Several weeks prior to the birth of our daughter, DH informed NMIL of where she fit in to our plans. The instructions we gave her were simple: We informed her that we would call her on the way to the hospital, and then again after the baby was born. We also asked that she refrain from calling any of her friends after the birth, and that she inform only DH's aunts and uncles until we deemed it appropriate for members outside the family to hear the news. Upon my request, DH specifically instructed his mother not to come to the hospital until we gave her permission to do so. I'm telling you now, Dear Reader, that had she shown her face at the hospital at any point before we called her, all hell would have broken loose. Luckily, for her, she made the smart choice and stayed home. That's not to say, however, that she was being respectful or considerate. She has never been either of those things.
Per our discussion, she verbally acknowledged that she "understood" our needs and desires, and agreed to respect them. But. She's a liar.
After I labored at home for fourteen hours, DH and I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Once we got in the car, DH made two phone calls: the first to my mother, who already knew I was in labor because I had made as many phone calls to her as I had to my doctor in the hours leading up to our trip to the hospital. When he called to inform her that we were on our way, her response was appropriate: "Okay, good luck! Call me when you get a chance with updates! We love you." And DH hung up. His second call was to NMIL, who's blatant disrespect of our needs and underestimation of our intelligence couldn't have been more obvious. Hang on, Dear Reader, this is about to get really disgusting. Please allow me to set the scene. It was a rainy day and the air was foggy. I was having sporadic contractions that had been going on for over 12 hours and I was exhausted. DH was anxious, worried, and excited, all at once. He was unprepared to handle his mother's manipulations. A transcript:
DH - Hi mom, I'm just letting you know that Jonsi and I are on our way to the hospital to have the baby.
NMIL - Oh, you are?
DH - Yes. So we'll call you after the baby is born, okay?
NMIL - Oh! Do you want me to come to the hospital? What hospital are you going to be at again? I think you told me but I forgot. Would you like me to come down and wait there?
[I was shaking my head, vigorously, back and forth, fearing that he had forgotten that we had asked his mother not to show up until we asked. I remember gripping the arm rest as waves of contractions overtook me, while trying to focus as much on getting through the pain, as listening to what was being said.]
DH - No mom, you don't have to come to the hospital, we'll call you after the baby is born.
NMIL - Oh, are you sure? I don't mind, I'll come down and wait if you want to.
DH - No, mom really that's okay.
[At this point, I felt like the conversation had gone on long enough. It was supposed to be a quick 30 second deal, not a debate about whether this bitch was allowed to wait in the waiting room while I labored for 24 more hours. I was fearful that she would show up anyway, that she'd attempt to find us in the hospital, that she would try to see the baby before my mother did. It annoyed me terribly that NMIL was already disrespecting our wishes and need for space.]
NMIL - Oh. Okay. So anyway. You'll probably be needing a new car soon, right?
DH - Um, gee mom, I don't know. Yeah, at some point, I guess.
[I was frantically trying to get DH's attention. I kept whispering, "Tell her you're driving! Tell her it's raining and WE ARE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL." I guess I had stopped whispering. I heard the discussion heading in a place it had NO BUSINESS heading in and started to get really, really pissed. DH was too afraid to hang up on her, even though she clearly wasn't going to get off the phone with him any time soon, and had every intention of making the birth of our first child all about her. I grew tired of her games.]
NMIL - So, I'm getting rid of our car soon. I was wondering if you wanted to buy it? I'll give it to you for pretty cheap. I was thinking maybe you could just buy it for a couple hundred dollars and we could make a trade or something. It would be cheaper for you to buy my car than it would for you to buy one somewhere else. I figured I could save you a ton of money.
DH - Mom, I don't know. I thought you said there was something wrong with that car a couple weeks ago anyway? But, I'm driving right now mom. We're going to the hospital now. So, I really can't talk anymore.
NMIL - Well, okay. Let me know about the car, if you want it. And, are you positive you don't want me to come to the hospital now? How long do you think it'll be 'til the baby is born?
DH - I don't know mom, it could be hours away. Really mom, you don't have to come to the hospital. Thanks though. We'll just call you later.
[How I managed to restrain myself from grabbing his phone and screaming, "Back the fuck off, bitch!" into it, I'll never know.]
NMIL - Okay, well, like I said, you know, we'll come if you want.
DH - Thanks mom, that's alright. Okay, we'll talk to you when the baby is born.
NMIL - Can you at least call me and let me know how things are going?
DH - Yeah, when the baby is born. Okay bye!
NMIL - We're so excited! Everyone is so excited! SIL can't wait to meet the baby! Okay I love you. Byeeeeeeee!
I wish I was kidding. I wish I was describing the plot of some ridiculous monster-in-law movie, that we could all laugh about. I wish this kind of shit never happened to anyone. But unfortunately, I am not kidding, this was not a movie, and shit like this happens all the time to people who aren't ready to fight it.
I was in labor for another twenty two hours before our beautiful baby girl was born, and no thoughts of NMIL ruined any of our precious time together as a new family. She did not show up to the hospital until we called her because she knew I would not have allowed that. She did not see the baby before my family did because she knew I would not have allowed that either. In my book, the rules aren't meant to be broken. And when they are, you'd better believe there are consequences. NMIL knew she could only push DH so much before I pushed back. She underestimated me and she underestimated her son. She made a major mistake in thinking that DH's loyalties still remained with her, and that he would allow her access to our baby, or me without my consent. DH may not have had the skills at the time to stop her manipulative chit-chat, but he showed me that he could overcome his own guilt and discomfort long enough to uphold my rights when she tried to violate them. His skills needed refining, but I could see that the desire was there to protect his new family.
NMIL showed up to the hospital as soon as she could, I'm sure. I remember her asking DH when he called to tell her our daughter was born, if my family was already at the hospital. I heard jealousy, Dear Reader, and insecurity. DH told her "No, but they'll probably be here soon since they only live a few minutes away." I'd bet my bottom dollar that DH had no idea the frenzy that statement caused in her mind. I'm guessing that she wanted to be the first person to see our baby because that sort of thing mattered to her. Yes, the person who bought the biggest item on our baby registry because "that's what grammas do," even though she knew perfectly well that it had already been purchased...you'd better believe it mattered to her that she wasn't going to get to see the baby first. So she hopped in her car immediately and made the forty-five minute trip to the hospital in record time, probably hoping against hope that she would somehow make it before my family.
She made a big show of washing her hands when DH wheeled our daughter into the room, so that she could be the first one to hold her, and I'm not sure if she knew that she wasn't actually the first person to see the baby (my parents were). She exchanged superficial chatter with anyone who was willing to oblige - mostly, EF and his wife. I assure you, Dear Reader, my wonderful family are not the type to be put off by that sort of thing. They know who NMIL is, they've always known who she is, and my mother, in particular, holds no grudge against people as miniscule as that woman.
NMIL took pictures so she could play the "doting gramma" to her friends and family, snapping them off one after the other so as to make sure she had a huge stockpile. She returned the next day with SIL, to take more photos and pretend to care about DH's fiance and new baby. She probably imagined how much narcissistic supply she would be on the receiving end of when she showed these images to the world. It is my feeling, Dear Reader, that she cared more about the photographs, than she ever would the people in them.