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Infertility And Relationships | Conversations Between A Mother-In-Law And Her Infertile Bahu

Emotional Support, Infertility
Infertility And Relationships | Conversations Between A Mother-In-Law And Her Infertile Bahu

Infertility can be a testing time for  two relationships – husband and the mother-in-Law. Infertility and relationships impact each other heavily. If you face the problem of infertility then your relationships are sure to get affected and mostly for the worse. And, when your relationships touch their lowest ebb your chances of fertility diminish; a stressed mind is vulnerable to highly intrusive infertility treatments, especially IVF.

In our journey from being labeled infertile to the time we deliver a baby, several people walk with us along the way. Some we love to hate and some we hate to love. Some tag with us, some pile on and some are just there to add to the crowd. Of course, we can’t miss those good souls who hold our hands to comfort and soothe our pain. But we must remember that the pain is ours alone and the journey is shared with us by our husband, who at times may hold our hands or choose to be one among the crowd. Well…that depends totally on our luck and good karma.


Don’t hurt your daughter-in-law when she is vulnerable and already fighting another battle. Don’t make her fight two battles at one time – infertility and relationships. Your daughter-in-law needs you in this fertility journey.  Be her support! Atleast be a woman and empathize with other woman’s pain.


The relationship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law  is crucial and often reaches its climax during the extremely difficult journey called infertility. When we enter into a relationship with her by marrying her son, we move into her space with mixed feelings, of hope and expectations. Initially, things sail smoothly until the time when we are supposed to fill her house with the sounds of her grandchild. If we succeed in getting pregnant within the stipulated time (fixed by none other than the mighty patriarchal society) then we are saved and the boat continues to sail, though smoothness is not guaranteed. However, if we fail in our primary responsibilities of not giving the family a vaaris, doubts are cast and everything about us goes under the scanner; tagging, taunting and judgmental attitude begins.


Why Does Mother-in-law Behave In the Way She Does? What Are Her Weapons?

What are the weird things a mother-in-law does to make you feel incomplete?

I have heard women say that some in-laws use the verbal method—taunt, complain at the slightest chance to whoever visits the house, keep repeating that she’s going to leave this world without having a glimpse of the ghar ka chiraag. Some compare them with their own daughters who might already have children and make them feel inferior.

Some use the physical method–look at you with the corner of the eye every time you enter a temple or reach for the achaar (pickle) bottle, keep a tab on the visits to the doctor and so on.


“1st time when I went for IUI my husband took my MIL along.  While I was waiting in the lab and my husband went in to give his sample, my MIL said I will sit in the lobby you guys carry on. She came exactly after 5 mins to the lab and said to me, main koi aaya hoon jo tumhare saath aayi hoon“. Imagine what stress she gave me! Thereafter, we stopped telling my in-laws anything about any treatment. So pls keep her away from your pregnancy I swear”


-As recounted by Neha (Name changed)


On the other hand, there are mother-in-laws who are genuinely concerned, who leave no stone unturned to get their daughters-in-law to the best gynecologist in town, to take care and advise them and help them in every way in the most arduous journey that they tread upon.


The Blame Game

A women undergoing treatment to get pregnant is physically and mentally exhausted and the topic is so sensitive that even the smallest mention of it makes her feel miserable. A mother-in-law who is totally unaware of the complications and pain of infertility treatments (Remember…she boasts of being over-productive and popping out babies naturally) often is insensitive in her choice of words. The ever poking relatives, “Phir dadi kab ban rahi hoo” are not easy to handle either. They do play a big role in influencing her, causing mood-swings and she in return lets off the steam on the vulnerable daughter-in-law.

Society has kept MILs at such a high pedestal that nonchalantly they end up assuming the role of ghar ka don and take it upon themselves to become the catalyst in the ‘baby  producing process’ by pleading with God, gurujis and astrologers. Thus, a frustrating chain of activities begin for the bahu– keeping fasts, visiting religious places, behaving in a certain way. Seeds of tug-of-war between the MIL and DIL are thus laid and the blame game begins.


How Daughters-in-law Feel About The Non-Cooperating Mothers-in-law

When we asked some women about their opinion of the role that the mothers-in-law played, most of them had nothing positive to say about them. That’s a sad state of affairs. In India, infertility is supposed to be a woman’s issue.

“We decided to remain child-free and communicated it to our parents. However, it was the neighbours and relatives who would often put my mother in the hot seat and ask,


“Did you get your bahu checked. Is everything all right with her?” I was flabbergasted- why the bahu and, not the beta”


  —As told by a conscious husband

Male infertility does not even exist for the hypocrite Indian society. Period.

However, things are slowly changing and more and more men are coming out in the open to get themselves tested. But mothers (aka our MIL) find it hard to accept the fact that their dear son is going for a fertility test just because his wife is asking him to. That irks them more. Poor sons get caught in between the two warring factions and in fact suffer the most, almost always in private.


Manage Your Expectations as Daughters-In-Law

We, as women, we need to get this point very clear. We cannot expect too much from our in-laws. We cannot expect that they will treat us like their daughters. We want that to happen, but it will take time. And because, we occupy a space that was so far their bastion, they feel insecure. Moreover, their son is now in our control (at least they feel that way); this is something they can never digest. Not having a child means bringing a bad name to the family and they want to ensure that this does not happen. Yes….the procedures, treatment, medicines, IVF are all painful for us mentally and physically and we have to endure it. It definitely helps if we have a hand that supports and soothes us while we endure this and more. If you happen to find a mother-in-law who is supportive (and there are many), you have done some good karma in your past birth, if not then, blame your karma for that too.


“Well after my IVF failed, my MIL came to my room and told me….It’s over so NOW focus on household work”  – Nikita Says (Name changed)


It is this irrational and inhuman behavior of MIL that makes absolutely no sense and has has to be reprimanded. Especially coming from a woman, a mother herself MIL is expected to show some sensitivity, but alas that hardly happens.


Is the Daughter-in-law wrong in even expecting this basic sensitivity from her mother-in-law?


That’s the question which has no answer and saddens me.


I would suggest from my personal experience to ignore her and stick to your fertility treatment trying to minimize stress as much as possible. This is what most women who have been successful through infertility treatments vouch by.

If You Think Respite Will Come, Once Baby Is Here – You Are Wrong My Dear Bahu!

Oh yes, let me also tell you from my personal experience, that the phase doesn’t end with the birth of your baby. New varieties of insecurities, new methods to taunt will find their way to trouble you and now your baby too. So beware…and stay strong. All will be well. Eat the right foods that will keep you physically and mentally strong. Exercise to keep the negative vibrations away, read good books to freshen the mind, listen to good music to soothe the soul. Pray regularly and everything will work fine. Don’t stress too much. Vent your frustration if you want (to a friend/relative) to but never give up.


A Sincere Request To The Mother-In-Law Reading This

Don’t hurt your daughter-in-law when she is vulnerable and already fighting a huge battle. Don’t make her fight two battles at a time – infertility and relationships. Let her finish with the battle of infertility because the clock is ticking away. Once done, you have the whole life to nudge, poke and criticize her. Trust me; your daughter-in-law needs you in this fertility journey. She might not say so. But her heart is craving for an understanding MIL. Give her that and see how she will respect and love forever, whereas you as an octogenarian will nag and criticize her. Be her support! Atleast be a woman and empathize with another woman’s pain.


Disclaimer: There are good MILs too, though a rare species but they do exist. We salute such MILs who have overcome their personal fears, anxieties and insecurities, and stood in front of their bahus like an iron shield protecting her from the insensitive society.

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