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PIL lost a child and won't really acknowledge my pregnancy...

(24 Posts)
hobbjobb Sat 29-Mar-14 13:48:53

I hope this is not too upsetting for people

I'm 32 weeks pregnant with our first child.

My PIL are lovely, we get on really well and I am thankful my child will have such great grandparents. I have minicam contact with my parents who live far away so will have little contact with my child.

PIL's first child had spina bifida and died shortly after birth. IT WAS 40 odd years ago so no scans and they did not know anything was wrong until the baby was born. I can't imagine how awful that must have been. They talk about it sometimes and still get upset, I'm sure it all but destroyed them.
They went on to have my DP and DP's sister with not problems.

Understandably, they are cautious about my pregnancy, this will be their first grandchild. I am having regular check ups and scans and everything looks healthy, there's no reason to think that anything is wrong.
I know this is not a guarantee, but my opinion is that is something is wrong, overly worrying about it won't help or stop something from happening, if something is going to happen then it will even if we buy baby stuff or prepare the birth.
I want to enjoy my pregnancy and feel excited but I feel like I can't around them

They told us we were wrong to buy stuff for the baby (we waited until after 20 week scan) and MIL told my DP that he should take all the stuff we had bought to their house to store until it is born 'just in case'

They haven't bought anything for the baby, yet seem to get upset when others do, eg they said they would have liked to buy us the pram but I wasn't willing to wait until after baby is born to buy one, so we just went ahead and got one, same with Moses basket and crib. They don't seem to understand that we will need some stuff as soon as the baby arrives.

It's like its an elephant in the room not to be discussed and I feel sad that they won't get excited about the birth of their first grandchild

To top it all off, they called DP today saying they are planning to go on holiday bang smack over my due date. I just don't understand why they would do this? I have gestational diabetes so will be induced at 40 weeks so we have a bit more certainty as to when it will arrive, and they said they will be going away for the two weeks around this date.
DP went mad. He said to them that if something does go wrong then he will need them more than ever. They've now said they won't go.

Is there anything I can do to help the situation? I'm feeling quite upset about it

hobbjobb Sat 29-Mar-14 13:49:31

minimum, not minicam!

RhondaJean Sat 29-Mar-14 13:54:04

Oh dear.

I can see you a obviously very excited about your baby as you should be. Congratulations. I can see you are hurt as well and I think it's because you feel they are rejecting your baby?

I feel really sorry for your in laws. I am fortunate that I have never lost a child but my mother had two miscarriages before I was born, I am 37 and I know she has never forgotten those babies. I imagine they must be absolutely petrified after what happened to them.

It honestly sounds like they do really want to be involved but are scared to be and they are hurting again. I know it was 40 years ago but I don't think you can ever get over something like that.

Can you cut them some slack and see how they are when the baby is here and everything is fine? Is there some large item you wouldn't need immediately that you could maybe ask them if they would like to buy after the baby is here?

It sounds like everyone loves this baby and is really keen for it be here and be safe but their pain is just too much for them to really get involved at this point.

ScarletStar Sat 29-Mar-14 13:57:25

Hmm. I can see both sides, but definitely you should be allowed to get excited about your pregnancy. I think you have a healthy attitude towards any potential problems too. But on the other hand, I think they should be able to go on holiday whenever they like and it's ok for them to be nervous for you. What a tricky situation, but I bet it will be totally resolved once baby is here. I would keep quiet myself and just keep doing what you're doing.

PacificDogwood Sat 29-Mar-14 13:57:40

Congratulations on your pregnancy smile.

No, I don't think that there is anything you can actively do in this situation other than to consider your response to their behaviour - you cannot change their behaviour, only yours.
Their emotions and how they handle your pregnancy are as valid as yours in response to their advice about buying baby stuff etc. I don't think that anybody who has not lost a child has the first inkling what it does to people and how long that kind of a loss lasts (IMO a lifetime). Your PiL are not alone in the don't-buy-anything-for-unborn-child stakes; I think it's more a generational thing? I consider it a superstition along the lines of 'it's unlucky to see the bride in her dress before the wedding' or similar.

Even the holiday booking around your due date may have been a self-protective thing to be away in case anything is not right. Or to allow you some space for a 'baby moon'? Some people are overwhelmed with overbearing family… wink

meditrina Sat 29-Mar-14 14:01:55

There is no time limit on grief.

Those whose baby has died at around the time of birth may never be able to see it as joyous or an optimistic time ever again.

Cut them a lot of slack.

How they deal with grief triggers now is likely to be wholly unrelated to how they are with a grandchild once s/he is actually here.

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Mar-14 14:07:11

I'm not sure there is anything you can do to change their behaviour, they have had an awful experience and aren't allowing themselves to get too excited/involved in case it happens again.

My first DC was poorly and in hospital for a week after his birth. It was potentially dangerous but he was fine and has been fine since. Even so, I think it really affected my pregnancy with DC2. I didn't get excited, didn't make many plans, I didn't even pack my hospital bag until I was due to go in for an ELCS, and I bought a few babygros at the last minute. Even when the baby arrived, I felt constantly on edge, waiting for things to go wrong again. And my first baby was fine.

I think you just have to be kind and understanding. They are protecting themselves, completely understandably. They have been through hell.

Things will get better once the baby is here.

hobbjobb Sat 29-Mar-14 14:07:38

Thank you so much for the responses. I will have a read

Wheresmysocks Sat 29-Mar-14 14:09:56

My mother lost her 1st dd due to contracting Rubella in pregnancy. My sister would be 45 now. My mother never got over losing her.

I totally understand your point of view. I also understand your PIL.

My oldest dc Is nearly 25. Views on pregnancy have changed massively since I had ds. 40 years ago it was even more different. Your PIL probably find your pregnancy scary. My mother drove me mad whilst I was pregnant. I would have to keep my distance as i found her so depressing.

I know it's hard but pregnancy is a relatively short space of time...just get through it as easily as possible.

Take care.

shakinstevenslovechild Sat 29-Mar-14 14:10:41

Congratulations on your pregnancy thanks

I can fully understand where your PIL are coming from.

My son died 16 years ago, since then I have had 4 children and because of what happened I almost detached from my later pregnancies, I didn't want to get too involved emotionally (I realise it sounds ridiculous) because it was so painful for me.

This didn't have any bearing on how much I love my children at all, I adored them from the minute I laid eyes on them.

I really don't know what I will do, or how it will be for me when my babies start having babies.

Please try not to be upset about it, the pain of losing a child never goes away, and people react in all different ways, just let them do what they need to do, and you carry on with what you are doing.

SauvignonBlanche Sat 29-Mar-14 14:12:03

There is no time limit on something as traumatic as losing a child. I can understand all their actions apart from booking the holiday.

MrsSteptoe Sat 29-Mar-14 14:21:16

As others have said, you never really get over the death of a child. My mother went to her grave at the age of 80 never, ever having recovered from the grief of having looked after her profoundly disabled son and gone to every length to ensure that he was as happy as possible until he finally died at just 9 months old. At the time, she was told not to feed him too much or care for him too well so that he would essentially die sooner. She told them to sod off and gave it her all, but my point is that you can't, you just can't, judge the actions of someone who's been through that type of experience by "normal" standards, IYSWIM.

Hope this thread helps you to feel less disappointed, OP - I really feel for you!

chattychattyboomba Sat 29-Mar-14 14:34:37

My in laws lost 2 babies. One to spina bifida at only a few months old, the other to pneumonia due to hospital neglect at only a few days old (they left her outside and forgot her) this was in the 70's.
They had 3 other healthy children including my adored DH. But it never ever stopped affecting them.
They now have 8 grandchildren and I do see the impact these losses had on them through how they deal with pregnancy/health related issues.
They are incredibly strong to have come through the other side of such grief. It's understandable there would be side effects so I try my best to make allowances for certain behaviour and comments surrounding my pregnancy and Dd.

On another note- do you really want anyone around for the first couple of weeks when baby arrives? I wanted that time for ourselves to settle in as a family- but I understand your DH wanting some emotional support if needed. You might be different but I really value space!

Congrats on the pregnancy. Hope you feel better after reading some of these.

HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs Sat 29-Mar-14 14:42:46

It sounds like they are in a state of panic and are struggling to cope. They are not really able to support you at the moment, which is of course very sad for both of you.
I'm sure things will improve once baby has arrived. Congratulations in advance smile

hobbjobb Sat 29-Mar-14 17:57:08

Thanks for all the input. I am just going to keep being patient and eagerly await the new arrival. I absolutely know they will be fantastic grandparents so just have to get through the next few weeks.

Sorry to all those who have lost a child, my heart aches for you xx

squizita Sat 29-Mar-14 21:34:12


All I can say is I think they will be overjoyed and full of love once baby is here.

I have had recurrent miscarriage and to some extent can relate to their thought process. I felt physically sick booking my ante-natal classes in case I 'jinxed' anything, and my sister had to force me to buy maternity trousers now I'm busting out of my jeans. I can't bear the thought of returning things un used should anything go wrong.
For me, I passed the date of previous losses and it slightly eased- but losing a child at birth, that fear would never go away until the child is there.

I wonder if the holiday thing is cause they worry they'll cry/freak out and don't want to ruin your precious day?

MrsWombat Sun 30-Mar-14 08:13:45

High chair, buggy, cot, toddler bed are all big ticket items for when your baby is older.

I think you are right to be patient with them.

Treaclepot Sun 30-Mar-14 08:24:45

I think they a trying to do you and themselves a favour by not being here.
It seems like they can't handle it and by being far away maybe hope to reduce their impact on what shiuld be a happy time.

My grandmother had a still birth, and then gave birth two weeks after her husband died.

She couldnt hold my sisters newborn, and that was 58 years later. The pain never goes. Also there was no grief counselling and they were told to get on with it.

For any grandparents it can be a difficult time anyway as though very exciting it is very nerve wracking.

notaflamingclue Sun 30-Mar-14 09:48:18

You have had some excellent advice here, which I am absolutely unqualified to add to. I just wanted to say that I think you're dealing with it really well by focusing on how they will be when your baby is here. I can't begin to imagine how scared and sad they must be feeling - which, combined with the happy knowledge that their grandchild will soon be here, must be such a confusing situation for them.
In your shoes I would try to let them do what they want, I think - holiday included. Easier said than done, of course, but these things often are.
I hope you enjoy the rest of your pregnancy thanks

ruth1104 Sun 30-Mar-14 12:03:10

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Lots of good and more experienced advice on here. I only want to add that I know of lots of people, especially older people who would only be buying the bare minimum for their baby until it arrived, (or leave things at someone else's house until very late in pregnancy) partly as others said, superstition, and partly fear of what your pil have gone through. I wouldn't take that bit personally. You obviously all care a lot about each other and I'm sure you'll figure it out.

quietlysuggests Sun 30-Mar-14 20:46:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

squizita Sun 30-Mar-14 21:05:09

Quietly yes but I really don't think this is just cultural, being in the middle of a (much smaller) version of this myself right now. I have to be careful not to upset others even though I am pregnant myself with my doom-and-gloom outlook and feel physically sick doing anything future related (imagining immediately seeing/returning it if something went wrong) so if I were them, I can see why staying away happens.

MrsTittleMouse Sun 30-Mar-14 21:18:52

I have never lost a child, but I've experienced sudden grief. The trouble is that not only do you ever really heal from a loss, but also that you lose your "bubble". I only realised that most people cope with life by going around convincing themselves that bad stuff happens to "other people" when I couldn't do it any more. Because suddenly I was one of those "other people".

I can't really believe that my children will survive to adulthood. I hope beyond hope that they will, but I don't have that faith that it will definitely happen. DH has that faith.

I also agree that the holiday might be because they are worried about contaminating your precious time with their anxiety or grief. There have been times when I have avoided funerals, because I would have been very upset and didn't want it to be all about me, when there were plenty of people closer to the deceased.

MrsTittleMouse Sun 30-Mar-14 21:19:29

never really heal, obviously

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