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How I helped my daughter after she had her first baby

Created by Lisa in Age: Baby & Toddler, Age: On the way, Being a Granny-carer



When my daughter had her baby it took me right back to when I gave birth to her. All I wanted for my mum to be there straight afterwards to help with this tiny bundle.

 

I didn’t have a clue what to do. But my mum was working and couldn’t get away, there so it was Mother-in-law to the rescue. She was so capable that I felt completely useless. I hated the way she put my baby on her lap face down but didn’t like to say anything. She was a brilliant help with the washing and cooking for us, for sale but from what I can remember she just did what she thought was best and didn’t ask my opinion at all.

 

How things have changed over the past 30 years, therapy thank goodness! I got a phone call from my daughter when she went into labour at around 6 am to say they were going into hospital. I felt quite calm but also excited and got into the car straight away. But by the time I arrived, they were being sent home and I met them in the hospital car park.

 

No sooner had we got back to their house and the contractions started in earnest again. I remember my daughter saying “I can’t believe you went through this – twice!” So it was back to the hospital again.  When they went into the delivery room, she asked if I would like to stay. It wasn’t something we had talked about beforehand and I felt very privileged and proud when a  short few hours later I saw my daughter’s own little bundle  born.

 

So, I was a granny and I really wanted to get it right, particularly the first few months when my daughter and son-in-law were new parents.

 

Louise with her daughter and grandson

From the start I decided to listen before offering advice. I think what we grandmothers need to remember is that our children will continue to look for our approval even after they have a baby of their own – just as they did when they were growing up. But emotions can be all over the place for everyone and getting the right balance between being helpful and interfering can be tricky.

 

I read some research recently which said that modern mums are more likely to turn to the internet for parenting advice than their own parents. This is hardly surprising when they have access to thousands of sites giving tips on everything from breastfeeding to coping with colic.  But my daughter did ask me lots of little questions like “how often should I be feeding him” and “did I cry a lot like this and what did you do?” I think a lot of grandmothers answer these sorts of questions based on what they’ve picked up over the years, or from instinct, as if they are anything like me, I can’t always remember in detail exactly what I did!

 

I thought that the most important thing was to offer reassurance that she was doing the right thing, as you don’t get much better than a mother’s own instinct.

 

Of course you want to be around your new grandchild as much as possible in the early days, but this is the time when new parents really need time to adjust to this huge life-change on their own. How near or far away you live from your daughter will obviously have an impact on the frequency of visits. I was about an hour away and working full time so wasn’t able to pop over to see them as much as I would have liked.

 

But we were on the phone a lot! And I think that I was able to answer lots of questions my daughter had in these calls.

 

When I did visit, I used to enjoy doing the washing and washing up, tidying around house and cooking. Everything to do with looking after a new baby takes so long that as soon as you have finished feeding and changing, it’s time to start all over again.  So I would cuddle the baby while my daughter had a bath and a little time to herself.

 

I made a point of taking along a meal which would last for a couple of days, fresh fruit and a couple of packets of chocolate biscuits – all new mums need to keep their energy levels up! We would sometimes go out for lunch so that she could have a taste of ‘normal’ life for a little while in between feeds – and with two people to look after the baby, we managed to eat, rock and chatter happily.

 

I usually didn’t see my son-in-law when I visited in the early days as he had gone back to work and I often left before he returned in the evening. But I hoped that because my daughter had had some company during the day, the washing was done, the house tidy and a meal ready to eat, that they could devote more time to the baby or to each other at the end of the day.

 

So my way of helping my daughter after she gave birth was to provide the simple things in life. No big gestures – a few irresistible cuddly presents for the baby and help towards buying the cot and push chair, but otherwise, just my time.  My daughter would sit and do nothing but gaze at her new baby for hours and could now understand first-hand what unconditional love for your own child meant.

 

And our mother-daughter relationship embarked on a new phase in our lives.

 

By Louise Esplin

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