Bonus: More Burning Questions Answered, Part 1
December 5, 2019
In this special bonus episode, Shanna and Laura answer listener questions about the impact of a second child on the relationship with the firstborn, managing an in-law’s request to be present at the birth, setting boundaries with family members and much more.
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Laura Birek: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our very special bonus episode of Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. This is going to be part one of a two-part bonus episode extravaganza where we answer your listener questions from our Check in the Inbox segment. These are questions that we got that we did not have time to answer during a regular episode. So here we have them in a big bonus episode.
Shanna Micko: That’s right.
Laura Birek: So here we are. We are here to answer your questions.
Shanna Micko: Yay.
Laura Birek: Shanna, I think we should just dive right in because I have a question here for you. You ready?
Shanna Micko: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Laura Birek: Diana from Oakland, Illinois says my burning question is for Shanna, “How has her relationship with her oldest daughter changed since she had a new baby? I want an update since Shanna feared it would change before she had her baby.” So Shanna, because I know…
Shanna Micko: That is such a good question. One, I haven’t reflected on too much just because I’ve been living it, but basically I would say that it’s gone in stages. At first after having CeCe, it was really hard with the older daughter, because I was just all consumed with breastfeeding and not sleeping and I couldn’t put Elle to bed really, because I was on baby duty. So Steve took over a lot of those duties and he was a rock star. He was amazing at it, but it just meant I had less time with her and she I think was kind of acting out a bit from the whole change in her life and stuff and then as CeCe has gotten older, my relationship with Elle has gotten better. We’ve gotten closer and one on one time has been key for us. I can really tell that she craves it and I crave it, so I try to take her to ice cream or take her swimming just by myself without the rest of the family so that the two of us can bond. My love for her is as strong as ever if not stronger. Seeing her be a big sister is really cool, but it’s challenging for an older sibling I think to have their entire life uprooted and you really do see that come out in their behavior and stuff. She’s got some impulsive behavior that’s kind of tricky sometimes, but she’s also incredibly loving and wonderful with CeCe. She made up a nickname for her. She calls her my little love.
Laura Birek: Aww, come on.
Shanna Micko: I’m just like, where did you come up with that?
Laura Birek: So cute.
Shanna Micko: It’s so sweet. Right. So she’s really cute and sweet and I adore her and my fears were unfounded. Everything is good. It’s great and it’s really only getting better as CeCe gets older. So there you have it.
Laura Birek: One of my friends who has two kids, the way they described it was when you have your first kid, you can’t understand how the depth of your love is going to reveal itself basically and then when you have a second kid, you couldn’t believe the breadth of his love, which I thought was really sweet.
Shanna Micko: That’s a cool of putting it. That’s really cool. I have to say I did not know if I could love another little person as much as I loved Elle when she was the only one. It was just like, whoa, that’s so amazing to feel that for someone. How is it ever going to match with another baby? It definitely does. Sometimes it might take a while, but it’s definitely there and it’s awesome.
Laura Birek: Well, there you have it Diana from Oakland, Illinois. I think I was also curious about that. So I’m glad to hear that everything is going awesome with you guys.
Shanna Micko: Yeah, all right. Our next question is from Brittany G. Brittany asks, “My mother-in-law has asked over and over again if she could be in the delivery room. We are close, but honestly I don’t feel comfortable enough to have her in the room. At first I just wanted my husband and I only, but as more time passes, I really want to have my mother. Any thoughts? I know it would really hurt my mother-in-law, but I just want to be as comfortable as possible in the delivery room and she tends to stress me out. I just don’t want to hurt her by only inviting my mother. I’m at the point now where I’m almost wishing for a C-section, so I don’t have to worry about our mothers.” I think you could relate Laura. Yes, maybe? Do you want to chip to this?
Laura Birek: Mostly because I ended up with the C-section so I didn’t have to worry about it. But actually I was in a really similar situation. I’m very close to my mother-in-law. I love her to death, but I didn’t know if I was quite comfortable having her in the delivery room and it really stressed me out trying to figure out how to navigate that because I was the same way. I knew obviously I wanted my husband in the delivery room and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I might just want my mom in there. I think I’m going to want my mom in the delivery room with me to help, partially as moral support, partially to be sort of an advocate for me. Corey was going to be in the thick of it too. So I thought I wanted to sort of slightly more neutral third party, but someone who could be my champion as well and honestly, I was really stressed out about it because I am a people pleaser. I am the kind of person who I will definitely put my comfort second, third, fourth just to make sure that nobody else feels uncomfortable or sad or has hurt feelings. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is one moment where you are really the person who needs to be in control. You have so much going on. If you do end up having a vaginal delivery and you have people in the delivery room with you, the intensity of that is something that you can’t control. But what you can control is your surroundings. You can control who’s there and how they react and I think going with your gut on that one that you love your mother-in-law, but you think she would cause more stress than not. Think about both scenarios I should say. Which one makes you feel calm and which one makes you feel anxious? Go towards the calm one. Now how to explain it to her, that’s tough. But she’s hopefully going to understand that you can say like, look, I want you at the hospital. I want you to see the baby as soon as you can, but I just really need this to be with your son and with my mom and that’s really all I want. I will say if you are like me and want to be a total coward about it, you could look into your hospital’s policies, because cuz they may only let a certain number of people in the room and then you could get out of that without having it be your fault. Or you could end up with a C-section like I did, which by the way, ended up with my husband and my mother being in the room because my doctor allowed my mom to be in their videotaping if you recall.
Shanna Micko: That’s right. That’s so great.
Laura Birek: That was a special consideration. I do think my mother-in-law was like, well, can I go too? First of all, my husband was like, “Mom, you don’t want to see a surgery.” She’s like, “I do though.” That was definitely not allowed.
Shanna Micko: I’ve heard situations where doctors have kind of been on their patient’s side and told a relative like, no, there’s only two people allowed in this room, even if that’s not necessarily true.
Laura Birek: 100%. I think the labor and delivery nurses would totally do that for you. You could even have a code word, like time to go. I understand the stress because it’s a special occasion and everyone wants to be involved, but really when it comes down to it, it’s a special moment for you and your husband and then you get to invite who you want in. If your mom’s going to bring you comfort, bring her in.
Shanna Micko: No shame in wanting to have it your way for sure.
One thing I will say that might be a possible middle ground compromise if this feels right for you is maybe your mother-in-law could come join you for a little while during pre-labor or middle labor, like before you actually start pushing. While you’re dilating, you’re just hanging out in there. I was in labor for 20 hours and it was boring as shit and you came Laura and delivered something. I don’t even remember.
Laura Birek: I don’t think I saw you. I came and delivered stuff to Steve, but I didn’t come in the room if I recall.
Shanna Micko: No, I think you did.
Laura Birek: I did?
Shanna Micko: I don’t know.
Laura Birek: I know I came twice and I remember one time not being able to go in the room because you had just gotten whisked out for a possible C-section and then back again.
Shanna Micko: Good times.
Laura Birek: But it’s true. There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting.
Shanna Micko: So maybe she could come and hang out for a little while and then be like, okay. The pushing is about to start by. Bye.
Laura Birek: Because it is an awfully intimate moment not just emotionally, but physically. Hopefully, she’ll understand, but I think you should go with your gut. If you think you don’t want her in there, don’t do it.
Shanna Micko: Keep us updated.
Laura Birek: Surround yourself with support. You know what? This actually is somewhat related to an audio question we have from Courtney. Should I play that?
Shanna Micko: Yeah.
Courtney: Hi, Shanna. Hi, Laura. Been listening since the beginning and I was pregnant right along with you guys, so that was a pretty fun adventure. I always love listening to the show every week and hearing all about your guys’ crazy adventures in parenting. I guess my burning question is how do you guys deal with boundaries? This is something that I am struggling with as a first time mom specifically with my mother-in-law. So I don’t know that could maybe be a two part question. All right. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks. Bye-bye.
Shanna Micko: Good question, Courtney. That can be a tricky one, because oftentimes once you have a baby, it’s almost like you’re opening your door to all the family members who want to be a part of that child’s life, right?
Laura Birek: Yeah, absolutely.
Shanna Micko: We’ve established that Laura’s a people pleaser. I am also for the most part a people pleaser and so it can be tricky and I give in a lot, but I will say my husband and I have had some experience with deciding that we need to be assertive when it comes to our child’s safety. So like when CeCe was born, we sent an email to the family as like, “If you want to come visit her, you need to have your flu vaccination and if you don’t, then you don’t get to hold her. You don’t get to come within six feet of her, basically,” and asking family members to keep their pets separate from our kids if they have a history of aggression and sometimes that could be really awkward, but I feel like you got to stand your ground, especially when it comes to your kids’ safety.
Laura Birek: Well, for me, it’s helped to sort of externalize it. I am a people pleaser. I find it extremely hard to disappoint other people when it comes to stuff that I want. But when I think about it, what I’m doing is I am trying to take care of my baby and he’s external from me. So what I’m doing is I’m people pleasing, but for the baby, right? I can sort of externalize it. It’s not me who doesn’t want your adorable dog to visit. It’s the fact that my baby needs to survive the afternoon, but I also sent out an email about vaccines. I was very strict about it and there were people who were like, “Blah, I don’t know if flu vaccines aren’t important.” I’m like, “Great. If they’re not important for you, that’s not a big deal. I’ll see you after my baby is out of the newborn phase.” It’s important for me to have those boundaries like we’re talking about, because I am drawing a line of safety around my baby.
There’s actually been a lot of discussion about this regarding naps. I don’t know if you’ve had a similar experience as this, but I’m pretty not regimented about exactly when my baby goes down for a nap, but I use wake windows and there have been times where, especially when my mom is visiting where she’s like, “He’s having fun. He’s not looking tired. He shouldn’t need to nap,” or the inverse of like, I wake him up if he’s napped for two hours, because Taking Cara Babies says to do that and it’s worked for us.
Laura Birek: My mom will be like, “He’s tired. Let him sleep longer.” I’m like, “What is it, mom? Let him sleep or not sleep.” Whatever it is. I’ve throwing my mom under the bus, but she allows me to because she knows I love her, but other people do that. Like why don’t you come out for another cup of coffee? He doesn’t need to nap yet or whatever it is. I’ve had to set those boundaries because the few times I’ve been like, well, maybe I could just go run this one more errand or I could go meet this person for a coffee even though it’s his nap time. It’s fuck me over.
Shanna Micko: It always ends in disaster and you regret it.
Laura Birek: It ends in him not sleeping well that night or him screaming his head off. That helps to see the cause and effect.
Shanna Micko: Yes, exactly. You see the repercussions of if you give in. One thing I will add is that if it’s not your own family and you need to deal with in-laws, I find that encouraging your partner to step up and have that conversation is incredibly important. Hopefully, your partner might be willing to do that on your behalf and step in and have some conversations, because it’s so much easier for your partner to talk to their mom. You haven’t lived your whole life with that woman. Your partner has. So there’s a level of comfort and ease of communication that might not be there with the in-law.
Laura Birek: Highly recommend that as well. But yeah, my tactics are externalizing it. Saying I’m supporting the baby not trying to be selfish that helps. I agree. Get that partner to talk to their parents.
Shanna Micko: Do it.
Laura Birek: Let’s take a quick break and when we come back, we’ve got more questions and answers for you.
Shanna Micko: Let’s do it.
Laura Birek: We are back. Shanna, hit us with the next question.
Shanna Micko: Our next question is from Kats Piavano. Hope I said that right. She says, “Hi. I was wondering if you had a conversation with your husbands about how you would approach parenting. Do you ever have big disagreements concerning parenting style? If so, how do you confront them and give in to certain aspects when you feel like you would do it differently?”
Laura Birek: That’s a very good question. I’ve definitely had conversations with Corey about how we’re approaching parenting. Did you guys? We never had like a moment where we’re like, okay, this is our philosophy.
Shanna Micko: Ooh, I don’t remember.
Laura Birek: I know it’s been a while for you. I will say like for me, I basically bought a couple RIE parenting books. That’s R-I-E parenting books, because you recommended them and then handed them to Corey. That was basically our big conversation about parenting style.
Shanna Micko: Kind of ours too, except I just gave him a verbal download because Steve, I love you, but you don’t read the parenting books.
Laura Birek: I think I summarized a bunch of it, but I think we knew that we both sort of wanted a more gentle approach and the way RIE models parenting for you it’s respectful. It treats them like they’re worthwhile human beings not just leeches that are attached to your side. But also I feel like it’s somewhat common sense. For me, it was very pretty common sense. If you approach it like they are human beings who deserve your respect, this is how you would treat them and so once I came into that sort of kernel of knowledge, it’s made sense to me and I mentioned it to Corey. I think we did have a moment where I was like, “I want to make sure that we don’t treat the baby with disrespect essentially,” and he was like, “Yeah, duh, of course.” Then we both read RIE books and it was kind of over.
Shanna Micko: No, that’s pretty much how we did it too. I will say it gets more challenging as the child ages.
Laura Birek: I was going to say we’re dealing with an infant so far.
Shanna Micko: Exactly. The RIE stuff I’ve noticed really is great for younger children. My older daughter’s approaching four now and I’m starting to feel like she’s aging out of the RIE stuff. Not that I’m want to stop treating her with respect, but a lot of the gentle redirection and stuff like that really works well for babies and young toddlers, but older children, I’m starting to realize need a little bit different type of discipline. So I think Steve and I are starting to figure out the waters on this one and we do kind of disagree sometimes I think, because I am willing to look into books like 1-2-3 Magic where you tell your kid that you’re going to count to three and if they don’t change their behavior by the time you get to three, they go take a timeout in their room and take a minute to calm down or whatever and he’s just straight up told me he doesn’t think that she should be having the type of consequence where there’s a timeout right now, because she’s still so impulsive and I’m like, well, yeah, that does kind of make sense and so I think we’re really good at talking about our disagreements on this kind of stuff and trying to come to a middle ground. Sometimes we do struggle though with Elle, because it does get a lot harder.
Laura Birek: When they start talking back to you, I imagine it gets infinitely more difficult. I feel kind of bad about this too, because I feel like Corey just looks to me as sort of the default decision maker on these things because I’m home with the baby all the time and I guess I could look at it as he trusts me, but I want him to be involved in it. But so far we haven’t really had any disagreements, because I’ll sort of be like, hey, this is how we’re doing. This is how we’re doing meal times. This is our stance on screen time or whatever and he is like, cool. Maybe it’s because I’m kind of easygoing on it too. I kind of want to go with the flow.
Shanna Micko: You don’t have any wild theories or anything that you’re following.
Laura Birek: No, I really don’t. I’m the mom who happily gives my baby bites of like cake if I have a cake or I just don’t have a strong opinion about specific discipline other than the respectful thing. By the way, I don’t spank. I don’t believe in spanking. I told Corey that and I think we did have a talk about that early in the pregnancy. I was like, I will never tolerate hitting my child. But thankfully, he was like, yeah. He was on board with that and I guess he could have not been, because I think he said he got spanked occasionally when he was a kid. That was my one hard and fast thing, but thankfully he agreed with it.
Shanna Micko: I think that was just an unstated thing with Steve and I. I don’t think we ever had that conversation. It was just kind of assumed. So there was a lot of just assumed agreement too I think going in, but we’d also been together a hell of a long time by the time we finally had kids.
Laura Birek: That’s true. I will say that’s a really helpful thing is to be with your partner for a hell of a long time before you have kids and then you don’t even have to have conversations. No, but it is a thing and I’m curious to see how it changes as the baby gets older too.
Shanna Micko: I’m sure you guys will be fine and work it out well. One last thing I wanted to add to this one is one of the best pieces of advice that I read right after I had my first baby was something like, let your partner take charge of things and do it differently. Let them ‘fail’ or do it wrong. So if you see your partner going to change the baby’s diaper and you wouldn’t wipe the butt so vigorously, I can’t think of anything, do something different or wrong the wrong time or give a bath a different way than you would. Learn to bite your tongue so that your partner can feel a sense of ownership in the process and I had to do that, because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I get in my ways and my routines with the baby, because kind of like you, I was with home with the baby and had more take charges of it all and so I’ve decided to step back, let him do his things and you learn to relax and they learn to take care of the baby and it’s good. I really enjoyed that piece of advice.
Laura Birek: As long as everyone’s safe, it doesn’t really matter whether there’s diaper cream on this one time. It helps to have the diaper on the right way, like front to back.
Shanna Micko: I suppose, yes. Thank you all so much for your questions. These have been so great. We do have more listener questions that we are dying to answer, and we are going to answer them in a second bonus episode, which will be out next week. So stay tuned.
Laura Birek: We do. But for now, we should just say thank you so much for listening to our bonus episode. If you have any questions for us, you can always hit us up at bigfatpositivepodcast.com or on the social medias, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at BFP Podcast. We also have a Facebook community group. Just search for Big Fat Positive community. It’s a closed group, but I will add you if you request to join. We also have an email address: [email protected].
Shanna Micko: Thanks for listening, everyone. Bye.
Laura Birek: Bye.