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A person with a hand on their chest | Getty Images
A person with a hand on their chest | Getty Images

My Mother-in-Law Bought Me the Best Mattress – I Was Terrified When I Learned Her True Purpose

Prenesa Naidoo
Jul 01, 2024
12:19 P.M.

Larissa, having won the mother-in-law lottery, has come to love Julia. After struggling with getting pregnant, she relies on Julia's support. However, months after the baby is born – her husband finds something that makes them question exactly how Julia helped the situation.

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When I married Toby, I was lucky enough to be one of those girls who had a magical mother-in-law. Julia was everything I wanted in a mother-in-law — she was kind and loving, and didn't regard me just as an extension of her family. Instead, she adopted me as her daughter.

"I told you," Toby said one day when I told him that I was so grateful Julia had accepted me.

"She's loved you since the beginning, Larissa."

A bride leaning on a woman | Source: Pexels

A bride leaning on a woman | Source: Pexels

Despite her age, Julia was just full of life. She constantly walked in and out of our home, ready to throw herself into our kitchen.

"I just want to feed you guys," she told me when I asked her to sit down, ready to cook for her instead.

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"I don't have anything else to do besides meet the ladies for drinks," she chuckled.

It usually ended with us cooking together — Toby coming home to music and laughter echoing in the kitchen.

People cooking | Source: Pexels

People cooking | Source: Pexels

My parents were across the country because I had moved for college, and ended up settling down here with Toby. And as much as phone and video calls kept me close to my family, at the end of the day, Julia filled the role of a mother — a mother in close proximity anyway.

After three years of being married, Toby and I were trying to have a baby.

"I'm ready if you are," Toby told me. "I think it's time now."

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I agreed with Toby. I was ready — I wanted to be a mom.

So, we began trying. And for months, we just couldn't get pregnant. And the longer we tried, the more reality set in. Maybe we just weren't meant to have biological children.

An emotional couple embracing | Source: Pexels

An emotional couple embracing | Source: Pexels

"What do you want to do?" I asked Toby. "Keep trying?"

Toby nodded. I knew that he wouldn't ask me to do anything I didn't want to do, but I also knew that he desperately wanted to be a father.

So, torn, I turned to my mother-in-law for advice. Julia took me to meet with a wellness coach, she took me for fertility massages, and then, she even bought Toby and I a brand new mattress.

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"Maybe your body is just not rested enough," my mother-in-law said. "Maybe you just need to give your body the best chance possible at this."

"Do you think that it was a bit unnecessary?" I asked Toby as we got into bed that night, testing out our new mattress.

A stylish bedroom interior | Source: Pexels

A stylish bedroom interior | Source: Pexels

"Normally, I would have said yes," Toby admitted. "But maybe there's something to what Mom said. Our mattress was horrible before. Maybe it will make a difference."

And it did. Because not even a month later, I discovered that we were pregnant. At first, I didn't know whether to tell my husband and our family because I was so nervous about everything.

I felt that if I acknowledged the truth, then maybe I was inviting something to happen. But it made no sense — my irrational fear was selfish. Toby needed to know that we were well on our way to being parents.

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"Thank goodness," Toby said, picking me up. "Finally!"

Once we were safe within the second trimester, we told our family — satisfied that our baby's growth was on track.

A pregnant couple | Source: Pexels

A pregnant couple | Source: Pexels

And then, before we knew it, our daughter, Maddie, was born.

My mother-in-law took over, caring for the three of us while we navigated the new waters of parenthood. She cooked and cleaned, and took over Maddie's early morning feeding times.

Julia's presence made me feel loved, especially because my parents were unable to come over and meet our baby yet.

Until Toby discovered something in our home that changed the way I viewed Julia forever.

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A newborn baby's feet | Source: Pexels

A newborn baby's feet | Source: Pexels

Toby and I didn't mind that Maddie spent the night in our bed – it was just easier for me to feed her through the night. But one night, Maddie had a blow-out, causing our bed to suffer the consequences.

"You sort the baby out," Toby yawned when I woke him up to Maddie's drama. "I'll sort the bed out."

I picked up my daughter and took her into the bathroom – her blow-out called for a bath, not just a diaper change. Maddie cooed and pressed her gummy hands to my face.

"Sweet girl," I told her. "You just have to make life difficult for Dad and me, huh?"

Meanwhile, what I didn't know was that while Toby was stripping our bed, he had uncovered something strange attached to our mattress.

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A woman bathing a baby | Source: Pexels

A woman bathing a baby | Source: Pexels

By the time I was done with Maddie, she was almost asleep again. So, I took her to our bedroom, ready to put her into the crib while I helped Toby change the bedding.

"Oh, honey," he said when he saw me standing in the doorway. "We cannot use this anymore."

"What do you mean?" I asked, setting Maddie down. "Did she get it into the mattress?"

Toby looked nervous. He had picked up the mattress so that it stood on its side.

"No, it's not that," he said.

A baby in a crib | Source: Pexels

A baby in a crib | Source: Pexels

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I was perplexed, watching him struggle with words. "What are you talking about? It's just a mattress, we'll clean it–"

"No, Larissa," he interrupted, his voice rising in panic. "It's not just a mattress."

By this point, I was sleep-deprived and slightly annoyed with my husband. Toby was not a man to fumble for his words, and yet, here he was, in the early hours of the morning, too uncertain to change the sheets.

"What?"

"Look what I found," he said.

Toby handed me a little silk bag. Inside there were various herbs. I hadn't seen the bag before.

Herbs on a table | Source: Unsplash

Herbs on a table | Source: Unsplash

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"What is this? Where did you find it?" I asked.

"It was pinned to the mattress. It was under the mattress protector, so I think we just didn't notice it before."

"Fine, but what is it for?" I asked, confused and irritable.

"It's fertility herbs, it has to be!" Toby exclaimed.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Listen, I don't know if this is true or not, but I do know that my mother believes in old wives' tales. What if this is one of those tales?"

A shocked man | Source: Pexels

A shocked man | Source: Pexels

"She would never do that," I said. "No way!"

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"Then where else did it come from?" Toby asked flatly.

He made us sleep in the guest bedroom – where Julia slept when she stayed over. But of course, I couldn't sleep. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't silence my mind.

I looked at Maddie, sleeping in between Toby and me. She was perfect. Sure, we had a difficult time conceiving, but Maddie was our child through and through. She had my hair and Toby's eyes. She was ours in every sense of the word.

But there was no mistaking the fact that she was born shortly after Julia had gifted us the bed.

A couple in bed with a baby | Source: Pexels

A couple in bed with a baby | Source: Pexels

Could those herbs have helped with Maddie's birth? But was that even possible?

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I don't remember falling asleep, but when I woke up, the familiar smell of gas hit my nose. Outside, Toby was dousing our mattress. He threw the match on it as I stepped outside the back door.

The mattress went up in flames in an instant – the flames seemed to dance with a fervor that matched the turmoil inside me. I was trying to understand Julia's motives. She had always been so close to us – to me – so I couldn't understand why she would keep this away from me.

I didn't understand the significance of the herbs, but if she had explained it to me, I wouldn't have felt the paranoia and fear that had settled in my body since Toby's discovery.

Two pink gas bottles | Source: Unsplash

Two pink gas bottles | Source: Unsplash

"What are you doing?" I exclaimed, hearing the fire grow louder.

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"We couldn't keep it, honey. We just couldn't," he said.

Toby had a deep fear for anything esoteric – anything that bordered the supernatural was too much for him. He would have rather slept in our car than spent another night in the house with the mattress.

As the mattress burned, I kept an eye on the baby monitor, watching Maddie sleep. The silence between Toby and I was heavy with the uncertainty of what had been going on in our home.

A baby monitor | Source: Pexels

A baby monitor | Source: Pexels

Later, Julia came over to make was breakfast as usual. My husband took the lead, his voice steady but laced with an undercurrent of betrayal.

"Mom, why didn't you tell us about the mattress? About the herbs?" he asked.

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I poured Julia a cup of tea – despite everything that we had learned, she was still one of my favorite people. I loved her like I loved my mother.

My mother-in-law's face crumpled, her usual vibrancy replaced by a somber guilt.

"I just wanted to help. I knew that you were having trouble conceiving, and I thought that if it worked, you wouldn't care how. I never meant to hurt either of you. Especially not my granddaughter."

"What else did you do? What's in the bag? Other than the herbs?" Toby's questions flew hard and fast around our living room.

A cup of tea | Source: Pixabay

A cup of tea | Source: Pixabay

"Nothing!" Julia exclaimed, finally registering Toby's fear. "It's just dried herbs. I can give you a list of them," she said. "I'll take you both to the store where I got them from. It's a sweet little apothecary next to my dentist. It's a store all about natural wellness."

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"You could have just told us," I found myself saying. "How we can trust anything you do now? How do we know if our baby is a miracle baby or just an outcome of your herbs?"

"Does that matter?" she asked, her eyes brimming with tears. "Maddie is here and she's ours."

I couldn't exactly argue with that. Of course, Maddie was ours. I was just feeling wounded that Julia had done this and not told me. I also felt obligated to be angry with her – because my husband was livid.

"I'm sorry," my mother-in-law whispered. "I really am."

A crying old woman | Source: Pexels

A crying old woman | Source: Pexels

At her words, I felt Toby soften next to me.

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"We need to start over, Mom," he said. "If you plan on doing anything like this again, you have to tell us first. We need to know what's going on in our own homes."

Julia nodded and smiled at us. She seemed shaken that we had discovered the truth.

I was confused – there was a part of me that was eternally grateful to her because I know how difficult it was for us to get pregnant. But at the same time, how could sleeping on a bunch of herbs actually help us get pregnant?

Toby spent the rest of the day looking for mattresses online, while Julia baked us a tart for lunch. I just reveled in spending time with my daughter.

A woman holding a baby | Source: Pexels

A woman holding a baby | Source: Pexels

What do you think? Do you believe in natural remedies and old wives tales?

Here's another story for you | Maddie, pregnant and eager to reconcile with her mother-in-law before the baby comes, stumbles upon Meredith performing a strange ritual in the middle of the bed. What is going on, and should Maddie be worried?

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