One of those things you’re think you’re prepared for about parenthood but have no clue just how bad it’s going to be is how to deal with your parents who are now first-time grandparents.
I love my mom. I really do. She is a great mom and always has been and I know she has the best intentions in the world when it comes to me and T.
But she is driving me so completely nuts I’m not even sure where exactly to begin.
The conflict du jour is over our night nanny. She has all kinds of objections over said nanny, the top three being: 1) the cost, she thinks it’s exorbitant, 2) she hasn’t come right out and said it but she is upset that we didn’t ask her, and 3) she thinks she can do a better job of it (see #2).
Now, trust me, it doesn’t feel great writing out that four figure check every Thursday night, in fact it downright sucks. But I think both Paul and I do feel it’s worth every penny and we’re thankful that it’s an option for us at this point. I get my mom’s point about the cost, especially when there are much cheaper options given the abundance of “Chinese helpers” available in our area, but with such a little baby we are willing to pay for the peace of mind of hiring someone who views this as a profession and not simply the only thing they can do to make money under the table.
As for the other two points, I’ve tried to make it clear to her MANY times that we didn’t ask her because it is a LOT to ask of someone. In the five weeks that he’s been home, last night was the first time T went a four hour stretch without eating. And since that’s start to start that means any caregiver who was watching him and actually attempting to sleep could have gotten a max of a three hour block of sleep. Outside of that he’s been waking up to feed every 2.5-3hrs (again that’s start to start) and every once in awhile he wants to eat every 2.
He has been gaining weight (and growing) really fast, he started at 5lbs at birth and I think at his lowest he was 4.5lbs. He literally wasn’t fed at all for several days when he was at his worst in the NICU so he lost more weight than most babies do. Even with all that by his due date he was nearly 8lbs, so my guess is if he had made it to his due date in utero he could have been an 8+lb baby easily. He is now over 9lbs and climbing his way towards 10lbs every day. In other words, he is a big baby, at least by my family’s standards.
My mom keeps insisting that since he’s already over 9lbs that his feeds should be getting stretched out and she will not listen to me when I tell her that, that just isn’t how it works! He is essentially three weeks old (today!) which means feeding every 2.5-3hrs is 100% normal for his age. Everything I’ve read says it DOES NOT MATTER how big the baby is, it matters by age but my mom does not accept this because she raised two (average to smallish) babies that slept through the night by one month. Thirty years ago.
(Which is to say, who knows how accurate her recollection is.)
So anyway, her conclusion is that we must be doing something wrong and the nanny must be making it worse.
For days we had the exact same argument over this topic and she kept insisting that she can handle watching him at night since I don’t feel I can without risking my health.
But even then it wasn’t that simple. She wanted us not to hire anyone and she wanted to watch him at night but she only wanted to stay with us a max of three nights per week or else she wanted us to go live at her house five nights a week. I put my foot down and told her neither of those options are acceptable to us because as long as he’s waking up so frequently there’s no way I could get enough sleep (especially since I don’t fall back asleep easily, once I’m awake no matter how tired I am, it takes me time to settle) and as long as we have other options I view not getting sleep as a last resort. Living at her house makes no sense because our cat is not allowed to come, Paul would have to commute two hours a day meaning we would barely see him and I didn’t tell her this, but I really do not want to be on her turf.
She clearly doesn’t totally respect my role as T’s main caregiver and being at her house would only make that even more pronounced.
Anyway, after lecturing/yelling about it for days she finally realized I was not going to give in on either of these points because we do have the option of hiring a cheap Chinese nanny when we finish with our night nanny and she relented. She agreed that she would do her best to be here five nights a week unless something came up with my grandma or other extenuating circumstances. I still felt somewhat reluctant about this but I agreed and was immediately treated to a speech about how I need to make her feel appreciated.
I know that I’m lucky my mom wants to save us this money and is willing to do something that is so difficult, but it was hard to immediately bust out with the appreciation after I felt like she basically twisted my arm into this. It’s not that we’re super rich (we’re not) and love spending money (we don’t, at least not on stuff like this!), it’s that sometimes it’s just so much easier to hire someone, especially someone who views what you’re hiring them for as a profession.
For example, we decided to extend the nanny for another week next week because my mom said she wasn’t totally sure which days she could come next week and it might only be three or four. My mom got upset when I told her that in that case we’ll just ask the nanny to stay another week and said that even when you hire someone there are times they can’t make it and you just have to deal with it. I didn’t say this to her because I didn’t want to get into yet another no-win argument where my mom accuses me of arguing with her for the sake of arguing, but the nanny we’re working with belongs to a larger network of nannies and if she was ever sick or couldn’t make it for some other reason she has a pool of people to call to try and find a backup. It is VERY unlikely that we would have been left without support for a night. And THAT is the difference between hiring a professional vs hiring some random cheap help and one of the reasons we opted to go this route to begin with.
Not to mention, hired help doesn’t criticize and lecture you.
I’m also not sure why she thinks she has more experience sleep training newborns when she has dealt with exactly two newborns and we’ve hired someone who specializes in caring for newborns for a living. And I do resent the implication that T eats so often because I don’t know what I’m doing.
I mean, I don’t really know what I’m doing but I feel fairly confident that T eats a lot because he’s growing and he likes food. He is, after all, Paul’s son! He is very aware of his own hunger and when he wakes up to feed, he feeds well and he doesn’t spit up much so I know he isn’t being overfed. There have been times where he feeds and then only goes down for his nap thirty minutes before his next feed and he will wake up right on schedule wanting to eat because he prefers eating over sleeping!
She keeps telling me that I don’t have to feed him right when he wakes up but then she completely discounts it when I tell her that I don’t. Because in her mind the only reason he would keep waking up so often to feed is if he’s being fed right away, it can’t be because he’s actually hungry. Typically he’ll start stirring 2.5hrs after his last feed, if he’s napping that’s when he’ll start waking up a bit and doing his little cries. I usually let this go on for about a half hour or so to try and stretch the feed out to three hours, at which point he has usually just begun full on wailing like it’s the end of the world. I don’t let him scream his little head off for too long because I know from experience that he will actually tire himself out and have a worse feed if that happens, in which case he will wake up in just an hour or two wanting to eat again.
This is EXACTLY why I wanted us to take care of T on our own for at least the first few weeks. While I don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing, I do feel like I know my baby better than she does and I can be a bit more forceful about how I expect him to be cared for. Which is not to say she will listen to me. Can you tell I’m pretty apprehensive about the experiment of her watching him?
I could probably go on about this for at least another ten paragraphs but I’ve already burned through my naptime ranting and my hungry baby is about to wake up so I’ll have to save it for next time….