My head is in the clouds. My granddaughter was just born, a beautiful little girl, my first grandchild. Carly is amazing, beautiful and perfect. She’s everything you expect in your grandchild and more. It’s amazing.
As the mother-in-law of the mom-to-be, the big question you may be facing is what your role during labor and delivery should be? Your daughter-in-law may invite you in the room for the birth, but that’s the exception. What is reasonable for you to expect? What should you do?
I had the same questions. This is such a special time. You don’t want to step over boundaries and become the nightmarish mother-in-law.
Know your place. Carly’s date of birth was not the time for me to figure out my role in the process. My daughter-in-law and I discussed her expectations and wishes in advance. I knew what she wanted during birth. It was her decision and I respected it. Open communication helped avoid conflict.
Remember girls usually want their mother. It is natural for your daughter-in-law to want her mother to be with her during labor and delivery. Mom knows her intimately and has comforted her over the years. Why would you expect any less at this crucial time? I wanted my mother by my side, and that’s exactly what my daughter-in-law wanted. When it was time for Carly’s birth, it was a time for me to step back.
Be supportive. Free from being at the bedside, I was able to fulfill supportive roles. There is a seemingly infinite list of things that must be done when a birth is pending: phone calls, trips for food, keeping the hospital staff accountable, running home or to the store for things that have been forgotten. Don’t spend time sulking because you aren’t in the birthing room. Pour out yourself helping others.
Don’t take it personally. The birth of your grandbaby is not about you. Don’t take decisions, comments or even criticism personally. Everyone runs high on adrenaline, fatigue, expectation and a little anxiety. Things may be said in the heat of labor that would otherwise never have been said. Birth is not the time to harbor and scrutinize every word. Focus on the baby, the mom, the dad. Let unpleasant words roll off your back and don’t drag them up later. It’s not about you.
Keep it in perspective. Enjoy the excitement, but keep it all in perspective by remembering that you have a lifetime to be involved in your grandchild’s life. The initial excitement will fade. The crowds of visitors will go home. You will still be there.
I look forward to a lifetime of holding, cuddling, and comforting Carly. I will help my son and daughter-in-law when they need it, allowing them to soar as parents when they don’t.
There is plenty of time to build a lasting and loving relationship. Sensitivity to the needs of your daughter-in-law and son during labor and delivery may even earn you some special alone time with your grandbaby.