I've been reading some Miss Manners archives the past few days. I love her. I especially love when she gets indignant. Tee hee. This isn't so much indignance that's amusing me, but this letter and response made me chuckle out loud. As I found the column on MSN which provided no copyright or publication information, I have no idea how to properly provide a citation. So instead, I will simply tell you that I'm certain this is copyrighted by Miss Manners (Judith Martin), but I don't know when, and it's possible I'm breaking a law by posting this. Sigh.
Dear Miss Manners, My husband and I are due to have our first baby very soon. Over the months of my pregnancy, I have had to field some very sensitive questions from very well meaning friends and family members on whether or not they could be present for the birth.
First I was unsure if they meant actually in the labor and delivery room or just waiting patiently at the hospital in the waiting area. Once it was clarified that no one intended to be in the actual delivery room, I realized I still didn't know exactly how I felt on the matter.
I guess I feel the birth of your first child is something very special to be shared between the parents OR whomever you choose and ask to be present. I also feel it's a bit presumptuous for someone, even a relative, to assume they may attend.
Luckily, my dilemmas resolved themselves to everyone's satisfaction, but I have a friend whose mother-in-law recently flat out asked if she could be in the delivery room for the birth of their first child. She has yet to give her an answer. I think that was out of line. What are your feelings on this matter?
Gentle Reader, As Miss Manners recalls, there is historical precedent for the demand to witness childbirth. In cases where it was thought that a queen consort had failed to become pregnant and was faking childbirth so as to hold onto the succession with a baby not of the blood — a common if nasty rumor in times of yore — courtiers have insisted on being present.
If this is not the situation in your case or your friend's, you are entitled to privacy. And while you should not have to fend off volunteers, new mothers can always use practice in saying "no" to their relatives pleasantly but firmly.