DEAR ABBY: My long-term boyfriend, "Clayton," and I recently found out that we're pregnant. Although it wasn't planned, we're both thrilled to be new parents. We're doing everything within our power to have the healthiest baby possible.
Because we're on a tight budget, Clayton's mother has volunteered to provide day-care services once our child is born and I return to work. She and I have never gotten along well, and we haven't spoken to each other in more than 18 months. She was also recently diagnosed with a terminal disease that makes it impossible for her to drive long distances, lift heavy objects, or return to her job as a legal secretary. On top of that, she's a heavy smoker, an alcoholic, and is on a whole cocktail of medications for her disease, depression, blood pressure, etc.
I don't feel comfortable with the idea of leaving my baby with her eight hours a day, five days a week, but every time I try to tell Clayton I would prefer to pay for day-care services, he tells me I'm "stupid" for wanting to pay money when his mother is offering to baby-sit for free. How can I explain my feelings to him without being ridiculed for being an overly cautious first-time mother? -- WORRIED MOM-TO-BE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR WORRIED: From where I sit, your concerns seem very much rooted in reality. What I'm having trouble understanding is why your boyfriend, whom you say is committed to doing everything in his power to assure that you have a healthy baby, would drop the ball when it comes to ensuring that he or she is well-cared-for after birth.
Leaving the baby with a woman who "hasn't spoken to you in 18 months," who is so ill she cannot work, who smokes, abuses alcohol, and is on a "whole cocktail" of medications that could be harmful if mixed with alcohol seems more like a recipe for disaster than a "freebie" to me. In fact, leaving the baby with her could be considered child endangerment. Please, for the sake of your baby, stand your ground.