Friday, November 1, 2013

Nightmares About Mother-in-law

You might think that having nightmares of your mother-in-law kidnapping your baby is pretty extreme. But, there's more to the story. Her youngest brother had a baby with his longtime live-in girlfriend, Missy. Missy was a wonderful person, that I personally liked very much. The man got his girlfriend hooked on drugs. He was able to dabble in drugs recreationally, but Missy became seriously addicted. Their marriage suffered, and they both eventually went to jail over a domestic altercation. The child spent a year in the custody of my mother-in-law. It was during this time that she assumed the title “NahNah” because although she was not the mother, she was more than an auntie. When the parents were released from prison, the child had a difficult time adjusting to living with her parents. And the drug use continued, which gave my mother-in-law good reason to take the child home whenever she suspected problems. The child adopted all of my mother-in-laws mannerisms, speech patterns, and prefered her company to her own mothers. Missy eventually developed similar feelings, and a wedge was driven. The couple eventually split up. The father straightened up his life and retained custody of their daughter, and Missy was sent to prison again. To this day, the child, now a teenager, is a frequent occupant of her NahNah's house.

Some of this was unavoidable circumstance, but a line was definitely crossed. I realize that I'm not a drug addict, but I fear that my mother-in-law will find mistakes in my parenting—no doubt I'll make plenty—and convince my husband that she would be a more suitable caretaker.

At one point, my own mother's in-laws told my father that if he would leave my mother, they would take over the care of me and my two siblings. It is shocking to think that people would plot to separate a child from a parent, but it does happen.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who Is The Mother?

When a child is conceived, the identity of the father is sometimes questioned.  But in my mixed-up world, there seems to be some question as to the identity of the MOTHER!  My husband tries to help me understand his mother's behavior. He says, “Growing up with 10 younger siblings, she has been a stand in mother since she was very young. She has always been a mother. She knows no other way to interact with people, so she mothers everyone.” The problem is that she thinks she is going to be a mother to my baby. The other day I asked her what she prefers to be called. Grandma? Grammy? Grandmother? Grams? She said, “I want to be called NahNah, because it sounds like Momma.” Even my husband's mouth dropped on hearing that! Since then, I've been having nightmares every night of my child being stolen and renamed. I can only hope that she will embrace the office of Grandmother. Mother is taken.

Friday, October 25, 2013

How Many Baby Showers?

My sister is going to throw me a baby shower. And so she is quietly brainstorming, organizing, collecting, and planning. My sister had seen a crib that I'd posted to and my family was looking into getting that one for me.

My mother-in-law picked up my husband, and took him crib shopping. He asked me which one I'd prefer and she purchased it. That is when I found out about my sister's plan regarding the pinterest crib. So, I suggested that my family go in on a special wool crib mattress that I'd seen that is organic and has all kinds of health claims (my family loves this kind of stuff). My mother-in-law freaked out when she found out. She already bought a mattress too and feels like my family is stealing her thunder. Well, they feel the same way over the crib itself. The crib is kinda the Cadillac of baby gifts, but honestly I'm way more excited about a wool mattress.

Following this little hiccup, my mother-in-law told me that she wants to plan her own baby shower for her side of the family. My husband had already told her that my sister was going to do it, so I was a little upset that she was trying to get around him by approaching me. I said firmly, “No, my sister is doing the shower and she is going to need your help.” She pouted, and whined that my sister doesn't know her side of the family and key people are going to be left out. Then she said that she didn't think my sister had any business doing the shower. She could stand taking a back seat to my mother, but not my sister! I reminded her that it is not a competition. And she asked me to make sure my sister got in touch with her.

Knowing that my mother-in-law will next be trying to get her way with my sister, I decided to prepare my sister for the conversation. I suggested that she make a quick phone call on her way to work, thanking my mother-in-law for volunteering to help with the shower and have her start putting together a guest list complete with mailing addresses, and then end the call promptly. Then I coached her not to ask for suggestions unless she really wanted input, because my mother-in-law will try to take over everything if she thinks there is an opportunity to do so. I also suggested that she always have another specific task ready to assign for each phone call she receives after that.

Well, my sister isn't ready for executing plans; she's still brainstorming. So, she is too freaked out to call my mother-in-law. And the longer it takes her to make that call, the more anxiety mother-in-law is having thinking that she's not going to be included in the event. This is also allowing time for my sister-in-law to involve herself and then things will really get complicated.

My husband is convinced that his mother will completely ignore our wishes and just take her own shower underground and make it into a surprise party. And we will come for family dinner and be ambushed! But, if my sister keeps her occupied with the official shower, maybe she won't feel the need or at least won't have the resources to plan a separate party.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Who Gets To Raise My Child?

Cultural differences are already causing tension and I've barely started my 2nd trimester. In my family, your children are your responsibility. Grandma may babysit occasionally, and will form a tight bond through frequent visits, but ultimately, you need privacy to raise your family.

In my husband's family, every member's life revolves around the matriarch, and her house is always jam-packed with family and food. My mother-in-law has been tormented by her sisters for 19 years. About 3 times a week, one of them asks her if there is any word of grandchildren. Of course, she says no. Then they proceed to tell her of how full their lives are surrounded by grandchildren (many of whom live with them), and basically rub her nose in the fact that she is missing out on the blessings they're enjoying to the full.

I feel very deeply for my mother-in-law because of this cruel treatment that she's received from her own flesh and blood. It has been hard enough for her to accept that my husband and I are so independent. Her other son lived with her until he married in his 30s. The relationship with his wife and mother is very strained, because their marriage took place after her husband died. She felt it as a deep loss because it was the first time that her nest was empty.

My mother-in-law and my husband's sister fully expect that I will continue to work after giving birth, and they know that my mother and sister have full-time jobs. Since neither of them work, they think that they are going to be the primary caretakers of my baby. They're going to be very disappointed because I have my heart set on being a full-time mom. Financially, I haven't figured out how, but my husband is in full agreement with my decision.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pregnant - Telling Family

Hiding a pregnancy is not normal for an open person like myself. But I've never carried a baby before and the thought of telling an in-law of a miscarriage is unthinkable! So, we kept it secret for a couple of weeks. I checked out a book from the library about pregnancy for women over 35, and felt a little more comfortable about my situation. After all, most women over 35 have other health issues, have smoked and drank their whole lives, had multiple births, C-sections, are loaded up with fertility drugs, etc. Besides my age, I don't have any medical conditions that add danger. (My midwife insists however that since my eggs are 38 years old, that risk remains.) That alleviated my fears enough that my husband and I decided to tell our immediate families. His side of the family was already planning to gather for an anniversary dinner, so I arranged for my family to meet that morning for breakfast.

It was such fun telling my family. We told them that we wanted to address a rumor that would no doubt be circulating about us soon. My husband said, “you're going to hear that Mesa is pregnant--.” And I cut in with, “And it's TRUE!” They all gasped, covered their mouths, and teared up! Then my sister blurts out, “I want a GIRL! Is that bad to say? I don't care, I want a girl. I have a nephew, now I need a niece!” My moms hands immediately went to my belly. My grandma mentioned how much my grandpa would have loved it were he still alive. We spent the meal laughing and speculating. It was a ball!

Telling my husband's family came in the evening. We let the meal go forward with the anniversary being the focus until dessert came, and gifts began to be opened. We handed off our greeting card and asked them to read it aloud. My husbands sister read: “Your real gift is that mom will no longer be hounding you for a grand-child. Congratulations! You're going to make a great aunt and uncle.” There was no reaction. We scanned the eyes at the table and everyone looked puzzled. His sister said, “I don't get it.” My husbands brother looked at me from the farthest end of the table and silently mouthed the words, “Are you pregnant?” I smiled and nodded. He shook his head in disbelief. Then he mouthed, “Really?” So I smiled and nodded more emphatically. He seemed to believe it this time but mouthed, “Really?” I nodded enthusiastically. He mouthed, “No.” Then my mother-in-law said, “What, you're getting another dog?” My husband assured her that it was not a dog. Finally, everyone got it and slowly started with the disbelieving “wows.” Finally another relative said, “congratulations.” Which everyone repeated obediently.

I think the difference in reaction is cultural. My family easily accepted that we did not intend to have children soon after we were married. They may have hoped for a blessed accident for the first few years, but resigned themselves early on. My husband's family, on the other hand, have spent the last 19 years yearning for us to have children, and have only in recent years let up pressuring us to do so.   

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pregnant - Finding A Doctor

After taking the home pregnancy test, I immediately drove to Planned Parenthood for confirmation. (I knew they would take me on a walk-in basis.) They suggested that I find a doctor soon because my age would put me in a high risk category. I went home and started browsing the phone book for doctors. I called a clinic that was nearest my home. The receptionist asked how far along I was. I didn't know. She asked the date of my last period. Again, I didn't know. She asked when I had discontinued my oral contraceptive. I didn't know. Exasperated, she snapped, “Well, if you're too far along, no one is going to take you!” I was so overwhelmed that I just hung up the phone, and cried. I had just received shocking news of a pregnancy, the words “high risk” had set me on edge, and now the thought that no doctor would even see me was horrifying! Then I was struck with the thought that crying isn't good for baby, and I composed myself. The next phone call to another clinic began like this, “I just found out I'm pregnant. I don't know how far along I am. I don't know the date of my last period. I'm 38 years old. I've been told that no one will take me if I'm too far along, so what am I supposed to do?” The sweetest receptionist soothed all my fears, “We specialize in high-risk pregnancies here. You're going to need medical care no matter how far along you are, and we can easily find that out with a simple ultrasound.”

It sounded too good to be true, so I launched my next test, “I don't know anything about having babies, but I want to be in control of everything. Do you know of any doctor who is going to want to work with me?” The response came, “I think you need to meet Jen.”

Turns out that Jen is a Certified Nurse and Midwife. She is suprisingly open to working with my wishes, even though I am very inexperienced.   

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hello. You Don't Know Me, But I Have A Bathing Suit.

I was chatting with a new client of ours as her vehicle was being worked on--about the weather, as strangers do.  To combat the scorching heat wave we've been having, she put up a pool in the back yard and had been enjoying it for the past few days.  She said that one day a woman and her young son knocked on her door.  She asked them, "Can I help you?"  

The visitor said, "I see that you have a pool" as if that statement should say it all.  

The householder said, "Yeah.  So?"  

The lady continued, "Well, we're wearing our swimming suites."  


"Well, we were wondering if we could use your pool.  We brought our own towels, and you're not using it anyway."

Can you believe the nerve of some people?  To actually show up in a bathing suite, fully expecting to use someone's new pool?  Makes you wonder if they hadn't already jumped the fence and helped themselves when the householder was out of the house on a previous day.  

I think I would have offered to turn the hose on them!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pregnant - This is Happening

After a period of depression, my concerned husband suggested that I discontinue my use of oral contraceptives. My doctor had already threatened to take me off of them because I've been on them for 20 years. She had said that at the first sign of any health problems, she would not prescribe them, and I was fairly certain that depression symptoms would qualify. I thought that it was a prudent precaution, and agreed to go off of the pill. The depression faded completely over the months that followed, but I was concerned about getting pregnant. My husband reassured me with the words, “Don't worry. We will use condoms most of the time.” Well, turns out that “most of the time” isn't enough.

I dismissed tender breasts as premenstral symptoms--for 3 weeks. I dismissed swollen ankles as a result of salty meals—for which I had been having abnormally strong cravings. I was concerned about the dizziness though, which seemed to make my stomach queasy. I was also having little episodes where I didn't feel bad, but just felt a definite need to sit down for a minute. In my mind, each symptom was unrelated. Denial. During a chat with a girlfriend, I started to see them all as having a common cause. She suggested that I get a pregnancy test, which I immediately did.

My husband called my cell while I was at the store, but I told him that I was purchasing vegetables. He wanted to swap vehicles with me before he headed to work. I told him that I would finish and head home, but that I couldn't be certain whether I could be there in time for the swap or not. When I did get home, he was not there, so I concluded that he had left for work. So, I head into the bathroom to take the test. And having the house to myself, I'd left the bathroom door wide open. Just then he came home and caught me in the act. I was studying the stick and the diagram. I could clearly see that the results did not match the “not pregnant” figure, but my mind could not match the results to the “pregnant” figure. So, I handed it off to him. He studied it for a time. Pointing to the “not pregnant” figure, he concluded, “it's definitely not that one.” I stared at him, stunned, with teary wide eyes. He hugged me and said, “I am very sorry, but I'm very happy.” I croaked, “OK.” And then I sighed and said more resigned and resolute, “this is happening.”