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I'm 8 months pregnant. I'm also an introvert who really doesn't cope well with change and stress.

My mom is very outgoing and I need to talk to her about expectations when she visits me at the hospital. There will be times when I won't want visitors, even though I am fine/not sick and the visiting hours are open. I want to convey to her that this isn't because of her, I just need space to cope with change.

I have tried being subtle, but she doesn't really understand the extent that I am drained by social contact, even hers. I've realised I need to have a conversation.

My goals for the conversation:

  • She won't necessarily be able to visit me even if the visiting hours are open.
  • This isn't due to her, I need space and privacy to cope with this change. (and to keep my sanity).
  • I appreciate her and am happy to have my parents visit during this time, just not as often as she may like. It may only be an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
  • This may turn out to be an expensive, boring exercise for my parents (since they live far away and will be driving far and paying for accommodation).

This conversation is one I have been hesitant to have because I don't want to give my mom the wrong impression and push her away. I want to choose carefully my words so she understands. How do I go about having this conversation with her?


Other notes:

  • I don't want to see her often because social contact stresses me out and I'll be stressed enough as it is.

  • I have dropped hints in the past about how it'll be expensive and how I have been stressed during this pregnancy but it hasn't really helped.

  • My husband/the hospital will ensure that I don't have visitors if I don't want them.

  • My mom knows I'm an introvert, but I don't think she realises to what extent. When they visit for the weekend I'm happy to talk, but she doesn't see the week of recovery from that after they go home again.

  • I'll be in hospital for 3 nights/4 days. The standard minimum for my country.

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    Couple of questions: (1) Do you expect to be in hospital long after the birth? Without complications many are discharged the following day. (2) How do you feel about your mum visiting baby and your husband in the hospital in a different room so you can have some rest? – Astralbee Apr 20 '18 at 11:42
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    @Astralbee I'll be in hospital for 3 days, that's the standard length for a birth where I live. (2) sure, I'd be happy with that, although I don't know how it would work logistically. She'll be with me all day and sleep in the nursery at night. – user6818 Apr 20 '18 at 11:46
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    @Stacey as far as 2 goes, short of when you're nursing (if that's what you choose) and whenever you want to hold your baby (which may be always)... she doesn't have to stay in your room... unless the hospital requires that for some reason? Your spouse could easily take her out to a visitor's space while you sleep/rest. – Catija Apr 20 '18 at 14:34
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    Will your parents also be staying to visit after you go home from the hospital? Do you anticipate that they would be helpful if so? (I know this varies a LOT--I loved having someone around to shop and cook and clean while I got used to babies, but I have friends who wouldn't have their parents in the house with a newborn for love or money.) – 1006a Apr 20 '18 at 14:47
  • @Catija that's a good option. It's one I'll discuss with my husband. If I'm starting to feel overwhelmed and she wants to visit we may do that as a compromise. – user6818 Apr 20 '18 at 18:40
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Actually, I think you have answered your own question. I don't think there is a much better way of putting it than you have written here :-).

Taking the first part of your question, with minor stylistic edits (such as converting "her" to "you"):

Dear Mom:

With respect to visits while I'm in hospital, there's something I'd like to tell you. There will be times when I won't want visitors, even though I am fine/not sick and the visiting hours are open. This is not because of you, I just need space to cope with change.

I appreciate your wanting to visit me, and am happy to have you there during this time, just not as often as you may like. It may only be an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

I realize this may turn out to be difficult for you since you live far away. Please talk to my husband before visiting me, he'll be able to tell you how I feel and whether I can accept a visit.

Of course, this is not a script you follow slavishly - however, I hope it gives you an idea how to formulate your thoughts, and more importantly reminds you that you are quite capable of formulating them.

As to delivery:

You will have to weigh how you tell your mother. I personally find it best to discuss such highly personal things in person, but you (or your mother) may feel differently. Some people may prefer to do it in writing, or on the phone. Do what you feel is best given your shared history.

Finally, about your worries:

This conversation is one I have been hesitant to have because I don't want to give my mom the wrong impression and push her away. I want to choose carefully my words so she understands. How do I go about having this conversation with her?

Yes, your mother may feel insulted or disappointed when learning about this. However, that is out of your hands. You cannot control how others perceive your actions. However, I think you have done a good job explaining your boundaries and the reasons. You are setting personal boundaries that you feel you need, and that is something your mother will have to (learn to) accept.

Maybe you (or someone else) can help her with learning to accept these boundaries, but that will have to come later. The first step is to indicate these boundaries respectfully but firmly. Everything else will then follow.


There is a related question on parenting.SE which may be helpful for you:

What is a reasonable amount of time to wait before family visits your new baby?

3

Even though I'm a guy and a fairly extrovert one, I really relate to your question as the birth of my daughter was not an easy one and I had to manage the visiting expectations of a lot of family members.

First thing is that you and your husband need to work together as a unit to achieve what you want. Obvious perhaps, but there may be times during your 3 days in hospital that you are separated. For example you may want to sleep during the day (giving birth and feeding is exhausting!), and he may be able to take the baby out of your room while you do that. He may also have to go off and take care of some business (perhaps dealing with hospital documents, baby registration, running errands for you - whatever is expected in your country). If he has to deflect a visit from your parents (or anyone) while he is on his own it will be easier on him and less likely to be argued with if you have discussed it beforehand so what he says is viewed as your collective wishes, and not just him trying to block people from seeing you.

You should be honest with your mum. Even if she sometimes thinks she knows better than you what is best for you, likely she does know that you are prone to stress and you already state she knows you are not so outgoing. Perhaps this approach would work with her:

Mom, you know that I am a little prone to stress. Having the baby is something I'm looking forward to, but I also want to take care of my own wellbeing so that I can get through it. I've put a lot of thought into how I want the first days to be, and I feel that I would cope best if I limit vistors. Above anyone else, I want you to be there, but please can we limit your visits to the hospital so that I can get plenty of rest and stay relaxed?

At this point she may still have her own ideas about how much time to spend with you, but I don't think she can argue or be offended by this request. So let her agree to it, and then move on to state more specifically what you expect:

I'd like everyone to check with [husband] to see if I'm okay for visitors. And when you come I'd appreciate it if you could limit visits to [your time limit].

I would advise you not to worry about the costs involved in your parents staying nearby. This is the birth of their daughter's baby and likely nothing would stop them coming. The cost of them staying in a hotel is the same whether they visit you all day every day, or not at all, so there is really no point agonising over this. You have enough to think about!

I wish you a very happy and trouble free birth experience! But keep in mind that birth very rarely goes how you expect it to, especially not the first. The more specific plans you make for these 3 days, the more you may have to adjust. Don't get stressed if things don't go as you imagine. Also if you don't feel up to visits but feel guilty that your parents aren't seeing you, a possible suggestion is to have them meet your husband and baby perhaps in a hospital day room, and just say that you need some additional rest. This gives them some time with their new grandchild whilst giving you some time alone as well.

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I liked the other answers so far by Astralbee and by sleske. In addition to what to do right now, I want to spend a moment thinking about what happens next.

Your personal boundaries with your mother right now will begin to set the tone for her relationship to your family as grandmother. Is it OK for her to give you unsolicited advice? Is it OK for her to pop in for a visit without calling first? Is it OK for her to tell you that she thinks what you're doing is wrong?

Having a baby makes a person vulnerable. That makes this one of those times when you should keep in mind that with some people, "if you give an inch they take an ell".

Now for the flip side. In my business, we take safety very seriously, and every person, from the guy who sweeps the floor to the company president, has the authority and the obligation to stop or pause "the work" if he or she thinks it's going to be unsafe.

This doesn't mean a fight, but it's a conversation where you say, "wait a moment: I think if you do that, this might happen." It's anything you think of, and a lot of times there wasn't anything wrong and that's OK. We acknowledge that no individual person sees everything or has experienced everything, so we enable this interaction as a matter of policy and the company is committed to spending lots of money, if necessary, to keep this policy up.

So when the company tries to do something with real risks, they don't just let anybody stand around: they clear out the area and make sure the people they trust are there. This way there are enough eyeballs to make sure nothing gets missed, and there aren't any dumb questions slowing things down, either.

Congratulations and best wishes on your upcoming labor, delivery, and motherhood!

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    I've upvoted this for the first part about setting up dynamics for the future, but I think you really need to spell out how you intend us to understand the relevance of your company safety policy in this context. – Spagirl Apr 20 '18 at 16:08
  • When there are real risks present, nobody should let personal issues get in the way of following good advice. Let's say some guy you really hate is there, and he and a nurse both see something but nobody else does. He says something about it, which you relationally can't bear to acknowledge. So you don't respond. Now the nurse won't say anything about it either because she believes you're handling it (even though you aren't). In the end, something will be worse than it needed to be because the guy hadn't been kicked out from the room like he should have been. – elliot svensson Apr 20 '18 at 16:14
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    Cheers. It is more useful if you add clarifications to your answer than in comment, and I have to confess, I'm still struggling to see how that relates to the communication between the OP and her mother... – Spagirl Apr 20 '18 at 16:17
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As a socially anxious/introverted guy, I feel (some of!) your pain.

Any form of pushing back/away from a family member can be difficult to take, particularly if unexpected. That's why I'd suggest making the conversation a suggestion rather than a rejection: don't tell her when she isn't welcome, invite her when she is. You are still setting boundaries that you're comfortable with, while still allowing her to feel wanted and helpful.

Mom, this delivery is going to be quite stressful for me. It'd be great if you could be there for me one or two days, maybe (suggest days & times). Just check with my husband to agree a time that suits everyone? Thanks so much..

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    Given that OP writes she "tried being subtle, but she doesn't really understand ", I don't think this will prevent mom from dropping in whenever she feels like it. – sleske Apr 20 '18 at 17:34

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