Pregnancy Announcements Under Pressure
I searched the alphamom site high and low to see if you’ve already answered my question (or something similar), so forgive me if it’s hiding somewhere and I totally missed it. Also, I’ve never ever EVER written to anyone for advice before, but I am almost 12 weeks pregnant and a total nutjob, so I guess nothing surprises me anymore these days.
Anyhoo, here’s my problem: My mother is pressuring me to reveal the news of my pregnancy to my fairly large extended family (aunts, cousins, and whatnot), but I’m just not comfortable or ready to do so. So far my husband and I have told our parents and a couple of close friends. It wasn’t exactly easy for us to get pregnant and I have a few health issues, so I’m just barely starting to relax about the whole miscarriage possibility – but I’m not quite there yet.
My mom has even dictated how the news needs to be delivered to my family: only a phone call will do. And I must also personally call two particular aunts whom I haven’t spoken to in years and am not close with at all. My mom says that NOT calling them would start a family quarrel. Sigh. I tried to calmly explain to her that it is a very personal decision when and how we’ll tell our extended families, and that we’ll do so when we’re ready. But it just sparked a fight, with my mom complaining that she’s “had to hold in all her joy and can’t share it with anyone.”
Look, I understand that babies are a joyful occasion that should be celebrated, but right now I’m perfectly content celebrating quietly. Every time she nags me further, it makes me less and less excited to tell my family. I dread the idea of being on the phone for 6 hours calling everyone – because once I call one person, I’ll have to call them all. It’s like planning a freaking wedding: once you invite one person, you’ve gotta invite them all. (For the record, we eloped.) I’ve considered mailing simple identical announcements to everyone, or even sending nice personal emails, but I’m not sure. I love my family to pieces, but they hurt my brain. Any thoughts?
Good lord. What in the what? These are things that people get super worked up over? (And by “people” I mean “YOUR MOTHER.” Just so we’re clear.) This is…not any of your mother’s business, either WHEN or HOW you decide to tell other people about your pregnancy.
Because it is YOUR pregnancy. Absolutely one of the MOST personal things you will go through in life (despite the rest of the world’s desire to constantly step in and tell you exactly how you are doing things wrong, of course). I don’t care if your mother has had to “hold all her joy in” or whatever, that doesn’t give her the right to demand that you put yourself at risk for pain and disappointment should something go wrong. (Not to mention having to “personally call” all those extended relatives back and say “never mind!”) And honestly? There’s no reason you HAVE to feel obligated to announce the news far and wide right at the 12-week mark. Some people announce before. Some people announce later. All that matters — really — is how and when YOU want to announce, and I am absolutely in your court here: No one should tell before they are ready, before the point where the announcement is a happy one instead of a peril-tinged act of anxiety because you felt pressured into it.
Likewise, I’m baffled at the force of your mom’s insistence that the news must be delivered via individual personal phone calls. The fact that she’s willing to nag and fight with you about it is just…not cool, even if she really truly believes that your extended family IS a mere hair-trigger away from a giant-ass feud because J SENT AN EMAIL/MAILED A CARD/POSTED IT ON FACEBOOK/ETC. Again, it’s your news. Your call. If you believe your aunts do, in fact, wear big-girl panties and could handle getting your news some other way other than the phone, then FINE.
I called some people with our news each time. Some, I emailed. A few people got leading/hinting text messages before I dropped the final bomb (only to have my phone ring 30 seconds later with someone screaming with glee). Others read about it ON MY BLOG.
And the winner is: One of my friends who deliberately kept her third pregnancy a secret from all her long-distance/Internet/Facebook friends and then mailed us BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS. I called her sputtering with confusion and she just laughed and laughed, because GOTCHA. SEEKRIT BABY!
So clearly, I do not have any of the necessary context I would need to sympathize with your mother here. Nobody cared! Who cares how you tell! Who would dare judge a newly-pregnant woman for wanting to wait until she got the all-clear of the second trimester or genetic screenings or an ultrasound? What’s wrong with email, or a mailed announcement for anyone who prefers a touch of formality? Is everyone really that up and into each other’s business that they’ll quarrel over who got a phone call (and in what order! and what about voice mail! DRAMAZZZ.) It worries me that your mother is trying to exert an awful lot of control over this, and I wonder if this is going to be a pattern throughout your pregnancy. (Like, say, finding out the sex vs. not finding out the sex, sharing the name vs. not sharing the name, or not going with the family name she wants, or the color of your birth announcements, or how you feed/clothe/care for the baby once he or she is here.)
I can’t predict the consequences here if you do decide to defy your mother’s wishes and hold off telling people and to skip the phone calls when you DO feel ready — I don’t know if she’ll flip out or your aunts will flip out or what. Only you can make the decision whether or not to rock that particular boat. However, I stand 100% behind you in solidarity that it is your decision to make either way.
P.S. I would also probably tell my mother that if she feels that strongly about the phone call thing, she should go ahead and “share her joy” with the family and make the calls herself. AFTER you give her the all-clear to tell, of course.
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to email@example.com.