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First-time grandma, desperate to see granddaughter:'(

(29 Posts)
wisehedgecrone Thu 05-Sep-13 13:03:59

Hi, my daughter had her first and probably only child early in August. My daughter has a congenital disability and we were fearful the baby would inherit it, but that didn't happen. My daughter's early days, weeks, months and all through her adolescence were dominated by her health issues which were very worrying as well as rare. We are so happy for her that despite everything she has forged herself an independent career, found a wonderful loving and supportive partner and had a beautiful baby. However, we would love to be part of the baby's growing up and it feels now as if my daughter is trying to hold us at arm's length. She has always 'blown hot and cold' and we often have had to walk on eggshells, and it seems that it's the same now. She doesn't ring up to share experiences, chat or let us know how she's doing and if I text or email it's generally ignored, which I find very hurtful and I feel devastated and rejected. We love her so much and understand her need for space because we felt similar needs when ours were new, but we did visit our parents often so that they could get to know their granddaughters and form a bond with them. I am so anxious about being sidelined and I know it's my problem, not my daughter's, and suspect I am just being clingy and needy and I certainly don't want to be that or to convey how sad and rejected I feel to my daughter as she is struggling with breastfeeding and feeling low in confidence as it is. I have tried instead to send loving and encouraging texts now and then, but I just wish the painful silence could be broken somehow. Any advice, anyone? Am I just being unreasonable feeling as sad and depressed as I do?

gracesmum Thu 05-Sep-13 13:20:26

First of all congratulations on being a granny and then a big {{hug}} as I think you will find many on here who share feelings similar to yours for whtever reason. My intitial reaction is that she may still be trying to show that she is "grown up" and independent and while she is is not deliberately pushing you away, it must seem like that. You are NOT clingy or needy but the more she retreats, the more you are trying to get closer. Does she know how proud of her you are (silly question) proud of her achievements and independence? I'd be tempted to put it in a letter also saying that you would not dream of invading her space, but are looking forward to being a loving granny and how you will always be there in whatever capacity. We will all sympathise with what may be her feeling of not wanting to show the slightest inadequacy especially to our mum! Finally, what is your relationship with SIL? You might be able to give him a hint? Tread softly, her own hormones will still be all over the place, but I do hope for all your sakes that this will pass and very

Lona Thu 05-Sep-13 14:28:42

Wise words gracesmum

flowers for you wisehedgecrone, a difficult time for all of you.

HildaW Thu 05-Sep-13 15:42:48

Some times think there is a place for proper handwritten letters. My elder daughter and I had a bit of a hiccup in our relationship. She too held me at arms length for a while. I sent the usual open ended texts....'Hope all is ok?' or similar and got little in reply apart from the odd confirmation that she was alive and well. So I put how I felt into a letter. I was careful just to say how I felt without any mention of her behaviour or any great dredging up of what had happened and what could not be changed. I just let her know I loved her, was feeling very sad at loosing the closeness we had had and that when she was ready I would be there without any recriminations.
There was no great dramatic reconciliation, she did not suddenly fly over to see us but there was a gentle thawing and she slowly started to see how I had felt and how much I was hurting. Basically life had got too complicated for her and she could only deal with a certain amount at a time. By shutting me out she could focus on what was really troubling her.
If a full on letter seems to dramatic, perhaps a carefully chosen card with a simple loving message in it might open the lines of communication.
I have had to learn that once our children grow up they want to make their own choices even if they make mistakes and the last thing they want is to have those conversations with us about what should have been done.
Just take your time, let her contact you on her terms and I am sure she will let you take up the reigns of being a Grandma. Good luck.

gillybob Thu 05-Sep-13 17:13:33

I can never understand why daughters (and indeed DIL's) keep their mothers at arms length after the birth of their baby. I would have jumped for joy to have my mum cooing over my babies and would have gladly give them over for the occasional overnight babysitting too. It might not be a popular opinion but I think sometimes there is a little bit of selfishness and thoughtlessness involved which is all too often passed off as "hormones". Why would anyone want to keep their baby away from their grandparents who are the people who will essentially love and nuture the child as much as they will. I adore my three grandchildren and cannot imagine the sadness and hurt of being parted from them. I am very fortunate that my DIL has never prevented us from seeing them and knows that as grandparents we are "the next best thing" when she and my son are not available. My heart goes out to all grandmas who struggle to spend time with their grandchildren.

I don't think to are being in anyway unreasonable wisehedgecrone in wanting to be part of your grandchilds life. It is your daughter who is being unreasonable keeping you from him or her. I do hope things get better soon. flowers

Ariadne Thu 05-Sep-13 17:52:50

And so do I! There are enough words of wisdom here to cover anything that I might say, wise so I'll just send a hug.

Mishap Thu 05-Sep-13 17:58:53

How hard for you. It is interesting that people who have had to struggle through problems to be independent find it hard to do anything that might imply "neediness" of any kind. I think she is trying to establish her ability to "go it alone." But it is painful for you.

However - the other side of that coin is that you, and the way you brought her up, have given her the courage to be her own person.

I am sure that things will change with time and will think of you and hope for good things to come.

wisehedgecrone Thu 05-Sep-13 18:27:54

Thank you, all of you, for your thoughtful and kind replies. I am also concerned because I used to be a breastfeeding counsellor (in another life!) and initially DD (is that Dear Daughter?) said she would welcome my support. So I tried to give it. She has been struggling with it terribly, got cracked nipples, an infection and hates every minute of it apparently - plus the baby doesn't settle at night. I had awful problems breastfeeding but persevered and overcame them, and I thought that encouraging her to keep going was what she wanted. Now I am not so sure - maybe she now sees that as pressure.The mother of friends of hers has implied that she wants to stop, but is worried about 'letting everyone down' - though I have never ever made any judgments to her about how she feeds her baby. I would be devastated if what I thought was encouragement was seen as pressure. So, to correct any subliminal messages that might have come across, I've sent her an email, carefully worded, empathising about how tiring the early days and weeks can be and that she and her partner are their own best experts on their own baby, whatever advice they might seek from others - and that they should do whatever is best for them and their little one. I ended it by saying how well they were both doing, how much we loved them and just saying 'keep in touch, love - silence isn't always golden...' and that we were always here for them.
I don't know whether or not I will get a reply. I suspect it will be ignored too, but I can't give up trying to keep the 'line' open, so to speak. I totally agree that she is trying to go it alone, but we so desperately want to be a part of our granddaughter's life - as well as our daughter's and SIL's. That is probably totally selfish of me, I realise: I keep re-living the last time I cuddled her and that wonderful, dear little downy head resting on my chest as I held her.
It breaks my heart to think that we won't be allowed to visit for several weeks or more and waiting longingly for an invitation or response to ours.

And HildaW- a carefully chosen and worded card sounds an excellent idea, if I get no response to my email. Non-judgmental, just sending out lots of love. I won't give up but I am finding it so very hard to deal with the emotional pain and hurt.

Galen Thu 05-Sep-13 19:32:33

My DD was the same. I didn't see DGD until she was several weeks old.
It then turned out that she was better with me than other gran and I was happy to hold her while DD got some rest.
Things are fine now and I think I will be welcome soon after the new ones birth (late oct early nov) if only to distract the elder child!

JessM Thu 05-Sep-13 20:21:47

Awwww wisehedgecrone I do feel for you. There is also the thing that these days mums are convinced that the dad bonding with the baby is a huge priority and that relatives visiting is a major threat to this on a par with an incoming cruise missile. (NCT has a lot to answer for maybe? grin )

Galen Thu 05-Sep-13 21:13:10


Eloethan Thu 05-Sep-13 21:20:10

It seems that your daughter has had many challenges to face in her life and has probably had to be single-minded in achieving what she has. As others have said, she may now feel under pressure to demonstrate that she can manage on her own.

Remembering the birth of my first child, I felt overwhelmed and exhausted with all the work involved in looking after a new baby and hardly had time to get dressed let alone anything else. That may be part of the reason she is not responding to e-mails, etc.

It is quite natural for you to feel disappointed and a little anxious about the situation. I think the e-mail you sent was very sensitive and loving and provided reassurance that you understood that she and her partner should make whatever decisions they felt were right for them in regard to the baby. Hopefully, once things have settled down a bit and your daughter feels more relaxed and confident, she will welcome your support.

You sound like a lovely mum and not at all needy or clingy.

Penstemmon Thu 05-Sep-13 21:35:54

Hope it all comes right very soon for you and your family. Agree with the advice given so far. flowers

janeainsworth Thu 05-Sep-13 22:03:27

Wisehedgecrone Firstly congratulations on your little granddaughter's arrival - I am sure in time things will settle down and you will have a lovely relationship her.
Unfortunately, as grandparents we sometimes have to just suck it up if you will pardon the expression. You just have to fall in with the parents' idea of how things are going to be.
Jess's comment resonated with me - after our DGD was born, we and the other grandparents were allowed to visit for an hour each (we live 4 hours drive away and the other GPs live in France!) and then we were all banished for the 2 weeks' duration of SiL's paternity leave!
You don't say how far away you are from your daughter, but I just wonder if you could be a little more pro-active with offering practical assistance, eg if you live near enough, taking a casserole round for dinner, or just announcing you are coming round to do the ironing or take your DGD out for an hour while your DD gets a rest?

j08 Thu 05-Sep-13 22:39:59

Oh! I think you should just turn up on the doorstep! Take her something nice for herself. And don't refer back to any silences. You are her mum. You are entitled.

Jendurham Fri 06-Sep-13 00:56:42

I never met any of my grandparents. The last one died when I was 4 months old, so I never knew how grandparents were supposed to behave.
So when my first granddaughter arrived, we turned up at the hospital, a hundred miles away, just after she was born.
I do not have daughters either, but I think that we have just as much right as the daughter's mother to have a decent relationship with grandchildren. I agree with Jo. Turn up on the doorstep. Then ask what you can do to help.
My son's second wife likes telling her stepdaughter what she can have to eat and drink in my house. I tell her to mind her own business. My house, my rules. Grandmothers are for spoiling kids if they want to.
Start off as you mean to go on. I have four grandchildren, aged from 6 to 20. They lost a grandad last year,when my husband died, when the youngest was 4. I nearly died this year. So do not waste time and get to know your granddaughter. Like Jo said, you're her mum.

wisehedgecrone Fri 06-Sep-13 09:17:20

Thanks to all. During the first week we helped by bringing prepared meals and helped take them back to hosp as the baby was re-admitted for a night. We did some shopping too but both of them are resistant to accepting further help and we can't insist as it upsets and angers DIL. We've learned this.

The situation has changed since yest evening and I can't say more than that here. Turning up would be a total no-no for her. Her partner WFH; they have a small flat and she has said that no one is to visit during the week - period. Also that they do not need any help. We have to respect that. I know that of old! Despite the email she sent me last night which I was concerned about, and us offering all kinds of help practical and supportive, it was rejected though she did thank us for that. She wants me not to ask any more questions. So we will do as they ask and I will just have to 'suck it' as a previous poster suggested, and get on with it, hoping they will ask for support as and when needed.

wisehedgecrone Fri 06-Sep-13 09:25:47

Mishap, you are right - she is doing just that, but often does this push-pull thing which is still v hard to cope with after all these years! Tells me a little of stuff and then puts up the barricades if I offer support/advice etc. Am aware of the need to respect her boundaries and I know it's my problem rather than hers, and that she knows we are there. What I struggle with is my mixed feelings about it; the silly child in me often sees it as a rejection (I have depression/anxiety too) whereas the rational adult can see where she's coming from. Believe me when I say I hate feeling like this and the last thing I want is to make my problems hers. They aren't. I do not want to be selfish and clinging and make huge efforts not to be, but I want to be close and for her never ever to doubt that we are proud of her, that she is dearly loved and always will be, no matter what.

Iam64 Fri 06-Sep-13 09:39:26

Wise - relieved to see that you respect the new parents' instructions for no visitors during the week, it sounds as though simply turning up would be disastrous currently. I'm not supporting the 'instructions' but accepting that's what they want right now. A brief glance on the mums net sites suggests so many rules and conflicts around the role of grandparents and their involvement in the lives of their grandchildren. I do hope things settle down fairly quickly but meanwhile letters, cards, emails etc will hopefully encourage your daughter to shout for help if she needs it, or even better, invite you round for a cuppa and a cuddle of your little granddaughter, probably after the father has gone back to work.
I struggled with breast feeding the first time around, and my mum's focus was on encouraging me to give it up, and bottle feed. I'm so relieved we never had cross words about this, I bottled up the irritation and distress I felt at the time. Mum's experience of breast - v- bottle was that bottle feedings was "better", by which she meant it was easier to establish routines, the babies gained weight more quickly and slept through the night earlier. Mum's focus was on me, rather than the baby which I didn't really appreciate at the time. It's a potential minefield I think and one in which first time mums particularly can feel they're doing everything wrong. Good luck x

harrigran Fri 06-Sep-13 10:51:56

I have to disagree with you jingle. ^ just turn up, you are entitled ^ even a mother can not just arrive on a doorstep. When GC were born we waited to be invited to visit and when it became obvious that we would be babysitters I asked if we could visit once a week so that GC were comfortable with us.
I feel for you wise but I believe you know your DD best and will make the right decision based on your experience.

Mishap Fri 06-Sep-13 10:59:26

Interestingly, one of my DDs would ring up really upset about something and I would spend ages on the phone trying to help and then worry about it for days; then when we next spoke to her we would ask how things were and she would appear to forget that anything was ever wrong! We learned to let things flow by a bit, whilst still providing support at the relevant moments.

I can see a bit if this in your dilemma - one minute she is struggling with breast-feeding and wanting your advice and the next she seems to be pushing you away - leaving you worrying about how che is coping. She is probably coping just fine! - and wants to get onto her stride so that later on she can involve you on her terms and with the ammunition to say "Look - I can do it!"

What a delicate line we all tread! You are not alone!

Rowantree Fri 06-Sep-13 11:04:44

Thanks again, all - and I'm changing my name to Rowantree from now on (long story!) Not sure if previous posts will change too. Going out now - got to have a break from worrying! x

Rowantree Fri 06-Sep-13 11:05:22


KatyK Fri 06-Sep-13 12:47:23

Mishap - I have had so many of those experiences with my daughter. Worrying myself sick about something she has told me and then next time
we speak and I ask her about it she will say 'oh that was sorted ages ago'.

Rowantree Fri 06-Sep-13 15:25:54

KatyK and Mishap, that often happens to me! Or she will simply not refer to it again. And meanwhile I am researching online for answers or reassurance for ages, send a long email with advice and support and get either no reply or an irritable rebuke along the lines of, 'I didn't ask for your opinions!' sad