In-laws holding a grudge after miscarriage
My husband and I found out we lost what would have been our second baby when I was 3 months pregnant last October. It was a really hard time for both of us, a massive shock, and the saddest thing we’ve experienced. I struggled to accept it and spoke to a counsellor/therapist to try and find a way that I could come to terms with had happened, and help me deal with my grief. Nothing helped, and months later I was still having really bad days. My sister In law who I was close to at the time knew what I was going through & seemed to be supportive...
5 months later in the February, while out on a walk, my brother and sister in law told my husband and I (by showing us a picture of a family of snowmen on his phone) that they were expecting another baby, this came as a surprise & hit me hard and I really struggled to hold back my emotions. My husband congratulated them, asked the due date etc, said we were really happy for them and said he didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable about their pregnancy or do anything differently because of what we had been through ourselves. I myself said congratulations and then walked on after my toddler who had ran ahead. We continued our walk which was a little tense at first but then we got chatting as normal and all was fine.
Over the next couple months, my sister in law and I met up with our toddlers (as we always had done) roughly once a week or every other week, I asked her a couple times how she was doing/how her pregnancy was (which was hard for me as this really wasn’t a conversation I found easy to talk about)
Come early April, I messaged her to meet up one day and she said ‘I have to be honest with you, we’d love to see you but it’s starting to bother me now that you show no interest in my baby/pregnancy and I feel uncomfortable as I’m starting to show and feel like I have to hide it’
I asked them both to come over so we could talk face to face as I was taken by surprise at this message. Later that day the 4 of us sat down and I asked her to explain her position - she said I hadn’t asked her at all about her pregnancy, to which I went over the conversations we had when I did ask her and she replied ‘you’ve only asked twice!’ In the 4-6 times I’d seen her. They both said no one in the family asks them about the pregnancy because of me and that ‘obviously’ everyone feels uncomfortable because of me (I asked family members if this was the case and they disagreed and basically said it’s the second baby... you don’t get the same attention as you did from the first which is what they were clearly expecting!) they said I don’t understand how much I’ve hurt them by my actions, that I should put my feelings to the back of my head and put her first when I’m with her, they thought I’d be over it by now (5 months post loss) and even went as far as saying they believe I wish their baby didn’t exist!! My husband and I immediately said this wasn’t the case and again, he said we are happy for them but they also need to understand how we’re feeling and how hard it still if for us both despite how much time has passed, it was also coming up to what would have been our babies due date so the timing was really bad to be having this discussion. It got a bit heated at one point and we didn’t seem to be going anywhere.. my BIL suggested we don’t see each other as she was too upset when she did see me. I said I would ask more and make the effort to show more interest going forward, to which they replied ‘you’re only doing that because you feel you have to’ how can I win!?
In the following weeks, I made countless attempts to meet up with my SIL so our kids could see each other, but she would make all the excuses as to why they were unavailable but then post stuff on social media with them at the park, seeing the the ducks etc, after telling me she was busy and then would say ‘oh it was last minute’ (we live 7 minutes from each-other) After a couple month of trying I confronted her and said I felt she was avoiding me and was there a problem? She said no, yet still didn’t make the effort for our kids to see each other. Neither of them really talk to me, they ignore anything I post in our group chat of our son and make it very obvious how they feel towards me. I’ve seen her 2 times (alone with our kids) this all happened and asked her a few things to show some interest and she was very short with her answers.
In June, we announced to our family we have a baby on the way, everyone was really happy for us, yet it took my SIL 2-3 days to message us and congratulate us, my brother in law didn’t even say congratulations and have not once acknowledged our baby on the way or asked us about the pregnancy.. that’s completely fine because I don’t need anyone’s attention to make me feel happy about being pregnant... but it’s absolutely hypocritical of the pair of them after the feud they’ve caused when we were going through a hard time.
It’s really sad because the 4 of us used to be really close and do a lot together, but they’ve made no effort to make amends over the situation that’s been caused, and it’s very awkward to be around them. I feel like they’re punishing me for how I dealt with losing a baby, something that you can’t really understand until you’ve gone through it yourself, and their behaviour just seems very childish and pathetic. I’m ready to cut them off completely but for the sake of my son and nephew I’d like to move forward with them..
Oh gosh I feel for you, it sounds you are in a no win situation so why even try. I cant believe how harsh they were only months after you losing a child, they are completely in the wrong. You have tried, really tried and you should be proud of yourself. Dont cut them off completely, they will turn that around on you as well by the sounds of them. Just enjoy your immediate family, its heart warming to hear your happy news, dont let anything spoil it.
Sounds to me like your in-laws (or at least SIL) had an idea of the role they wanted you to play in their pregnancy. You aren't fulfilling this role to their liking and now they're angry/disappointed with you. Grieving is a natural and complex process that is different for every person and situation...no one can tell you how to grieve and for how long. You were obviously affected emotionally by your loss (and still are), and it's not your fault that you couldn't be as enthusiastic as your SIL would have liked you to be.
From SIL's perspective, she could be kind of scared/overwhelmed about having a baby and is lashing out from a place of stress due to not having you in the capacity she wants you in. Either way, it sounds like you've done and are doing all you can do to reconcile things. Take the high road and keep offering them support...don't cut ties. They say "time heals all wounds," so let her pop out her baby and after some time passes, this could be water under the bridge.
For now just know that you're not in the wrong, at least IMO.
When my husband died, I found that people said the most comforting things - and the most stupid! But the silence was the most hurtful. I needed to understand that people feel very helpless at this time, and many feel that the grieving need to be left alone. It’s quite the opposite, isn’t it? Learn to forgive the ignorance. No one teaches us how to handle crises.
It seems feelings have been very raw between relatives for some time. The relationship will become more important as time goes by, so do all you can to rise above the past and focus on what’s good for the future. Invite them as many times as possible; help celebrate the pregnancy. This may or may not heal or come back to you, but you will be able to always say you took the higher road.
Peace to you and yours
Thank you all for your words & advise x