When family turns against you!!!!!

We recently brought one of our twin boys home from the NICU and are now being accused of depriving family from seeing them. There are a lot (to say the least) of family dynamics that go into this problem, but we are in no way denying anyone from seeing our twins. How do we get difficult family members to understand that they are tiny and susceptable to sooooo much? One side is great and understanding the other is just telling everyone that we are depriving them of the children and we are getting angry emails and rude comments from people. We are limiting people b/c of the risk, we are to the point we just want to tell people to just stay away b/c we don't need the stress. My husband and I have gotten the point we just tell people that our rules are not for others to understand it is for them to respect. Please help.....this is stressful enough without those that are supposed to be our support systems making it worse. Has anyone else gone through this????

Report post

16 replies. Join the discussion

My son came home in May of this year so my husband and I have been dealing with the same for the some time now. Unfortunately it doesn't get any better as time goes by. My own mother has only come by once to see my son since he has been home, and my in laws haven't been over in a few weeks either. It's like asking people to wash there hands when they come over is viewed as such a huge chore, so I guess they don't want to bother. Another problem is the time issue, people think they can just come over whenever is convenient for them, not you. I have learned to not worry about others, because they seem to not worry about your feelings. Leave all your energy for your babies. Try as difficult as it may be not worry about any rude comments or emails and focus only on your boys. I wish you the best with everything.

Report post

I'm sure many parents of preemies have gone through a similar situation. It seems to be so hard for outsiders (even family) to wrap their heads around it. My daughter is almost 20 months now and this will be her 2nd rsv season. We have had the same problems with our family's. It hasn't gotten any better after almost 2 years. If anything it has only escalated into them thinking since she is almost 2 then why do these rules still apply (handwashing, no sick visitors, no big crowds or big get togethers). We have told our family it will be this way for her first 3 years. Her doctors suggest atleast until she is 2 but we feel better being over cautious until she is atleast 3. Even though we have explained over and over about the risks of RSV and other illnesses we still get the same questions and the same attitudes. I find the best way to stop an undersensitive person in their tracks is to simply say..."I sat next to an isollette for 3 long months and watched my daughter struggle for her life, I watched her struggle to breath each breath she took with tubes coming from everywhere we are trying our hardest not to have to go through that again" I tell you it works everytime. Just a simple overveiw of what my husband, daughter and me endured during her hospital stay and the fact that one little cold could put us right back there usually stops anyone from continuing with their objections to the way we do things. I know right now alot of our family, friends and co-workers don't understand and may never understand but all that matters is my daughter getting the best chance possible and us protecting her. Our family will all get the chance to be with her as I'm sure yours will. Just stick to your rules. Be consistent and follow your motherly instincts to protect. If something doesn't feel right to you then you do what does feel right. Most times I feel like a momma bear asking people to still wash there hands, enforcing the NO sick tollerance rule (even a sniffle is a no no) and making people take their shoes off at the door, also everyone knows by now if they are having a big get together then my daughter won't be there. It's not what any parent wants to do but it's what we have to do. My heart breaks everytime we have to skip a family get together (we have lots of school aged neices and nephews) during rsv season. It is absolutley no fun but we have showed up one to many times at a birthday party ect. and there were family members there that were sick. It's very aggrivating to think they all know but fail to call me and tell me. Then they get upset when I can't stay with my daughter. It's frustrating, it's hard and it's downright sad sometimes but I look at my beautiful little girl and she is all that matters. You will get through and you'll learn how to survive all those comments. I'm going to print up info on rsv this season and pass it out or email for all to read. Maybe even re share some pictures of my 2lb. 8oz. baby in the NICU to remind people what we went through. They may have forgotten those immages but that is something that will stay with a preemie mom the rest of her life. I wish you and your family all the blessings and happiness. Stay strong and take care, Kimberly

Report post

My in-laws have been really hard on me. Accusing me of being over protective (saying things like, if you don't expose her to anything, she's going to get really sick) I got in a huge fight with my mother in law and 2 of my husbands cousins. They don't see anything wrong with Smoking around babies... so we don't go to our mother in laws anymore, because she smokes in her house. We have been told that because we had cats, whom sprayed, that we don't have the right to say anything. My response was, well, we got rid of the cats. We made an effort to change so that things are better for our baby. They still refuse to come over though, and still complain about our house, even though they haven't come over since March of this year, how can we prove things have changed? Meanwhile, I'm being blamed because Grandma doesn't get to see her grandbaby. Well, just this last week she moved in with the brother in law, his wife and 4 kids. She doesn't allow smoking in the home (sister in law) but, they moved to Vancouver Wa, we are in Clackamas OR. It's like a 25 mile drive each way! So, oh well, just gives me a reason not to have to visit as often now. Lets see her make an effort! Plus, everytime she has invited us over, or the 2 times she did come over here, she hasn't even respected us enough to tell us she was sick till AFTER she touches the baby! It's like they want her back in the hospital!

Report post

OMG
We went thru so of the same situation..
Had many arguments of who can see baby when to see baby-- my family wanted to make a reservation list/schedule!!

Its hard especially too when babies were still in NICU, I was running to the hosp at least 2 times a day if not more. cause i was pumping so that was ok. but every time i went seems like somone was right at my side.

our first day home with her, we didnt tell anyone she was home!! not for a couple hours ne way- so that way we had time to be a family before al the BS started.
for 2 weeks somoene was here every day and finally i had to say something. its great they wanna see her and so forth.. but like you said you run a high risk of getting sick, and what not.

if they cant respect your wishes and understand then id say hell with em..
its your baby!! not thers.. id try to throw a guilt trip on them.. lol

you have to put your foot down and let them know or else they will keep walking all over you guys.
you need time too!

i hope you find some end here... good luck!

Report post

So sorry you are having this problem, like you need any more stress in your life.

We were pretty strict as well when we brought our son home. We came home in mid March, and we basically told everyone that it was RSV season and he could have no visitors, and he would not be leaving the house, until May 1. So, if you want it, you have until April to use this very, very good and very, very valid excuse to keep any and everybody away. It is a very real risk that you don't want to expose your precious child to. We also said our docs were being very strict about it and we hated to be the "gate keepers" but it was in the best interest of our child. It will most definately not be the last time you feel awful about something, but if you are your child's advocate, then you are doing the right thing. We allowed family and friends, at our strict discretion.

Here's what I've learned since I've had my son. You will always feel bad about something or someone. You can't make everyone happy. Motherhood is one big burden of guilt - "Did I do that right?" , "Should I work?", "Am I neglecting my friends and husband?", "I can't believe I wasn't watching him for 0.25 seconds and he fell and hit his little head". It will likely continue into teens and beyond. So as much guilt as we put on ourselves, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about anything else! I have no doubt you are a wonderful, loving mother and all you are trying to do is provide a safe home for your children.

Very best of luck to you, and I pray your other son will be home very soon to make your family home complete!

Report post

We had a similar problem with my in-laws. My husband's parents are divorced, so I had to deal with both his mom/husband and her family and then his dad/girlfriend and his family. My family lives out of state. We brought our son home the beginning of December. So we used the RSV / Flu excuse.


Yes, we had to explain it several times a month why they could not come over all of the time. My father in law's girlfriend kept wanting to bring her grand daughter over. We kept politely saying "no". Finally I had enough and I blew up at her on the phone. I told her that we still have NICU hospital bills to pay, I didn't need another hospital stay. I asked her if she wanted to chip in and pay we would appreciate it. Shortly after that there was an article in the newspaper about RSV being the highest it has ever been in our area. I cut that out for everyone to read.

It was not easy to say "no" when people want to see you child. We were just as anxious to show him off to friends and family. But, you need to keep them healthy. We recently had another issue with my mother in law with our son. My husband hardly ever gets upset with her, but he sat her down and had a talk. I can't believe he was this intelligent to come up with this excuse " You may disagree with our decisions. However Mitchell is our son and we are doing what we think is best for him". She did not say anything after that.

My son is now two and going into his third RSV season. He will not be getting Synagis shots this year, only a flu shot. We still plan on keeping him somewhat locked up. Not to the extreme that we did the first two years. I am sure we will hear moans and groans, but we gotta do what we think is best.

Good luck to you!

Report post

Practice your one or two sentence reply to ALL objections: "We are following doctors' orders to help keep our son healthy. If he gets sick he could end up back in the hospital or die." I'd finish it up with "I know you wouldn't want that on YOUR conscience."

If they persist, just tell them you're surprised they're so willing to put the baby's health in jeopardy. You're not, so a visit is out of the question.

Stand your ground firmly but politely. People can be more than a little self-centered and act like it's all about them when it really isn't.

Best of luck, and sorry you're going through this!

Barbara

Report post

Hi I am the mom of a 26 weeker (1 lb 13oz) who is now almost 4. I have had the same issue mostly for my family sense she got home. unfortinally it still goes on till this day espically with family members that smoke in their house and then say they do not even when you find cigerette buts. It is so fustrating and blows my mind that they would be so inconsiderate and go to any length including risking their life to have these kids in their house. I will always go back to a quote that was posted in my NICU.

THE NICU IS A WORLD YOU NEVER KNOW EXISTED UNTILL YOU HAVE A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD. THIS IS AN AMAZING WORLD THAT WILL LIVE WITH YOU FOREVER.

I truly believe that no one except for these preemies moms and dads truly understand the meaning of a miracle and the struggle to keep them alive literally. Please do not beat your self up. unfortinally it is a comon thing!

Good Luck with your family!

Report post

I Conceived my Twins daughters in my 4 cycle of IVF, During all the time that I was having the treatment, my father-in-law, even knowing that the problem was from his son part, would go over and over telling me how difficult was raising a child. when they were born ( 31 weeks,

2.07 lbs, and 1.05 lb ) he went to the NICU 3 times, and I couldn't stand seeing his nodding his head in silence. My mother-in-law told me she would come over every Thrusday, and came twice!!! however now, they have the key of my house ( yes, they do! ) and they come over without telling us and go upstairs straight to my bedrroom!!, give the babies 2 spoon of food and say that she doesn't understand why we keep saying that they don't like to eat.
My husband doesn't know what to say, it bothers him too.
about friends, I have one that has a full term girls and she is pregnant again, every time that she comes over she argues with me, because she keeps telling me that the babies are fine, and I should't feed them every 3 hours, I should't have therapists coming to see them, and even the medicines that I have to give to them is an issue for her.

I would suggest that you get a sign to put on your door saying " please wash your hands before touching mine " I got it for free at the mail, but it is sold at this site: www.mytinyhands.com.
and also keep a hand sanitizer on the outside of your house. At least you don't have to ask people to wash their hands.
Ps: I did it but even so people do not clean their hands when they come over, but you can try it maybe your guests will have more common sense them mine!!!!

Celia

Report post

Thanks for everyones comments. I was beginning to think I was the only person that had to deal with "crazy" family. My family is great but my in-laws are awful to say the least. Even before I had the boys they weren't involved very much but now they act like they have been there for everything. It is beyond frustrating. They just seem to thrive on chaos. When we showed my husbands mother my 20 week ultrasound she said "oh how cute it would be if they were Siamese twins, conjoined at the hip or butt." I never said anything to her until last week about the comment. She flipped out b/c we were asking people to give us time with our son before we had visitors. I had had enough and just went right back at her. I don't know about any of you but it took my husband and I 3 years to concieve and after our first IVF it finally happened. We were blessed with our twin boys, and to hear a comment like this was like a knife to my heart. She has said so many horrible things to me and she has the nerve to act like we are keeping the boys just from her. We are just trying to keep the boys safe and if the in laws would just follow a few simple rules and stopping complaining so much this would work a lot easier. I am to the point I don't have time to hold a pacifier in my boys mouths and in my mother in laws everytime she whines. Our twin that is still in the hospital had surgery for a bowel perf at 6 days old and all I could think about during his emergency surgery was her horrible comment about wanting them to be Siamese. As many of you have stated one thing no parent, esp a preemie parent wants to see is there child in the hospital sick. Thank you again for your posts it helps to know we are not alone in this situation. I already know my younger twin has to have surgery again to take down his ileostomy, so other than that hospitalization I don't want to see either boy in the hospital again sick.

Report post

Although my situation does not seem as extreme as yours I know how you feel. My MIL gave me a hard time because she didn't get to see our son much after we brought him home. My mom was still on vacation and watched our son until she had to go back to work. Occassionally my FIL would watch him for us too. What really annoyed me was that I wasn't stopping her from coming over to see him. My mom hasn't seen her grandson in over a week now but you don't hear her complaining.

The way I see it is you can't please everyone. You do what you need to do to protect your children and everyone else can go fly a kite. If you get a rude email I would send back a nice email explaining the situation. If you type one and save it as a draft all you have to do in the future is to copy the text from the draft to the reply. (It saves typing it all again.)

I really wish that none of us had to keep explaining this to people though but like you said, it isn't for them to understand, it is only for them to respect. Good luck to you.

Report post

Hey, I just wanted to tell you to do what you believe is right, and stick to your guns...I wish I had--because my 31 weeker--born in January, was home for 9 days, and 'somehow' caught the flu..Even though she denied it, the baby got sick from my sister in law's kid(my niece), and this was after they begged me to let her see the baby, because I was not allowing children over to see her--I wish I had stuck to that rule, because, my daughter ended up back in the hospital, severely dehydrated, and barely breathing...We almost lost her then..It was absolutely awful, and I felt like the worst mother in the world for letting it happen..So don't let anyone make you feel guilty, because--believe me--the alternative to being careful and following your instincts can cause devastating consequences....Good luck, and hope your little ones are doing great..Caroline...

Report post

My son, Tanner, was born at 30 weeks ( 3 lbs. 6 oz.) on October 8, 2005. He is now going to be 2 this Monday and, boy, what a ride it has been... He stayed in the hospital for 5 weeks, he was discharged Nov 11, 2005- right after RSV season started. So, my in-laws ( of course) thought it would be okay if my boyfriend( we're not married, but we've been together 5 years so they're the in-laws) and I took our son that winter out to a very busy restaurant for my brother-in-law's birthday dinner. Well, I said that I'd stay home with Tanner and they didn't understand why we couldn't find a babysitter since we didn't want to take our son out. A babysitter????? My son was still on an apnea monitor and was only home for a month. Like, a babysitter is supposed to figure out what to do should the monitor go off .... God forbid my son actually stops breathing. Hell no, I didn't leave my son with anyone else during that time alone. Not even family.

My in- laws were just ignorant and didn't seem to try and understand. My mom was always cool about "the rules". She'd come over, wash her hands, and then see if it was ok to hold Tanner. We took him out for Christmas that year over to my mom's because I had family come out to visit from California. My mom told my aunt, grandma, cousins, " Wash your hands!" She has been an advocate for my son since day one. My mother-in-law didn't have a clue. When he came home in November of that year, we kept him in for most of the six months of RSV season. So, in April of the following year, the family had a big birthday get-together for.. (me of all people) and Tanner cried and cried (because of stranger anxiety) and my mother-in-law went on and on about how " he never gets out" and " they never take him anywhere" and so on and so on.

Well, despite the comments and the bull---- that I put up with from my mother-in-law in the beginning, my son never got sick, and now that he's going to be 2.... he still hasn't had the flu, or a cold, or an ear infection. I, as a mother, and my boyfriend as well, we did our jobs as parents and adhered to the nurse's and doctor's orders and kept our son away from people( especially during RSV season) and did what we were supposed to do. Because in the end, YOU are in charge.... YOU decide what's best for your babies.... YOU will be the one who's gotta go and see your sick preemie ( again) in the NICU if they get sick.... NO ONE IS WORTH YOU AS PARENTS COMPROMISING WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS THE BEST WAY TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR BABY(IES). No one can possibly know what it's like to go through pre-term labor and delivery unless they've gone through it themselves.

Stay strong and tell it like it is.... to everyone!!!! I have faith in you and your husband. You will make it through...

Report post

So sorry you are going through this. Just rely on the understanding family and I would stand firm and tell the family members from hell that you will not put your baby at risk and it is RSV season and you need your bonding time and if they cannot respect your family that is your problem.

KEEP the emails in case the family members from hell ever try to sue you for grandparent visitation claiming you denied them visits. It happens a lot. Just invite them over once in a while but dont put anything in writing that they cannot come but keep their correspondence in which they are selfish and unreasonable.

ENJOY your little one being home and turn the phone off.

You are dong the right thing.

Hope the other one comes home soon.

Report post

Many people are ignorant. They believe what they want to believe.

You'd think that living in the 21st century would mean that people who have a clue about how germs work. But much like the medieval period, if people can't see the problem, they don't think it is there.

Just because our little ones sometimes look "normal" on the outside (just smaller and often with cannulas on), they can't yet lead "normal" lives. But if we are patient and follow the rules of good preemie hygiene, we will hopefully get to be "normal" in the years to come.

I was irked by the behavior of many families in the NICU. They wouldn't wash their hands...or would do so for only 5 seconds (often without soap)...before coming in the NICU. At our NICU, there was a 3 minute rule about washing hands. 3 minutes is how long it takes to get rid of the first two layers of bacteria off your skin, according to studies by the CDC. Yes, there is the Avagard (the hand sanitizer)...and that's great. But these people who wouldn't wash their hands would put their grubby paws all over the furniture that the rest of us had to share! Our NICU often let families bring little kids into the NICU. Now to be fair, studies show that if kids wash their hands for the three minutes, this shouldn't be a problem. However, if you've ever watched families come into the NICU, you know that these kids don't wash their hands for anything remotely close to three minutes. I always washed my hands for 3 minutes. And then, I'd use hand sanitizer before touching my son. Twice, while at the sinks, a grand parent of someone would get very aggressive with me, because they wanted me to wash faster. One jerk yelled, "It's not like you are the doctor going into surgery!" I explained that germs can kill babies. And he should be concerned not just for his grand child, but the other babies in the NICU as well.

My family really wants to have a big Thanksgiving celebration. And, I am reluctant to take our son. He's 7 weeks old (age adjusted). The NICU doctors and nurses said, "Don't expose your son to other people for several months." The pulmonologist and nurse just last week said, "You know not to take your son out in public or around a lot of people, right?" Unfortunately, germs don't take Thanksgiving off! My sister and brother-in-law are high school teachers, in contact with a lot of sickness day in and out. I teach college and am not thrilled that my occupation also puts me in contact with a lot of people (alas, hygiene is often not an undergraduate priority).

The pulmonologist said that in studies on preemies and RSV, study participants (both people in the control and experimental groups) were told not to take their children out in public. Compared to the general population, the control group babies were 1/3 less likely to contract RSV. The experimental group (which got the synargis shot) but their odds of getting RSV in half in comparison to the control group. The conclusion: Simply not being in contact with other people significantly reduced RSV rates! And the synagis shot improved that result even more!

Tell your families, "Per doctor's orders, our child cannot have contact with other people for the next 1-2 years. We wish things were different. But we are going to follow the doctor's orders. Our child has already been through a lot, and we don't want to harm him/her because of our failure to follow through on sound medical advice."

Report post

I'm sorry for your famly situation. Maybe you should give them a taste of their own cruel medicine and send them a link to this forum discussion? Sometimes it takes hearing other people's experience, as well as your own, to get people to understand their insensitive remarks are not helping your situation. Good luck!

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Discussion topics

Preemie links and resources


Narratives from the NICU -- Read the special report

Community leaders