The constant stream of opinions about what moms should do starts early—in many cases, well before she holds her baby in her arms for the first time.
In this week's “Dear Prudence” column, one mother-in-law complains about her daughter-in-law's decision not to have her inside the delivery room. This grandma doesn't think waiting outside is good enough, feels snubbed and laments not getting to watch her grandchild enter the world. Please join me in a collective mom eye-roll.
Here's the thing: I didn't even let my own mother in the delivery room. I love her, but she's an anxious person and I didn't need that energy in the room with me. I was already plenty nervous and it would have just made everything harder for me.
The only person I wanted with me was my husband. He's my person. He makes me feel safe. He was definitely going to be in the delivery room. Thankfully, my mom never objected to not getting to be in the room and no one else asked to be let inside. Because no one should! If a mom wants you in the delivery room, you'll know. She'll ask you to be there.
Giving birth is hard. It ranges anywhere between transcendent and traumatic. Women giving birth are in a vulnerable state. It makes sense that they should get to decide who's there with them. Ideally, those people help the woman giving birth feel strong and supported.
Birth is between a mom and her baby. It's highly personal and something she'll remember for the rest of her life.
Plus, it's not a show! I think that's the part of the story that upset me the most. The mother-in-law stresses that she’s “seen it all” but the issue isn’t whether Grandma is OK with seeing her daughter-in-law exposed in such a way, it’s whether the daughter-in-law feels OK with it. Clearly, she doesn’t. And that's all that should matter.
Somehow, this woman has made this event all about herself and what she gets to experience. But what about the actual person giving birth? Her pain, her pushing, her fear and grit, her body—it's just the background to this lady's front-row view. I don't understand how anyone could feel entitled to such an experience.
Birth is between a mom and her baby. It's highly personal and something she'll remember for the rest of her life. Some moms might want lots of loved ones in the room. Some might just want one person. It's up to the woman to decide and no one should make her feel bad about it. Full stop.
Perhaps grandparents wanting to be in the delivery room is another way they like to relive their own experiences as parents themselves. But you have to admit, this one is asking a lot. There will be plenty more experiences to share with one's grandchildren—not being able to witness their birth isn't the end of that road.
The only silver lining in having a pushy family member ask to be part of the birthing process? It's a great opportunity to start to setting boundaries with loved ones, because let's be real, the day you give birth won't be the last time you hear about what someone else thinks you should be doing.