Yesterday was a big-time baby day. First, my coworker announced she was pregnant (congrats!!). Then I met one of my closest new friends for lunch, with her husband and ridiculously cute 2-year-old twins.
In response to the first coworker’s pregnancy, another coworker told me she and her BFFs have a pregnancy pact (another set of my friends have a non-pregnancy pact, but that’s another story). At a designated time they will all get pregnant so they can go through the nine months together. She was kidding. But not really.
When I started this quest I had exactly one friend with a baby. She lives in New York so I don’t get to see her (the friend or the baby) much. But it is fascinating to watch a close friend become a mother. Even in the limited time we’ve spent together, I can see that she’s changed. Of course she has. She’s all pink bows and tummy time. She has a daughter now, a new center of her world.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while conducting this search—both from women I know and from commenters on this blog—it’s that relationships change as friends start spawning offspring.
This knowledge makes me think my co-worker and her pregnancy pact isn’t all that crazy. One way to maintain status quo when a BFF gets knocked up? Get knocked up too! Ta-dah!
Yes, I know this sounds crazy. Except for the part that sounds brilliant.
Just think, your little ones could be BFFs, and their little ones after that could be BFFs…. A friendship to span the generations!
In all seriousness, I do wonder how my close friendships will change once kids enter the picture. Will we be unable to connect because one can’t understand the other? Will it be exactly the same, with breastmilk and diapers where wine and boytalk once were?
I know that above all else, despite whatever changes come, I’ll be excited for my besties. If I love them, I’ll certainly adore their mini-versions. It’ll be just like being an aunt—all the fun and cuteness of a baby without the late-night crying fits.
But still… please tell. What’s it like to watch friends become mothers? How does the relationship change? And how awesome would it be to go through it together?
And before you start speculating, let me assure you, I’m not trying to tell you anything. If I could down a glass of virtual vino to prove it, I would.
21 responses to “Baby Talk”
My best friend got pregnant first– and at the time, I had no thoughts about having children. After the baby was born, we frankly did not have much in commmon– my life had not changed dramatically, while hers had. She had the grace not to talk too much about her child and motherhood, and our friendship endured, but I had no idea and thus, was not able to share with her about her shift into motherhood (especially when the child is a baby-preschool age).
Once I became pregnant, I remember wondering why she was spoiling me so nicely when I did visit her. Now that I am a mother– I know! Our friendship is the strongest it has ever been, since we share so many more things in common– and neither one of us is offended when suddenly, it’s time to end the call!
Because parenthood is such a big part of your life, it is nicer to have that in common with a BFF. Otherwise, prepare to be a very distant 3rd (after child/spouse, family, and the need to catch sleep whenever possible)…on a good day. It’s not personal, it’s the shift to surviving early parenthood.
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I think the bond can become stronger once you and your friends experience motherhood, but it can weaken too. I have friends that consume themeselves with everything motherhood and forget that they had a whole life before having kids. As a result, the conversation becomes every little thing about their kid. I sometimes gravitate more toward my friends who aren’t with kids because the conversations are more interesting.
Like with many circumstances in life, I think the relationship after a baby depends on the willingness of both parties to keep it going. One of my friends, a mother of an adorable 2 year-old, and her husband tote their son around with them everywhere they go, so they do still maintain their same pre-baby level of activity and keep up with all of their friends, whether or not they have kids too. An added plus here is that it’s good for their son to be exposed to so many new people, places and situations. This kid must have at least 20 close “aunts” and “uncles,” many of which will spawn potential BFFs for him eventually. It works because the parents aren’t totally consumed with parenthood (like rudrip mentioned) so they want to keep up with all of their friends, and also because all of us friends are cool with kids. I could see it causing problems with friends who aren’t so kid-friendly though.
Meanwhile, our mutual friend announced that she was pregnant in July. She and friend #1, both being married, had previously talked about how cool it would be to be pregnant together. And wouldn’t you know, friend #1 got pregnant in September. Which leaves me to do all of the wine-drinking on our girl dates, but yes, we do still make time for girl dates.
Does anyone have advice on how a friend who isn’t pregnant can be active and supportive to a friend who is pregnant, without bogging her down or trying too hard? I’m in a situation where a close girlfriend from childhood is pregnant and yet our friendship seems to be drifting further and further as the days go by. I do understand that it very well might be a phase, that over the years we will get through. However, shouldn’t there be a way a friend who may not have the same pregnant baby-mode things in common can continue to support the friend individually and the friendship as a whole?!
When one of my best friends got pregnant with her first child, I became interested in her pregnancy even though I’m a young, single girl in the city with no urge to have kids and settle in the suburbs (like she wanted).
It was hard for her to conceive so I knew how important being pregnant was to her. I read some articles about pregnancy so I could ask her about things that she was going through (did she feel the baby kick yet, how DOES it feel) and how she was handling it. I made it a point to ask when her dr appts were- for like first heartbeat, finding out the sex, etc.- so that I could follow up with her to see how it went. I got her a prenatal massage and sent her flowers when she told me that she felt like a fat whale. And I sent her internet articles about cool baby things when I came across them. It was such a huge, life changing event that I didn’t want to miss out on celebrating it with her and being there for her on the tough days.
Most of our conversations during that time focused on her pregnancy, and it did take a lot of effort on my part since I knew little about pregnancy. But putting in the effort and being flexible is really important in maintaining the non-mommy side a mommy/non-mommy friendship, especially after the baby arrives. 🙂
I hope you realize how much your support made her pregnancy all the more special….what a caring friend you are!
Hi Ashley, I love Sam’s advice. (Sam what a nice friend you are!). I will definitely use it myself when my next friend gets pregnant. When a close family member was pregnant I remember wanting to ask questions and seem supportive enough, but without making her feel like the only thing interesting about her was her pregnancy. I wanted to talk to her about other things so she felt like some sense of normalcy and not like the baby was IT. But, I think what Sarah says below is probably important too. Maybe it’s just asking your friend what she needs from you. Telling her that you want to be a supportive friend and provide what she needs will probably make you the bestest friend ever in her book…
I’ve had about fifty friends (kind of exaggerating, kind of not!) have babies in the last two years. Things change, but my focus is always on, “Let’s hang out, even if we’re at your house talking while the baby sleeps.” I think you have to make those compromises to make it work.
As for the pact between friends to get pregnant at the same time – great in theory, TERRIBLE in practice! Not to be a pessimist, but I’m positive that someone will have fertility issues, someone will have a miscarriage… that is a sure set-up for jealousy and very upset people. I think this sort of decision needs to really be individual, simply because it’s NOT something you can control. But… it’s cool that they’d like to do it together. That’s very sweet.
Oh, I love that you posted about this. This is one of the bigger issues in my world right now. Everybody I know is pregnant or almost pregnant or recently pregnant and planning to get pregnant again.
I have no wisdom to share because it seems like it’s hard enough to keep these friendships up as it is, between work schedules and other obligations. I guess you just keep throwing things at the problem until something works. I am a big fan of going to them (while the baby sleeps) and bringing food.
In general I find that giving people food fixes a whole host of problems.
As soon as I read this my first thought was what Rebecca mentioned. Good idea in theory…but things can get ugly in practice. Infertility, miscarriage, marital issues, etc… can thwart someone’s plan to get pregnant on command, and leave them feeling incredibly jealous and left out. On the other side, what if one becomes pregnant and the other decides to go for a promotion first, or travel for another year, or whatever, and the pregnant one feels left out for a while?
As for bridging friendships across the baby divide, I think it is possible if BOTH parties are willing to be flexible— for a mom, meeting for lunch is much easier than meeting for hours of drinks in the evening during bath & bedtime, and if a friend doesn’t mind me bringing the baby along—great! But the mother also has to concede and sneak away once in a while (fathers do it all the time!) for a drink or a child-free conversation. I think the problems in these friendships arise sometimes because the mother expects that the child-free friend should always accomodate HER schedule since she’s SO BUSY, and what could the friend POSSIBLY be doing, she doesn’t even have kids! (I’ve been on that side before, so I am well aware!!!)
I’ve not watched any of my friends become mothers and honestly, I dread the day. I’ve never wanted kids myself so I feel like I will no longer be able to relate to them since I don’t want children, never have and don’t understand/can’t relate to that desire. (Hopefully this doesn’t sound harsh, I’m just trying to be honest…).
One piece of advice I want to throw out there is for new moms to speak up about what they need out of the friendship. I had a friendship fall apart after my friend had a baby. After the baby was born, we didn’t see each other as much, and I assumed she was just really busy adjusting and didn’t take it personally. It turned out she was trying to send me a signal that she was angry with me. By the time I figured it out, our friendship was seriously damaged. Being completely clueless about what being a new mom is like, I wish she would have spoke up.
I don’t really like being friends with anyone who only talks about one thing, regardless of what that thing is. Sometimes it’s baby. Sometimes it’s boys. Sometimes it’s work. Regardless, it’s tiresome.
I have had friends have babies, and most of those friendships are still intact. I haven’t had a really close friend have a baby, so I can’t speak to that.
What a coincidence that I read this entry. As I read every word closely, I was looking for some hidden message that would have been music to my ears! Oh well, I’m a patient person. By the way, I made some very long-lasting and loving friendships with women I met when I had my babies.
Motherhood is like a mirror, you really see you are and what your priorities are…so it can be so hard to maintain an existing friendship…particularly if you are learning different things and can’t explain the challenges& insecurities, and feel the friend understands or is fully engaged….
But after having 4 kids, I have found the good friendships that fell to the way side , becuz I was so immersed in this huge life change , have come back stronger…
During the pregnant years ,I made some of my closest friendships, we just relished having someone to discuss the same topic so effortlessly….
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I actually wanted to reply when I read this post on Friday, but I talked myself out of it. I remembered thinking this post is right “on time” because I had a brutally honest conversation with my friend about this topic.
I must admit that I am NOT a kid person. I do not like children. I’m the first person to check out the conversation when one brings up babies, kids, kiddie parties, etc. Despite this, I co-hosted a babyshower in her honor.
My friend recently had a baby about 4 months ago. She is the first in our group of friends to have a baby. After she gave birth to her brand new daughter (which was a natural birth), I thought she could use a few days to recover before contacting her. She ended up calling me before I’d gotten the chance to check up on her. Yes, I know, really baaaad. However, in my defense, I’ve never had a baby or been around women who just had one. I thought I was being considerate letting her rest.
It took me a while to visit the baby. I don’t drive and she lives in the suburbs. It’s a bit tricky getting out there to my friend’s house but doable. I visited my friend and her baby approx. 2 weeks ago. I thought the visit went well.
Needless to say, she was pretty distant. I chalked it up to her being tired/overwhelmed with her new responsibilities. So when we were messenging each other last week, everything that she wanted to say since she was pregnant and the day she delivered her daughter came spewing out. She expected me to be overly excited over her child when she KNOWS I’m not a kid person! Does this make sense? Yes, she’s my friend, and I truly love her but is it fair for her to expect my entire position on children to change because she has one?
I see now that I have to be a bit more mindful of her feelings. And I’m so not trying to be a jerk when I ask this…but is it me or people with newborns seem extra sensitive? She thought I was pulling away. I wasn’t, though. Life was happening…work, family, errands filled the days that we were not in touch. When I did get the moment to call, it would be 10pm and I did not want to be the friend that called late at night waking up the baby. Is there anyway that I could show my friend that I still love her and am very much a part of this friendship? Any suggestions are more than welcomed! Thanks.
Where was this post when I needed it 9 months ago? I had recently turned 30 and experienced a getting-old-meltdown, which was exacerbated by the news that my two closest friends in Omaha – where I’ve only lived for 3 years – were pregnant and due 2 months apart. I was already disappointed that I didn’t have any children; I always thought they by the time I turned 30 I would have at least one kid.
I feared that over the course of their pregnancy all they would talk about was baby-this and baby-that and that I would feel left out. And often I did. But then I worked up the courage to share my feelings with one of them, and it helped tremendously. I told her that, while I was extremely happy for her, I was worried that our friendship would change because I wasn’t part of the “Mommy Club” too. She assured me it wouldn’t.
My other friend made it point to not talk about her pregnancy unless I brought it up, and we did almost all the things we used to do pre-pregnancy, like go to indie films.
When the first friend became a mother recently, she was consumed with being a parent. She struggled with it, and I tried to make myself as available as I could to help her out, and I know she appreciated that. But all she talked about was her new baby, and the conversations got old. When she passed the challenging newborn phase, she started talking about how amazing and cute and smart her baby was. Nothing is more irritating than a mother who toots her own kid’s horn… over and over and over. I think it’s totally normal for friends and family to gush over a baby, but it seems strange when the parent does. But maybe that’s because I’m not a parent yet.
My second friend is due at the end of the month, and I’m curious to see how she is going to be able to balance motherhood and our friendship because it’s been tough for my first friend.
I also have a fear that when it’s my turn to have a baby, these friends are going to be so consumed with their little families that they won’t have time to give me the love and support I tried to show them during their pregnancies. I worry that, again, I will be left out.
It can go either way.
I was the first to get serious with men, the first to marry (by almost 15 years) and the first to have children (my best friend had her first 3 weeks ago, my first just turned 10) and so I saw how things changed with my childless friends.
Most of my friends just weren’t interested in my life anymore. They saw me as a “burden”, someone who was perpetually tired and anxious and had nothing interesting to say because I had a child (they told me this later). I see this NOW with friends who are goign through new parenthood as well… its a time when its all about the baby and nothing else really registers.
But that time is fleeting.
Long term, the friends who are willing to accept that you have children, accept the children as people in their own rights who will sometimes have to take priority in your life — those are the friends that will stay. The ones that get huffy about you discussing your children or being “flaked” on when you have to take a child to the doctor or stay home because of the flu? Those are the ones that aren’t going to last…
True, but childless friends shouldn’t be labeled “bad friends” if they don’t want to hear about the baby ALL the time and nothing else. They simply can’t relate. Not wanting to hear about the baby all the time doesn’t mean someone doesn’t recognize a child in his or her own right, just that they were friends with YOU first and want to remain friends with YOU. A person can be accepting of a new baby and also want to talk about something else in a while. Not being able to relate to someone’s life circumstances because they are drastically different than yours shouldn’t make anyone a bad friend. Friendships should be stronger than that…