Need Advice Concerning Healthy Boundaries


#1

My husband and I just had our first baby and are overwhelmed with caring for her. Breastfeeding issues and her needing to be comforted by me have led to me holding her 24/7. On any given day, I am lucky if I get my teeth brushed, get dressed or get to eat meals.

My mother-in-law is understandably excited about the baby and regularly e-mails asking about the baby. We are too busy to respond (these few minutes I am taking to post are rare, baby finally fell asleep in my lap, but I dare not move baby!) and so she has started to call and is always trying to Skype which is not preferable since I am costantly indisposed due to nursing.

I am overwhelmed. I don't want to talk. I don't have the energy to talk. There are a million things that I NEED to do and can't because I can't put the baby down without it freaking out.

My mother-in-law seemed irritated in her last voicemail. Perhaps she doesn't understand how busy I am with all my breastfeeding issues. She didn't breastfeed, so maybe it was different for her... I don't know.

I am getting annoyed and then feeling guilty because of it. But I wonder why won't people give me some space to care for my baby? I am doing the best I can! I haven't even gotten to the point of being able to enjoy my baby. How can I be expected to make that happen for others?

Does anyone have any advice or thoughts? I've tried having my husband deal with her, but she still contacts me since my husband isn't very informative by nature. So, that idea isn't working.


#2

[quote="philosophermom, post:1, topic:201101"]
My husband and I just had our first baby and are overwhelmed with caring for her. Breastfeeding issues and her needing to be comforted by me have led to me holding her 24/7. On any given day, I am lucky if I get my teeth brushed, get dressed or get to eat meals.

My mother-in-law is understandably excited about the baby and regularly e-mails asking about the baby. We are too busy to respond (these few minutes I am taking to post are rare, baby finally fell asleep in my lap, but I dare not move baby!) and so she has started to call and is always trying to Skype which is not preferable since I am costantly indisposed due to nursing.

I am overwhelmed. I don't want to talk. I don't have the energy to talk. There are a million things that I NEED to do and can't because I can't put the baby down without it freaking out.

My mother-in-law seemed irritated in her last voicemail. Perhaps she doesn't understand how busy I am with all my breastfeeding issues. She didn't breastfeed, so maybe it was different for her... I don't know.

I am getting annoyed and then feeling guilty because of it. But I wonder why won't people give me some space to care for my baby? I am doing the best I can! I haven't even gotten to the point of being able to enjoy my baby. How can I be expected to make that happen for others?

Does anyone have any advice or thoughts? I've tried having my husband deal with her, but she still contacts me since my husband isn't very informative by nature. So, that idea isn't working.

[/quote]

Congratulations on your new baby, first of all. I'm sorry you are finding this so overwhelming, but some babies are more challenging than others, to be sure.

I am wondering how old your baby is? Can you put her in some sort of carrier, where you "wear" her next to your body, but that allows you to have your hands free to do other things and not feel so overwhelmed?

Some babies are colicky too for their first few months, which can be quite a challenge. On top of that, breast feeding takes some getting used to, and getting wound up about it makes things much worse. I'm sure you've heard that it takes relaxation for the "let down" response to naturally occur. And of course, both baby and mom have to figure out the whole latching thing.

If the baby is brand new, maybe wait a week or two before inviting Grandma over. This must be her first grandchild, if she is so eager.


#3

Thanks for the reply.

I thought that a carrier would be helpful. I have two. One is too big and one I can't get to work in a safe manner. I need a new one but haven't gotten out of the house to buy one. I will still try to find one that works.

Grandma saw the baby twice the week she was born. The baby is now 15 days old and Grandma will see her again in a week.

As for the breastfeeding, I am still healing from a bad case of mastitis and infection. I'm sure everything will get easier. I just need some time to get used to things.

I just don't have the emotional energy to reply to phone calls and the many questions. When I do have a moment of downtime, I use it to eat, shower, or sleep. Then I end up feeling guilty because people are missing out on my child when she is still so young and tiny.


#4

You sound like a great mama. You’re doing fine. :hug3:

As kind of a side note, you will connect with more mommies in the parenting forum. I think they would be able to help you more than we would here. :slight_smile:


#5

You sound like me! Caring for your first baby is overwhelming, but things will get better in a few more weeks. (Right now you probably need about 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep). If you are in email contact with your mother in law, sit down with your husband and dictate to him a detailed report of what is going on with you and the baby. She just wants to be included in the Blessed Event.


#6

hugs!!

Those first few months are so trying. Mine's 5 months old, and we still have our moments. Breastfeeding can be such a challenge, but good for you for keeping it up!! I promise it gets better!

Is it possible for your DH to explain this to your MIL? It might be easier coming from him, and it'll save you the stress.


#7

Hi! yes warmest congrats on your precious little one!

Ignore your mother in law for now. Tend to your infant.

You do not need to get the phone, e-mail, skype or anything. Just breathe…in out…in out…enjoy your baby. Time goes all too fast…

Love,
Corinne:)


#8

My two boys were just like your baby as infants. They exclusively breastfed and did not want to be put down at all. They needed me for feeding and comforting, and it was VERY demanding of my time and energy. So, I completely understand and sympathize with your situation.

It does take some time to "get into the groove" with breastfeeding, what with the soreness and the mechanics of it, and just trying to get into a routine. At 15 days, you are still new at it. Just take your time.

As for your mother-in-law and others who want some of your time, establish some "ground rules" right now, i.e., all phone calls will go to voice mail. You will return calls at early afternoon (or whatever suits you) every 2 days (or whatever) to update mother-in-law and anyone else. Limit calls to 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes (or whatever suits you) and be firm if necessary about ending the call. Ditto with emails -- limit your time on email to certain time of day/days of week. It won't hurt your family and friends to go without an update for a few days at a time. They should be very understanding about this "new mother" phase right now, especially if when you do talk with them, you are very informative and happy to interact with them. That should be satisfying to them. If it's not, that's their problem, not yours.

Good luck and blessings to all!

Just thought of this: if you have a FaceBook account, maybe you could post updates and pictures that all your family and friends could read. That way, you only spend time doing updates once, rather than repeatedly for each friend/family member via email or phone.


#9

Oh man, I remember being in your position exactly!! My firstborn was a NICU baby for his first week (but he was full term and almost 9 lbs), then I had mastitis so bad I was delusional, throwing up, and couldn't get out of bed. Then we couldn't get breastfeeding going without me bleeding and crying in pain the whole time. It took us a good 5-6 weeks and outside help (from LLL, highly recommend them!) to figure it out. Then he was very high- needs and screamed the whole time if I ever put him down!

:console:

The good news: he's a happy, healthy, super smart six year old now. He is still the most sensitive of my crew so far. So it does get better.

I also had similar issues with my MIL, except that she lived upstairs and wanted quality time with the baby everyday... and wouldn't come downstairs to see US- just sent it through the grapevine that she thought I should be bringing the baby upstairs to her for at lesat an hour a day and was offended that I didn't. Um... sorry, most days I couldn't manage to get dressed or use the bathroom when I needed to, and did I mention he SCREAMED if I wasn't holding him? Even his own dad didn't have the patience for it at the time. I didn't need people making demands on my time.

I think I cried a lot.

Anyway, I would nicely put DH in charge of updating his mother and keeping her happy, or letting her know where the boundries are if needed. You are tired, hormonal, and need to be able to focus on caring for yourself and your baby.

I second the idea of a baby carrier, when you can find one that works for you. And again, if you don't already have outside help with breastfeeding, try a La Leche League meeting in your area (www.llli.org is the website I think). If you can manage to get yourself there they are an excellent resource and just having support without demands meant so much to me. I don't know if I would have survived breastfeeding my firstborn if I hadn't gone.


#10

Hi there, Congrats on the new baby!

It is very overwhelming the first few weeks, that is for sure! Especially with your first baby, I remember feeling like I was all thumbs.

I would maybe recommend that your DH be the point man for your MIL. After all, I think she's probably just so excited about the baby and is dying for any news of him/her! Just have your DH explain that you are beyond exhausted and are taking the advice everyone gives -- to sleep when baby sleeps!!!!

You will find that you will get into the groove and be able to "multi-task" more as time goes on. In fact, as you get more experienced nursing, you may find that that is the best time to make a short call to Grandma!

Good luck, hang in there, and as someone told me and it is so very true --- when they are babies, the days are long, but the months are short!!!!


#11

Like everyone else has said... you sound like a very good Momma and you're doing a fabulous job. And I SO SYMPATHIZE - especially with the first child - it IS super hard and you don't need to feel one ounce of guilt whatsoever!!!

Okay - I'm going to sound mean for a second, but it's in your best interest. :)
Your husband needs to step up and deal with this situation himself. This is HIS mom and he needs to defend you. YOU are his WIFE and he should step up and say something. You need to take care of yourself and your baby. He needs to stand up to his mom and say "She needs some rest. Please stop calling."... and this is HIS job, not yours. No guilt, no stress... just REST.

Listen, having a baby is a FAMILY affair - it brings out all sorts of fun in-law, mother-son, husband-wife, mother-daughter relationship craziness and can just drive you INSANE! You're not alone and this happens with most families. But don't let it add more stress. Have an honest heart-to-heart with your husband about setting up boundaries with his mom... lovingly. I sympathize, I know it can be tough to put up boundaries with someone you love - I also adore my MIL, but it can become overwhelming when it isn't necessary... it just has to all be done in a loving and understanding way... but your husband NEEDS to do this for you.

(((HUGS))) and prayers... :)


#12

I agree with others about your husband. My husband stepped in and told his mother in very firm language what she needed to hear. He wasn’t mean or nasty to her, just firm. She was staying with us to help me, not lounge around and go shopping.

The one piece of advice I will give you is to be careful not to shut your husband out as you care 24/7 for your young baby. Save some of those hugs and kisses for him. This is a very hard time for him, especially if he’s going to take on his own mother. He doesn’t want to lose his mother AND his wife. Make sure to tell him how much you love him, especially if he speaks up to his mother–that takes courage on his part. He’s your champion and your baby’s champion–make sure he knows that and that he knows how much you appreciate all he does for you and the baby.


#13

Congratulations on your baby! This is a challenging time for you, but it will pass (otherwise people would only have one child!)

As another poster recommended, I would nicely put DH in charge of updating his mother and keeping her happy.

Decide on an interval and a time that your hubby will update everyone and then send out an e-mail stating the info. (i.e. Every Mon., Wed. & Fri. at 8 p.m.) This will give him a chance to stay connected and involved, too.

Good luck! You and your new gift from God are in my prayers.


#14

Lot of good advice here. Don't shut Grandma out, but do establish certain times that you will call her or Skype, maybe once or twice a week, preferably when your husband is there to help while you talk to her. She just wants to be included in the baby's life and probably doesn't understand how overwhelmed you are.
Next: remember, if it isn't baby-related, it doesn't really need to be done until Hubby gets home. Don't tire yourself out; take lots of time to rest with Baby and relax. Sounds like you are really doing a lot to be a great mom. Pat yourself on the back!!!
It does get better, the breastfeeding, etc. It actually goes by really fast so enjoy it while you can. :thumbsup:


#15

I am the husband and father of 5 in my house, so I can say that these definitely work:

  1. Learn to breastfeed while lying on your side. Mom and Baby can fall asleep in that position without a problem.
  2. Get a breast pump and store some bags in the freezer, as much as you can. Next time Baby wakes up in the middle of the night, Hubby can do the feeding. This will also allow you to leave Baby with others while you sleep, work, run errands, or just relax.
  3. If you are not feeding him, Hubby should be pacing the floor with him. Who cares how tired he is, or that he has to get up early and go to work. He’s the one who can still drink caffeine.
  4. Kids use Mommy for food, and Daddy for entertainment. Mommy is not needed or wanted after meals.
  5. At two weeks, they are growing at the fastest rate that they ever will. In 1-2 months, Baby will be sleeping longer and eating more during feeds. Size 2 diapers (12 lbs+) do not have to be changed every 2-3 hours, and dirty diapers will be less often.
  6. As growing slows, you will find you are producing milk faster than Baby can eat. Waste not. Again, that’s what the pump is for.
  7. Around 3-4 months they begin sleeping through the night. Physical activity will exhaust Baby and create longer sleep times. However, this is only temporary. A second growth spurt will begin at about 7 months, but baby food can be used at that point without affecting breastfeeding for Mom or Baby.

It’s short-term pain, and if your husband is wise, he will accept and enjoy the “benefits” later. The bigger Baby gets, the more Baby sleeps. :thumbsup:


#16

Wow! I am smiling after reading all these great replies. I can tell you are all such loving and thoughtful people. I love how kind and yet practical the advice is.

I definitely need to lean on my husband for more support, both in the homemaking for now and definitely in regard to his mother. He hates to communicate with his parents and so I have always picked up the slack. Now seems like a good time for him to work on that.

Today was our first day without my husband home and it went better than I expected. I even made it out of the house to go by a Moby Wrap (which baby liked in the store but not at home!).

My MIL called again today and I explained how tough things had been lately. She was sympathetic and offered to come tomorrow to help with whatever I need. I agreed to that (and am now stressing about). Let's just pray the help is truly helpful and that all goes well!

Thanks again, everyone! The encouragement and advice have bee helpful!


#17

It's sooo overwhelming those first 3 or 4 months!

Your MIL sounds like she genuinely cares and hubby needs to set the boundaries for you. He needs to do it for your sake NOW.

I had to put my in-laws in their place when DD was 1 month old and it wasn't pretty. They didnt' talk to me for 2 months. Ever since then, they have stayed in their place. I had to do it b/c DH is a bit of a moma's boy. We all get along amazingly now and they leave me alone, but are always ready to help.

Things will get better! You are a great mommy and you're doing awesome! Hang in there b/c the next 4 weeks are going to be very difficult. He will hit crazy growth spurts where he will feed all night long at around 3 weeks and again at around 6 weeks. Don't be surprised by it. It's normal and it's b/c he's growing. They double their weight in the first 3 months!!!!!!

Love and hugs to you mommy ;)


#18

Just wanted to say, the first few weeks and months with my first baby were MUCH more difficult than now, when I'm a single mom to 4 young children! You are in the trenches right now, my dear. Your whole body is in transition...physical, chemical, emotional, psychological, now add on lack of sleep, routine and stress....oh, it can be so hard. I was a completely emotional, drained, walking zombie with my first baby. By my 4th I was an efficient and confident machine! ;)

I think it would make sense to send out an email to everyone who might contact you, saying, you're taking time to get adjusted, trying to grab any sleep whenever you can, etc, and so you won't be able to talk on the phone or email for awhile (if you so choose), but to thank everyone for the well-wishes & let them know you'll be back in touch soon.

I want to second Cat's advice about your hubby...now go brush those teeth and give him a great big smooch! ;)

Hugs and prayers!!!


#19

[quote="philosophermom, post:16, topic:201101"]
Today was our first day without my husband home and it went better than I expected. I even made it out of the house to go by a Moby Wrap (which baby liked in the store but not at home!).

[/quote]

LOL.... my DD is like that too. I have 3 different carriers (Moby wrap, Maya sling, and a Mai Tei), and she alternates which one she likes. It changes every week. :rolleyes:


#20

I used the Baby Bjorn with #1 and she would sleep forever in it.

2 had colic and reflux and HATED any kind of sling, carrier, etc. until he was 3.5 months old.

I was stuck carrying #2 around and by the time he was 3 months old he was 18 pounds :eek:

I now have biceps of steal :)


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