pregnancy

"When I told my friends I was pregnant, I noticed a disturbing trend in their responses."

It’s an experience to which many of you may relate… your very first Big Fat Positive [BFP] pregnancy test. You’re filled with a mix of teary joy and sheer terror; of relief and immediate panic (it worked! Oh my god, how much do we have to buy? Where can we learn to change a nappy? They have YouTube videos for that stuff, right?)

While I’m hoping that these reactions are normal, what I didn’t expect were the following responses from my closest friends:

“Oh that’ll definitely be me soon!”

“I won’t be able to get you expensive baby stuff.”

“Just don’t get too excited; it’s early. I wouldn’t get too attached, you know?”

“Be prepared for disappointment at your first scan; you won’t see anything.”

“Maybe I should get pregnant now too.”

“Just know that some people aren’t cut out for pregnancy. I learned the hard way.”

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

In fact, the most positive reactions were from the fabulous baristas at my local cafe (hugs, squeals and congratulations). They even consoled me that I’d have to switch to decaf.

So why were my friends so quick to kill my joy? I understand the desire to warn others about the risks, I do. But it completely killed the excitement for me. It deterred me from wanting to share milestones with them for fear of what would come next.

“Oh you found out the sex? Well they’re often wrong you know; don’t go painting your nursery…”

The main issue for me is that of course I’m already worrying enough as it is. I am at full worrying capacity. Every woman worries. We want to be cautiously optimistic, without being reminded constantly by well-meaning friends that the worst may happen. But please can you let me enjoy it while I can, no matter what happens?

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The other issue was the constant making my pregnancy about themselves. I can understand this too; we all have an inherent need to relate to others. And I’m sure if you see your close friend get engaged/married/buy a house/have a baby, of course it’s going to present questions about your own path in life. But, in the most admittedly selfish way, I just wanted a little part of my own happiness without it being about your own.

The constant judging, barrage of (sometimes unwanted) advice and competition surrounding motherhood is nothing new. Every time a celebrity makes a mistake, the world condemns her parenting skills. If a woman drops the baby weight “too quickly” we think witchcraft is involved. If a woman goes back to work “too soon” and Dad steps in, she’s somehow selfish. But can’t we just give ourselves a break? Everybody is doing this parenting thing in their own way, and I personally think that’s brilliant.

Why can’t we celebrate this for what it is: if we’re lucky enough, we have the inexplicable gift of creating a human being. Let’s be grateful. And if we’re also fortunate to carry it to full-term, let’s share our birthing stories without fear of judgement.

Rocky pregnancy? Traumatic birth? A baby who never sleeps? Second-hand toys? Formula feeding? We’re all just doing the best we can. Can we please just be supportive of each other and acknowledge the obvious: we brought a kid into the world and we’re keeping it alive and healthy. We may even get help from others and enjoy a shower occasionally!

And the next time your friend shares the absolutely thrilling news that she’s pregnant, give her a hug and just congratulate her. If you still feel the need to burst any bubbles, say you’re sorry that decaf coffee is truly awful.

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