About Me


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

Coaching and Workshops

Click through to Amazon.com

Moxie's reading

The 10-year-old's reading


  • MoxieTopics
    Short PDF ebooks on specific parenting topics, in-depth and focused

« Q&A: toddler stripping off clothes | Main | Reader call: stealth health for your family »



I have a similar MIL and spent a lot of time worrying about the same things. My MIL is super high-maintenance and lives several hours away and spent most of my pregnancy fretting (and fretting and fretting) that she wouldn't be able to be there the second the baby arrived. I had a scheduled c-section, so that took care of that. I realized that a big part of the deal for her was to see my husband, her baby, react to the birth of his first child. It wasn't about me, or the baby, really, it was about her kid. So, I dealt by putting her in charge of my husband. Seriously. She was the one who put his scrubs on, who held his cell phone, etc. And then I occupied her for the first couple of days after the birth by having her make all of his "favorite" foods and putting them up in my freezer so that I wouldn't have to cook as much after all the family left. I also had her make a special "celebration" dinner on the day we came home for all of the parents and us. I came home and headed straight to bed, but she had been happily busy all day cooking and not bothering me. That way, when she did come to the hospital to see the baby, I didn't mind, because she hadn't been there non-stop. And it worked really well for us. Do you have a SIL that you can count on to have your back? If she insists on being at the hospital, in the room, put your SIL on duty to take her out of the room as much as possible. They can go get take out for everyone. They can go to the store for all the things you "forgot" or suddenly "need". They can go feed your cat. After delivery, they can go have pictures printed for you. Also, enlist the aide of your delivery nurse. They're no stranger to the pushy in-law scenario and can be a big help. Finally, most hospitals clear the room when you're pushing, so remember that at the moment that counts most, she'll be down the hall in an uncomfortable chair. And you won't care at all.


The idea of the MIL taking care of her son is pretty genius.

I hate to be a downer on part of this plan, but I wouldn't have much faith in hospital personnel keeping the MIL away, whether you ask them to or not (except for the delivery room). I had an emergency C-section with my second. Who was the first person I saw immediately post-delivery while in the recovery room? My MIL who had just arrived at the hospital and was wandering around looking for us. Someone helpfully directed her to the recovery room. The nurse had just left for a minute, and my husband was introducing the baby to our older kid, so it was just me, my worthless placenta (waiting to be sent to the path lab), and my MIL. Not the kind of post-delivery bonding I had been anticipating.


This sounds too much like me, except it was my family that I needed shielding from, rather than my in-laws. I did fortunately labor overnight on a Saturday, and at 38 weeks when no one was really expecting it.

This may or may not work in actuality, but could your husband drop some hints that he may take an unexpected day off before the baby is born, so that you two could go on a 'babymoon' or whatever it is called? That way, if he didn't show up for work, there might at least be a little bit of confusion as to whether it was time or if he was just out for the day? It wouldn't buy you a ton of time, but it's something...

IME, I found that when you're dealing w people like your MIL, the first three months are kind of tough, but it does get easier. After the newborn period, there isn't so much left to give advice about, and as your baby starts to make eye contact, smile, sit, crawl, etc., that whole period kind of fades away.


Delurking to say “Ooh, ooh, ooh – ME!”. My husband and I went through the same thing leading up to the birth of our daughter five months ago. We finally decided that my parents and his parents were allowed to be at the hospital during labor, but when it came time to push they where OUT. Just me and my hubby in the delivery room. And they weren’t allowed back into the room until baby and I were cleaned up, etc, we had breastfed for the first time and spent time together just the three of us.

It was hard to be firm about this and we had some push back throughout my pregnancy, but I am so glad we told them our plans early and then stood firm. While my MIL didn’t like it (they are an ‘everyone in the delivery room’ kind of family) she did respect our decision and was still thrilled to hold her granddaughter once she was allowed back in the room.

My husband and I did decide that he would be the one to talk to his family about this. They were able to accept the information from him a *little* better than they would have from me. He did stress to them that we decided this TOGETHER, that it wasn’t just me being ‘mean’.

Seriously – this is YOUR pregnancy, YOUR delivery, and YOUR baby. You and hubby decide what you want and then stand firm. Your doctors and nurses will be your bodyguards at the hospital and will back you up if needed.

Also, I definitely agree with asking your MIL's advice on things you don't care about. Even things you already know how to do or have decided on. She will feel like she is helping and staying involved, and that will help her continue to feel close to you and the baby.


Have you thought about hiring a doula? I agree that the nurses probably won't be 100% reliable as bodyguards, but your doula will be. A good doula is used to being the heavy and running interference between the mother and well-meaning but intrusive family members. She can play "the bad guy," and your MIL can focus her irritation on her.

Also, make sure you know the hospital's rules about visitation. Mine has very firm ones about how only four *designated* support people are allowed to be in the l&d rooms, and in the postpartum unit after when it's not visiting hours. It might be possible that you can just point to the hospital rules and be done with it.

Good luck!


Ah, Mother-in-laws. I really didn't want mine around...I wanted my mom (a nurse)and my husband and that's it. And, as the one giving birth, of course you have the right to decide who is around and who is not. I made my wishes known, but priorities have a way of shifting during labor, and she has only sons, and this was the first grandbaby for both sides, so that didn't work out. She ended up in the room with us during labor (I had an epidural) and while I was mildly annoyed, I was too busy with the impending birth to care very much at that point, although I had really cared during the preganancy. I had a c-sections so the pushing part never came up.

I like the part about enlisting the help of your sisters-in-law. Pick the most outspoken ones...they have probably felt the exact same way when they were giving birth to thier first child. Perhaps she could fufill her grandmotherly duties by taken care of some of her other grandchildren at that time? (When I had my second,my MIL was taking care of my first. It was not really a trick to get her out of the way at that point...my husband and mom were with me so it was something we really needed her to do).***

Now that being said, as someone who has had a strained relationship with her pushy MIL and now finds herself with only sons, maybe cut her a break? There is some validity to the fear of being less included because you are the mother of the dad; and not having daughters I won't get to be the mother of the mom.

***Manipulative MIL story: She had our older, and called my husband on his cell a few hours after our second was born. She was broken down on the freeway and could he come? Now, there are other people she could have called, including her other son who was fully capable of coming, but she didn't want to bother him at work. And, AND my husband went. She was panicked and our older son was with her and was scared because she was scared, and they were close by, so he went. I was recovering from a c-section and all drugged up or I would have put up more of a fight. I still can't decide who I am more annoyed at.(Her, I think...she put him in a bad position).


Thanks so much for all of your advice! I did speak to my doctor about this and he is 100% on board. My husband has a tendancy to be slightly, oh, less than delicate in situations like this.

I decided to tell to one of my sister-in-laws who is VERY close to MIL. She will have my back when the day comes, and she understands my wishes. His whole family is "hospital sitters", so I wanted it to be known that I didn't know when I'd really want to see the whole fam damily.

Actually, talking with my sister in law was very reassuring. She said that I shouldn't have any problem getting what I want when the time comes; It's just that everyone is so excited. We decided not to find out the sex of the baby and its driving people nuts!
(Although MIL "knows" its a boy).

I know this is just the first hurdle in a lifetime of finding a way to peacefully have them in our lives. I so love the suggestion of asking for help with "unimportant" things.

Thanks again for all you advice. It makes me feel less neurotic to know that I'm not the only one who has had to deal with this situation. And wish me luck - baby's due May 30th!


Well... I had a great L&D experience, and I did have the pushy MIL who wanted to be there, as did my mother, but I went ahead and just had no one except my husband once the pushing started. And I told my mom and my husband told his mom. But, while I have a good relationship with my mother I very rarely feel the need of her presence for security or comfort-- I am really independent, so this diplomatic decision worked for me. I know my mother would have liked to be there, but I also know that once the baby arrived she was much too busy loving her granddaughter to worry about not being in the room that second she was born.

Moxie re: your question as to whether or not you want to chat on meds during labor-- I walked/ bounced on a ball/ sat in a tub for HOURS before I took meds of any kind, and because my contractions were just not all that strong, chatting was fine. It was nice to have everyone there because it kept me focused and positive. I had girlfriends, various in laws (sisters-in-law mostly)my parents, and my mother in law plus aunts, uncles, and brothers. Yeah, lotsa family. Once I took Stadol intravenously to take the edge off the contractions I was less interested in interacting and got some needed rest. That was nice quiet time with my husband. Then, after the epidural, I was willing to chat again. But like everything else about L&D-- its highly individual and highly unpredictable.


My hospital's L&D nurses were actually quite helpful in keeping out unwanted visitors. I had no one but DH, we had warned the family ahead of time that we wouldn't be having an "open door" policy during labor. It worked, but the nurses assured us that they would be the "bad cops" if we needed them to.

Aside: I cannot believe that someone could "wander" into a recovery room. That is horrific. My hospital has VERY strict policies about surgical births, who can be with you in the or, who can go into the recovery room, etc. Wow, just wow.


Yeah, I was pretty startled to see her there. It was a Saturday morning and no one was around. But still. And this is a big city hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, which is renowned for its L&D.


I had a similar situation with my MIL- it wasn't that she wanted to be in the room, but she wanted to make sure that my mother was not.
The week before the birth, she kept 'stopping by' our house, and then prattling on and on. I was two weeks late, and ready to kill a person by then.
The day of delivery, during my heaviest contractions, she incessantly called my husband's cell phone and when he finally picked up and said he couldn't talk, she got all offended about being mistreated or some such bullshit. Anyway, all of this is to say that even through her nightmarish behavior, once she saw her granddaugter, all was forgotten. Nobody cares after the baby comes how they were treated during that day.


Another thing you could do (another "arrow" to have in your quiver) is enlist your L&D nurse by setting up a signal in advance.

For example, when I was laboring, the nurse told me (when it was just me and my husband in the room) that if at any point we wanted the room cleared of visitors, for any reason, to call her and ask for grape juice. The hospital didn't carry grape juice, so the nurse would know that that was really a plea for privacy. She would leave the room briefly, come back with apple juice ("All out of grape -- sorry!"), and then announce that she needed to "check" me, or do something else requiring some privacy. Usually the family would go down to the cafeteria, or something else that would keep them out of the room for a while. It worked great, nobody knew any better (so no hurt feelings), and I felt much more in control.


Sounds so familiar! Here's how it went for me.... After my husband told my MIL that I (he says he said 'we') didn't want anyone hanging out at the hospital, even in the waiting room, while in labor with our first, she invited me over for lunch. The pretense was that we could talk about how she didn't feel close to me. Then after lunch she told me that while she understood my wishes, hospital waiting rooms were public places and she could be there if she wanted to and intended to do so. Furthermore, she added, I wouldn't probably even know about her being there any way. Then she threw in for good measure, that she might not feel comfortable being around us if she couldn't be at the hospital for the birth and so might not see much of her grandchild. Sigh.... I just said, well I can see you feel strongly about that. It would be a shame if this interfered with you having a relationship with your grandchild. I really like you and hope that doesn't happen. I just wouldn't be comfortable having anyone other than DH at the hospital during labor.

Boy was I steamed by the time I got home. In any case, she emailed later that night to say she had thought more about it and decided to respect my wishes afterall. And, in fact, she did. I had a rediculously long labor and the babe arrived at night, so MIL came the next day - as soon as she saw the little one, things were all better.


Not for nothing, and not to scare anyone, but my sister's MIL was so upset about not being invited to attend the labor (including the pushing part), and so pissed off that no one phoned until after the baby had been born (mostly, surprise, because this first baby came two weeks early, at 9am after a labor that started in earnest at 11pm), that one week later, when my sister declined to hand over the squalling baby (what person asks a brand-new mom to give her the crying baby as the mom tries to comfort the baby? talk about setting yourself up, wait to hold the baby until it's calm already), my sister's MIL announced that she didn't feel welcome in the family and left -- less than 12 hours after her arrival, when they lived six hours away. The situation is still entirely unresolved.

So I'm sympathetic, more than I used to be, to the idea of some relatives (in-law or not) who don't bend easily to someone else setting the rules. Even after the baby is born. And lest you question my sister, she'd been letting MIL hold the baby for the better part of the day. Apparently, though, it was also Not Good that my sister (who had a miserable, miserable start to breastfeeding) retreated with the baby for every nursing session.

Also, my brother-in-law has a sister with two children, so this isn't the situation (as it is with my MIL) where the MIL doesn't have a daughter with whom to bond.

Sorry, decided to stick this vent here, since I could never post it to my blog. I'm incredibly sympathetic to the mother-in-law (much more now than I was when my kids were babies, which is too bad on several levels) but my sister's MIL is genuinely scary. I fear for my sister's marriage, in fact, given the levels of manipulation and control being exerted.


Okay, this is all making me very sad. I get only wanting certain people there, because I would have been loathe to have my MIL there. And make relatives? Ick.

But when given the opportunity to be here for the birth of what will likely be their only biological grandchild, my parents declined so that my retired father could go on some "business trip." He didn't see the baby for months.

I know what a pain in the ass families could be, but honestly I would prefer to have everyone so excited that they were willing to sit in a waiting room than have a bunch of family members that just didn't care.


Moxie, this is a good one. In fact, can we have a Grandparent Issues Week? Please?

My Mom really wanted to be in the room for the birth and somehow worked it into a few conversations as a given, without ever explicity asking me if I wanted her there. So it was awkward and hard for us to figure out how to handle it. In the end we decided to do the passive-aggressive method of Simply Not Calling. As they lived 7 hours away, we figured this would be OK. I was never entirely comfortable with this but it was the best I could come up with.

At the last minute they announced that they'd decamp to a closer locale, a vacation spot only 4 hrs away, so they'd be closer when the time came. Talk about pressure. And the hard part was, I honestly did not know how I felt about it! On the one hand my mom has always (unintentionally) made me feel bad about my body, and I figured this was no time for that. On the other hand I had felt very close to her throughout the pregnancy, and I could envision myself "wanting Mama" during the hard parts.

When I did go into labor, at one point my Mom called, having no idea what was going on. My husband panicked, but managed to lie through his teeth--he actually told her I was working late! As soon as he hung up, though, we both regretted it. Within a couple of hours we called back, fessed up, but told them they should NOT start the drive that night because we had no idea when things would happen (mostly true, though I don't think we fully explained that I'd had premature rupture of membranes and was thus "on the clock").

The next morning we waited until we were actually in an L&D room before calling them. They arrived while I was deep in labor. Apparently my Mom came to the door and was somehow sent to the waiting room, where she remained until summoned by my husband minutes after the birth. I think our doula kept her posted.

Later, when we told her how hard my labor was and how much I hurt and moaned through it, she realized that she was glad she had NOT been there, because she could not have taken seeing me in such pain.

My MIL never asked to be there, fortunately. We headed her off by giving her some (truly) important tasks to do to help us out, so I second that idea. I also think Charissa's code-word idea is brilliant!!


I am horrified by these MIL stories. You guys must have the patience of a saint to be dealing with them. At the very least, I hope your husbands are great in bed.

As a nurse, I have often set up signals with patients who have intrusive families. It can be something as simple as the grape juice thing or telling them you have to go to the bathroom or (this was fun) are having chest pain. Okay, the chest pain wasn't really fun. Anyway, the point is that I'm used to being a bitch when I must and any nurse worth her salt will say the same.


Brings back memories of my pushy MIL. My first birth was an emergency c-section. My son was in the NICU for a month. While I was in the post-op room for 4 days, she set up camp in my room, KNITTING. My husband was parading guests in and out of the NICU (two large families) and I was trapped alone with her, trying to pump every couple of hours with no privacy. I finally broke down in hysterics and got my husband to tell her to go home. We aren't close, we don't talk in general, never mind when I was a horomonal mess. She wasn't there for us - she hardly ever even visited the baby in the NICU herself. Plus, she wanted us to go down to the cafeteria to get lunch WITH her and leave him alone, while all we wanted was someone with him all the time. (We took shifts.) She just didn't get it.

Luckily, I prepared the husband for #2, a planned section. No visitors without you there, and you're in charge of keeping them SHORT. Hours with my MIL on day 4 post partum is more than anyone should have to bear.


I wanted the same things that Lindsay wants. I wanted to be alone at the hospital with just my husband and my mom. I wanted to have some time with just my husband, baby, and I before everyone came to visit. I wanted to be able to call and say, "Ok, now you can visit."

Of course I didn't say that to anyone, so it didn't happen. When I was induced with my firstborn -- there was my dad and his girlfriend (of all people) standing there at 8 AM. Then my stepdad showed up, then my brother, SIL and nephew. As I sat moaning in the chair, I said something that wasn't funny and everyone laughed. Finally, then, I had the nerve to kick everyone out and wish I had done it long before.

Then, my MIL who was coming from 2 hours away, showed up during transition and the nurses were all asking "Is it ok? Can she stay?" and I finally said "I have more important things to do..I don't CARE!"

I should have spoken up before, and I didn't. But had I, I would have said that I didn't want my MIL in the room. So a good person, but we are not very close. Afterward, though she is typically not very warm, she took my hand and said, "Thank you. Thank you for letting me see this." And I was glad I did.

Every family is different and every mother's needs are different. I really like hearing everyone's stories.


Although I had expected that I wanted my father to be in the delivery room when my daughter was born (my mother died two years ago, and since then, my father and I have become very close), it wasn't working for me. My contractions slowed, and I wasn't able to focus. At some point, we sent him away for dinner or because I was going to get in the shower to labor, and he remained outside the L&D room... with my MIL. My partner left periodically to go to the bathroom and give them updates.

But as soon as my baby was on my belly--literally, before the placenta was delivered or the cord was done pulsating--I wanted both of them in the room. I had my doula go to get them, and we all stared at the new, new, new baby on my naked belly/chest. I'm forever grateful that it turned out the way it did, even though it didn't go according to plan.

Be willing to play it by ear, because you never know what you'll want at the time. Kick them out now, and they'll be thrilled if you invite them in later. :)


I haven't been in this situation, but I remember being SO EXCITED that it was my father's parents who were going to stay with me when my little brother was born. This doesn't help Lindsay, but it occurs to me that if your IL's have a good relationship with an elder child, it might help to play up how much their presence will help the kid feel cared for and special when the new baby comes.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search Ask Moxie

Sign Up For My Email Newsletter

Blah blah blah

  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
Blog powered by Typepad