The two most common people a woman wants in the delivery room with her when giving birth are her partner and her own mother. Giving birth, after all, is a painful, intimate experience. Most people don’t want to go through it in front of a crowd, preferring to keep it to a couple of people they are most comfortable with. When this soon-to-be grandma found out her daughter-in-law only wanted her partner and her mother in the delivery room, she was very upset. (1) She wrote a letter to The Slate asking for advice. (1)
“Help! My Daughter-In-Law Won’t Let Me In The Delivery Room!”
The Slate, who publishes the advice column Dear Prudence, received a letter from a distraught soon-to-be first-time grandmother. The author of the letter explained that her son Steven and his wife Julia are expecting their first child. Naturally, she is excited to become a grandmother. To her dismay, however, Julia is only allowing Steven and her mom into the delivery room. (1)
“I had what I thought was a good relationship with Julia, but I find myself devastated,” she wrote. “I was stunned and hurt by the unfairness of the decision and tried to plead with her and my son, but Julia says she “wouldn’t feel comfortable” with me there.” (1)
She says that she reminded her daughter-in-law that she is a retired nurse with 40 years of experience, so there is nothing that she hasn’t seen. She says Steven doesn’t want to upset Julia, so he won’t help and that she tried calling Julia’s parents, but they weren’t any help either. (1)
“It’s So Unfair”
Her son told her she would be let in the room after the baby is born (not while she gives birth) and both the child and mother are presentable. (1)
“I’ve felt nothing but heartache since learning I would be banned from the delivery room,” she says, explaining Steven told her she could wait right outside in the hall. “Meanwhile, Julia’s mother will be able to witness our grandchild coming into the world. It is so unfair.” (1)
She says she no longer feels valued and can’t even talk to Julia she’s so upset. (1)
“I’m being treated like a second-class grandmother even though I’ve never been anything but supportive and helpful,” she finishes her letter. “How can I get them to see how unfair and cruel their decision is?” (1)
Prudence begins her response by being, frankly, brutally honest with the woman.
“You can’t! You shouldn’t! You are entirely in the wrong! I say this in the hopes that, after the initial flush of indignation fades, you will be braced and supported by the realization that you have been acting badly and that you need to change. It’s difficult to admit when one’s been wrong, but there’s nothing quite so clarifying as figuring out how to do better.” she writes. (1)
She then reminds the woman what childbirth is like and explains to her that Julia has every right to decide who she does and doesn’t feel comfortable having in the room.
“This is not about you. You are going to get to see your grandchild the day they are born. You will get to be in your grandchild’s life for as long as you live. Nothing is being taken from you. You are not being snubbed.” she writes. (1)
In true Prudence fashion, she then ends her response by being even more honest than how she began. This goes beyond just wanting to be in the room while she gives birth.
“Frankly, I can see why they don’t want you in the room, if “But I was a nurse!” and “I’m a second-class grandmother” is your response to Please hang out and read a book in the hallway while Julia is crowning,” she writes. “Let this go. Do not rob this moment of its joy by keeping score and demanding more.” (1)
Others Agree With Prudence
Other people began chiming in. They tried to explain to the woman why her daughter-in-law’s request is acceptable, and hers is not. This is about her, and if she doesn’t want you there while she is giving birth, then so be it.
“I only wanted my mom in the delivery room with my first one, too. It wasn’t because I didn’t love my mother-in-law, but because it was easier on me. I only had to worry about two extra people being there. I also wasn’t comfortable with my mother-in-law being right there while I was naked and pushing someone out of my body.” said one person. (1)
The commenter reminded the woman that this wasn’t 17th century France, and likely she wasn’t comfortable giving birth in front of an audience like French nobility. (1) What do you think? Is this mother-in-law out of line, or is the daughter-in-law the one making the unfair request?
- “Help! Why Won’t My Daughter-in-Law Let Me in the Delivery Room?” Danny M. Lavery. February 5, 2018.