Laboring with In-Laws

While January 2020 was not an awesome time to move to a new city and try to establish community, for this introvert, the isolation of our global pandemic was not as painful as it likely was for some. I enjoy meeting a good friend for a cup of coffee, and I love my mom groups and women’s bible studies, but the natural inclination to create a bit more distance suited me and my need for lots of alone time to recharge.

My husband Matthew and I are among the many couples who ended up with a quarantine baby. Our second daughter Beth’s due date is actually today. She’s still hanging tight; no contractions yet! But I’m honestly shocked that the stress of the past week hasn’t caused me to go into labor because it has been – by far! – one of the most stressful weeks of my life.

As an introvert, I don’t particularly like having a ton of people around – especially for something as sacred and private as, oh I don’t know… giving birth? In addition, both of my babies have been born in the winter at the height of cold, flu, and RSV season – not to mention the added concern of Covid-19 this year. I don’t even particularly want my own family around for the first week after Beth is born, partly because of health concerns but also because I want us to quietly establish ourselves as a family of four without outsiders present.

But Matthew’s family insisted on coming in the week I was due to “help”. I told Matthew that the most helpful thing they could do is stay home. We’ve gotten sick from his family the last two times we’ve seen them (we were all sick for nearly three weeks in November with the worst cold I’ve had in years), and having them around with a newborn is very stressful for me. When Kate was born, his elementary-aged nephews kissed her face when she was three days old despite constant reminders from me that we do NOT kiss babies! And his mother put a blanket over Kate’s face to “keep her warm” because apparently she looked cold. I feel like I have to be on high alert to protect my newborn when there are others around rather than just getting to enjoy the amazing miracle of my baby girl’s new life.

But despite my requests to the contrary, Matthew insisted that his family come into town (from a major city and Covid-19 hub) for the four days leading up to my due date: Dec. 29 – Jan. 1. He would be at work, so I could host them at our house and keep them entertained while I prepared to go into labor. How thoughtful. I at least insisted that they stay at a hotel and not bring their dog who has bitten Kate twice and also pooped in the house the last two times we’ve seen them (and the first time, Kate ate the poop and threw up for 48 hours afterward. She may still have parasites for all I know).

Side note: We have three local couples we know, love, and trust who are all on standby to watch Kate while we are in the hospital. No strings attached; no familial obligations to have them over once Beth is born; etc. We do not need family around to “help”!

SO. I’ve been crossing my legs and desperately praying Beth would hold off until her due date of January 2nd to make her appearance. It’s the best chance I’ve felt I had to not only have the private birth experience I want but also to keep her healthy and safe. Well, it’s January 2nd today, and she’s still not here, so you’d think I’d be in the clear, right? Wrong.

On Dec. 29, Matthew’s family drove four of the eight hours from Houston to Midland before getting a call from one of their closest friends that she had just tested positive for Covid-19. They thought about coming anyway (!) but eventually turned around to head back to Houston. Matthew’s sister got a rapid test done, and it came back negative, so the conversation re-opened about them coming. I pointed out that you’re supposed to wait five days after exposure to test (it had only been two), and besides, there were five family members exposed!

The family friend had three more tests done, and they all came back negative, so she believes she had a false positive with her first test. So Matthew’s family, still packed, gets back in the car and decides to drive to the family ranch house in the Texas Hill Country, halfway between Houston and Midland. *Warning, warning* I think to myself. They are flirting with an invite back to our house.

Sure enough, Matthew wants to invite them to come the rest of the way to Midland. “After all, they are already halfway, and my sister had a negative Covid test.” I am not comfortable with them coming. I wasn’t before, and the false alarm hasn’t eased my concerns any. Matthew and I fight nonstop for two days, with him repeatedly leaving the house and just disappearing for hours on end. He thinks I’m being selfish and hateful toward his family. I feel he’s being the same toward me and our babies. What a great setting to bring a newborn home to. What a fabulous marital state to be in when first becoming a family of four and beginning to parent a toddler and newborn simultaneously.

The morning of New Year’s Eve, I finally graciously say, “Fine. They can come for one night, celebrate New Year’s with us, stay in a hotel, and leave the next morning.” What I didn’t know was that – eager as they were to encroach on my privacy – they would wait until late afternoon to leave the ranch house, putting them smack dab in the middle of a rare snow storm. They got stranded in Garden City, 45 minutes east of us, and had to stay the night there.

I kept thinking, “I just have to hold Beth in for one more day, and then they will be headed back to Houston.” But the awful saga just kept getting dragged out! Matthew’s family was supposed to try and come again on New Year’s Day and stay the evening of January 1. But despite the snow having stopped and thawed and a beautiful, sunny day with the radar indicating green all the way between Midland and Garden City, they were too scared of the roads (PTSD, they said) to try coming that day. So they stayed another night in Garden City, just 45 minutes away.

And with every passing day and every change to our plans, Matthew and I fought more and more. I don’t do well with change or uncertainty, and there’s plenty of that to go around with childbirth as it is. His family situation – the drama that just keeps dragging out and will not end! – has compounded my stress tenfold, especially because my husband and I aren’t on the same page. He still feels like I’m being selfish and hateful, and I feel like his family is being selfish forcing themselves on me, Matthew is being unloving not listening to my desires for the very sacred act of delivering his baby, and all around… maybe I do need all of those friends I haven’t been able to make since we’ve been quarantined in our new city all year. I feel so isolated and devalued and disrespected and unheard. And somehow I’m the selfish one for having desires for my birth experience that look different than everyone else wants.

This morning – January 2nd, Beth’s due date – I was informed by Matthew that his family had finally decided the roads were passable, so they were driving in and staying through Monday. MONDAY. They were already supposed to be gone by Beth’s due date, and now they are just arriving and staying for a few more days? Without asking me what I want or think or prefer? Without any consideration for me, the mother about to push a baby out of my vagina and have to wear an adult diaper and be braless and leaking milk all over the place? But no matter. I can host while bleeding through my stitches and expose my newborn to whatever germs they brought from Houston this time. After all, my desires and preferences don’t matter as the woman of the house and mother about to go into labor.

But it gets better. Matthew’s family arrived late this morning and, after coming into our house for a while and playing with Kate, they decided to share with me the rather pertinent information that one of the elementary-aged boys had thrown up twice that morning.

They came into my house. On my due date. When I am about to give birth. And played with my two-year-old daughter. Hugging her and holding her. WHEN ONE OF THEM HAD THROWN UP MULTIPLE TIMES THAT MORNING?!?! WTF. Seriously, how selfish can you be? I’M the selfish one? How dare they come into my home and expose all of us like that – not only me, about to have a baby, but also now Beth, who will come home to Kate who has been exposed. What is wrong with people? AND HOW AM I THE SELFISH ONE?!

I don’t understand. I don’t understand at all. And I have no more words. But I’m at the point now where Matthew may not be allowed in the delivery room. By repeatedly choosing his selfish, thoughtless family over me, he may nearly have lost his privilege to see his second child being born. God knows he’s robbed me of plenty the past week – from peace and sanity to basic respect and having a say in one of the most significant experiences of my life.

Candidly Christy


2 thoughts on “Laboring with In-Laws

    • Yes! They have! Thank you! I used to blog at least weekly, but I find that now (with a baby and toddler), I can only find the creative energy to blog when I REALLY need an outlet for a lot of negative energy and don’t want to dump that on any one person, so unfortunately, most of my posts tend to be more negative, but the truth is: Life is good. My husband is wonderful, my family is great, and I am blessed. Thanks for checking in!

      Liked by 1 person

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