Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I find myself in a very uncomfortable and sad situation, and I will try to make this as short and to the point as I can.
I am newly married, a year and change in fact, but I am no youngster. While I was busy fulfilling my dream of making a career in the business world, I somehow let the years go by and, one morning, on my thirty-fourth birthday, I got a gift of rude awakening. I noticed a bunch of graying hair that somehow seemed to have appeared overnight. It was then that I realized that the myth of ticking clocks was very real and had finally paid me a visit.
Taking this turn of events very seriously, I started paying more attention to dating and hoping to find my life partner before that door closed, and it proved to be a monumental task indeed. All that seemed out there were the cast-offs of other women or guys who were so self-centered and delusional that they would be young forever. Much like myself. But I got extremely lucky and found my Mr. Wonderful, who had in turn been dutifully waiting for me. His family was thrilled to finally see their forty-two-year-old son and brother finally find his bashert, as was mine. It seems that everyone had given up hope on both of us.
Amazing as it sounds, I got pregnant almost immediately after the wedding and we are thrilled to be awaiting the birth of our first child. So, here is the problem. My husband has a sister who is far younger than I and has been married for over ten years. She has yet to get pregnant, even having gone through several medical avenues to do so. When my husband and I broke the news to our families, with no malice intended, but out of sheer happiness, this sister became enraged at our ‘poor judgement and lack of compassion for her.’ And the bad blood has only worsened over these last few months, causing family members to take sides and inviting her and her husband or us separately so as not to have us together and exacerbate an already volatile situation. I feel very bad for my sister-in-law and have tried on several occasions to rectify the rift with no success. She will not see the folly of it all.
Can you give us some idea of how to mend this rift before I give birth, so the family will be whole and healed and able to share the joy of our baby’s arrival? I would be eternally grateful for any solution you give and you get an honorary ‘Aunt’ title to our little one. Thank you so much, in advance, for your help.
First, let me wish you a be’shaah tova u’ mutzlachas upon your impending. May both mother and child have an easy and healthy experience upon entering this world and into the family that will, hopefully welcome him or her together and in unison.
To cut an actual umbellicus may prove far easier than uniting family members, but stranger things have happened, so let’s give it a try.
First, let’s not negate the pain and the hurt your good fortune has obviously brought your sister-in-law. Although it is true that, by no malicious intent to hurt your sister-in-law who has been trying to conceive, you have succeeded to defy certain odds and do so, her pain and great disappointment is great and real to her and she is unable to cope with it. She probably feels that everyone is judging her by your pregnancy and feels ashamed.
If there is some time left before the birth, I would recommend that a close family friend try to act as intermediary and get the four of you together and talk it out. Let both your sister-in-law and brother-in-law act as kvaters at the bris if it’s a boy, or to let them be the first family members to hold the baby when you come home from the birth. Invite your sister-in-law to help you care for the baby as it has been known to help women to conceive, old wives tale or not, it’s worth a try, and her heart may soften with this gesture. Should none of the above prove fruitful in ending the rift, know that, certainly in this day and age, there are many solutions for a woman unable to conceive naturally to have children. Should it come down to that, tell your sister-in-law that you will be there for her in her journey towards motherhood. But a little professional help would be of great help to ease her pain, shame and misplaced anger.
Whatever the outcome, do not allow this to curtail the joy, anticipation and absolute euphoria upon holding your newborn when the time comes. Hashem has blessed you with this child so be grateful, thankful and joyous, but don’t forget those who have not been so blessed. Perhaps this child you carry will turn out to be the front-runner for your sister-in-law so be generous in including her whenever it is possible in helping you care for your baby. May the birth be easy and painless, the joy and the nachas be endless and the ability to spread the good fortune become evident soon so that your sister-in-law will be able to share hers with you!