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Mum’s the Word


a blog by liz, February 8, 2010

I’m not embarrassed about having difficulty conceiving. It’s one of those things I had as little control over as my natural hair colour (that problem, with a little color, is a lot easier solved than my genetic inability to conceive).

The majority of my friends and immediate family know what’s going on. In fact, one of the reasons I started my blog is so my friends can keep up to date with what is happening in my life whilst ensuring that they don’t ask the wrong question at the wrong time and reduce me to a blubbering wreck.

There are people in my life who don’t know.

My work colleagues, for example. The last thing I want is them assuming I’m concentrating on going on maternity leave rather than the job at hand (although I have told my boss -- I wanted him to know my random half-day holidays are for doctors appointments not interviews).

And my in-laws don’t know, but not for the reasons you might imagine.

I adore my in-laws. They are funny, easy-going, unjudgemental people and would absolutely love a grandchild. But we haven’t told them what is going on with us because . . . we don’t know how.

They live at the across the U.K. from us (I know you Americans think nothing of a seven hour cross-country journey but, for me, it requires a degree of planning and time off that is only feasible once or twice a year). So we see them very infrequently. The husband talks to them on the phone weekly and at great length but when we tell them about our struggles to conceive I want to do it in person, when we are both there.

Last time we saw them, at Christmas, I was determined to sit them down and explain why, to date, we had failed to produce their first grandchild.

And that was the problem. Every time I played out the conversation in my head I saw something along the lines of:

    “We have something to tell you …”

    Look up, their eyes bright and gleaming with excitement, they have been waiting for this announcement for years.

No, ok rethink.

    “I’ve been going to the doctor’s recently.”

    Worry, concern, try to reassure them.
    “No, no, it’s nothing serious …”

    Although, of course to us, even though my health isn’t at risk, is it serious.

Try again.

    “I don’t know if you have been wondering why we haven’t had a child yet”

    Nope, that sounds like we are about to announce a divorce.

At the end of the day, I know that this procrastination is simply that. We could tell them, we could just ring them up one night and explain everything. But I just don’t want to disappoint them. The husband’s brother doesn’t look like he is likely to be a dad any time soon, so their hopes are focused on us.

And it is a shame I haven’t got round to it really, because they are very into new age treatments so there is a whole seam of rich blogging fodder lying unexcavated as they would no doubt start sending crystals, Feng Shui advice and the coordinates of lay lines we should be having marital relations on.

What should I do?

Have you told your parents / in laws what is going on with you? And if not, why not?

Comments (3)

By not telling your in-laws you might be taking away an avenue of support. Your husband could tell them on the phone which would not mar your next visit with them. Something like "We would really like to have children ..." OR "we've been trying to start a family ..."

Hi Anonymous,

I totally understand where you are coming from. I made the mistake of telling my Dad that we were due to find out if our last IUI worked on Christmas day (it didn't) but it meant that I was dreading having to call up and tell him the news. Although as it happens I got my period a couple of days early so let him know before he had a chance to call up and ask me.

And, about your MIL thinking both her daughter in law's are knackered, as you say. You are unexplained and just as it takes two to make a baby it also take two to make an unexplained diagnosis.

Best of luck with the IVF.


My mum and my husband's mum both know about my TTC struggles. I am close to my mum and have cried on her more times than I could mention. My MIL knows but we don't talk about it much as I am lucky that she lives in another country and when she calls she mostly just speaks to my husband. He is very open with her but I find it irritates me a bit because I feel that although we 'only' have unexplained infertility, it is me who is failing. We are about to start IVF and I have given strict instructions that he not tell her exactly when it is happening. I insist on theis because I can't bear the 'any news' phonecalls. I feel like I am letting her and my mum down. The sad thing is that my Sister-in-law (MIL's other Daughter-in-law) has been trying for children for 8 years with no success. It must seem to my MIL that her sons have all married knackered women.

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