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Bumpzillas

Nov13

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bumpzilla.png
Photo by ianmyles
Dear Amy
So many of the letters you‚Äôve published lately have been about pregnancy etiquette. Here‚Äôs another one for you — my best friend is pregnant and has turned into a self-absorbed brat. She‚Äôs become selfish, rude, and a bad friend. If a conversation begins to stray from pregnancy-related topics, she basically ends the conversation.
She’s even gotten into the habit of minimizing other people’s joy. Apparently any news is insignificant when compared to her own.
For the past 8 months, I’ve tried to bite my tongue, smile, and chock it up to hormones. The problem is that lately I just feel used. Last weekend I drove clear across the state to attend her baby shower. I came home to an email about how they planned to return my gift and needed to know where it was purchased. To be honest, I don’t care.
What really stung was the lecture that accompanied the announcement ‚Äì you see I cannot possibly understand the intricate detail involved in picking out something they plan to use for their BBAAAAYY-BEEE! And anyway, how dare I (or anyone) purchase something that wasn‚Äôt on the registry. Did you know, that it’s rude to buy things that people haven’t registered for?
I completely understand the having a baby is a momentous event that overtakes your thoughts and dreams. I understand that my friend’s priorities are actively shifting. My problem is that whereas this person once seemed to truly value our friendship, she now only seems interested in milking that friendship for her own physical and emotional benefit. All others be damned! It is making it very difficult to be her friend.
Frustrated in Michigan

Eeeeeesh. Yeah. You can blame a LOT of stuff on hormones. But not this. This is…well, I’m tempted to say something very Southern sounding about bad breeding. Pregnancy hormones don’t cause a sudden amnesia surrounding polite conversation and registry etiquette. Being an inherently selfish jerk…well. You know.
So I’m wondering if you happened to be friends with this woman while she was, say, planning her wedding? Because honestly she sounds like a bridezilla in maternity wear. A bumpzilla, if you will. While…sure, I guess some women can suddenly turn into completely different vaguely insane people while they’re pregnant, it really seems more likely that the pregnancy is simply an excuse for her to show her true colors. I promise you, pregnancy doesn’t CAUSE women to act like this. Their already-existing personality flaws, however, TOTALLY DO.
You may be noticing the behaviors more, this time, because you guys are older, because you’ve outgrown her a bit, or because of geographical distance, or because you’ve just never noticed that she dominates conversations with topics of interest to her because YOU were also interested in those topics. Now there’s this divide between your shared experiences, and for whatever reason your friend seems determined to make that divide seem as wide as possible. Because she’s SPESHUL. Because she’s MAGICUL. Because…I don’t know, because she’s just the type of person who likes everything to be about her and her perfect day and perfect vision of how perfect everything will be.
Or…you’re being overly sensitive and inserting tone into her email that wasn’t there and she didn’t really mean to scold you for going off-registry and…and…yeah. Thus ends my attempt at playing devil’s advocate. Your friend is likely a rude person. Who is basking in the regrettable belief that she is the first women EVER in the history of the WORLD to be pregnant and have a baby. Who is in for the SURPRISE OF A LIFETIME when her baby arrives and she suddenly realizes that it will never again be All About Her, ever, for the rest of her life.
So. Now what? Honestly, I’d start ignoring her, at least until she has the baby, because I am Grown-Up and Mature like that. She’s not going to change, so you owe it to yourself to NOT feel used and frustrated by her one-way friendship, for now. Once the baby arrives, you can make another attempt (sans gift, since OBVIOUSLY she’s made it clear how control-freak she feels about that). Take a card to the hospital, allow her the glowing, new-mama moment over The Most Beautiful Newborn Ever, and then go from there. She will be obsessed with the baby for awhile — it’s normal and natural and utterly terrifying at first, but sooner or later she should start to resurface, though it’ll be a mystery to see what version of herself wins the cage match. Old Time Best Friend vs. Pregnant Selfish Person.
Motherhood may humble her, she may suddenly desperately realize that she needs and wants her old non-mommy friends…or it may eat her whole and she’ll be one of those people who stops being your friend after having a baby.
Sad, but totally true. It happens. There’s no sense pretending that it doesn’t. I lost a couple friends right around the time I had a baby…and have since lost other friends once THEY had babies. It hurts to realize that you overestimated the value of a friendship, or the amount that you actually had in common. It does. And I’m sorry if that happens to you and your friend here. But if she’s unwilling to view your friendship as a two-way street, involving your feelings, experiences and interests, well…that’s just a lousy friend, pregnant or not.

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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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22 Responses to “Bumpzillas”

  1. anon Nov 13 at 8:19 am Reply Reply

    Oh I feel for you – I’m dealing with this with my best friend right now, except my best friend is my sister. yeah, trying being thrown aside and being told “you wouldn’t understand” and blah blah blah by the one person supposed to be there for you forever. She’ll come into town and not even call me, yet go visit my cousins (who also have babies). The saddest part is I really want a baby so it’s a double hurt. Ah well, I just suck it up, but if one.more.person. tells me ” you dont’ have kids, you would never understand how hard it is” I’ll scream. Then punch them in the face.

  2. Sarah Nov 13 at 10:23 am Reply Reply

    You have to watch this – so true!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJRzBpFjJS8
    ______
    Editor: hahaha. love it. we actually linked to it a few months ago in our.

  3. Catherine S Nov 13 at 10:28 am Reply Reply

    Okay, so I am a little torn here… Having a baby IS a very big deal to most women, especially the first time. And it does tend to be very easy to get wrapped up in all things baby related: the clothes, the gear, the changing body, the furniture, what to do about maternity leave, the shower, what to eat, what not to eat, how much weight to gain, what tests should you have done, is the baby okay, how will the birth go, and on and on and on. The fact that their are hundreds of books out there dedicated to all of this is evidence that we have all gone a bit overboard on the pregnancy stuff.
    Now that being said, pregnancy is no excuse of bad or rude behavior, but I don’t think ignoring her will improve the situation at all. Maybe you could start by telling her that you are very excited about the baby and her pregnancy yadda, yadda. But that you miss HER, the non pregnant her, the fun conversations that were about non baby related stuff. If you guys are as close as you are saying, this is something that she may be very happy to hear. I would just try acknowledging the elephant in the room and telling her that you MISS her, which is what this is about right?
    As far as the the shower gift goes, yes, it was rude and insensitive for her to have asked to return your gift especially so soon after the shower. Personally, I think I would be a little annoyed, but would get over it if it meant that she was going to return it to get something she thought she would use more.
    As someone who has been on both sides of the coin on this one, I think this friendship just needs a good talk and maybe a night out with the girls with the uderstanding that there will be NO baby talk.

  4. Bethany Nov 13 at 11:05 am Reply Reply

    This question made me so grateful to have the awesome pregnant friends I do (sort of like how bridezilla questions make me so grateful for how awesome my friends have been as brides). One couple my boyfriend and I became friends with when we met up at a wine cafe–she still comes and encourages the rest of us to drink while she eats the awesome cafe food and while she talks about the baby stuff, she also asks about other things and totally treats my cats as important. I think I need to print this question out and give it to her with a card that says “thanks for not being this woman” and some godiva chocolates.

  5. Olivia Nov 13 at 12:51 pm Reply Reply

    My initial thoughts are to agree with Amy. This is a rude person just using the excuse of being pregnant to let her true colors show. The gift thing is unacceptable.
    But, I’m wondering what kind of support she has near her. I had next to no support from anyone but my husband because we had moved a couple years prior to me getting pregnant. I didn’t have any friends with children or who were pregnant, so when I did talk with my best friends, I was eager to talk pregnancy with someone, anyone, please?
    Catherine S., I agree it’s worth talking to the pregnant friend about instead of ignoring the issue. But I, personally, would have been crushed if my friend said she missed the “old” me. When I was pregnant I deeply felt that the “old” me was just that, old. And the “new” me involved being pregnant/becoming a mother and I hoped my friends would like the new person I became.

  6. Procrastamom Nov 13 at 3:14 pm Reply Reply

    Is it wrong of me to be sad because this post was NOT a review of Bumpits (https://www.bumpits.ca/?MID=548637). Oh Illustrious Amy, how I would love to hear your opinion on that! With pictures!
    As to the real Bumpzilla (which sadly, is not a hair product), I would be tempted to retrieve the gift myself, get my money refunded and not buy that horrible woman another thing! But that’s just me. And I’m a bitch.
    _____
    Editor: bwahaha. Bumpits crossed my mind too.

  7. Rachael Nov 13 at 3:35 pm Reply Reply

    My solution would be to mail her a gift all wrapped up in baby shower finery with a note attached saying how she forgot to give this along with her other (nonregistry) gift – it would, of course, be an etiquette guide. That’s it, no other response needed. HA!
    BAM! Put in yo’ place! Etiquette FTW!

  8. jen Nov 13 at 5:11 pm Reply Reply

    I think this advice is right on.
    Additionally, I’d like to see a column about registry etiquette (if it doesn’t already exist.) I tend to ignore most registries and buy gifts that speak to me for my friends/loved ones. However, I’ve also heard a friend rant about someone else that gave her a (handmade, time consuming, beautiful) gift that wasn’t on the registry. What happened to just being grateful for a gift? Doesn’t the thought still count?
    ____________
    Editor: we’ve discussed wedding registries before. oooh, hot topic… http://www.alphamom.com/smackdown/2009/09/the_noregistry_conundrum.php Not exactly like your question, but the comments are super insightful.

  9. Catherine S Nov 13 at 5:20 pm Reply Reply

    You would be offended? I think I would be flattered that I someone thought I was that fabulous to begin with. And maybe would love that person all the more because they valued my friendship enough to speak up.
    I think there is a way of expressing this that could come across as whiny and unappreciative of the new mom status. But I also think there is a way that could also express how happy you are for her, but still want her as a close friend and someone that you enjoy. Hmm, just my thoughts.

  10. Catherine S Nov 13 at 7:08 pm Reply Reply

    My comment is in response to Olivia, sorry forgot to include that. Stupid preggo and mom brain.

  11. Amber H. Nov 13 at 7:51 pm Reply Reply

    I agree totally with Amy on this one. The “friend” is probably just self-centered. Maybe it wasn’t obvious before because your lives were more similar. She will probably continue to be a control-freak once the new baby arrives. Poor kid!
    And. It is NEVER okay to pitch a fit because someone didn’t buy their gift off your registry! Good grief!

  12. Sara Nov 13 at 10:36 pm Reply Reply

    OMG, I was just about to ask this same question.
    To preface this, my father died in September, so keep that in mind.
    One of my oldest friends is pregnant and will not even acknowledge anything else in the world unless it has to do with her. This girl was already an attention whore, so the fact that she is with child just gives her another outlet of self-promotion. Seriously, do not go close to her Facebook page unless all you want to see is shots of her belly an updates about heartburn and nesting.
    She came into town a few weekends ago for her sister’s wedding and after hanging out with her for an hour, I decided I just couldn’t handle her anymore. All she talked about was her belly, even going as far to lift up her shirt in the middle of a Halloween party to draw attention to herself. Everything she spoke about was regarding how people should be paying more attention to her and even went as far to announce that she be getting more attention because the baby started kicking.
    She even showed her boring ultrasound movie during her sister’s lingerie party! And she is only 21 weeks- it wasn’t that exciting!
    Never once did she ask how I was doing after my father’s death and I am deeply hurt about it. So I just sent her a strongly worded letter regarding her selfish behavior and how I really want nothing to do with her.
    Sometimes you just have to let people go even if you have been friends with them for 12 years.

  13. Erin Nov 13 at 10:56 pm Reply Reply

    When I was getting married and having a baby and registering, I LOVED them. I liked registering, but could care less if my gifts came from the registry. It was something I did that kept me from actually shopping and appeased the people who said, “You have to register! How will I know what you need?” But on the other side,whenever looking through someone else’s registry I’m always, “WHY THE CRAP did they put THAT on here?” And then I get them something that I think they’ll want or need, from experience. I’ve never had a bad reaction- and if I did I’d probably be as surprised as you. Cause WHOA. It’s a present. And as far as I remember those are optional in the first place.

  14. Marinessa Nov 14 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

    A few responses come to mind:
    Years ago, I was pregnant at the same time as a good friend. She registered, which was unheard of at the time, and threw herself a “no-host” shower at the restaurant where she worked, citing the fact that lesbians were exempt from such etiquette faux pas as throwing your own shower. I miscarried and was really hurting. It helped to process my grief by ignoring the registry bullshit (which I generally do anyway) and put my heart and soul into making a beautiful baby comforter and crib caddy as a gift for the shower, which I did not attend. I think my friend saw the gift for what it was and expressed her gratitude and sympathy, unconditionally.
    Second response: screw registries. I buy gifts to suit the person as I see him or her; where’s the surprise and appreciation from what is expected?
    Finally, I graduated from law school a few years ago. I actually bought announcements but decided not to send any out because I thought it would look like I was begging for gifts. I invited a small group of people over after the ceremony and requested their “presence, not presents.” A few people ignored that, but it was their choice.
    None of this addresses the “cash not gifts” issue, but see my second comment above. However, to each their own.

  15. Melin Nov 14 at 10:40 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with Amy. Just like in romantic relationships, friendships sometimes grow apart and you have to break-up. People change and grow in different directions. If you REALLY think these behaviors your friend is displaying are new and you value this friendship then maybe talking to her is the answer. But if it seems to be that she was always selfish and self centered then maybe this is just a case where you’ve come your “break-up” with her. This has happened to me a few times, and it’s sad, but kind of inevitable. And it makes you appreciate the other friends you have that keep growing with you.

  16. Sara Nov 15 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for this article…err..Q&A. I am dealing with a similar situation minus the gift part. We are in our early twenties and my best friend has no other friends outside of her family. She and I are like sisters. I have tried everything… but she doesn’t want to be friends anymore now that she is pregnant. She thinks we have nothing in common now. I have been there for her even when her family talked about disowning her because of the pregnancy and she used to be there for me too… now she doesn’t even call. She calls about once a week and “vents” while I listen patiently and try to help when she wants. Then, she says she has to go. She never asks how I am anymore or what is going on in my life. There is definately no two way street.
    Anyway, I love the video Sarah posted. I’ve tried talking to my friend about her behavior several times. She says she will change but she hasn’t. She has gotten worse. I don’t even want to answer the phone when she calls anymore. I feel like that makes me a bad friend, but I don’t know what to do anymore.

  17. miriam Nov 15 at 9:57 pm Reply Reply

    I remember coming back from my shower with loads of presents from friends and co-workers, and actually stressing out about it. “Look at all this crap!!! I didn’t want any of this CRAP!” Coupled with the guilt over not appreciating a gift, of course.
    Whether it was stuff I’d thought about and decided I didn’t want, or stuff I’d never even considered in the first place– spechul moments albums when I already had my own, baby blanket number 5, frilly outfits that would have made my newborn look like a pig in ruffles, outfits with BUTTONS… I had the luxury to not have to rely on my shower gifts essentials, but it was sort of annoying when people basically ignored the list of “hey, this is stuff I want and need” and picked out totally random crap that ended up going to Goodwill (Can I mention the burst into tears moment when I realized I hadn’t picked out ANY of her baby clothes? That everything I had was someone else’s fashion choices? Talk about retail-therapy– who woulda thunk buying a onsie with “mommy’s silly monkey” on it would make me feel so much better…) Every mom and every kid is different, so unless you know me REALLY WELL, you are unlikely to get me what I really need, let alone what I really want (and I’d like to thank all my close friends who knew me well enough to get me stuff off registry that I loved loved loved)
    That being said, I never NEVER considered asking the gift giver to help me return their gift– or anything else to even imply that I was less than thrilled with their choice of present for my baby.

  18. Olivia Nov 16 at 8:27 am Reply Reply

    Catherine S.: I didn’t say I’d be offended, I said I’d be crushed as in my feelings would be hurt. I would wonder why she doesn’t care how all-consuming being pregnant is. I would (and did, I’m projecting a bit of what I actually went thru) feel like I had to avoid pregancy talk with her.

  19. Danielle Nov 16 at 9:47 am Reply Reply

    The etiquette books still say registries are tacky. Anything you do that assumes you are entitled to gifts is considered tacky. If you’re inviting people to your shower, an event which does assume you’re entitled to gifts, that you don’t know REALLY WELL, that’s kind of tacky, too. So, complaining that people bought off-registry is a whole big ball of tacky. End of story.

  20. LMD Nov 16 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    It doesn’t solve your relationship problem but at least here’s one more person agreeing that your “friend” was out of line.
    Even if she HATED the gift and DESPERATELY needed the money for something else (which it doesn’t sound like), she should have written a thank you note acknowledging the kindness of receiving any gift, and then she could have sold it on ebay or craiglist or bartered it for diapers or formula coupons or something.
    I say that as someone who had a kind of bad gift-receiving experience this year.
    Since the party is called a “shower” because you’re planning to shower the person with gifts and good wishes, it may be technically bad etiquette to register but it is not a stretch to assume you’ll be getting gifts, and in some cases, it is certainly practical to give people an idea of what is actually needed.
    As grateful as I was that I had friends who were excited for me and loved me enough to pick things out for me, I really wished they had taken the time to ask what I needed – or check my registry, which amounts to the same thing.
    I was given a shower for my second child (a girl after a boy). I was lucky enough to have friends and neighbors that had already given me four trash bags full of girl baby clothes, primarily onesies. When I looked through the things I had on hand in each size, I realized that I had 38 shortsleeve onesies, and 2 footie pajamas in newborn/0-3 mo (and I am using those numbers literally, not exaggerating) for a baby that was coming in September.
    My friend that was organizing the shower sent me a text one night asking where/if I was registered. I did not answer her till the next morning, and she responded that she had figured out I was registered at Target, which I wasn’t. (My registry from my son, 2 years earlier, was still in the Target system, with 4 items on it). She had already put the Target registry on the invitations and sent them out that day. (Seriously? Without waiting for an answer?)
    I asked if she would please clarify to people who RSVP’ed that I was, in fact, registered elsewhere (Babies R Us) and not at Target, in case they wanted see a list of what we needed.
    Moreover, I told her that I didn’t register for clothes because people like picking out their own favorite cute things, which is cool, but asked her to ask people NOT to buy us onesies nor blankets and gave her the numbers to explain why (had 4 thermal blankets, 3 heavy/fuzzy blankets, 16 receiving blankets, and i had already donated 4 unused receiving blankets).
    Not only did she not pass along that information to anyone, she personally bought us 6 onesies and a blanket.
    I did NOT and would NEVER complain about a gift to the gift giver. And many of the things I was given were awesome and sweet, if not needed (like the blanket embroidered with the baby’s name). However, registries – or even gift requests passed along to the attending friends – exist for a reason.
    I DID spend quite a bit of time swearing in the privacy of my own home at how clueless my friend was, while still being grateful that she threw me a fun shower and got gifts for us in the first place.
    The kicker was that my husband had been unemployed since before we got pregnant (oops), and so the things we needed, we actually NEEDED. As in, could not afford to buy ourselves.
    (The happy ending to that part of the story is that he got a job the same week our daughter was born, and I found a box of my son’s clothes that I hadn’t given away like I thought I did, so we exchanged some of the new stuff for pj’s, saved the 3-4 girl pajamas for going in public and put her in the boy stuff when at home.)
    So, that’s my two cents about the registry thing: It’s not rude to buy off-registry; any gift is kind of you to buy and should be appreciated in that light. The implication – or outright statement – that you did not please them well enough with your gift is completely outrageous.
    HOWEVER, though a gift giver MAY know what the recipient needs better than they do, it would be kind to verify that, first.
    I can’t understand or condone Bumpzilla’s ungrateful BEHAVIOR (attitude, maybe, depending on the situation; behavior, NO, NEVER), ever, ever, ever.

  21. Lauren Nov 17 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    Wow! I can’t believe she tried to make you feel like it was rude to buy something not listed on the registry, when the rude thing is to expect people buy off the registry or face her pregnant lady wrath!! Doesn’t she know that a registry is supposed to be a list of suggestions, not a list of demands?? Yeesh! I just had my baby shower and even though I had an extensive registry, I kept my guests in mind.
    First of all, I knew I wanted a bunch of different items from different stores, so I made one registry with everything on myregistry.com so people wouldn’t have to stop at 20 different stores before finding something they liked.
    Secondly, when I received presents not listed on my registry (which is actually impressive since I feel like every baby item ever made was on my registry!), I kept an open mind and considered the fact that maybe they gave it to me because they know something about it that I, as a first time mommy, do not.
    And lastly, even if I do decide to return something, I would never call the person out for giving me something I don’t want–that’s just uncalled for!
    I say let your so called friend figure out how to return your gift herself or she can suck it up and keep it!

  22. Missie Nov 18 at 12:24 pm Reply Reply

    Has no one ever heard of the childhood rhyme “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.
    A few days before my son’s 5th bday, we sat and practiced a game I called,”Thank you for my present”. We went over how to look directly at the friend and tell them how much the present was appreciated, even if it was a toy that Mommy and Daddy don’t want you to play with. And you never never never make a friend feel bad that they bought you something you may not like, because no one HAS to buy you anything EVER.
    Some people have never learned that.

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