Announcing your pregnancy is a big deal, so you deserve only the most supportive, thoughtful responses that celebrate you and this major life decision. This is especially true when it comes to the way your in-laws react to the news, because those relationships can be complex without a pregnancy thrown into the mix. In other words, there are things only the best mother-in-laws will say when they find out their daughter-in-law is pregnant, and it's worth it to make sure your mother-in-law throws a few of these celebratory sentiments your way. Because trust me when I say a supportive response will be pivotal in making sure your relationship with your in-laws is a positive one, especially after you become a mother.
The relationship I had with some of my in-laws during my first pregnancy wasn't exactly what I envisioned or hoped to experience. Because my pregnancy was unexpected, at a time my partner and I weren't totally ready for a baby, there were times when I needed to hear some loving sentiments from members of my partner's family and came up empty. I wanted to feel accepted, and ultimately, considered part of the family. I figured being pregnant with my partner's child would help them accept me fully. Yeah, I was wrong.
Years later, when I announced my pregnancy with our second baby, my in-laws' reaction to the news was more of a mixed bag. Where everyone was generally enthusiastic, I hoped for a little more pizazz after I had experienced miscarriages and waded my way through infertility issues. I was hoping for more words of comfort, and celebratory statements, but at least the overall feeling wasn't negative. So between my two experiences I've thought a lot about what a pregnant woman needs to hear from a supportive mother-in-law, and I think the following is definitely a good start:
Probably every expecting mom would love to hear a celebratory "congratulations," after she announces she's pregnant, but what would make it even better is if your mother-in-law would add just how delighted she is to welcome a grandchild into the world, too. To know that you have someone who is almost as happy about your future baby as you are is a pretty wonderful thing.
I was terrified of becoming a mother because it's not something that felt inherently natural. While I've always been empathetic and compassionate towards animals, and knew I wanted children someday, when I was indeed pregnant all I could think about was my inevitable failure. My mom was supportive from the very beginning, but it'd have alleviated a lot of pre-new-mom fears if my mother-in-law had said the same.
Pregnancy is extremely overwhelming at times, and especially if you already have a child, or multiple children, to care for while you're growing a human inside your body When anyone asks how they can be of service, it's music to my ears, but hearing it from the mother-in-law makes it so much sweeter.
From the very beginning of my marriage, I've hoped for a strong relationship with my in-laws. I want them to like — no, love — me. I want them to celebrate my successes and weep for my failures, just as they do for my partner. To hear I've made a place within the family, and that I'm loved and appreciated, would've meant the world.
Yes, you're in a relationship with your partner, and not his or her family, but their family usually follows and before you know it you're facing a "package deal" type scenario. You can't love your partner without spending time with, listening to, speaking with, interacting with, and becoming invested in their family.
So it would be great if your partner's family could acknowledge that not only are you an additional family member, but you're one that's only made the extended family unit better. That you are taking care of the child they cared for (in different ways, of course) and they appreciate you giving their child a baby and making them a grandmother. After all, pregnancy is work.
Maybe I'm reaching, because my mother-in-law definitely didn't tell me she loved me after I announced my pregnancy, but I say it's worth it to set some goals.
It's pretty easy to say you'll be there to support a woman going through pregnancy. But who's really there? Who shows up to prepare freezer meals, and shop for baby things, and maybe even accompany you to doctor appointments? If it's your mother-in-law, you've got it made.
The mother-in-law is likely the hardest in-law to win over, so if you don't hear any of the above, it doesn't mean something's wrong with you. It just means she's probably not ready to let her baby go. And now that you're about to embark on your own parenting journey, someday, maybe, you'll understand.
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