Adventures in making and raising our test-tube babies

Monday, December 8, 2008

How to Be Pregnant When your SIL Wishes You Weren't

Someone named Anonymous commented on my "How to Tell your Infertile Friends You're Pregnant" posting tonight. She broke the news to her infertile sister-in-law (SIL) that she's pregnant, but her SIL won't acknowledge the pregnancy. She wonders what she should do now.

Here is my one-person's opinion on the matter:

1) You've got a tough situation there. It sucks on every side: sucks to be the infertile SIL, sucks to be the fertile SIL. No matter what happens, there is no perfect solution, and no one will come out of this perfectly happy.

2) You are luckier than she is because you get a baby and an awkward family situation, and she just gets an awkward family situation. You can keep your irritated hat on (hey, our feelings are what they are), as long as you put your compassionate hat on top of it.

3) If I were the one pretending my sister-in-law weren't pregnant, it would be because I thought I would start to cry the second I acknowledged she was. Your SIL might think it's better to say nothing than to act sad or mad. It's kind of an extension of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all": "if you can't say anything without crying, shut your trap."

Or her silence might be a sign that she's in denial about the situation. If she doesn't acknowledge the pregnancy to you, she doesn't have to acknowledge it to herself. As my therapist has told me, sometimes denial comes in handy.

No matter what, I am a firm believer in getting things out in the open, though, so since she's not likely to take the lead, I think it's up to you. The next time you see her, take her aside and tell her how much you care about her, and how much you hate that you're both in this situation. Ask her what she's feeling, and what you can do to make it easier on her. If you don't think this would go over well in person, write her a letter to that effect... on real paper with a real envelope (it will seem more thoughtful than email).

Once you get the communication flowing, if you can, take your cue from her as to how much she wants to be around you or talk about pregnancy and infertility.

Short of that, I'm not sure what else to tell you. So I'll open it up to my girls.

Ye women of this hard-knocks community, what advice do you have for Anonymous?


DAVs said...

Wow, all the infertiles are really quiet on this one. So I'll give my 0.02.
I actually don't think anonymous should just bring it up the next time she sees her SIL. There is not much worse than being forced to talk about pregnant/pain when you're not ready. I've said this many times that for me, on this journey, sometimes things hurt so very very badly and it may be irrational, but I just have to get through it. Usually, after some time, I do get through it. But I think for now, anonymous should sit tight, I'm imagining her SIL will adjust to the news and be able to talk to her, but on her own terms.
Again, this is just my sad little opinion...

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

Writing from the fertile standpoint, I think you need to give your SIL space. Lots of it. Especially around the holidays. I highly suggest reading some of the IF blogs. Go back and read through the old posts. Follow just one through to where they are today. It really opens your eyes to how IF affects every facet of your life. The pain, the questions, the protocols, the time, the money, the angst, everything. Talk to her about what you used to talk to her about before the pregnancy- keep working on your relationship. Be gentle with her and downplay (notice I didn't say avoid) your pregnancy when you're around her. She knows and she will come around with time on her terms. Treat her the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Kay Bailey said...

DAVs and NYABea, this is really good advice. I still think I might try to dispell the elephant in the room, but you have really good points about NOT bringing it up. Now I'm not so sure...

Thanks for opining!

Laughing4Heir said...

I agree with the other commenters: let the SIL lead and don't talk about your pregnancy to her, much. Hopefully, she'll come around. I'm sure it's hard not to take personally, but believe you-me it's hard for your SIL not to feel devastated that someone in her own family is able to produce a baby when she can't.

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