Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Imagine this childbirth scenario: You have a very long labor. Your husband checks in with his mom from time to time. He insists that you don't want any visitors until after the baby is born. Your mother-in-law, who lives nowhere near you, decides she can't wait and shows up at the hospital anyway and ends up meeting your newborn child while you're still in the delivery room recovering from an unexpected Cesarian. Then she writes an article in the newspaper about what a great experience it was for her. That's what happened to one Montreal mom. Not exactly what I'd call an ideal birth plan.
Rhona Bennett, a Toronto resident, wrote the story of her adventures in becoming a grandmother in the Globe and Mail. And my oh my, did readers react to Rhona's story. All I can say is: Thank God this woman isn't my mother-in-law.
Here's how labor went for Rhona: Like many a grandmother-to-be, she gets a call on a Friday afternoon from her son Jon. His wife, Ellana, is in labor. Unlike the legions of mothers-in-law before her who waited anxiously for news to come, Rhona takes matters into her own hands.
"Why hadn't Jon called? Had I raised a man completely lacking in basic human compassion or had something really terrible happened?" she writes about not hearing from her son for a few hours. "I decided to go immediately from the train station to the hospital. Never mind the kids' admonition: 'Don't come till we tell you.'"
May I digress. Maybe, just maybe, her son thought it was more important to attend to his wife's needs than it was to give his mom a blow by blow of every contraction. Just a thought.
News from Quebec might be slow to arrive, but that doesn't stop old Rhona. She boards the next train to Montreal and meets her partner in crime, Ellana's mother, Carol. Determined to override their children's wishes, the two head off to the hospital. "The nice man sitting at the nursing station told us Ellana was in surgery, having a Caesarean section. We were actually relieved: At last a concrete piece of information to clutch. He told us to get dinner and come back in a couple of hours."
Relieved! Relieved! Ellana was in surgery. Unplanned surgery. This is good news? Is Rhona on drugs?
No matter. Rather than heed the nice man's advice to get a meal, Carol and Rhona cast patient privacy aside and figure out where new dad and baby are waiting for mom to return. They meet their granddaughter. It's not clear from the story if Ellana has met or held her daughter yet. But that doesn't matter, Rhona is a grandma! In case Rhona's worried that she hasn't disrespected her daughter-in-law enough, she throws in a few snarky remarks about how silly things like doulas, birthing centers and extended breast feeding are.
All I can say is: Ellana, you win the prize for the mother-in-law from hell. Hat's off to you if you decide to keep her in the family.