Many on the internet let a rather demanding mother-in-law know that she was not among like-minded company when she sent a complaint about her daughter-in-law to an advice column.
The concerned woman, calling herself “Second-class grandma,” sent a letter to Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column after her pregnant daughter-in-law, whom she called Julia, informed her that she could not be in the delivery room for the child’s birth.
“Julia has decided only [her husband] Steven and her mother will be allowed in the delivery room when she gives birth. I was stunned and hurt by the unfairness of the decision and tried to plead with her and my son, but Julia says she ‘wouldn’t feel comfortable’ with me there,” she wrote.
Per her own confession, the grandmother-to-be did not simply take “no” for answer. She first tried to tell Julia that she was a nurse for 40 years and “there is nothing [she hasn’t] seen.” She also tried to get her son to change his wife’s mind, but she said “he seems to be afraid of angering Julia and will not help.” She even reached out to Julia’s parents so that they might advocate for her, but she said they “brusquely and rather rudely got off the phone.”
Though the future grandmother clearly sees no issue with her request, several readers, including writer Nicole Cliffe, found themselves blown away by the letter.
Cliffe, who herself seven guests, several hospital employees and one plumber present when she most recently birth, argued, “There is no fairness in birth! The person having the baby invites you to be in the room or not, and if the answer is ‘not,’ you do not make a fuss.”
As she went on to explain rather heatedly, birth is a “private medical procedure,” not “the equivalent of a grade school recital.”
Cliff was not the only person to take offense at this mother-in-law, or anyone else who thought their wishes were more important than those of the person giving birth.
Unfortunately, far too many people could relate.
Others theorized that there was a lot more to the letter.
Thankfully, the woman was given some very blunt advice. “Prudence” writer Mallory Ortberg responded, “You can’t! You shouldn’t! You are entirely in the wrong! I say this in the hopes that, after the initial flush of indignation fades, you will be braced and supported by the realization that you have been acting badly and that you need to change.”
“Frankly, I can see why they don’t want you in the room, if ‘But I was a nurse!’ and ‘I’m a second-class grandmother’ is your response to ‘Please hang out and read a book in the hallway while Julia is crowning,'” Ortberg continued. “Let this go. Do not rob this moment of its joy by keeping score and demanding more.”