China Elevator Stories

My Experience of Being Pregnant And Living With The In-Laws

My in-laws stay with us in Shenzhen during my first pregnancy.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


Chinese in-laws - Ruth Silbermayr

After 11 exhausting weeks of early pregnancy, my in-laws arrive in Shenzhen to stay with us for a few months. I love being independent and I’ve always liked living on my own (and with my husband), but I am also a person who’s reluctant to admit that I might need other people’s help, so when it comes to my in-laws living with us, at the very beginning I’m torn as to whether I like the idea or not.

After a few first differing interpretations on how to do things – like my father in-law smoking in the kitchen with closed doors and the ventilator turned on but still leaving a cloud of smoke wandering through all the rooms in our apartment (the cloud of smoke, not my father in-law) or my mother in-law putting a bowl of fish into a cupboard for clean bowls and plates, making me clean every bowl two times before using them to make sure the smell of fish is gone (the smell of fish made me gag in early pregnancy) –we come to some agreements about how to handle things in our household.

Before my in-laws’ arrival, my husband and I often come back home after 8 pm in the evening, and with cooking taking up more than an hour, it is often past my pregnancy bed-time of around 9 pm. Being pregnant can leave you feeling tired most of the day and sleep is the much-needed antidote to make it through the next day.

Not only that, with nausea starting whenever I am really hungry, otherwise seemingly easy tasks such as going to the grocery store on our way back home have become a real challenge in those first weeks of pregnancy.

So when my in-laws arrive in Shenzhen one weekend in December 2013, it’s easy to see the advantages rather than the disadvantages. They help us with grocery shopping and cooking, which takes a lot of work off our shoulders. They also clean the dishes and the apartment.

But the most surprising thing for me is that although we do have my in-laws’ help with all these tasks and my husband is juggling two jobs, he is still helping out. Often times, he’ll prepare dishes together with my in-laws. On weekends he cooks for all of us. Maybe he wants to take some work off his parents’ shoulders, but maybe these are also his newly developed fatherly instincts shining through?

Have you ever lived with your in-laws?

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