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Often, mother-in-law would also enter my room as I was trying to breastfeed or nap. I lost count of the number of times I woke up in fright to see her face hovering above mine, as she peered over my body to admire her granddaughter. (Baby slept with me almost all the time as she was very attached to me, and would not stop wailing if it was anybody else.)

There were times when mother-in-law would do the “coo-chi, coo-chi” stroking of the baby’s cheek – while I was breastfeeding!

Finally, just before the month-long confinement period ended, my tolerance reached its limit and I raised several issues with the Hubster. He had no choice but to manage his parents. He told them that we could cope well on our own and needed a little breathing space.

Description: Baby slept with me almost all the time as she was very attached to me, and would not stop wailing if it was anybody else.

Baby slept with me almost all the time as she was very attached to me, and would not stop wailing if it was anybody else.

This was immediately met with dramatic cries from my mother-in-law, who lamented how her son was now a grown-up and rejecting her. And what did we mean by intrusion and breathing space…?

We caved in and they were, once again, “invited” to visit any time they liked. However, they were now more considerate and did not stay such long hours. They left me alone when I breastfed or napped.

During this time, Mum never failed to come by every day at 10pm. She lived at the block next to ours and would always pop in then we were trying to wind the baby down for sleep. She would them pick her up and sing her high-pitched, shrilly voice. I can't imagine how I could have enjoyed all that singing when I was a baby!

You did what?!

Description: My mother-in-law had decided that she would dedicate herself to the care of her granddaughter.

My mother-in-law had decided that she would dedicate herself to the care of her granddaughter.

Just as my maternity leave was about to end, we were informed that my in-laws had both resigned from their jobs. My mother-in-law had decided that she would dedicate herself to the care of her granddaughter.

My father-in-law was worried about her handling the baby on her own, and also tendered his resignation!

Mots couples rejoice at the enthusiastic offer of help. We were thankful, too – but why did they not discuss the matter with us first? The Hubster was just offered a new, dynamic role at his company and had to report by 7am every day. I was running sales targets on a quarterly basis and did not think that I would have the stamina to cope with housework and a new baby. In fact, we had already gone to a maid agency to engage a domestic helper.

My mother-in-law was offended, as she had assumed that we would hand over the care of Baby to her. She now thought we were rejecting her kindness. In the end, we came to an agreement: They would come over to our place every day and watch over the helper and the baby.

I am not mad

Description: Mother-in-law went through my diary.

Mother-in-law went through my diary.

Then, one day, all hell broke loose: Mother-in-law went through my diary. I had the habit of penning down my thoughts, especially when I was frustrated or when I wanted to chart Baby’s progress.

Since it was my diary, there were entries of grievances against the in-laws. Boy, were they offended! They photocopied my entries, showed them to Mum and threatened to pass them to other relatives, too.

Mother-in-law went to Mum to talk to her about how “ill-bred” I was and suggested that I be sent to the Institute of Mental Health for a postnatal depression analysis. Mum, usually the assertive one in our family, was shocked but managed to compose herself to remind them that what they were doing was not right, too.

My in-laws decided to stop visiting and, for months, subjected us to the silent treatment. Finally, we took the first steps to make peace. When we felt that their anger had subsided somewhat, we called them and followed up with more regular visits.

That helped to diffuse the tension. Harmony was re-established when they acknowledged that we needed our breathing space, and what we were adults responsible for our own children. My in-laws and Mum realized that it was time they let go. We also learnt to communicate better.

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