Marriage is full of unique battles, specifically when discovering you're pregnant. My partner and I had only been together a little over a year when I became pregnant with our first child (and we were young) so we hadn't really talked about or planned on getting married just yet. With our second, five years later, we had married and moved closer to my partner's family in hopes we'd have a bit of help with both children. In a short time, I realized some important things that every pregnant woman needs her in-laws to know, because it's important for the sake of all relationships involved.
When we moved to be closer to my partner's family, maybe our expectations were too high. Being from a state over, my family is scattered throughout and reachable after a one or two hour drive. We had the opportunity to move closer to his family, so we did. Knowing we'd have people surrounding us, both his mom and dad, for the first time in our relationship was pretty exciting. Our daughter was just 3 years old at the time, so obviously we hoped she'd get to spend more time with those she loved and for awhile. In other words: success.
Once I discovered I was pregnant with our youngest (our son), we'd gone through a hell of a lot. Two miscarriages, severe postpartum depression, relationship and financial struggles, and our time being near his family seemed to be less-than-stellar. Even as I endured an excruciating pregnancy with my family so far away, the move became a lonely decision as we ended up not spending that much time with my partner's family at all, forcing us to question if it was the right thing to do.
I still think back on those days of pregnancy, when my amniotic fluid was dangerously low. I was put on bedrest and really sick but only had help, mostly, if we reached out first. Aside from all of that, we began to see and realize things that sometimes accompany marrying into someone else's family — and being pregnant on top of it. It was a lot and, honestly, sent me into a deeper depression than before. With that being said, here are some of the things every pregnant woman needs her in-laws to know because the truth is, life is too short.
"I Want You To Visit"
Pregnancy is challenging, and even more so when you're labeled "high risk" like I was. At the time, my husband worked long hours and I had a 4-year-old to care for (including toting her back and forth to preschool every day). My days included, but weren't limited to: working from home, cleaning, cooking, and all the typical "adult" responsibilities. It was exhausting and, coincidentally, a time when I had very little help.
I could only assume my in-laws didn't want to be in the way or intervene when they thought they should because, when we called and reached out first, they were usually receptive. Still, when I'm already going through so much, it would've been cool if my new family volunteered more. With any of it.
"I Need You To Respect My Choices"
Yes, we had out first baby before marriage and there's probably a whole list of things my in-laws didn't (don't) approve of. Now that my partner and I have been together almost 13 years and we're two kids into the game, we could use the support just as we could've used it then. When I was pregnant and my hormones raged, I never felt like I was doing anything right. It would've been a fantastic opportunity for any of my in-laws to tell me otherwise, so that I didn't label myself such a failure.
"I Need You To Maintain Boundaries"
Alongside respecting our choices comes maintaining our boundaries. Pregnancy, to me, meant needing more help than usual but not always getting it and likewise, when helping out, not stepping on all the things I've worked so hard on (or passive-aggressively insulting me on top if it).
On the other hand, long before my kids, we struggled to make boundaries clear with family. Differences in opinion are OK but not when they're degrading, offensive, or disrespectful to one or both of us.
"I Need You To Remember That Your Own Kid Still Needs You, Too"
The confusion lies in the belief our marriage means my husband no longer needs attention from his parents. Wrong! Being an only child, he's always craved to be the center of their world but would never, ever ask for it. My pregnancy made this need more prominent, because I could see him unraveling as we tried to deal with being parents.
This, along with my health issues and all of life's other stresses, meant he needed an outlet; he needed his parents and it would've been with my blessing.
"I Need You To Remember That I'm Not Who You Think I Am"
A long time ago, when my partner and I first met, assumptions were made about me (that were incorrect, for the record). These early first impressions skewed opinions of some and I, honestly, hate that. Once it bled over into pregnancies — and I could feel the judgements — it hurt that much more.
If my in-laws would've taken the time to know me, they'd see why I do the things I do; and what my hopes and dreams are and just, you know, who I am. Being so far from my own family and a divide amongst my partner's means it's a damn lonely place.
"We Want You In Our Lives"
I've always wanted in-laws in our lives. Always. There's no time more than during pregnancy. When I'm scared and uncomfortable, lonely and doing my very best to care for our oldest daughter, please be part of our lives. And don't make us beg for it. Please.
"I Need You To Know I'm Doing The Best I Can"
When I was pregnant, I made a lot of mistakes. Maybe I wasn't the best wife or mother to our daughter all the time, but I did the best I could (and still do, for what it's worth). None of this is easy and we long for close relationships — especially for the sake of our kids — but I wish everyone would give me the benefit of the doubt. I'm only human but will never, ever stop trying to be better.
Navigating relationships with in-laws can be tricky. There's unspoken rules in dealing with just about everything and it's a lifelong journey. While pregnancy captured the most difficult times of my life, it's how things are handled in the days and weeks (even years) of being completely depleted that matter most. If my family can't be here, I hope my in-laws will be.