Rhea and her husband, Mark, have been trying to conceive for a while. Gradually, Rhea notices that her nightgowns and lingerie are going missing. After carefully reviewing the security tapes, she discovers who has been messing with her belongings.
My husband and I have been married for the past five years. We’re both thirty-two years old, and we feel the dreams of parenthood slipping by.
The journey of infertility has been a silent struggle in our home — but it has taught us more about life and enjoying the little things. It has also taught us how to love each other unconditionally.
But recently, a series of missing clothing has come to my attention.
Pieces of my intimates, nightgowns, and other delicate accessories have begun vanishing from my wardrobe.
Initially, I dismissed the disappearances, thinking that my absent-mindedness had finally gotten the better of me.
But then, when my favorite lingerie set also vanished, an unsettling suspicion gnawed at me.
Embarrassingly, I initially thought it was because Mark had lost interest in me. Maybe it sounds shallow — but I knew that with every round of IVF, I was becoming more and more haggard; the thought of it not working was taking its toll on my body.
“Honey,” I asked Mark while we had dinner one evening. “Have you moved things around in the wardrobe?”
“No, but I think your things have taken over,” he chuckled.
“Really?” I asked, persistent.
“Yes. Why are you asking?”
“I just can’t find some of my stuff. You know, my lingerie and things.”
“Well, you’d better start looking for them,” he grinned.
Then, I realized that Mark had nothing to do with it. So, if not him, then who could go through our things?
I lay in bed trying to figure it all out. And then, a realization dawned on me — only one other person had a key to our apartment. My mother-in-law, Marianne.
When Mark was at the gym the following day, I went downstairs to our building’s security guard. I wanted to ask him if I could view the security footage of our floor — I needed to know if Marianne had been in and out of our apartment.
Unsurprised by then, the security footage laid bare Marianne’s many entrances to our home.
I invited Marianne over for tea, hoping she would mention it herself. But when nothing came up, I said it myself.
“Why, Marianne?” I asked her.
“Why, what, Rhea?”
“I know you’ve been coming in and out of our home, and I just want to know why.”
At first, Marianne didn’t say anything. She just continued to sip her tea and nibble on a cookie.
Then, she admitted to going through my closet — she said that she was driven by concern over our infertility and had been reading up on the internet. She had stumbled on an article that mentioned that certain fabrics hinder fertility.
“You may not understand it,” my mother-in-law said. “But if you want to become a mother, what I’m doing is for your own good. The article said that making these simple lifestyle changes will benefit you.”
I couldn’t believe her. As much as I wanted to think that she was trying to be helpful, I felt that she was meddling unnecessarily.
“I also left two boxes of tea in the cupboard,” Marianne said. “Have you made them? It’s a herbal tea that I read about. They called it the elixir of conception.”
After she left, I sat silently, trying to comprehend all my thoughts. My rejection of her makeshift fertility regiment wasn’t a dismissal of her intentions but an assertion of autonomy over my body, my choices, and my struggle.
Only Mark knew how I felt — and that, too, was just a fraction of the real thing — he didn’t go through the physical aspects of IVF.
“Let’s just tell Mom that we’re working under the guidance of our fertility specialist,” Mark said.
Then, Mark confronted his mother. He conveyed our discomfort and the invasion of privacy — not to mention the profound impact of her actions on our emotional well-being.
But still, Marianne clung to the conviction that only she would figure out the secrets to my fertility issues.
In a bid for resolution, Mark and I invited Marianne to join us in the next session with our fertility specialist.
I didn’t imagine having my mother-in-law come to one of these appointments.
The air in the doctor’s office hung heavy, with the weight of emotions as we navigated the complexities of conception.
Marianne listened as our specialist dissected the intricacies of infertility, acknowledging that, despite her intentions, everything she did was futile in helping us.
After the appointment, we took Marianne home, and Mark and I cooked dinner for her.
“We know that you just wanted to help,” Mark said. “But everything will happen when the timing is right.”
“And, Marianne,” I said. “We’re going to take the spare key back, okay? Just for now. Mark and I need to focus on each other, and we need our privacy.”
Marianne looked like a wounded puppy for a moment. Then she finally nodded.
“I overstepped, I’m sorry,” she said.
We continued eating in silence.
“But I’ll get the key back when my grandbaby is here, right?” she chuckled.
Everything is fine with Marianne now — she doesn’t drop by unannounced anymore, and she has stopped trying to give us fertility tips.
Now, while we work on getting pregnant, Mark has to re-stock all the belongings that his mother threw out.
But if you were in my shoes, what would you have done?