Friends Acting Funny? A Girlfriends Guide to Girlfriends and Pregnancy
I get a lot of emails from pregnant women who are always surprised at how pregnancy changed their friendships. I mean, every woman needs her girlfriends. Whether they are from your old neighborhood, sorority, college, or work, we all have our gals. And thank goodness we do! Between the man troubles, money troubles, family troubles, office politics, health issues, weddings, funerals, interventions, and that three-month funk you were in—your girlfriends have been there through it all. So you, too, may have just envisioned your pregnancy as simply another thing for you and your girls to share. That sounds lovely, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work out that way. Chances are, pregnancy will change the nature of your relationship with your girlfriends, especially if you’re one of the first in your circle to become pregnant. You see, pregnancy is a strange situation.
First of all, you’re probably starting to separate emotionally from your previous carefree childless life, and your girlfriends are a big part of that life. Secondly, yes, your girls love you, but not even your closest girlfriend wants to hear the latest update on your bout with projectile vomiting, and even your dearest friend might be ready to kick you to the curb when those pregnancy hormones turn you into an emotional train wreck. If there ever was a test of a friendship, it wasn’t that obnoxious guy with the annoying snorting laugh that you dated in college even though your girls hated him, it is pregnancy.
Remember, pregnancy is a ten month diversion from your usual self. And just because your girls can’t get enough of you with an empty uterus, doesn’t mean they’ll be head over heels for you with surging hormones and swollen limbs. So don’t be surprised if there’s a little less love going on. You may even feel like you guys have less and less in common these days, particularly when they want a girls night out and you want to relax at home with a stack of parenting books. Nor do they want to hear about your endless cadre of fascinating fetal development facts—“Guess what, my baby got a pancreas six hours ago, and in seventy two hours he will blink for the first time.” Face it; you are not the girlfriend you used to be.
Given these changed circumstances, it’s no wonder the world of expecting women is littered with stories of girlfriends who stopped calling. For some, it’s a slow drift—the calls slowly decreased from everyday to once a week, to once a month, to see-ya-when-I-see-ya.
You’re a different person now, and your friends (who’ve never been pregnant) may not understand this new you. And no matter how much you try to explain what it feels like to be pregnant, your childless girlfriends will never really understand. Call it the mommy divide. It’s bigger than the digital divide, wage gap, male/female communication gap, and the Grand Canyon put together, and unites women who are pregnant or have children and divides them from women who don’t. But don’t fret. In his supreme wisdom, the giver of life creates a new place for you to share, expound, and be comforted. You are now a rightful member of a fresh, new, therapeutic forum that is heretofore opened up to you and will be all that your girlfriends cannot be. That forum is…(wait for it!) complete and total strangers who are also pregnant.
For some unknown reason, yet to be determined by medical science, pregnancy brings about a strong urge to talk to other pregnant women. And even if you’re usually shy and reserved, you’ll probably find yourself smiling at or talking to total strangers in the frozen food aisle of the grocery store just because they’re pregnant too. You’ll ask these strangers personal and intimate questions; you’ll compare belly sizes and pregnancy symptoms, and talk about food cravings in a way that borders on eroticism. These are the things your girlfriends just won’t understand. It’s strange, but now you are part of the unspoken sisterhood of procreators, and your old girlfriends with their yet unstretched uteruses, and their jeans that still fit, just won’t do it for you at times.
The best advice is to let it happen. Most of us are hopefully blessed with a few friends who will stick it out with us. And remember they are adjusting to a new situation too.
And don’t throw your single or childless friends away. They have a very important role to play. Likely, they will be the ones to plan your baby shower. This is a very crucial job. You know your other friends with kids don’t have time to plan a real meal let alone a baby shower fabulous enough for your firstborn. So be kind to them. They also have a better chance of helping you out when you’re on the mend and with a new baby.
At the same time, start building a support network of mommy friends. If you can’t find any, start your own group by hanging a poster in your doctor’s waiting room, a local community center, or a baby store. Go online, there are loads of places to meet other expecting moms. You’ll soon learn how important it is to have at least one or two friends with babies around the same age as yours so you can share experiences and trade advice about everything mommy.
But stick by your tried and true friends as much as possible even as the pregnancy takes over. Pregnancy is only a temporary phase. Your friends can still be forever.