In the last year, I have watched people’s reactions to half a dozen pregnancy announcements, including my own, and realized something: Most women react to your news in 1 of 5 ways. I now know how important this is, because so many women’s reactions are a prelude to their future helpfulness (or lack thereof).
Are you dealing with an overbearing advice-giver that you’ll soon dream of forcing to choke on her organic boppy cover? A mommy-shamer who will know all of the stats on why that boppy will doom your little ray of sunshine to failing at everything? That person who will save your life and let you sleep when your kiddo decides that 2 a.m. is his favorite time of day for a dance party?
Get a preview by figuring out what type of reaction she offers you now. Is she…
1. The ‘Your Life Has Meaning’ Friend
Did you know that your life was meaningless before you had kids? I mean, for real, who cares what you’ve done up until now? Prior to my son’s birth, I had written four novels and earned two degrees. I had a career and had finally figured out just how much wine I could drink without getting a headache. To me, these were accomplishments. So imagine my surprise when I was told by several women that none of it mattered because becoming a mother is the only thing that truly gives life meaning.
Successful career? Meaningless! Cure cancer? Well, who hasn’t? If you’re getting ready to make a pregnancy announcement, then get ready to discover that getting some at just the right time of the month is the only important thing you’ve ever done.
Fast-forward to your kid being about 6 weeks old. Know that any frustration or concern you share with this woman will be met without sympathy. When my son decided he would only sleep on my chest and I thus hadn’t slept in two days, these were the “friends” who said things like, “Well, how can you bear to put him down anyway?”
Gee, you’re right, but holding him all the time sure makes it more difficult to punch you in your super-helpful face.
2. The ‘Your Life Is Over’ Friend
Even though your worthless life is now important, this friend will now be happy to tell you all about how it is over. You’ll never sleep again, or experience joy, or pee alone. This woman may be covered by her own swarm of screaming children as she shares her “Congratulations…hope you’ve had fun up until now, because that is over” sentiment and it is terrifying. After all, you’re not even done vomiting every time you think about eating. You may, in your fragile state, be tempted to believe her.
Motherhood is really hard, but your life is not over. And don’t talk to this mom three months in when your kid has blown through four diapers in an hour and you’re feeling like there may never again be a time when you don’t have poop in your hair (seriously, how the fuck did it get in your hair?). She’ll offer some sage wisdom like “get used to it,” and you’ll have visions of your kid hitting puberty still in diapers. She’s wrong. And an asshole.
3. The ‘Live Your Life’ Friend
This friend’s answer to everything is booze. In fact, when you told her you were pregnant, she likely said “Congratulations! Have a beer! I drank throughout my entire pregnancy, and my kids are fine.”
Hug this lady. This is the woman who loves you and wants you to develop good motherhood coping skills. Maybe don’t take pregnancy advice from her. Wait until your 6-month-old has been chewing on your nipple all day with her adorable new teeth and call this lady. She’ll bring you wine, and hold your baby while you drink it.
Women who hold your baby while you drink love you.
4. The ‘Enough About Your Life’ Friend
Telling this lady you’re knocked up will likely result in a conversation that starts something like this:
Her: “Congratulations. Have you been sick?
You: “Well, yeah, I…”
Her: “Oh my goodness, when I was pregnant with my little angel…”
And you’ll soon look at your watch and realize that you haven’t said anything in like five minutes. Get used to it, because she doesn’t want to talk about you. She wants to ask her fake-ass questions as a lead in to telling you all about her mothering experience.
Trust me, this does not end after you’ve given birth. Nothing your child does will ever be special or exciting to this lady—it will just be a jumping-off point to talk about her own kid. Avoid her during pregnancy. After you’ve given birth, see her only when there is alcohol or a moderator.
5. The ‘Make Life Easier’ Friend
Here it is, the woman you will love so much you consider leaving your spouse for her! She will just say “Congratulations! How are you feeling?” She will bring you dinner when you come home from the hospital. She will listen when you cry for no reason and genuinely gush over every picture you send her of your perfect little person. This person is your best friend. Be nice to her now; you’re going to need her!
I was lucky to have an abundance of friends who made life easier after my son was born, and hopefully you will too! At the least, you now know what you’re in for. The reactions of women around you are just one of the many things that will be new and strange as you embark on your pregnancy. It’s a wild ride all your own, so try not to let the bad friends get to you, and just hang on to the good ones.