Help! Mother-in-law wants to be mom!

Lara - posted on 09/17/2013 ( no moms have responded yet )

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So my husband and I were trying to conceive for 2 ½ years and went through fertility treatments before being blessed with our little one (LO). She and I are very close and I took a full three months after having her to spend time with her. Our plan was for my unemployed mother-in-law (MIL), who had always been very nice to me, to come spend Mon-Th. at our place and watch the baby, and drive 2.5 hours home on the weekend (we were going to pay her well). I thought it was really nice of her and would be great for my LO to know her grandmother better than I knew mine! I even had visions in my mind of family game nights and happy meals together. I was soooooo ignorant lol.
My first day back at work was an 8-hour one and I knew it would be rough for us. I spent most of the day daydreaming about cuddling my LO all evening (hubby would get home from work way before I did). But… when I got home, I had to ask MIL for the baby, which wasn’t a big deal, I just thought she’d know I wanted to see her when I got home. With any daycare you see your kid when you’re not at work. Then, after 45 minutes together, MIL comes and takes her back, saying they are going for a walk! I seriously wanted to cry until hubbie stepped in and made her give her back. My MIL looked kind of offended, but she had worked as a nanny before so I thought maybe she just thought it was her job 24/7 instead of only during work hours. But I was already wishing a little that I’d done daycare because with daycare at least when she’s home she’s mine, you know?
The next day I was asking MIL how LO was when I was away, as I did the day before, and she replied that she only cries when mom is home. She later made some comment about how babies cry more around their mommas but still… ouch! Not what any new momma wants to hear.
I took the whole next day off as a sick day to ease the transition, and whenever LO would cry (she was going through a fussy period), MIL suggested a bottle (expressed milk, so same thing) even though I had tried nursing her a minute ago. I finally gave in and MIL literally forced her to eat. If my LO would choke or push the bottle away, MIL shoved it back in her mouth, saying “a little more”. And she didn’t even hold her while feeding her, but rather put her in her swing!!! In my opinion that is not good for baby and it’s no fun for you either. The whole fun part about feeding a baby is the snuggling!!! Anyways, she was breaking some of my cardinal rules of baby-feeding and afterwards, guess what? Baby kept crying until I rocked her to sleep, because she was tired, like momma said! Later on that night, the exact same series of events happened. After MIL got baby to eat milk from a bottle, she said “she doesn’t want to nurse, she wants her bottle.” I think she thought that because she was able to force-feed her, which you can’t do with the breast, even though LO kept crying afterwards. Arrrrgh! At this point I was really questioning my decision, but later that night my wonderful hubbie stepped in again and explained to her that I didn’t want to pump milk at home, only when I’m working (if you’ve never used a breast pump before it’s not painful but not fun either. Bottle or breastfeeding your baby is way better, and since severe allergies and autoimmune disease plus cancer run in my family I was trying really hard to exclusively use breastmilk).
The next day my workplace announced unexpectedly that my hours were changing, etc. and basically I was to be gone for 50+ hours a week including driving, plus I have a side job. I did some calculations and found that I could probably make the same amount working a toggled schedule part-time with my husband and doing consulting from home, minus the huge amount we were paying my MIL plus gas (my work was far away). And I would be with my LO almost all the time! So I resigned that day, as hard as I had worked to obtain my job.
So my MIL stayed for another four days. I apologized for the change as she seemed disappointed, but explained my situation – only have one child, probably my only one, she won’t be little forever, etc. She was verbally really understanding, but still the whole weekend I sensed that she was angry/disappointed, as was my husband, even though I verbally got his OK before quitting. So I felt like maybe I was being selfish, and insisted to pay my MIL for the whole month even though she only worked one week to give her time to find another source of income.
A week and a half later, she came back to help us move. She was physically very helpful, organizing our kitchen and doing what hubbie would ask. However, any time he wanted her to go to the old house to help clean, etc. rather than stay with the baby she was clearly upset, even though I made six trips to our old house and she only made three. He later told me that he had promised she’d get to stay with the baby while I went and moved, but I didn’t know!! Plus I’m breastfeeding and she has a big truck while I have a rinky-dinky car. Anyways, I did most of the trips so I don’t feel too bad.
Whenever she and I were together with the baby, though, she’d take her from me after 30 minutes or so. I basically couldn’t spend any time with my baby without her taking her from me, unless I was nursing (which I did in the bedroom alone since LO was going through a phase where she wanted me to nurse her while walking and I needed my shirt off lol). I understand only being here for a few days, wanting to spend time with your grandchild, etc., but she spent 10 days like with us (immediately after another visit of about the same length), and I was still working about 20 hours per week plus moving. So I basically felt like I didn’t really see my LO during that time. Plus any time I was gone for more than 15 minutes or so grandma would give LO a bottle, even if I had just fed her.
One day grandma knew I was working and kept telling me I could go if I wanted. I appreciate help but jeez, I was starting to feel unwelcome. Another day hubbie and I got back from a trip to pick up stuff from our old house, and I saw grandma walking with the baby. I got out to see her, since I would be working again that evening, and grandma said, “you want to go with mommy? No? No, you don’t want to go with mommy.” I took her anyways and grandma followed us around, baby-talking. It was really weird, and I certainly don’t approve of the negative comments since my LO will be starting to understand soon. I don’t want her to hear bad things about me from such an early age. Three other times, I walked in on her saying “ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma” to LO. I wouldn’t worry except her other grandchild calls her “mom” and calls his mom by her first name. I’m not OK with that at all with my LO, especially with the way grandma’s been acting.
I know everyone has their own opinions about babies watching TV. I’m OK with a sideways glance, having it on and her hearing it, or her catching some TV as we adults are watching it. I’m not OK with sticking her in her bouncy chair in front of our HUGE TV, where she can’t look away. I just think that if she’s too little to look away she’s too little to be stuck there. Anyways, grandma did just that and said, “look, look!” I just don’t want to get her in the habit of lots of TV since she’s equally entertained by her mobile and looking out the window.
So basically, my problem is that MIL plans on coming again in another week and a half, and it looks like this is going to be a regular thing. I spoke to my husband about this, but I realize he is in a predicament as it is his mother! I have come up with four things that are important to me that she does:
1. I am in charge of LO when I am not at work, unless hubbie wants some time. When I am gone hubbie is in charge. “In charge” means we are the primary caregivers, NOT that we don’t want grandma to see LO. But we will ask if we need a break!
2. Be respectful of me, LO, and hubbie. Don’t make rude comments or make me feel unwelcome/unwanted. Do as we wish when in our house.
3. LO needs to be held when fed.
4. LO should not be placed directly in front of the TV in her bouncy chair.
I plan on talking to her in the nicest, classiest way possible when she visits again. I also have a few mom-daughter activities outside the house planned during her next visit so we are not here with her all day. For those of you who don’t have any help with your LO, this predicament might be hard to imagine. I didn’t have much help for the first three months and trust me, as much as you feel you need help, dealing with this s#@$ is on a daily basis is NOT helpful!!! It’s stressful!!! I would have been much happier hiring a friend or babysitter and not having to give up 20 days with my baby! Just had to throw that in there so I don’t get the “be thankful you have help” speech again. So my question for you all is, does anyone have any tips for how to approach this? Has anyone dealt with a similar situation before, and how did you handle it without messing up your marriage? Thanks for reading!

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