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Reader with RA who lost her job now has a daughter at home about to have a baby

Madame Meniscus on creating a more peaceful world for baby to enter

Madame Meniscus,

I read all the time how stress makes my rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia worse but how can one not have so much stress when they are worrying about paying the mortgage because they lost a job and a daughter is living with me who is having a baby. And I know she's going to want me to help care for the baby so she can go out and I just can't. I'm in too much pain.

--NervousBreakdown

Oh my dear Nervous Breakdown you have already demonstrated wisdom. Yes, indeed, it is said that stress can make everything worse and you realize that you have your limits. That is a very good thing, and Ms. Meniscus will illustrate how you’ve already answered part of the question at hand.

First there are some serious considerations. Will the father assume some responsibility? We are talking financially and emotionally, not only for the care of the child, but for the mother as well. If so, the couple must work out how this baby will be supported, who will be earning income, and who will be care-taking around the clock, because it can’t be you.

If nothing of the sort is forthcoming (we shall hope otherwise) then you must sit your daughter down and talk it out. Even if you have never done so before, there is no better set of circumstances and no sooner moment than now. The care of a newborn is not something that you, in all fairness, can or should be expected to handle, and you must confront this reality with action, as contradictory as that may sound. You must do this calmly and with as much kindness you can muster (even if you are angry). In all probability your daughter is worried as well.

Some of us have children (grown and otherwise) who expect our help no matter our condition. To their oblivion, we could be sprawled upon the floor while they ask: what’s for dinner? And there we are, face down wondering what’s wrong with this picture. That’s because of what we’ve conditioned them to expect. We’re too good, too helpful, too reliable for their own good. Now is the time to interrupt this pattern and Madame Meniscus cannot emphasize how important this is.

In no time your daughter will be summoned by the cries of her baby. She will be doing the feeding, burping, changing and bathing. She will be tired, but she will be the mother.

You are going to be a Grandmother and it is your choice to decide when/how to help. Your daughter must understand that childcare is not a given.  And to leave her baby and her mother in order to “go out,” sounds rather suspicious to Madame.  Is she going to work? To school?” To socialize?” Madame Meniscus is assuming that your daughter is over the age of 17. Anything younger and we have a different set of issues.

My dear Nervous you must begin re-training as soon as possible.  If you’ve ever traveled by plane you know the emergency rules:  put your mask on first, help others second. Your mask is on and you’re breathing. Now you must teach your daughter with baby steps. Today. Perhaps ask her to food shop, cook or do the laundry. You’re teaching her to take on more responsibility because very few jobs are more exhausting than the care of a newborn. You may be surprised that she rises to the challenge.

Use caution with this technique. Ask nicely and explain the importance of being prepared and keeping up with household duties because time will be very short once the baby arrives. Try not to think only of problems, bills and demands. Having a baby in the home will bring much joy along with the challenges.

Lest you think Madame Meniscus is a curmudgeon, allow her to express her congratulations and may you laugh and delight in the new life coming forth. Help your daughter prepare for the arrival and there will be less anxiety to go around.

Lastly read about meditation. Studies have shown that cultivating calm reduces stress. It is a discipline and well worth it.  By working together, you and your daughter are creating a more peaceful world for baby to enter. 

Madame Meniscus wishes you bundles of joy.

-- Madame

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