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Advice on wifes family being difficult

Requested in Parenting & Family by a contributor
edited by 2cent

1 Rec

I would probably cut them off for a while. What's happening with them?
My wife was hospitalized for 5 weeks towards the end or her second pregnancy. This was due to placenta previa which was causing heavy bleeding and the doctors were being very careful. Fortunately everything worked out and my wife and new son are fine.

However, during her hospitalization I would bring my eldest son Andy who just turned 3 to visit mommy. Mommy was hooked up to an IV and other machines to monitor the baby's pulse and any contractions she might experience. Andy was afraid of all of the machines and despite my best efforts was kicking, crying and screaming when I would take him to see mommy. I tried to explain the machines to Andy and told him in a gentle relaxed voice that the IV was "water" for mommy and the other machines were to "help" mommy. But he didn't accept that. Also mommy began to become depressed because she thought that Andy no longer wanted to see her, he was always kicking, screaming and crying when brought into the room.

My wife went into premature labor and our new son Matt was delivered via c-section 7 weeks premature. He had to be hooked up to an IV and a feeding tube, along with other vital monitors, living in an incubator. My wife was able to come home about 6 days after the surgery and Andy was very happy to have mommy back at home. However, we would all visit the hospital to visit Matt and seeing the machines attached to him only worsened Andy's fear. We couldn't find a sitter to watch Andy so my wife and I would take turns going in the NICU to visit and care for Matt. However, now Andy completely hated the hospital and feared it at this time and even just waiting in the waiting room resulted in him kicking, crying and screaming. I tried to help him by bring toys, games, and even bought a portable DVD to play his favorite cartoons. But nothing seemed to work.

About a month later Matt was finally allowed to come home and we are lucky that he completely healthy. However, Andy is still affected, and continues to wake up at night with nightmares. He cries just driving by the hospital. We had to bring him with for Matt's first doctors visit and Andy was ok until the doctor picked him up. Then Andy just lost it and screamed "Mommy, get baby, doctor hurt baby!" I am always gentle with Andy and try to reassure him in a calming voice that everything will be ok. Since then, I have been trying to slowly introduce Andy to the doctors and hospital by just slowly bringing him closer and closer. I am looking for advice on how to avoid this affecting him in the future. How can I help him now, so he won't be bothered by this in the future?

Sorry this is long and jumping all over the place. A lot has truly happened. While my wife was hospitalized I was dropping Andy off at her parents who watched him until I picked him up after work. They volunteered to watch him. However, about halfway through my wife's hospitalization they informed me that Andy was too much work, that he was a selfish brat and that I should look for daycare. I was playing the role of a single father, dropping my son off early in the morning, trying to hold a job, then bringing him to visit my distraught wife. Trying to find time to get a decent meal and take care of housework. Not to mention not sleeping well at night with Andy waking up from nightmares. So I tried to talk with my in-laws and explained I simply didn't have time to look for a daycare and that it would be only a little longer for them to watch him. Andy is usually well behaved, but like any boy needs exercise. My in-laws would just put him in front of the TV and think he would sit there all day. Nevertheless, he had energy to burn and would run around the house. This caused him to be labelled "spoiled" and a "brat" by my in-laws. Plus, with all of the stuff going on, I admit that I did let Andy get away with more than I normally would have.

After my wife returned home my in-laws behavior worsened. It was like my wife's entire family was rooting for us to fail. My family is in another state so they are of little help. My wife's family are always asking about the insurance expenses and asking when I will sell the house to avoid bankruptcy. Of course, with the current economy my job may not be guaranteed, but my wife's family keep on prodding on how long until I get laid off. My insurance covers a good portion of the bills, but I still have a fair amount to pay. I just don't get why my wife's family would keep asking about the amount I owe and my job security. It seems a little rude during this trying time. Also, my wife's family seems to have lost all respect for us. They scheduled a 1-month baby shower for us. Per the family, this had to be exactly 1 month away which was a Tuesday. I told them this was ok if they did it in the evening as then no one would miss work. However on the day of the shower, my wife's family showed up in the morning while I wasn't there bringing all of the gifts. They only stayed a few minutes saying that my wife's brothers and sisters had to get to work. Also my wife's mother had a scheduled dentist appt. in the afternoon. They were the ones that insisted 1 month exactly and then they made the dentist appt. when they knew everyone was working. When I complained to my wife's family about this they yelled at me for being so "selfish"??? I think after all I went through that just wanting to be there for the baby shower wasn't selfish. What the ???

Why is my wife's family acting like this? They used to be normal and try and help us when they could. I don't think I've asked too much of them and I have always helped them when they needed it. Please advise.

Sorry this is so long. There is a lot more that has also happened. Thank you very much for reading.
So, first let's deal with your wife's family. They sound like assholes. You don't need this shit.

Second, as far as your little boy goes I would recommend you have a talk with his pediatrician. Little kids aren't rational creatures. All the ideas you have had about helping him feel better about the hospital are good ones but he needs some more help than that. Being away from mommy, seeing the machines, seeing baby brother with machines, all the while feeling abandoned with people who think he was spoiled brat and for damn sure treated him like it - that is a lot for a little kid to handle and it's completely expected that he would act out.

So talk to your pediatrician who may be able to give you some ideas or just refer you to a child psychologist to talk to. If you get the referral it will probably be covered by your insurance.

You have a lot on your shoulders right now. You have been relying on family a lot. Do you have any friends who can help out? When people see friends going through a tough time they often want to help but don't know how. So try reaching out and asking for what you need - even if it's just a couple hours of babysitting the baby so you and your wife can spend some time with Andy - or even some time just the two of you. And please remember it won't always be like this. The baby will grow, your wife will get back on her feet, and Andy will start to feel better and more secure. You're doing great so take a deep breath and know that you are being a great husband and father.
I agree with mj. Put some distance between you and the in-laws. Some people are negative and want you to carry their poison too. You need time to take a breath. It sounds like you've held up remarkably well, considering the pressure all of you have been under. MJ is right - things will get better. Hang in there. If the in-laws come around just say "I'm sorry, this isn't a good time but thank you so much for stopping by." That keeps them from interfering, but it also keeps the door open for when they regain their sanity and manners.

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