Being a grandmother has so many pleasures. But it also has its difficulties, like keeping quiet when I have a thousand opinions on the best way to be a parent.
When my daughter-in-law was pregnant six years ago she chatted to me about where she was planning to have her first baby. I am a midwife and support home birth and she is Dutch and lives in Holland, where home birth is the norm and encouraged by most midwives. But, still, I sat on the fence and said: “Well, it’s your choice at the end of the day”. I have to try to remember – I’m the grandparent.
I wasn’t given as many choices when I was a young expectant mum (and a midwife). While home birth existed, it wasn’t offered to me as an option. The screening tests in pregnancy were limited and there were no big decisions to make other than whether to go to antenatal classes and whether to have pain relief in labour. While this was limiting in some respects, there is a lot to be said for the relative lack of stress in making some of the decisions that are now expected of parents-to-be.
Today, as a mother and grandmother, I have a different set of considerations to bear in mind, on top of those I have as a midwife. In some ways this is limiting. Admittedly, I know the ins and outs of the pregnancy journey, and at times I would love to give my honest opinion. So, when my daughter-in-law in Holland told me she had decided to go in to hospital to give birth because she felt it was safer, I almost explained that the research she was basing her decision on was flawed. But I try not to impart my knowledge and thoughts too much. My motto is to try to say nothing unless my opinion or advice is sought, and only then I will offer my view.
I am learning from the choices and decisions my children make, and learning to see the world from a new, grandmother’s, perspective.
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