• Wed, Jan 8 - 11:00 am ET

Two Pujas Does Not Equal A Happy Pregnant Woman

tumblr_lsst8qKWyg1qbsvlto1_1280I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday because I was majorly irritated by another overbearing aunty in my life – my mother-in-law. I mentioned before that my mom would like to host a puja for me to bless me in preparation for the baby. It needs to happen in the fifth, seventh or ninth month of pregnancy. I ruled the fifth month (my current month) out because it’s too soon after the holidays and the baby is still jinxable this early on! I know, I guess I’m a little superstitious myself. I also ruled out the last month because I really don’t want to deal with other visitors and prefer privacy, as I get closer to delivery.

That leaves the seventh month, which also happens to be the month my husband and I are traveling to NY for one last baby-free hurrah with my big city friends, and also when my dad has a milestone birthday. My mom and I discussed that it made most sense to invite the aunties over for the puja earlier in the day and then have a birthday party for my dad later in the evening.

A couple weeks ago my husband told me my mother-in-law expressed some interest in visiting us in the new year. She has mobility issues and after falling down and undergoing surgery last year, she’s been unable to travel long distances. But the trip from her home in the south to California where we live is doable. I told him it probably made sense for her to attend the puja and birthday party, so she could be there to bless me as well. Inwardly I cringe a little at the thought of her visiting – the last time she and my father-in-law came to visit things did not end well.

(UGH just picture two extroverts dealing with an introverted daughter-in-law. If I get up to go to the bathroom, it’s “Where’s Diya? Why did she leave? Why isn’t she spending time with us? We came here to see HER!”)

Anyway, my second day into my Christmas holiday with the in-laws, I wake up from a nap and this happens:

MIL: We do a seventh-month puja too, so you will have to come here.

Husband: Remember what I said mom? We’re also doing a birthday party for her dad.

MIL: Just like you do it for your family, this is what I do and you will come here.

Me: We’ll have to talk about it.

MIL: I’ll talk to your mother about it.

Me: Actually it’s me you need to talk to. OK I didn’t actually say this but I was thinking it!

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  • BS

    Don’t give in! I have an over bearing mother in law that I cowered down to for the first four years of my marriage. I have finally found my voice, and let me tell you it feels damn good. You don’t have to be mean, just don’t take her crap. And chances are she is still gonna show up for the birth.

  • Sherri

    Don’t. Stop letting them walk all over you. This is your baby and your time. Just tell your husband all this crap from his mother is stressing you out and could take a toll on the pregnancy. If that doesn’t nix it then you’ve got bigger issues my dear.

  • Coco

    Don’t do it. You need to stand up for what you want and what makes you happy/comfortable. You need to tell your husband to tell his mother to stop with the puja and he’s definitely to be the one to tell her she’s not invited to the birth.

  • pixie

    While I understand these traditions are important to your family’s cultural traditions, the most important thing is your health and the health of your baby. Both physically and mentally. You’re ok with doing a puja the morning of your father’s party, which is great. You’re not opposed to the tradition and your family is important to you, but your MIL is stressing you and everyone else out. Have you tried talking to your husband about your resentment and his mother’s (in my opinion, inappropriate and inconsiderate) behaviour? It would be great if you could get him on the same side as you. It doesn’t have to be an all out war, but you have to gently get your MIL (and your mother, too) to realize that your needs and your family is not inferior or should take a back-seat and accommodate her just because you happen to be “the bride”.

    I really, really feel for you on the whole introvert who hates talking on the phone issue. I consider myself an “extroverted introvert” and I absolutely despise talking on the phone. If someone phones whom I don’t want to talk to, I will often just yell at the phone to stop ringing until it goes to voicemail (usually, my dad’s sister, who seems somewhat similar to your MIL). You really shouldn’t be guilted into doing things you don’t want to. I know it’s hard sometimes, but try to get your MIL to understand the importance that stress is bad for the baby and perhaps she should lighten up on you a bit (a lot).

  • JLH1986

    Set boundaries! If it’s not acceptable for you to do it, then your husband needs to do it! Your emotional well being is far more important than hurt feelings. Boundaries are our friend! I know it’s easier said than done. But I tell clients all the time you have boundaries set them in place. It’s perfectly reasonable that you can NOT travel for the other puja AND tell your MIL that her visit should be for the week after baby is born. I know there is culture differences but I really think you need to have a chat with your husband about setting boundaries and sticking to them. I suspect this will only get worse if you don’t start putting down boundaries sooner rather than later.

    • Alexandra

      THIS! The husband should do it… it’s his mother!

  • TC

    Don’t do it, I have an overbearing FIL and have had to take a stand on things every once in a while just so he knows not to push too much. The only thing bullies respond to is strength. Show yours now before you have a baby to worry about, because if you think her meddling will stop once the baby is born you are mistaken it will just get worse. You don’t need to be mean, just firm. I know there are a lot of cultural issues at play here, but you also need to keep your own happiness in mind as well. Happy mama happy baby

  • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

    I think you better start setting boundaries now – or your extended family is going to make you miserable!

  • Kay_Sue

    I too want to scream “Don’t do it!”, but here’s the simple fact: I have no real measure of how important this in your culture. Only you can judge that. If this is something that is going to be used to make you miserable long-term, the short-term miserableness might be something that you can work through.

    I hate it when people assume that our “shyness” is all in our introverted head. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all of this and your pregnancy. That’s tough boat to be in.

  • Bethany Ramos

    I really, really enjoy reading your posts. :-) I have to tell you that even though I have a fine relationship with my parents and in-laws, we didn’t allow anyone to come to the birthing center when I had my kids. I figured that a baby would be exactly the same if it was a few hours old instead of a few minutes old. I think it should be 100% your choice, and it made me feel a lot more comfortable to have a private birth with only my husband.

    • Alexandra

      My husband and I are actually considering calling his family after the babies are born (I’m prob going to need a C-section with twins) and if it’s planned or emergency, either way I don’t want to be recovering and trying to entertain people and I CERTAINLY would have a rage attack if anyone besides my husband (and doctors of course) touched my babies before I did!! (aaaaaaarrrr seeing red just thinking about it!)

    • Bethany Ramos

      DOOOOO it. I would say that the only drawback is that maybe my in-laws thought that we were setting very hard-core boundaries and didn’t offer to help take care of the new baby after the fact. I was kind of okay with that, but I guess if we wanted their help, we would have had to been really, really clear about what we wanted after the birth.

    • Alexandra

      Actually I’m hoping to play up the whole “it was an emergency surgery and we just wanted to make sure everyone was ok and that’s all we were thinking about, etc etc” to avoid hurt feelings. However, they really do like to talk a big game and “direct” events, but when it comes down to it, I doubt they’d be that much actual help on a day to day basis anyway. It’s ok though my mom is moving in with us to be our nanny YAY!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, double yay on that one!! And GL :)

    • Diya Naidu

      Thanks Bethany!

  • Janok Place

    She says you will do for her family what you are doing for your family. My understanding is the Puja is a celebration for YOU not them. It’s a celebration of a very important time in YOUR life, tell her it would mean a lot to you if MIL could share that day with you. Tell her you’re afraid the travel is too much and you are concerned for baby, (heck, blame it on the doctor!) the puja and following birthday celebration for your father are very dear to you for the reasons you shared with us

    Hope she understands, but if she doesn’t stand by your choice to do what’s best for you. Trust me, I understand. My husband’s extremely pushy Italian aunt completely ruined both my baby shower, wedding and consequently my electrical in the whole house. She was “helping” because I obviously didn’t know what it was the “family” wanted or expected on those occassions. Don’t give in. I did, and she simply resents me for not being prepared or gracious in accepting her help. Plus, she almost burnt down my house on our wedding day. In laws suck.

    • kay

      blaming the doctor is always a good choice. it’s an easy way to give an excuse because it’s not your doing, you’re just listening to the doctor!

  • Véronique Houde

    The more you give in to her constant boundary-pushing, the further she will push and push… I say, put up the boundaries up right now!!! Imagine how she’ll be with your child if not. Oh god. Poor you, and poor child!

  • Rachel Sea

    You need to speak up for yourself. If this is the pattern now, how much worse will it be when there is a grandchild? Celebrating both family’s customs is wonderful, but you can put your foot down about the hierarchical crap.

  • helloshannon

    i understand that a lot of this is cultural but guess what, you aren’t in India! don’t give in. the demands are just going to get worse when the baby comes and you need to put your foot down.

  • C.D.

    If you give in to her now, she won’t think twice about being there for the birth against your wishes. My MIL was always slightly pushy and “suggested” things for the bridal shower, then the wedding, then the baby shower until, she “suggested” she stay at our house the first night home with the baby (she lives 10 minutes away so why this was necessary, I just don’t know!) Worst mistake giving in to that last one. I am a total introvert who is a very private person. That first night while hubby and I are trying to get the baby to latch on, she WALKS IN to find out what all the commotion was about. Here I am bare-chested thinking, is this a nightmare??

  • kay

    General rule: it’s your husband’s job to deal with his family’s crazy, and tell them when they need to cut it out (and it’s your job to do the same for him with your family)
    It’s super uncomfortable to tell someone no, it’s harder when it’s your inlaws. Marriage should be a team effort, and part of that is making life nicer and easier for others. It might be awkward for him to tell his mom no, but his first responsibility is to you and the baby and this all is clearly not working for you.

    • AnotherMel

      I agree that it should be her husband’s job – but I also know from experience with my husband it doesn’t always work. My MIL is extremely difficult and my husband admits it but at the same time ignores her. He tunes her out and doesn’t understand half the time why she makes me rage because he ignores what she says (she has no filter or tact and made it clear the first couple of years of my son’s life that she didn’t think I could do anything right with my son). We went to counselling last fall to deal with this because I’m pregnant with twins and I needed more support from him. Counselling helped and we’ve found some strategies that work much better now for us – but he still doesn’t deal with it like I would if it was my family – directly. So it may not be realistic to insist that her husband directly confront his mother, but there are still strategies they can both use to mitigate the situation. Counselling may help if they can’t get there on their own – we couldn’t.

    • Alexandra

      This is a good point. My husband also is very affected by his families issues, but he can’t just directly say to them “hey, back off” which I guess would be another whole set of problems created.
      I’ve come close, but I basically have taken the attitude that I do what I want for my family, and if you want to be on board then great! Otherwise, catch you next time!

    • Diya Naidu

      Unfortunately in my case, my husband is on his mother’s side on most things, which means her needs come before my own, if I want to make him happy. Thankfully he tries very hard to make me happy in other areas of our life, otherwise this would be very miserable for me.

  • Gina

    Every time you give in, she will take one more step over that boundary that should have been set. It is easier to let her have her way in the short term, but MUCH more difficult once you’ve set a precedent of letting her get her way in the long term.

    I don’t have kids yet, and I don’t come from the same cultural background. But the rule for my husband and I is, I handle my family and he handles his. It sounds to me like your husband needs to stand up for you and do what’s best for your baby family. My poor mother still tells stories about my dad’s overbearing Italian mom trying to dictate to her how to do things, and it was my dad that had to stand up to her.

  • Alexandra

    It seems your MIL is there for you and supportive but this post made me SO RAGEY I can’t even stand it….the things you said you didn’t say, I would have said, 100%. I dealt with a (much less) demanding MIL re: my wedding to which I did exactly what I wanted to do, and our relationship is now fine, with people praising the wedding as the most beautiful they had been to (which it would have not been if we had done things her way).
    Get a note from your doctor saying you can’t travel again and send it to her!
    Actually, sorry, but this should be your husband’s problem.

    • Diya Naidu

      You and me both! I get really enraged, which is definitely not good for the baby.

      I wish the dr’s note would work but then I wouldn’t be able to do my NY trip. :)

  • Lackadaisical

    It is very easy to say put your foot down with your mother in law and tell your husband he has to stick up for you more but I do appreciate that it is no easy thing to do. I agree that if you comply she will push you around even more in future but I also sympathise with your difficulty in actually telling her no. I hope that you get this resolved because it is tiring enough being pregnant without added stress from your mother in law. What is your father in law like? He seems voiceless in everything you have told us so far, is he someone who could be reasoned with by either you or your husband and calm your mother in law down or is he completely behind her in all this?

    • Jill

      I would agree for either the husband or her to deal with MIL…it will probably be very uncomfortable. That being said, rip that bandaid off and get it over with. She needs to be put in her place about who makes decisions for you and your child before the birth happens. There are all sorts of ways to soften the blow…your father’s party being of more importance, not travelling due to baby, and needing time to bond as a family after the baby is born. Either way though, do it now or you will regret this for years to come.

    • Diya Naidu

      My issues with my FIL can span another article but it’s a very nice thought! :)

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I think this is the time to put your foot down. I don’t know your MIL, but those who like to bully people into doing things don’t collect brownie points towards future desires. No, they take that inch and ask for more, more, more because a precedent has been set and they want to take it as fas as they can.
    Say no to the second Puja. Say you need to be with your father on his birthday, there was a health scare and it’s important to be together and the Puja is most convenient then. But alas, you have no energy due to your pregnancy for other Pujas. End of discussion. Then just don’t allow it. Anyone gives you flack, say your head is bothering you, you feel exhausted from the stress and you must lie down because pregnancy. Use that to shut down all future bullying. Pregnancy is an excellent excuse for getting out of almost anything, if only you’re willing to milk it.
    And the labour room? Tell your OB you want only your husband in the room. No one is legally entitled access. If there is bullying from you MIL, say it’s too stressful to talk about and you think it’s bad for the baby. “I’m sorry, I can’t talk about this anymore. It’s too stressful. I must think of the baby.” Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    I wish you luck. I am not from your culture, so admittedly, I can’t know how helpful this advice is in your shoes. But this is how I handle family bullies and I consistently do what I want as a result. The true key at the heart of it is believing in your right to say no.

  • 4under4

    I understand the difficult position you are in. I know most of the comments say set your boundaries, I wish it were that easy! I feel as though I am always the one compromising for his family. He has often mentioned going to his parents to talk to them about how they overstep. But in reality I know that talking to them would only cause more problems. They would be resentful and upset. Nobody likes to be confronted about their flaws and their behavior is never going to change. No matter how much they hurt my feelings it is better for everybody if I just suck it up, vent to my husband and let it go. I am sorry that you seem to be I in a similar situation.

  • Tara

    I’m so sorry! This whole article basically sounds like an Indian/Hindu version of my life, my MIL is very similar to yours. It’s hard to set and enforce boundaries with people who just don’t care. I really hope you can find a solution. Whether you end up doing her Puja or not, I do think you should absolutely have final say over who gets to be around when you are laboring and giving birth! Your husband needs to get involved and make it clear that your wishes are the ones that will be followed when it comes to that!

  • Psych Student

    I really want to side with everyone else and say don’t give in, especially as a fellow introvert who *really* doesn’t like talking on the phone (I’ll talk to my wife and my parents with hesitation but everyone else knows to call her if they want to talk to one of us), but I think I’ll take the other side and bring up the cultural requirements (which, as a white-American woman I don’t even pretend to understand or have a guess at). It’s wonderful that you’re able to talk your mom into not cancelling the puja and the birthday party, but her quick jump to do so to please the groom’s mother (yikes, with the use of those ideas), the cultural requirements are really important. It might not work to stand your ground (for you and your family) (or have your husband do it), and you might have to give in to the dreadful demands of your MIL, I imagine it’s going to be a careful balancing act. Maybe if you give in on the puja, you can get out have having her visit before the baby. Although I’m guessing that once the baby’s born there’s going to have to be a rule about splitting holidays, rather than MIL gets first choice for everything. I guess what I’m trying to do is apply too many classes on cultural consideration to the situation and recognize that sometimes cultural requirements dictate that children do what is asked of them, rather than what is necessarily desired by them. Good luck!

    • Diya Naidu

      There are definitely cultural issues at play, but I’m into the culture too. What I don’t like is blanket rolling over to make someone else happy with no regard for my own feelings or desires. And that is often what I’m asked to do. I would be very happy to tell everyone else to fuck off and I can do that freely in my own family even with the cultural issues at play. The issue in doing that here is that I’m then telling my husband to fuck off. I’m not ready to do that yet.

    • Psych Student

      I’m so glad you can do that in your family. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for yourself and take care of your own needs. I think often times it’s easy to put the needs of others above our own needs, so it’s always encouraging to hear from others who set such a good example! :}

  • Ihmil

    Fuck it! Just say “Hell No” to the manipulators. Am in the same boat but I talk as if she is crazy for having her manipulative ways. Do it in public!

  • Diya Naidu

    I really appreciate everyone’s advice and opinions on this. When I wrote this, part of me thought I was going to get a different kind of reality check from the readers – like why can’t I give in on this minor issue when it’s no skin off my back, or why can’t I prioritize something that’s obviously really important to my family?

    Well you’ll all be very displeased to know that I’ve decided to give in and travel to do the puja, mostly to make my husband happy because he’s expressed how important this is to him. Although in our initial conversation he didn’t seem to understand how big of a physical/emotional sacrifice this is on my part, I’m hoping that in the coming months that becomes more clear so that I don’t have to deal with anyone else’s bullshit during my labor. Fingers crossed.

    • Ihmil

      You are just like me a two years ago!!! I made the same mistake of sacrificing for husband but this is not love. This is manipulation from ur inlaws and your hubby too. Stand up for urself or else they will take u down. Ur hubby is obviously not supporting u n thats truly sad especially when we are pregnant. The more u try to keep them happy the more u will resent them. Parents are ur only supporters so dont take them for granted. Do a favor, if not for urself, do it for them. When they r gone, u will b left with ur manipulative mother in law and a hubby who is still a mamas boy despite him entering fatherhood himself. Wake up!

  • Guest

    This is why I’m not close to my Indian family. They have no sense of boundaries or how their demands affect other people. I lead a happy, stress-free life after establishing how much contact they can have with me. If they truly cared about you and the well-being of the child they would agree to one simple celebration at a place/time that is convenient for you. It makes me so sad to see you having to deal with this.

  • Shahana

    I know exactly what you are going through. I have the same issue….and I dont want to deal with all of it in my seventh month of pregnancy. Hang in there….it will be ok. Ignore your mother in law….the more you give into her crap the more you will suffer. This is your baby and your life.

    Let your husband deal with it. You dont need this kind of stress right now.

  • CecilioST

    I just read this and by now you’ve had the baby safely but in general I’m that one who will go to my Mum’s to celebrate Dad’s B-day since that was the initial plan and have my Puja there. When the time for hers comes get a no fly Dr’s note and take a major bed rest. lol