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Sister in law ignoring pregnancy and being even more strange than normal!

(155 Posts)
creamcarpet Mon 07-Oct-13 10:37:19

My DP's sister has always been cold and emotionally vacant (not the closest family but generally like each other's company). We have been together many years but I don't feel any connection to SIL despite the time. She makes it very hard to get close to her. We have always made polite small talk, ie, work (hers not mine), a new car, holidays, home improvements etc but nothing more.

I was pregnant last year, to which she said 'that's nice'. I then had a miscarriage and was hospitalised, we didn't hear anything from her. It was another 3 months before she got in touch, still never mentioning me or asking how I was.

I am pregnant again now and when DP told her she again said 'that's nice', DP said it sounded like he'd told her we were getting a cat. I've since seen her for the weekend and she didn't asked how I was, when it's due, said congrats, nothing. She acted increasingly strange over the weekend, ie, sitting out in the garden alone while the rest of us sat indoors and chatted; and picking at food in the restaurant, looking at the ceiling and not saying a single word to any of us.

Since returning from the weekend, she has tried to make contact by emailing pictures of her new car (with no words in the email), which DP ignored for a couple of weeks because he was so fed up with her. Last week he replied by email and sent her a pic of our scan. She hasn't replied. Do you think she's playing a tit for tat game and waiting to reply for a couple of weeks, or does she just have a major behavioural problem? And is this the weirdest SIL you ever heard of?! I've searched previous threads but none of SIL problems seems to be like mine.

PS. She has no kids, no motherly instincts, and married to a man much older than her.

Rosencrantz Mon 07-Oct-13 10:40:28

I wouldn't worry too much about it.

There's probably plenty of other things going on, distracting her. Maybe your pregnancy makes her terribly sad she's got none of her own, maybe her marriage isn't ideal, maybe she absolutely hates children. There's no way of knowing.

All you can do is keep being nice to her. She's not being mean to you, she's just a bit uncomfortable and unhappy - and frankly she's allowed to be if she's worried with a bigger, personal issue.

NotYoMomma Mon 07-Oct-13 10:44:51

does she have kids?
is she ttc?
maybe she herself has had MC and is struggling with it all?

end of the day you wont know unless you have a rather uncomfortable chat about it

it could be something as simple as she doesnt really care but when it comes to women and babies, you just never know

NotYoMomma Mon 07-Oct-13 10:44:52

does she have kids?
is she ttc?
maybe she herself has had MC and is struggling with it all?

end of the day you wont know unless you have a rather uncomfortable chat about it

it could be something as simple as she doesnt really care but when it comes to women and babies, you just never know

AngelsLieToKeepControl Mon 07-Oct-13 10:47:07

I don't think sending her a scan picture was the best idea tbh.

She may not be able to have children for one reason or another. She has made it pretty clear she isn't really interested in your pregnancy. Forcing her to look at scan pictures isn't on, especially as you just don't know why she is acting as she is.

Can you not just share your pictures and news with people who are interested and want to see/hear all about it?

Congratulation on your pregnancy thanks

DukeSilver Mon 07-Oct-13 10:49:05

I'd say she's jealous and very sad. Be nice to her, don't mention your pregnancy (I know this is hard).

BranchingOut Mon 07-Oct-13 10:51:44

Is she of an age when she might be TTC? Obviously, I know that could be any age, but if she is 25-35 then she might definitely fall into that bracket.

So any of the above reasons might apply.

Also, in fairness, I did not understand what mc might be like until I became pregnant and began reading parenting fora - and I would consider myself a fairly sensitive, wised-up person. So she really might not understand what you have gone through.

PicardyThird Mon 07-Oct-13 10:53:14

Important lesson that many are fortunate enough never to have to learn: you never, ever, ever know what is going on 'behind the scenes' with a person's fertility or otherwise. Pregnant women, understandably caught up in their own happiness, often misinterpret others' apparent lack of enthusiasm to match their own as snubbing them. Often they are struggling with hidden grief. Infertility and miscarriage are not things people are encouraged to grieve openly about.

The sending and showing of scan pictures should always be done with caution and circumspection. You are happy and that's wonderful. Please don't make the mistake of assuming everyone else needs to reflect back your enthusiasm in equal measure.

Take it from one who's been on both sides (2 dc, 5 mcs).

Overtaken Mon 07-Oct-13 10:57:26

If she's married to a man much older than her, maybe he doesn't want children. Maybe she does. Maybe she acts like she has no motherly instincts because it hurts to show that she has, when she can't have what she wants. Maybe they've had miscarriages. Maybe they just haven't had any luck trying.

You don't know what you don't know - but it certainly sounds like she is upset or distant rather than spiteful.

Sending her the scan pic was potentially cruel. You don't need to force people to be happy for you.

creamcarpet Mon 07-Oct-13 10:59:37

I like that you're all being lovely and sympathetic towards her, but I find it hard to feel that way.

She is pretty much past the age of conceiving, and not ttc to my knowledge.

To not send a pic when we sent to other rellies would have been a bit weird/rude (we have no reason to think there is an issue there).

She also sent a pic of her car, to which presumably she expected us to reply with nice comments, so a pic of a scan should illicit the same response surely? (sending a pic of her car was her way of breaking the ice and communicating, without having to speak/type any words. Also we live far away so can't physically show other in laws).

Also I don't know why she would come long to a weekend when we are visiting other (lovely) rellies and come and sour the atmosphere. None of us felt we could mention the pregnancy when she was around.

Also miscarriage came with added complications that dragged on for months and she pretended I didn't exist all the while.

pokesandprodsforthelasttime Mon 07-Oct-13 11:04:06

What everyone else has said.
It doesn't sound like you're listening though hmm

Inthesunnygarden Mon 07-Oct-13 11:05:21

Hi, sorry to hear your experience with your sister-in-law. I have a Sister-in-law who cut us out when I was pregnant. We were recently invited to her wedding (but not with any attempt to be reconcilled) I hope it works out for you. She may come round once you have the baby. I had infertility issues for a long time, but was never like this with people. I saw all babies as lovely and very welcome. However, some people can't do that, which is sad and selfish.

Squitten Mon 07-Oct-13 11:06:16

It sounds like you are trying to force a response that she will not give and YABU for that.

Family she may be, but she is not obliged to gush over your pregnancy. The fact is that you DON'T know what's going on behind closed doors - there could be many reasons that she feels uncomfortable or is having a negative reaction to it. Or she just might not care - not everyone does, especially if she is not interested in having children herself. We have some friends who really don't like children and, whilst they would never be quite as rude as to actively ignore me with a giant baby bump, I think it's equally polite to change the subject and talk about other stuff with them.

Accept that, for whatever reason, she is not interested in your pregnancy and just leave it alone. That's not to say that you should actively hide the fact if it comes up around other people but it's not hard to just not talk about it with her.

Be considerate, even if she can't be.

Mollydoggerson Mon 07-Oct-13 11:07:50

Firstly I'm sorry for your loss.

I think when the first adult child of a family announces a new baby is on the way there is an expectation on all sides that the rest of the family will gather around and be excited for them. This expectation can make people feel awkward for many reasons. Your SIL may feel :
1. The chit chat and questions about pregnancy are best not entered into considering your last pregnancy did not go to term.
2. That having a baby is a lifestyle choice and one she is not interested in and perhaps she doesn't want to fake interest, in order to keep everyone else happy. Maybe general societal expectations about having children or being interested in them piss her off and her only way to vent is to ignore your pregnancy.
3. Perhaps she feels a little jealous because undoubtedly her brother and you will get all the family attention as nothing can trump a baby. So if she doesn't have a baby she will always have to step back and let the pregnant mother/the baby/the grandchild get all the attention and her life and cars/trinkets will not create as much interest.
4. Maybe she is squemish about pregnancy and is just not that interested.
5. Maybe she wishes to validate her lifestuyle choices by not showing interest in yours.

At any rate it is simple common courtesy to show interest in other people's lives and she is behaving rudely. You wont win any battle. My advice is to simple remain distant from her.

NotYoMomma Mon 07-Oct-13 11:08:40

'as far as you know'
'past child baring age'

hmm

just share it with other people then, you can't force her to be delighted and as you said you DON'T KNOW the reasons behind it

why get so irritable over one person? I bet she might have wanted kids but that ship has sailed and she might be mourning it?

you moaned she ignored you, and then ignored her back over something unrelated (petty of you were really bothered as it could have opened the communication channels)

Rosencrantz Mon 07-Oct-13 11:11:41

OP, you're not listening.

For whatever reason, she isn't interested in your pregnancy and you can't force her to be. The atmosphere is soured because something has made her uneasy. You have to respect that she isn't as excited about the baby as you are. And you will never know the reason why, it's private.

MissStrawberry Mon 07-Oct-13 11:12:36

I would carry on sending things to those family members you know are interested and not to her. If she is hurt/bothered by not receiving another scan picture or whatever you will soon know, If she is hurt by receiving a scan photo then you won't hurt her again.

TheFabulousIdiot Mon 07-Oct-13 11:14:26

maybe she just doesn't really have much interest in children and maybe she just doesn't want to be best friends with you.

cestlavielife Mon 07-Oct-13 11:15:47

she has "always" been in your words cold and vacant - so why would she suddenly change over a baby or anything else?
your expectations are too high. just leave her be.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DontmindifIdo Mon 07-Oct-13 11:19:33

You assume that she doesn't have DCs out of choice - that she's not suffered MCs herself because she's not "motherly" - it could well be she's not motherly because she's been aware she can't have children for a long time. Personally, I found other people's MC reminded me of mine.

Anyway, that might not be the case, she might not have DCs because she's never wanted them, if you are right in this, is it not obvious that someone with no interest in having DCs themselves might have no interest in other people's? The "that's nice" like you are buying a cat could well because in her mind, it's about as interesting as you getting a cat. Something you've decided to do that she has no interest in at all.

You can't have it both ways, it's either something she's no interest in (in which case her lack of interest is exactly how you should expect her to behave, not strange) or it's something she would like but can't have, (in which case her behaviour is completely understandable and you might want to rethink your pushiness over wanting to discuss details of your pregnancy with her).

You don't sound like you like her, best you step back and accept that not everyone is like you rather than getting grumpy when they aren't.

I think you need to understand that whilst your pregnancy is exciting and special to you it may be very upsetting for other people.

My best friend used to talk endlessly about how tedious children were, and was really quite nasty about mothers who emailed pictures of their babies. Turned out she had been undergoing unsuccessful IVF procedures for 5 years. She was my best friend but had never told me. She told no one.

You have no idea what is going on in her life. Be sensitive. I'd hazard a guess that the baby issue is a whole big can of worms for her.

creamcarpet Mon 07-Oct-13 11:27:12

I'm not trying to force a response from her as 6/7 weeks have passed and sil and dp haven't spoken a word. That bothers me.
Also the pregnancy was not mentioned in her presence for the whole weekend.

I definitely don't want gushing/delight, I don't do that myself, I'm a very measured person. What I want is to be able to talk freely with my mil about it without feeling awkward.

I also don't just expect her to revel in my happiness but thought she might have a sympathetic word to say when I went through sadness, but nothing.

I supposed I'm most concerned about where this will go/how it will end. And I do totally take on board that there may be deeper issues going on here. I will take that into account with her in the future (and won't be sending her any pics).

youretoastmildred Mon 07-Oct-13 11:28:17

If you want to relate to everyone you know only about your forthcoming baby (congratulations!) some people, for a variety of reasons, won't be able to relate to you at all.

I found the opposite when I was pg: some people found it hard to talk to me about anything else, people in the office wanting to start every day with an analysis of my figure, etc and I wanted to shout "I'm still here! Talk to ME! Like you did before!" Since coming on mn and reading threads like this, I realise everyone was just being nice and treating me how they think pregnant women like to be treated.

It need not be that she is heartbroken about not having children (though she could be). It may be that she is as utterly baffled as you would be if ALL she wanted to talk about from now on was her new car, and she found you incredibly rude if you thought that you might talk for a few minutes about what is going on in Egypt instead.

MadBusLady Mon 07-Oct-13 11:28:37

Is it really true that "None of us felt we could mention the pregnancy when she was around." or is that just what you think? Sounds a bit weird to be discussing such a thing en masse while the person concerned sits in the garden.

You sound a lot like you want to be told she's eaten up with secret jealousy. Well, maybe she is. Or maybe she just isn't interested in babies or pregnancy, and doesn't understand that miscarriages can be very traumatic, and is a bit rude about responding to email.

Either way, haven't you got better things to do than work yourself up about her?

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