Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: How do you deal with a wife who doesn’t want to announce a pregnancy? She is 11 weeks along and keeps coming up with excuses not to announce. First she wanted an ultrasound, then she wanted to wait for a certain doctor’s appointment, now she wants to wait for blood work. We are very low-risk. She got pregnant really fast, when she had fully prepared herself that it was going to take six to 12 months to conceive. She is having really bad fatigue and nausea and is leaning heavily on me.
And it is wearing on me hard. She got upset when I told my doctor that I was having trouble sleeping because of my wife’s pregnancy insomnia. I just want someone to be able to talk to about this, but she doesn’t want to tell friends or family. She does have a history of anxiety, but I am not sure whether I should bring this up to her doctor, or how.
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It’s not about announcing the pregnancy, it’s about the anxiety; as people so often do with their questions, you started at a symptom and wrote your way to the underlying ailment, or at least what appears to be so.
Please say to your wife that you’re concerned her pregnancy has aggravated her anxiety. Assure her it is entirely normal – even people without anxiety can feel anxious, and you’re not judging in any way. But it’s also important to get out in front of it. If you go with her to her obstetric appointments, then you can offer to be the one to raise the issue of anxiety when you get there, since often the highest barrier is the one of starting the conversation.
She might shut you down here, too, of course. There will be limits to what the doctor can tell you because of privacy rules, but you can notify your wife’s doctor on your own, too, if need be. I hope it won’t come to that.
In the meantime, though, if she won’t even engage with you on the issue of your need to talk to someone, then I suggest you get your own professional to talk to. She can’t control you in this regard and has no right to – these are your feelings, life, business, and call. Discretion is all you owe.
Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law wants to host a party for my daughter’s first birthday. I know it will be a dog-and-pony show for her friends and won’t be about my daughter’s best interests. How can I get in the right mindset to enjoy this event so that I can provide the best example for my daughter?
What examples do you think you’re setting for a 1-year-old? She drinks from nipples and insouciantly poops in her pants.
When your behavior does become a matter of example-setting, here’s the key: admitting to yourself that you don’t like your mother-in-law, and therefore you need to be extra careful not to judge everything she does through that lens.
For what it’s worth, every single party for a 1-year-old is for the adult who’s throwing it. But, cake! And the whole world loving your kid.
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