In the next six or fewer weeks, I will meet my daughter for the first time. This pregnancy has been nothing short of an emotional rollercoaster. In the beginning, I battled depression. Towards the middle, I fought with rapid weight gain and extreme fatigue. And now that I am in the last few weeks, I’m dealing with the emotional uncertainty of her being diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction and seeing my doctor weekly instead of the usual bi-weekly for testing.
On its own, all of that would be a lot to handle. As a military spouse whose husband is in deployment season, it’s been a challenge, to say the least.
But none of that has been as painful as the friends and family who’ve ghosted me during my pregnancy.
I used to read stories about women who were unexpectedly ghosted by friends and family during pregnancy, and I had always assumed there was always more to the story. It didn’t make sense to me that loved ones would randomly disappear in a new mom’s time of need.
But it became crystal clear when it happened to me.
Before I became pregnant, friends and relatives alike couldn’t get enough of commenting on when our second child would arrive and all the ways they wanted to help. My expectations were low since we live 14 hours away from our closest relatives, but I hoped for long distance emotional support when it happened earlier this year.
Instead, I got the opposite. Before I knew it, I was lucky to get a single phone call a week that wasn’t from my mother.
I was hurt but not surprised that my husband’s mom made no effort to reach out from the beginning. We were never really close, and she has shown almost no interest in me since we met. But for some reason, I thought giving birth to her first granddaughter would make her want to establish that relationship.
But in the eight months I’ve been pregnant, she has called to check on me exactly zero times. ZERO. I’ve gotten no texts or Facebook messages either. It’s hard not to wonder why she doesn’t care enough to see how I am doing, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t internalized it.
My paternal family has caused me similar pain. My grandmother and aunt haven’t spoken to me in years, and they never called. If all the children on my grandmother’s side were treated the same, I could easily move past it. But my older brother had his third child this year, and they were so supportive of him that my aunt drove several hours to pick up the baby when she was a few weeks old to give her mother a break. I didn’t get as much as a “congratulations” — just a handful of “how cute” texts for my first child.
This go round, my pregnancy has been entirely unacknowledged.
And it isn’t just family, but friends too. This isn’t the first time I’ve lost touch a friend during pregnancy. Almost three years ago, my best friend of five years stopped contacting me weeks before I went into labor with my first child.
This time, I’ve refused to get as close to anyone as I was to her because the outcome has been eerily similar. Becoming pregnant seems to make me invisible. The “we should get together” texts are many, but the actual meetups are few. The further I got into my pregnancy, the less my phone rang. My local friends stopped inviting me to events, and I became terribly lonely.
Things haven’t been all bad though. As cliché as it sounds, it’s become much clearer who really cares about me. There have been a handful of loved ones who have stepped up to fill in the gaps. I couldn’t have made it through these hard times without them.
Pregnancy is a hard time. Your body, brain, and even social situations change. But the pain of it all leaves you with a beautiful bundle and a renewed understanding for who really cares for you, who really matters in your life.
Like labor, the process of building these connections has been messy and painful, but the other side of it is filled with love.