Thursday, February 18, 2010

Into the Mouths of Babes

I will be the first to admit that in general, I'm pretty neurotic. But I have to say, I think I've been fairly relaxed as a new mom. With regard to people who want to see the baby, we have said that we don't want visitors to our house who are sick. We ask every person who is going to hold the baby to wash their hands before they do so. We've kept the baby away from crowds, and also away from little kids. That's pretty much it. We had a winter baby, and these just seemed like prudent steps.

Although I think these requests are pretty reasonable, we're getting resistance from T's family. Every time I ask someone to wash their hands, they give me a hard time, along the lines of "I never did this with my kids and they're fine." I've been holding my tongue, but I'm starting to lose it. It peaked last weekend, when I caught my MIL with her finger in the baby's mouth. I was horrified. I don't stick my fingers in the baby's mouth--why would my MIL? Needless to say, I wasn't tactful in how I handled it, and it was in front of T's sisters. I pretty much ordered my MIL to remove her hands from Miss M's mouth. Who knows what was lurking under her fingernails? She is still visiting the hospital almost every day for physical therapy, and she could have picked up anything there. It would be one thing if I wanted to put my own fingers in my own baby's mouth (but yuck, I wouldn't, because I'm neurotic like that). But who puts their fingers in someone else's baby's mouth? I just thought it was so weird.

I keep having the same conversation with her over and over again, about how the childhood illnesses are not the same today as they were when her kids were born, that antibiotic resistance is a much bigger problem, and that the world is just a different place so that different rules are appropriate. Yet, though she knows about H1N1 and myriad other diseases like RSV that seem so much more prevalent today, she seems to have a hard time grasping this concept. Moreover, she seems completely disinterested in listening to me. All I ever hear about is how she did things with her own kids.

Yesterday, she was kissing the baby's hands, and I had to have the conversation with her again. The baby puts her own hands in her mouth--I don't want anyone else's saliva anywhere near her hands. Is this really so hard to understand?

I'm not sure how to express to her my point of view without having her be dismissive. I understand that she has raised her own children, and she may have made different choices. However, I feel like I should be free to make my own choices for my daughter, regardless of whether she feels like my choices are ridiculous. Particuarly given that my husband, her son, actually agrees with me. It's maddening.


~Jess said...

How frustrating! I don't like it when family does those things, but I absolutely HATE it when strangers do it...or I know that family hasn't washed their hands...for grandfather (90 years old) had a cold, coughed in his hand, then touched DD's. I immediately grabbed her hand and went and washed it. It's jut basic hygiene!

To answer you question: I wasn't too happy with the birth announcements from vistaprint (or our Christmas cards). I don't know if it was because it was entirely custom thing or what, but they came out really dark. I complained and they gave me my money back. Other people have had great success with them though.

Eva said...

This is a highly annoying situation and I remember this... you make choices for your baby and not only get those decisions completelely ignored, but on top of it people try to tell you how to do it "right"!

However, as you wrotem this is not a workplace situation where the question is how dangerous it really is to have lots of unwashed hands in your babies mouth on a daily basis (and you would need to mother genetically identical 100-plets in two controlled groups to find out if and how many more infections you face one way or the other). The parents make the decisions - everybody else needs to honor and follow that and not come up with anecdotal personal "evidence".

Those situations will come up again and again - should a 10-month old baby eat chocolate, should she "cry it out" with six months, should her very fit but 70-year old grandfather drive her around etc.

Maybe to have a "meta-discussion" with your MIL will help ? Not about the issue of fingers in mouth yes or no, but about the question if she remembers anything similar with a different issue from her own time as a mother

Serendipity said...

I feel your pain RE your MIL - My grandmother always dismisses my concerns about anything to do with our baby with a sentance starting with 'in my day' - my hubby snapped one day and said "yeah, well in your day lots of babies died" it shut her up for a while but we still struggle with getting her to remember to do as we ask.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I feel your pain too. My only advice is to stick by what you believe and want because YOU are the mother, you need to make the decisions and your baby is counting on you to be the advocate. Think about it that way--this isn't about you, this is about what is best for the baby and you are merely the baby's agent.

Beyond that, YOU are the one who needs to take care of the baby if the baby gets sick, therefore, what you say

niobe said...

Absolutely, you and your husband should be the ones to make the health and safety choices for your daughter. However, unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to get other people to listen because they made/make different choices for their children.

If it's a continuing problem, you might want to think about limiting visits until the baby is older. I wouldn't make a big deal out of it or say it's because they can't follow your rules -- just say that you're too tired to have company for a while.

Heather said...

I think you should invoke the media hysteria of H1N1 and that she's too young to be vaccinated, so everyone must be very careful to make sure she doesn't end up sick and in the hospital.

I think invoking H1N1 can negate the "I didn't do things like that." You can go with "Things are different now. She could get very sick." Good luck!

Bluebird said...

Oh my. I'm already worked up just anticipating similar issues from my inlaws! (MIL and SIL both). A) times have changed!, and B) We might choose to do things differently than you did just because! Grrrrr.