Gransnet forums


I'm a Gran-in-waiting and need advice

(37 Posts)
Laolao Tue 30-Aug-11 01:51:55

Hi! I am new to Gransnet, and I need help/advice from the collected wisdom of all you old hands smile My DD is expecting her first baby in mid November. She and her husband (my delightful Aussie Sil) are due to move from the UK to San Francisco USA in late January as he has to work there for a year. Fair enough, although I was concerned that she would find herself in a new country with a new baby and no family/friends support network.
What has given me real anxiety is that SiLs parents have sent tickets for them to fly to Sydney in late December and then on to SF from there 3 weeks later. I realise (having done it myself) that often it is easier to travel with a small baby than with an infant who is mobile, but this is her FIRST child, and even if everything goes absolutely to plan and the baby arrives bang on time (not very likely given family history) there are so many unknowns as to how she will feel emotionally and physically. To fly half-way round the world with an infant of less than 6 weeks -possibly as young as 4 weeks old - and then 3 weeks later to fly across the Pacific to a new home (as yet not selected) seems to be madness. However she and SiL are adamant as his parents are putting on the pressure to see the child.

Oh yes, the other thing is that in March, they are intending to fly back from SF to Sydney and then back to SF for a family wedding so her in-laws would definately see their new grandchild then, and he would still only be 4mths old.

Baggy Tue 30-Aug-11 02:11:20

If your daughter is happy about the arrangements, I think you'll just have to grin and bear it, laolao. She may sail through it all without any problems or, if problems that she didn't foresee do arise, she may still manage just fine while accepting that perhaps things could have been easier. I did all kinds of things in my youth, with and without babies, that would give me pause nowadays. What seem like probelms to older people often don't seem like problems to younger people. They have youth and energy on their side.

shysal Tue 30-Aug-11 11:31:40

Does it upset you that some of your first precious weeks with your grandchild in the UK seem to have been taken away from you by the in-laws? I hope that when your family is in SF you will be welcome to visit as often as you like , or can afford.
I think the baby will sail through the travelling although the adults may find it harder that they expect.
I hope all goes well with the birth and after - enjoy the moments you have, and look forward to their return, hopefully, a year later. There are years of fun ahead for all the

JessM Tue 30-Aug-11 11:45:14

Travelling with tiny babies easier than crawling and toddling babies it appears. And as long as there is no medical reason not to fly, then the cabin crew will be as helpful as possible. If there is a medical reason not to fly the insurance company may refuse to pay up (they are good at pleading "pre-existing conditions") , but that their problem not yours.
I can understand you fretting about this, as I'm sure you would like to be able to support her for as long as possible after the birth, but the deed is done and once the money is handed over there is no going back on the deal.
One of the hard things for many new grandparents is that there is competition from the other grandparents. Is this ever an equal relationship? Parents of sons often feel they have to take second place for instance or sometimes one family is better off and gives more in the material sense. While the Sydney grandparents may not have your feelings about wanting to take care of your daughter, they will feel just as strongly about the baby.

There are lots of us on gransnet who have far-flung grandchildren so I hope you will find it a good support network.

absentgrana Tue 30-Aug-11 11:48:37

My daughter flew from New Zealand to the UK with her first baby but otherwise on her own when he was a couple of months old. He did not like the portable cot thing that the airline supplied and she had a bit of a tough time, getting very little sleep herself. She has since flown here with her husband and two younger children (aged two and three at the time) and that was pretty exhausting too. I would recommend a halfway stopover, even if it's only in an airport hotel, to allow a bit of recovery time.

Granny23 Tue 30-Aug-11 11:52:20

Oh Laolao, I do sympathise. You have been plunged into the stresses and disapointments of shared Grandparenting and the baby is not even born yet!
You have to come to terms with the fact that there is another set of Grandparents out there, equally excited and concerned, equally ENTITLED to be involved with their grandchild. In the olden days, when people tended to live their lives and marry within a small area, it was usually possible for all the extended family to share in the big events - birth, birthdays, starting school, Christmas - of a child's life. Even then it could be fraught with jealousy arising ( My MIL declared at one stage to DH, but within my hearing, 'I wish you had married an orphan').

Today, with extended family scattered around the world and people changing continents for work I am afraid that the grandparenting has to be on a basis of taking turns, with as good a grace as you can muster. I am not overly fond of my SILs' parents, but do accept that they all love 'our' grandchildren as much as we do and that the DGC benefit from having a broad range of extended family. With this in mind and remembering how ever family occasion was so stressful for me as a young mum, I keep my thoughts to myself and go along cheerfully with whatever my DDs and SILs plan.

As to your particular dilemma, I too would be concerned about all that travelling. I am sure the baby will be fine but worry for your daughter should she have a difficult birth or C-section. Would it be possible for the Australian GPs to reverse the tickets and instead they come to the UK for 3 weeks? - meet the baby, allow time for your DD to get packed up for a year away?

elderflower1 Tue 30-Aug-11 12:15:36

Hi laolao Welcome to gransnet. As grandparents we do have to accept our childrens choices even when we are worried. Young women today seem to cope much better with the birth of a new baby and life chages than we did. I was surprised to see my daughter taking her baby to visit friends 3 days after a c section. I hope everything goes well for your daughter and that you have plenty of opportunities to enjoy your grandchild.

jackyann Tue 30-Aug-11 17:20:57

Hello! Have they checked the airline regulations and their travel/medical insurance?
For such long flights, stuff like post-natal checks & baby immunisations may need to be in place. I don't want to say exactly what as different companies have different rules, but I think as they will be sailing close to the standard "6 weeks" it is worth checking.
It may then provide a perfect reason to organise things differently.

GrannyTunnocks Tue 30-Aug-11 17:39:20

I am also a long distance grandparent but so far only in europe. I agree with the others that both sets of grandparents are important to the children and sil's parents are just as keen to see new baby as you are. If your dd and sil are happy to do the long flights then you just have to be happy for them. Babies travel better than toddlers as they sleep more. Enjoy what time you have with grandchild when he or she is born.

Laolao Wed 31-Aug-11 02:06:07

Thanks for the advice you have all given . I am totally aware of the fact that there are another set of grandparents and that they want time with the new baby too and I'm delighted for them to have it, they are lovely people and just as excited as we are about the arrival of a new family member.

I don't actually live in the UK - my DH and I live in Beijing and 10 days before the due date I am flying over to support my daughter as she has asked me to do so, and DH will follow. She needs help not just with the baby/birth etc but also to get their house ready for vacating prior to moving to SF, there will not be anywhere for me to sleep there so I am booking into a B&B nearby. She and Sil have said that once the baby arrives they want some time on their own - perfectly understandable so I will then push off and spend time with my elderly mum; anyhow the up-shot is that I will have far less time with her than you probably thought. If this were her 2nd or 3rd child I would have no real concerns, it is the timing so soon after the birth that worrys me, mostly for my daughter I must admit as I know the baby will probably sail through it all.

Oh and the baby is a boysmile

Laolao Wed 31-Aug-11 02:13:19

Forgot to add, that SILs parents are flying over to the UK at the end of October to spend 10 days "quality time before the baby is born " I just wish they would do it over the time of the baby's arrival so that they could fly direct from UK to SF, and DD could have that extra three weeks to adjust to motherhood and any little hiccups that might have occured.

Baggy Wed 31-Aug-11 06:27:28

laolao, reading your last post, I can see now why you feel uncomfortable. These are the kind of complicated arrangements my sister goes in for that I find exhausting just hearing about! But that's the way she does things. Ho-hum!

I hope all goes well for everyone concerned and I wish you all the best for your journeyings.

KateDaring52 Wed 31-Aug-11 08:10:05

Message deleted by Gransnet.

JessM Wed 31-Aug-11 08:22:15

Oh laolao I do feel for you. I remember a Chinese/Malaysian friend telling me that in her culture it is normal for the mum to stay at home for a month, getting looked after, following a birth. And I have to say that it sounds like a pretty good idea if you want to concentrate on getting breastfeeding established. I was incredibly grateful to have my mother and then my grandmother staying after I gave birth. (not least because their cooking was much better than my ex's) They saw their role as cooking and washing etc so I could do the mum thing. Young women often think the baby will pop out, sleep a lot and their own bodies and emotions will be back to "normal" within a day or two. The fashion for "us parents want to be alone with our baby" is probably good from the point of view of the fathers bonding with the babies (and many get paternity leave these days) and not getting sidelined by female relatives. It fits the isolated nuclear family model - dad's need to be full partners in baby and child care when there are no relatives around the corner. So there are points in its favour - as emotional challenges that mean we have to grow up even more. If I was in your shoes I would be wrestling with hurt, anger and frustration as well as anxiety about flights etc. Other people are making all kinds of decisions that you disagree with. Best advice is to try to get your emotions out of the way before you get on the plane, if you possibly can.

Laolao Wed 31-Aug-11 10:41:33

Thanks to you all, it feels so much better having been able to express my worries on this forum, and you have all been so kind and thoughtful in your responses. Now I am going to shove my concerns to the back of my mind, DD and SIL have made a plan and I will do my utmost to support and help them however it pans out. I am now a real convert to Gransnet!

Jess M - I am not actually Chinese grin I'm South African British, but DH and I are working/living in China. You are quite right about how in Chinese culture a new mum doesn't leave the home for a full month, and her mum and MIL will pitch up and do all the household stuff and cooking - a full month seems a little excessive to me but I can see the value of the first weeks being quiet so that the new Mum can concentrate totally on her infant. My Chinese friends here have been horrified when we mention the timing of their travel and have asked me why I don't stop it! BTW I chose my username Laolao as that is Chinese for the maternal grandmother (paternal grandmother is Nainai).

JessM Wed 31-Aug-11 13:23:59

Thought you probably weren't but thought you'd have come across this. Customs do vary. Does anyone still do the "churching of women" or is in now extinct?
My next door neighbour is Nigerian and when she had a baby a battalion of older female relatives arrived and were all very loudly opinionated about what she should be eating to ensure the right kind of milk etc etc . It was her third. smile

jackyann Wed 31-Aug-11 16:51:05

The last I heard of "churching" as a social custom was in the late 50s when I was a child. I have known it since (probably last about 10 years ago) but as a quiet time for giving thanks, not as a "first time out of the house" custom.
I have very mixed feelings about it - there was a real element of cleansing after "being unclean" about it; I was reminded of it during the fuss about women's ordination when some opponent said "what if you were offered the chalice by a menstruating woman?" ( good heavens!)

But it, like the other customs mentioned, gave space & time for the new mum to recover, establish breast feeding & enjoy her baby.
I have also sometimes been concerned about the older female relatives descending en masse to new mums I have known. I know that some have not found it as helpful as it may appear!

I know there is a bit of a movement to institute a "babymoon" - that quiet time, but with companions of mum's choosing, especially baby's dad. I rather like that.

HildaW Wed 31-Aug-11 18:13:43

Jackyann.............I hinted at something similar in another post, dont ask me where, cant remember. But I too feel that going back to the old idea of taking it easy and not dashing hither and thither after a birth is a jolly nice idea. I was happy to be waited on (husband doing shopping etc and visitors coming to us) after my two where born 20odd years ago and know my Granny had a proper 'lying-in'....all sounds very civilized. Modern Mums are all very independent and probably like that but dragging newborns around Tescos let alone airports has always seemed a bit like hard work to me.

Elegran Wed 31-Aug-11 18:29:48

My granny had six children, plus a later stillbirth and (I suspect but am not sure) several miscarriages, as she was probably Rhesus negative) .

She has fairly easy deliveries and was normally highly active but she always took the full week in bed, being waited on hand and foot. She said "It was the only time I had nothing to do, and I took full advantage of it" After the week was up, she would return to looking after everyone else, but for that week other people looked after her.

JessM Wed 31-Aug-11 18:38:47

In Tudor times wealthy women were effectively shut away for weeks before and after birth. A someone exaggerated response to the considerable dangers of childbirth, causes at the time, unknown. The wealthy also were expected to farm out their babies to a wet nurse (right into 19th C at least) . This may have served the purpose of rendering them fertile and ready for another go at producing male offspring at earliest moment. But I guess the heavy clothing of those times did not work well with leaky boobs. They would have had to stay in their nighties full time if they were breast feeding.
When I had my first I rather appreciated the full week in hospital as there was nothing else to do other than get the hang of breastfeeding and cope with stitches. My DIL managed to get herself discharged less than 24 hours after a C section... How times change.

Annobel Wed 31-Aug-11 18:58:30

How things have changed. Forty years ago, I had almost a full week in hospital after DS1 arrived. I had breastfeeding well established by the time I got him home. DS2 was taken into SCBU after about 24 hours and I was sent home distraught - no accommodation for mums and no milk bank at the time. After nine days of expressing milk, I got him home and breastfed him for nine months.
OTOH, my DiL, after straightforward deliveries, was home the very same day which I thought was a bit too soon, but what do I know? I'm only the granny! Nevertheless, she breastfed both of the GC very successfully.

harrigran Wed 31-Aug-11 21:22:40

When I had my DD 42 years ago I was in hospital for 10 days, it meant I had stitches out before I went home. We had DD baptised at 6 weeks old and I was churched before the ceremony. I was not invited to do this when DS was baptised 2 years later. I have not heard of anyone being churched since.

glammanana Wed 31-Aug-11 22:50:05

I remember my mum being churched after the birth of my brother and he is now 45yrs old,I remember also being in hospital for 10day's with DD and not going out for 7days after that,with my DSs the time in hospital was only 3days and I really did notice the differance in how I felt,so no wonder the women giving birth and being back at home in 6hrs now are suffering from post natal depression their bodie's are not having enough time to get back to normality.

Sbagran Thu 01-Sep-11 22:19:03

Shortly after my daughter had her first little one (now a gorgeous 13yr old!) we went to Mass after which the Priest invited us into the Sacristy and my daughter with her baby in her arms received the most beautiful 'Blessing for a new mother'
It was such a lovely moment and brought tears to my eyes.
I have heard of 'churching' but thought it had died out years ago and I remember that there seemed to be a sort of 'cleansing ritual' involved? Hopefully those ideas have died out like the 'can't have a bath or wash your hair or go swimming while you have your period' - thank goodness these things have been cast into the history books!
Am thinking of you Laolao - tricky situation and like you, I feel that all that travel, new home etc is a lot to cope with so soon after childbirth but they do things like that nowadays and somehow manage! Sadly we caring Mums just have to stand aside and let them do their own thing - being available if things don't go as planned and all we can do is pray that all will be well. God bless you laolao - hope it all goes well and things work out for all of you. smile

JessM Fri 02-Sep-11 08:19:29

Come to think of it, didn't the C of E take the churching of women out off the list a few years ago? I guess a lot of cultures have purification rituals after birth which also served to give mums an break from official duties. Of course orthodox Jewesses go through a purification ritual every month! All goes back to the Book of Leviticus