It is one thing to have to go through infertility, it is another thing to have to deal with people’s questions. But it is yet another hurdle when the people you have to deal with the most, are your in-laws. I mean, I can handle colleagues. I can mute them out, or give them the “mind your business” look, if I know their concern isn’t genuine. I can blank acquaintances out by simply not posting anything on BBM, Whatsapp, Facebook or Instagram. I can even tell friends that it’s not a good time to visit, when anyone wants to show up at an inappropriate time, like when I am still smarting from my red visitor’s unwanted appearance. But in -laws?? First off, you would be lucky if they call to inform you that they are visiting and then, Lord help you if you choose not to answer any of their “Why haven’t you given us a child?” questions.
One of my aunties that suffered infertility for over two decades, and is still trying to conceive, despite having finally adopting a child, was lucky with her in-laws. Her mother in-law was simply terrific! This woman was Secretary-General of the Christian Mothers’ Association in her local church, and at their weekly meetings, she ensured that everyone said a prayer for her daughter-in-law. She wasn’t as concerned about carrying grandchildren as she was about the peace of mind of her son’s wife. She booked Mass for the couple, gave them Psalms to read nightly, and even embarked on Novenas for them. She herself, had also not had children immediately she got married, so she knew what her daughter-in-law must have been going through, and she tried all she could to help. When they eventually adopted a boy, she took him under her wings and she still spoils him silly…just like a grandmother would.
On my part? My husband had lost both his parents before we met, so I never got to meet my parents in-law. His siblings are wonderful people and have been a constant blessing in my life. His aunts are another matter entirely. They seem to have carried on the responsibilities that my mother in-law left behind. The day of my wedding, just after dancing with my girlfriends, and throwing the bouquet, one of them walked to our seat and whispered in my ears “Now, shakara is over. You have to start building your family, inugo?” I nodded while smiling and trying to make sense of what she had just said. After my hubby gave the vote of thanks, another one came to me and said “You people should leave now, it’s better to make babies before it gets dark”. Till date, I am yet to understand what darkness has to do with making babies, but trust me, before they left, they all made a point to duty to inform me that they were expecting to hear my good news in nine months time. Some even demanded twins, citing how twins run in their family, while others had the guts to choose which sex they wanted first for their nephew. I was smiling through it all, with gritted teeth, and a voice in my head saying “ghen ghen, you don enter“.
The next TTC months that followed were accompanied with incessant calls from these in-laws; some wanting to know if I had started throwing up, others to give me tips on local herbs to buy and use, and the rest just simply to remind me not to be lazy about getting pregnant. When I couldnât take it anymore, I stopped answering their calls, and when they called the hubby to complain, he lied that my phone was faulty. You think that made them stop? Story! They would call at 7pm when they knew hubby was back from work and say “Give the phone to our wife” and before I would have time to dash out of the room, he would have placed the phone on my ear. And then, we would continue from where we stopped. When hubby realized that I was getting really pissed after our conversations, and almost always taking it out on him, he stepped in and begged everyone to leave his wife alone. Luckily, they respected his wishes for a while and by the time they resurrected and started bombarding us with calls again, I was well into my first trimester.
Relatives can put so much pressure on a woman TTC, that the stress from such pressure could impair whatever chances she has of taking in. However, most times, I believe these relatives are coming from a good place…they are only looking out for their own. Most likely, they sneezed and got pregnant, and do not realize that some of us have to go the extra mile to achieve pregnancy. Dealing with such nightmarish pressure takes a lot of maturity, and the sense to decipher what’s really important, and what’s not. I hope that we are able to get to a place where no one controls our happiness or dictates the way we live our lives or run our homes. I for one, would never have the mind to give any of my husband’s relatives a piece of my mind, out of respect for my husband; but I can easily take away the power they wield over my emotions. You cannot be trying to conceive in a society like ours, and not develop thick skin. The truth is, TTC or not, you need thick skin to survive, because tongue waggers abound.
Now, the pressure mounters have resurfaced in my business, telling me how their nephew needs a son; but everything they say or do bounces off me these days like the words of that popular song “Can’t touch this!”
God speed to us all!
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