March 7, 2018 at 10:03 am

The first thing I would examine is what you are actually responsible for. They had non-refundable tickets? That was their problem. They are the ones who a) chose to buy non-refundable tickets, and b) chose to behave in a way that made them a problem and not a help to you. So the fact that they had non-refundable tickets was their issue, not yours, and you need to recognize it as *their* issue. Not yours. You hold no responsibility for it.

Instead, you need to recognize that as the leverage to say things like “The next time you don’t hand my child to me when I ask you to, this visit is going to be over and I’m going to ask you to leave.” “Mom, if you want something else for dinner, you can figure it out. If this is too much for you to handle, you’re welcome to go back home.” and “I told you in advance I would not be capable of hosting in the manner I did before and would instead NEED help. This is what I meant when I said that. I’m sorry you misunderstood, but I can’t do that for you.”

Oh, and feel free to blow up back at her if she comes after you. She gets the leverage on you of blowing up at you. So you fall into a mindset of trying to avoid the blowup, rather than unleashing your *own* appropriately angry at her and standing her down. It can be exhausting to do – but it’s wonderfully effective with someone who gets their own way all the time by basically being on the edge of a temper tantrum.

Once they know you’re not going to “give in” to the tantrum, it stops becoming an effective weapon for them. I’m not suggesting you need to scream and have your own tantrum – you can remain calm, but show your explicit anger at what is happening – giving her a reaction she is going to have a harder time steamrollering over. And on the plus side, allowing yourself to be angry props up your strength and determination to see through what you want – your real end game goal, vs the short term goal of getting out of this moment.

@ admin – I’m sorry. You read the sister’s attempts at peacemaking as the OP being somewhat at fault or needing more leniency. This reads to me like someone in a dysfunctional family saying trying to normalize ridiculous outrageous behavior because it’s expected or feels normal to them (because it’s what they know), instead of saying “Yeah. She was out of line. Sorry you had to deal with that. Try not to feed the crazy.”

It’s pretty hard for me to understand why you wouldn’t comprehend that there was not much OP could have done or should need to appreciate with someone who provided none of the help they discussed prior to the visit and physically held a baby hostage trying to calm it themselves rather than readily turn it over to be fed until that was the utter last possible thing to be done. Making both the parent and the baby suffer. This is narcissism on a grand scale. WAYYYYYYY beyond “first grandchild!” excitement.

No, OP shouldn’t necessarily cut ties with her parent(s). But she does need some coping mechanisms and appreciating what they did do isn’t among them here. Because what they did do was not just not helpful it was actually harmful. Even if the harm was temporary – it was there, and it was not minor to be brushed off in light of some other theoretical benefit that doesn’t really appear to have happened at all.


PJ March 7, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for the clarification, OP.

I can imagine as you’re exhausted, sleep-deprived, recovering, and adjusting, that you just had no emotional energy left to push back against your parents. I’ve been there! So you just ride it out and remember to take stronger preventive action in the future.

I agree so much with other posters here: Be more demanding upfront in the future. Get your husband to have your back when he’s home and sees that you’re overwhelmed. Don’t listen to your sister. 😉

I’m glad to know that the visit from your in-laws was truly helpful!


Bagpuss March 8, 2018 at 8:34 am

OP, sorry you had such a difficult time.
I Think you and your husband did everything right ahead of time, you were clear about the limits of the hospitality you could offer and that your parents would need to help if they were to stay.

They were unreasonable in not sticking to that. I agree with the posters saying that it would have been totally fine for you to push back more, to tell your mother that no, the meals in the freezer were there to be used, so you would be using them, unless of course she and your dad wanted to go and shop for and prep something different.
When she complained about what time you were eating, you would have been fine (if you’d be happy for her to do so) to have said “We will be eating at 7. If you want to cook something for yourself later, that’ s fine as long as you clean up and put everything away afterwards.’

If you decide to have your parents visit again in future, then it would be reasonable for you to be more assertive – saying ‘no’ when they demand / propose things that don’t work for you is OK.

Depending on the relationship you have with your parents, it may be worth having a conversation with that to actually explain that their visit was exhausting for you, because they didn’t provide any of the help they had agreed that they would, and instead created a lot of extra work for you, and that it’s harder for you to be able to enjoy their visits i you can’t rely on them to be respectful of your home and your arrangements.

Think about your sister’s comments – is she right in suggestion g that this is out of character for your parents, or are you and your sister both used to accommodating your Mother’s behaviour and making excuses for her? (was your sister even aware of just how bad your mother’s behaviour was, and that she was expecting you to shop, and cook for her despite her and your dad being there with the specific, stated intention of helping with those things? Was she aware that your mother literally stopped you from feeding your own new born baby?)

And of course, whether or not you choses to set up a nursery, and whether or not your child sleeps there are issues for you and your husband alone. You don’t owe the grandparents, or anyone else, any explanation or justification for how you chose to run your own home.


CarolynM March 8, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Don’t beat yourself up for letting yourself believe your parents would come through for you – yeah, past behaviour might have predicted this, but you were blinded by hope and optimism. You tried to set up boundaries and expectations and your parents blew through every one of them.

These are your parents. Yes – you know them well enough to know mom tends toward drama … but media and culture put forth this perfect image of family and even if you know in your head that this picture does not match your reality, we all want that picture. And during life’s big moments, that picture we want to live up to blinds us from the reality and gives us just enough optimism to swallow our screaming doubts for the sake of maybe looking like that pretty picture, even if just for a little while. Mom coming to help you get into the swing of being a mom yourself … that is a really nice picture! I can’t blame you for wanting that for yourself. These are your parents … and as imperfect as they are, that doesn’t mean you want their love, attention and approval any less.

I saw this with my ex – he would come running if his dad crooked his little finger only to be inevitably disappointed and badly used every. single. time. I see this with the newcomers in Al-anon meetings, gearing up for Thanksgiving or Christmas with an addicted loved one … hoping that this year their family gets to look just like that Norman Rockwell painting where the whole family is gathered around the table waiting for the perfect turkey to be carved. My ex didn’t have any reason to think his dad would change … the newcomers hadn’t seen anything to make them think that painting scenario was likely … but it didn’t matter. We all want that pretty picture, we want to look like what culture and media tells us a family looks like.

OP, it was the most human thing in the world to want this time to be different, to want this huge moment in your life to match what we are told that moment should look like. And as unlikely as it was, I can’t blame you for wanting it. So don’t blame yourself for not seeing this … but now that you have seen it, don’t ignore it! Now you know. You know that she can’t be trusted to come through for you and that you can’t let yourself believe her when it’s truly important. You know that if she couldn’t pitch in and help while her daughter was recovering from childbirth and getting into the swing of parenthood, you can’t count on her to help. Period. She is still your mom … she is still going to do annoying things (AND all of the things you love and appreciate her for too!), but if you don’t let yourself expect things to be different than they really are, you aren’t going to get so frustrated and disappointed. You can’t change her … but you can change the way you handle her.

Good luck! And congratulations on the kiddo! 🙂


Bea March 6, 2018 at 9:58 pm

I am so sorry that she did this to you, what a terrible experience. I’m glad that she’s so far away so you don’t have to deal with her drama all the time.

You’re an adult now and you have a family, please know you should always distance yourself from anyone who hurts you, even if they’re your parents or other family members. You do not have to sit through this treatment, you are no longer a child, that is your home, you can tell anyone that overstays their welcome to go get a hotel room.


m March 7, 2018 at 2:23 am

It’s all fine and good saying the OP needed to develop a polite spine, but when you’re running on 3 hours of sleep, being constantly barraged by a wailing child and working through the various hormones still running through your system, standing up to a pushy overbearing mother is not that simple. Hindsight and all. The lack of empathy from both admin and the other commenters is galling.

OP, your mother was a jerk. Whether the baby needs a room of their own has no bearing on the situation. It is absolutely an expectation that if a parent comes to your home for a prolonged visit after you’ve given birth they are absolutely there to help (bonding with their new grandchild is a very distant second). You do not have to entertain, nor host them. You are not at fault for assuming that a parent (event a less than stellar one in the past) would want to help out their child at their most vulnerable.

When I had my baby 4 months ago, I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed. My mother came, cleaned the house, cooked and took care of the baby while I was taking a nap. The 5 days we were on our own before she came where the most stressful and gruelling days of my life. I will be forever grateful to my mother and then my mother-in-law who took over after my mom left.

I’m sorry you went through what you did. Do not feel guilty about what your sister said, think twice about having your mother over when and if you have another baby (a short visit and hotel is my recommendation) and enjoy your new baby. Sending you lots of good vibes…


Rinme March 7, 2018 at 5:33 am

OP, I’m so sorry this happened to you! And with your own mother of all people.

You REALLY need to learn how to say “no” to your mother. I know this is hard.

If it were me, I’d not be inviting her back any time soon, and certainly not revealing the birth date of the next child, so the situation wouldn’t repeat.


Kay_L March 7, 2018 at 5:34 am

There is no way that I would have let my mom or my mother in law stay in my home for a month after having a baby. Not a chance! No one is that helpful!

I’m a grandmother now and I was very careful with what I helped with. Turns out that changing diapers isn’t so easy when you haven’t done it in a few decades. And they had very specific ways of doing it. Also, my son was very territorial! It was his baby by golly and he could change a diaper just as well as any grandmother.

So, what was I to do? I couldn’t feed the baby because she was breastfeeding. They had the diapering under control. So, I just enjoyed her! I could hold her all I wanted to as long as she could see her mama. I am convinced to this day that that helped to solidify my relationship with her.

She liked being on my shoulder but turned to see her mom mostly and her dad.

But, I found that my greatest usefulness was in complementing my daughter in law on what a fantastic job she was doing. She would say that the baby was just a good baby but I would tell her that she was a happy baby because her mama was so in tune with her and attentive and working hard for her.

I don’t know at the time that her own family was criticizing everything she did- not harshly, but just constantly. So, she really appreciated someone giving her props.


viviennebzb March 7, 2018 at 11:50 am

This ^ is how it’s done properly, this is the type of mil/grandmother I will be when the time comes.
People who pull the type of bait-and-switch described in the OP just baffle me, as well as the meek compliance displayed by the new parents. Come on.


Rinme March 9, 2018 at 3:57 am

Makes me so happy to read this. Sometimes a kind word goes a long way!


Zhaleh March 7, 2018 at 5:55 am

I’m another one who doesn’t understand why someone would agree to go grocery shopping when it was specifically stated before hand that she wasn’t supposed to do that.
I’ve never had a c-section but a friend of mine did and said she was in a lot of pain and every movement hurt.

I really think OP should have just said, No mom, I prepared the food ahead of time because I was advised by my doctor that grocery shopping and cooking would slow the healing process. So we’re having the lasagna I prepared.” And then ignored the mother while she said that the doctor didn’t know what she was talking about and how reaching for things off shelves, carrying groceries into the house and being on your feet for an hour cooking will really help those stitches. Which is what my mother would have probably said.
It’s one thing to want to avoid drama but that baby is going to just keep getting heavier, best to heal the moms body quickly.


Semperviren March 7, 2018 at 8:36 am

IMO when it’s the guests who propose and schedule a visit on the premise that you’ll need help (even insinuating that your husband is surely not adequate to the task) then you have a right to expect that they will help, and to be angry and disappointed that their notion of “help” is monopolizing your baby for two weeks while you do all the actual work.


clairedelune March 7, 2018 at 9:20 am

OP, I suspect that your mother/parents have been like this all your life, such that they’ve set you up to feel guilty about setting reasonable boundaries. I know it’s so difficult, but now that you’re an adult in your own home, I hope you can keep reminding yourself that it’s REALLY ok to set and enforce whatever boundaries you want. Your mom will undoubtedly push back against these very forcefully, but please keep reminding yourself that when she does that, it’s basically just the adult equivalent of a tantrum.


Wild Irish Rose March 7, 2018 at 9:43 am

OP, my mother would have done pretty much the exact same thing yours did, which is exactly why I did NOT invite her to come stay with us after our children were born. And when she had the temerity to invite herself, I told her NO. It’s what you have to do with pushy people who make everything about themselves. If ANYONE had monopolized my newborn to the extent that it made me physically uncomfortable (i.e., engorged breasts when baby need to be fed), I would have been outraged and probably not even a little bit nice about it. This was about you and your baby, not your mother, and had that been me, she would have been invited to go home almost immediately.

You definitely need to stiffen your spine and stop letting your parents manipulate you this way. First grandchild or no, they were insufferably rude and you let them do it. For the sake of your child(ren), your marriage, and yourself, please don’t let them do this to you again!


Girlie March 7, 2018 at 11:06 am

I was so grateful to my mother, who came and stayed with me for the first week after my baby’s birth. My husband had been laid off earlier in the year and had just gotten a new job, so he had to work. My mother allowed me to rest and recover – she got up in the middle of the night, made bottles, cleaned, made meals, changed diapers, folded laundry, bathed the baby, and taught me a LOT about childcare.

My husband had invited HIS mother to come and stay with us the next week, and it was a nightmare. I already have some issues with my MIL, and I remember sitting at my dining room table and sobbing my hormonal little heart out for an hour after my own mom left because I was dreading what I knew was coming.
Sure enough – I was expected to make meals, I got no help with cleaning (the house OR the baby), and the only thing she was willing to do was 1. sometimes hold the baby, 2. complain about the food, and 3. complain about the fact that we don’t have cable television. A week later, she invited other people over to our house on a random Saturday and called us about twenty minutes before they arrived to announce it to us.

I’m pregnant again, and I can tell you – if my sainted mama wants to move IN with us, she’s perfectly welcome as far as I’m concerned. My mother-in-law will receive an invite for a weekend afternoon for some takeout pizza.


admin March 12, 2018 at 9:17 am

Where was your husband during this visit from his mother? If he allowed you to be mistreated by his mother, the problem is with your husband. Geez Louise, ladies, what is it about men that makes it impossible for them to shop for groceries on his way home, cook dinner, and tidy up the house? Lots of single moms do it every day.


Girlie March 12, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Unfortunately, my poor DH had lost his job due to downsizing when I was 12 weeks pregnant. He wasn’t able to find a new job until I was almost 9 months along. With his job being so new, there was no way he could take more time off than absolutely necessary , and he was working long hours to make up for being out of work for so long. I think he honestly thought having his mom there would be helpful to me, and that’s just not how it turned out.


Semperviren March 7, 2018 at 11:17 am

I want to add, OP, that you’ll feel a whole lot better about all this if you set boundaries politely but firmly…and EARLY. I think your expectations and boundaries are reasonable and obvious and should be second nature to a considerate and self-aware person. That said…not everyone has an innate understanding of boundaries (your mom doesn’t) and with those folks you have to do the hard thing and be direct. It will be temporarily uncomfortable but worth it.

I tell you this because I learned it the hard way.


shoegal March 7, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Not all mothers are the same. My mother was a huge help when all of my sister’s children were born. She did the laundry, changed diapers, cleaned the house, cooked the meals, took over baby responsibilities – anything and everything that was needed. But if I know anything some people remember things in their own way despite its authenticity. Your mother 100% believes she was a “help” to you and you won’t be able to convince her that she wasn’t. I really think the OP felt backed into a corner. Her mother was coming and staying the manner in which she did no mater what the OP told her. She sounded like a nightmare – even your Dad was useless but there is nothing to be done about it. Your sister was trying to make you see – YES your mother has flaws (crap – we all do) but you are not going to be able to change that and you won’t be able to “fix” her. Learn to take care of yourself. Next baby. No visit or just the in laws. Just say, I’m an old hand at this – come when the baby is sleeping through the night then the visit will be more pleasant.


Devil's Advocate March 7, 2018 at 1:03 pm

“Tiny newborns do not need their own bedroom at this age. ” Depends on the house. I have three children, two slept in a bassinet for varying times in our room. The last one only his crib in his own room. The last one is, by far, our best sleeper. In the house I paid for, the rooms are designated as I wish. In our house, yes my tiny newborn needs his own room.

Beyond this–OP work on your relationship with your Mother and grow a spine. The lack of empathy and understanding by your mom won’t change unless you force the issue and it will be even more of a problem as you have additional kids and future times together.


Valerie March 7, 2018 at 2:03 pm

I just want to add that c-section recovery is such a unique beast. With any other surgery, your post-op instructions would be “get plenty of rest, take it easy, let others take care of you”. But with a c-section, you are handed a newborn baby who needs you to do everything for them, and it’s kind of like… good luck with that. Baby’s needs come first, and your healing has to take a backseat. It makes it so much more important that the people around you be supportive and helpful so that you don’t over exert yourself. 2 weeks post-op after my first I was passing blood clots that were the size of my fist. The first time I left my house I was taking the slowest mini steps I could because anything more was painful. I can’t imagine demanding to visit someone recovering from, let’s say, a tumor removal, and issuing them demands like they are your personal chef, then telling them that they really should get cracking on that laundry. Nevermind the fact that OP shouldn’t have been lifting anything over 10lbs (which laundry and grocery bags probably qualified), and that OP shouldn’t have been driving a car for another 3-4 weeks at least (I was told that if it would be painful to slam on the brakes, then it was too soon to drive). AND THEN to have the gall to brag about how helpful all of this was? A shiny new baby to dote on does not change anything, it doesn’t excuse this kind of entitled behaviour. Also, I agree that no one is obligated to change diapers if they don’t want to. But if that’s a hard no, then that automatically disqualifies them as appropriate childcare (even if it’s for the duration of a nap, because grandma didn’t wake OP up to change baby since it would have shortened the amount of time she got to play mommy solo). If you want to be left alone with a baby, then you better get ok with changing a diaper. How could someone claim “I just love this baby so so much!” and yet “I will leave the baby sitting in his own excrement because ew I’m not touching that.”

OP, I hope you don’t take too many of the “you should have done this, why didn’t you do this, I would have etc” comments to heart. You were in middle of one of the most vulnerable times you will ever experience, it’s not your fault that she acted this way and it’s not your fault that you didn’t have it in you to fight at that particular moment. But that’s all behind you now, and all you can do is remember vividly how it all went down, and figure out what boundaries and consequences can be enacted so it never happens again. That doesn’t have to mean that you never speak to your mother again, but I personally would not want her sleeping under my roof for a good long time.


PJ March 7, 2018 at 5:59 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with all of this. Very well-put, Valerie.


Vicki March 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm

OP, I’m sorry you had that to deal with. Re-examining the relationships based on it makes a lot of sense.

It’s easy for us to advise someone to stiffen their spine, but everything is harder when you’re tired and/or in pain, both of which are likely true when someone is recovering from a C-section. That “everything” includes all the tasks they were piling on her, but it also includes saying “no” or “we agreed you would be taking care of me, not the other way around.”


NicoleK March 8, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Yes to this.

And for anyone visiting someone with a newborn, follow their cues. If they hesitate, don’t do something.


BagLady March 7, 2018 at 7:02 pm

Any guest who claims to have come “to help” and not only doesn’t help, but makes more work for the host, belongs in the Bad Guest Hall of Shame circle of EHell — with an extended stay in said circle if the host is recovering from childbirth, surgery, chemo or is otherwise physically compromised.

Lots of well-meaning friends/relations want to “help” when there is a birth, death, illness or other event, but often they don’t know how, and don’t know how to ask. And the “helpee” may be reluctant to specify what kind of help s/he wants or needs. Someone to cook or bring meals? Someone to mind the baby while mom takes a shower or a nap? Someone to do light housework (dusting, dishes) or “heavy lifting” chores such as laundry or grocery shopping? Without knowing specifics, the well-meaning would-be helper is in a bind, afraid of either doing too little or too much. A lot of that could be avoided with better communication: “Thanks for offering to help. I’ve got the cooking and cleaning under control, but would really appreciate you watching Junior while I shower/nap.” “You want to help? Thank you, that would be great! What I really need is someone to come do laundry twice a week after the 15th, when DH goes back to work.”

All that excuses some misguided “helping” efforts, but not OP’s mom. Bogarting the baby when it needs to be fed — and mama desperately needs to feed? Not changing the baby when she’s the designated minder? Insisting that the house run on her schedule (late mealtimes, no early morning disturbances) when baby schedules don’t work that way? One-way ticket to the Hall of Shame.

OP, there’s a lot of “coulda, woulda, shoulda,” 20-20 hindsight and Monday morning quarterbacking in these comments. What’s done is done. Learn from it, and if you have another child, do write Grandma a letter and explain just what she can and can’t expect if she comes “to help.” If she isn’t willing to respect your wishes, she can stay home or at a hotel.

Congratulations on the baby and all the best to your new family.


Andrea March 8, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Mom was quite the entitlement queen and completely over the line. This paragraph in particular demonstrates how Mom thought the trip was ALL ABOUT HER:

“According to my sister, she felt I had been rude about “hogging my baby” to breastfeed, when she could have fed him a bottle. She felt I was rude for going to bed early (she goes to bed at 2 am), and for scheduling repair men to come to the house to fix the furnace at 8 am while I was on leave because it interfered with her ability to sleep in. She felt I was rude for not appreciating the fact that I still had my freezer meals and instead had to make multiple grocery store runs. She felt I was rude for not taking her shopping for clothes and baby accessories more. ”

I take it the “she felt” means that “Mom felt”. Grandma doesn’t get to dictate how LW feeds her baby; that’s LW’s choice. Grandma thinking that LW should forgo breastfeeding so *SHE* can feed baby a bottle is obnoxious. It’s also LW’s house, and the world doesn’t stop because Grandma is coming over – repairs need to be made, and LW, being a new Mom, should grab her sleep when she can. And nothing is stopping Grandma from getting a taxi/Uber driver/rental car and going shopping herself.

Next time, LW, please ask your mother to get a hotel/motel. You really don’t need that, particularly after you’ve given birth. And if you do have your mother over, as someone said, please just stick with your meal plans; if Mom wants something else, she is more than able to get take-out or go to a restaurant.


NicoleK March 8, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Now you know for next time. This is stuff that all needs to be worked out before hand because when you have a newborn you are exhausted and not in a good mood. It’s hard to stand up for yourself effectively at that time.

Next time, no visits for the first month (or whatever amount of time you designate).


Em March 8, 2018 at 2:15 pm

“She started referring to my unborn child as her baby.”

Uh, no. My mother will NOT refer to my child as hers, I don’t care how excited she is to be a grandmother. She is the kind of person who takes authority and autonomy in somebody else’s successes to the degree that she will control and manipulate others; so no: my child is my baby, not hers.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:14 am

If you pay attention you’ll find that lots of people will cuddle a newborn and say or murmur “my baby” as if, for that one moment, the baby is theirs to love. I’ve witnessed it several times with my grandbabies, particularly when the baby is being passed around. You can choose to wage war over a thoughtless two words and damage the relationship beyond repair or you can overlook it as something many people say without thinking.


Semperviren March 13, 2018 at 12:32 pm

I think it’s a “know your audience” thing- if the mother doesn’t mind, why not? Personally I think I’d be sensitive about her reactions, though.


AnonToday March 9, 2018 at 6:52 pm

While some of this stuff was truly not okay (the repeated grocery runs) the rest seems pretty run of the mill for these situations. I think it’s how you handle it that makes the difference.

I had an emergent, premature c section. My husband flew my mother in (12 hour flight) to help. I found her to be a help, my husband found her to be an incredible burden (and he LOVES my mother). I accepted some stuff might get shrunk in the dryer, or the food may be slightly burnt. He could not, as a result everything she did was “wrong”. I had to be brought downstairs each day and wasn’t moved unless I needed to use the bathroom. I didn’t change a diaper or swaddle my own baby until he was maybe 7 weeks old. I couldn’t. We had a beast of a stroller and once I was able to, when we went out I was using it as a walker. My son was sick and had a lot of appointments, staying at home wasn’t an option and I needed to let go of the fact my mum isn’t me. She’s going to do stuff her own way, I can’t force someone else to change everything about themselves to accomadate me. Accepting free help means accepting what you get. You want to micromanage, hire someone.

As for holding the baby… This is one of those things. There were so many instances when I just wanted a break. But the second I handed my son over I desperately wanted him back. I don’t know why, but I’d literally become angry at the person who had him. At some point in my silent seething I remembered that this baby is important to everyone. And while I may want him back in this second, I need to take breaks when I can get them and they can’t hold on to him forever. And worst case, I can always say give him back. A lot of the time my MIL would sit right next to me and she’d hold him for a second then give him back. Or she’d hold him for me while I held his hand. She just “got it”. Most people won’t, but that’s okay. Just tell them what you need!

Oh, and I agree with the admin. The referring to the baby as theirs is normal. In fact, it’s kind of hard not to do. I go with it though. Getting angry doesn’t fix anything and really, my son is everyone’s baby. On both sides we usually refer to him as “our baby”. Cause he is. He’s ours. And that’s a good thing. Who wants to be in a situation where the grandparents could care less about the kid?


MickiSue March 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm

I’m a grandparent, and I want to slap this one. I live not 9 hours by car, but 12 or more hours by air from my daughter and her family. And there is no way in hell that I would have shown up at her house and expected her to entertain me, nor myself NOT to be as helpful as I could possibly be.

Yes, I was grateful for the times that I had with my grandson, because it was going to be months before I saw him again. But he is NOT my baby, and it is both rude and presumptuous for a grandparent to refer to their grandchild as their child. Nor to hold onto a new baby who is hungry, because YOU want to hold him. No matter that he’s hungry. No matter, really, that the person he needs at that moment is his mother, and not you. Poor baby! And poor OP.

Grandson DID sleep in a bassinet by the bed, in Daughter and SIL’s room. AND he had the nursery set up, including the changing table and diaper pail. I don’t know about you, Admin, but I’d rather sleep on the pull out couch in the office (the only other “bedroom” they had, than in a tiny room with a filled diaper pail! OP never said that her baby didn’t sleep with them; she merely noted that the third bedroom was now a nursery. What new parents wait until after their baby moves to a crib to set up the nursery, anyway? And where are they going to put the baby’ dresser, changing table and diaper supplies? In their room, also?

I do hope that OP and her husband are able to come up with a viable plan for dealing with her parents in the future. If I were her, I wouldn’t host them again. If they want to come see the baby, they can stay in a hotel, and visit for specific lengths of time, once a day.

OP’s mother, and her actions and comments to OP’s sister scream narcissist to me. And nobody needs a narcissist for a grandmother.


NMS March 10, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Your parents need to stay in a hotel next time. Anyone who comes into the home of new parents and disrupts the routine, hogs the baby, refuses to help, and imposes on the revovering mother is a selfish, self-centered jerk. Anyone who refuses to adapt to mealtimes, bedtimes, etc (including Baby’s routine) doesn’t need to be a guest in your home. You do not owe anyone (including your parents) a right to stomp over these very reasonable boundaries. And, next time she says “my baby” you need to firmly say ” No, that is MY baby”.


Mrssaint March 11, 2018 at 11:42 am

I’d like to comment to future grandmothers:

1. Don’t assume your daughter/daughter in law even needs or wants help–With my first baby, my mom stayed for a week. She couldn’t find anything to do! I dealt with the baby ( and I wanted to, I felt good, finally had my energy back after a long pregnancy, etc). Our apartment was tiny, so there wasn’t much needed in the way of cleaning, she did do a couple of loads of laundry, but not much else. So many partners today get leave from work as well ( or have saved vacation days) to stay home and bond–and help, so the days of Grandma needing to be there to help have long passed for most new parents. And…. some new parents may prefer another family member or friend instead of Grandma– don’t be offended, it’s just the way it is.

Later on when I had several kids, my mom refused to come to help and that’s when I really needed the help the most. But when I asked her to help, her comment was that I was an old hand at this now and didn’t need her help. When I pointed out that I really needed someone to help with the other kids, she got very evasive and I finally found out from my dad that my mom didn’t want to come and babysit the other kids.

2. Grandma: don’t do anything with the baby unless you’re asked to. You are there to cook, clean, take care of toddlers, not the baby. If you don’t want to do those things, don’t go.

3. Do ask if mom wants a night off by offering to get baby at night with a bottle, or stay up with baby after breastfeeding so mom can get right back to sleep. This may well be the ideal time to do your bonding with baby.

4. Do show up with your tool kit — paper plates, paper cups, cleaning materials, detergents, cleaning rags, old clothes, hair bandana… Because you are there to work and not for a vacation.

5. Stay out of the room as often as you can when Mom and Dad are together with new baby. My husband’s biggest complaint about grandmothers being there was that he felt too exposed and vulnerable to really start bonding with a baby himself and he just wished that there was nobody else in the house with them. Give them lots of space while you stay busy in another part of the house doing laundry. Leave the house often to give them space, by taking other kids out for walks, to the park, do the grocery shopping, or maybe just go to a movie for a few hours in the evening.


Barbara Foster March 12, 2018 at 9:51 am

Certainly the point of mom or mil visiting soon after a child is born is to *help* new parents who must be constantly caring for a child while recovering from a massive physical effort. It seems that LW’s mother thought it was to be treated as an honoured guest and to play with the new baby.

I agree with others that the only thing that will work here is saying “no” or redirecting Mom’s demands. “Someone should get the stuff in the dryer” should be answered “Thanks for offering, Mom! I’d like the onesies folded in quarters, with the arms on top.” “I like to eat late” should be answered “Sounds fine! We’ll leave a plate in the fridge for you.” “I’m going to stay here the whole month” should be “all right, what hotel are you staying at? We’re sorry, but we’re not going to be able to accommodate you here.”

There’s all sorts of psychological things going on when a woman becomes a mother and her mother is moved up to grandmother status. But in today’s world (NA at least) the actual parents (and owners of the home) have the final word in anything involving the child or guests.


staceyizme March 13, 2018 at 8:34 pm

So many different perspectives! I have to say that grandparents aren’t all “baby” people. Some grandparents won’t want to visit and bond or assume care of the home or other children. That’s okay too. I guess what I’m saying is that the point of pain and discomfort centers around different needs and different expectations. Neither parents nor grandparents should be indulged at the expense of other people. Maybe that’s the take-away.


admin March 12, 2018 at 9:08 am

I am very familiar with narcissists ( That post barely scratches the surface of how narcissistic my brother is. A true narcissist uses everyone if the end justifies it in their mind. Wives, parents, children,…no one is immune from being used. No one. Everyone is lied to. And they are typically charming enough that people don’t realize they are being lied to.

What you see as narcissism I see a mother who has not transitioned to respecting her daughter as an independent adult and so she takes over the operation of her daughter’s house and baby as if it were hers. Meanwhile the OP’s husband lets her. No one “forces” you to go to the grocery store and why the OP’s husband did not stop this is baffling.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:47 am

I can relate more than you can imagine. The phrase “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” applies. If you have enough of a relationship with someone that you would, of your own freewill, invite them to visit you then obligation falls on you to establish the ground rules for visiting and then to choose to “eat the meat and spit out the bones” of the interactions. If you know someone is going to gang up on you, why have that person anywhere near you during a vulnerable time?

And I agree about the OP’s husband. My husband would have stopped the daily grocery store trips immediately and stated that he will stop by the store, if necessary, on the way home from work. My husband ran interference between me and my mom after the birth of our first child (which was a c-section delivery). But I do want to state that people change. By my third child, my mom had changed and she was of great help.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:27 am

Yes, you are correct. I did assume that the baby was being placed in the nursery. I also assumed that the nursery room was big enough to accommodate a twin bed. Our first house was 1500 square feet with 3 bedrooms with the designated nursery being large enough to accommodate a crib, changing table, dresser and a twin bed.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:25 am

Marriage changes the child-parent relationship and I’ve watched over the years as my friends struggle in varying degrees with letting go of their children so they can be independent adults. You’ve spent 18+ years rearing and parenting that child and now you have to shift gears. When the first child then has a baby (the first grandbaby), it’s a new level in the changing dynamics of the parent-child relationship. I’m not sure grandmom is a narcissist. What I can say for certain is that it appears grandmom has not “evolved” as you put into viewing her daughter as an adult with her own home and her own family that daughter chooses to run as she sees fit. Grandmom stepped into the house as if it was hers and expected the same treatment as if she was still Mom of her own home..sorry grandmom, times are changing.


admin March 12, 2018 at 8:16 am

What the sister provides is another side of the story that we, as readers, are typically not privy to hearing.


admin March 12, 2018 at 7:56 am

It’s possible. But in reading the literature on narcissism and knowing one in real life, there are no golden people. They ARE the golden person.


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