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Pregnancy Announcements Under Pressure

Mar21

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy!

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?

-J

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 amyadvice@gmail.com.

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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29 Responses to “Pregnancy Announcements Under Pressure”

  1. Lisa M Mar 21 at 2:12 pm Reply Reply

    Wow. that is a whole lot of drama for the 1st trimester. Congrats by the way! I 100% agree with Amalah…if your mom cares that much, she can make all those personal calls. Geez.

    And not that you need an excuse, but you can always claim you too tired from the pregnancy. (Comes in handy if your mom was right and a grudge to put Hatfield-McCoy to shame erupts.) (Not that it will.)

    It would have never occured to me to make personal calls to people I didn’t speak to on a regular basis. I *expected* my mom to make those calls after I gave her the go ahead. It was one of her 1st official grandma duties, and she took it very seriously (I think she even called her old college roomate. Yes, really).

    But seriously, congrats again, and good luck!

  2. Alison Mar 21 at 2:37 pm Reply Reply

    Wow. I would tell my mom that by pressuring me like this, she was basically ensuring that she would hear the news REALLY LATE next time, so that I didn’t have to deal with this kind of BS.

    Say this: “I shared this news with you before others because you are my mom. If that means that I now need to be subjected to this kind of pressure to tell others, it doesn’t make me inclined to share other news with you early in the future. I will be sharing this on my time table, and I hope you will respect that, so that I can continue feeling comfortable bringing you into the loop early in the future.”

  3. SarahB Mar 21 at 2:48 pm Reply Reply

    I 100% agree with amalah.

    And also have an evil joke of a suggestion: Every time your mom brings it up.  “Sorry Mom, I’ve gotta go throw up” and hang up the phone.  Probably a little passive aggressive, but you are well within your rights to say, “Mom, I’ll tell people when I’m ready. There’s no need to discuss it further.”  And, if she presses, tell her you need to go.

  4. rkmama Mar 21 at 3:05 pm Reply Reply

    I never had this issue because right at the 6 week mark I was throwing up so much EVERYONE knew I was knocked up, but this is what I say when my mom/MIL like to put their loving noses into my family’s business. “Your baby, your rules. My baby, MY rules.” Then I quickly but obviously change the subject to their shoes/drapery/wallpaper to let them know that is THAT and it normally does the trick. When they push I let them know in a firm but polite way that they had their chance to make the calls with their kids, and now it’s my turn to make the decisions.
    {Then I giggle to myself as I recite the “It’s our time down here” speech from Goonies in my head. This helps especially when whatever they “suggested” irritates you. Tension relief comes in all forms!}
    Good luck! It’s better to assert yourself now if you do think this will become a pattern.

  5. Lisa Mar 21 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    With my first pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. We hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant, so telling them I had to have a d/c was the first news anyone got that we were even trying to get pregnant.

    Fast forward a year later, when I finally got pregnant again, and got a positive pee stick. I told my husband, “Let’s not tell anyone until we see the heartbeat, and then only tell our parents until 12 weeks.” He agreed. After we saw the heartbeat, we told our parents and asked them to not tell anyone until we were 12 weeks, which at that time was about five weeks away. My parents readily agreed.

    My MIL acted like we told her the exact day Jesus was coming back for realz this time and keep it to yourself, please. She pleaded. She begged. She called 400 times a day asking, “What about [this person]?” until my husband finally said, “NOT ONE PERSON.” and made her cry. But it sunk in.

    And when I went to my 12-week checkup, we called her from a pay phone in the lobby of the medical building and said, “Knock yourself out.” I think her phone blew up.

  6. Stephanie Mar 21 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    My mom didn’t have any demands, but she was chomping at the bit to tell everyone. I had to beg her to let it be me. After we had our first official prenatal visit at 7 or 8 weeks, my mom begged me to call my grandparents right then, which I did, although only because I was the one doing it (not her!), and it was still my decision. And my mom and her mom are really close, so I know how hard it was for her to not tell her for four or five weeks. If and when you’re comfortable, you should let your mom make the calls. If I hadn’t been so set on it (after all, I was the one pregnant not my mom), I would have let her do it. But yeah, the kind of behavior you describe sound 10 times worse. Be firm.

  7. Eden Mar 21 at 3:45 pm Reply Reply

    Great advice here, you can use it through your entire pregnancy. Sounds like your mom is the type that many of us have to deal with, and it doesn’t stop here! I’m so glad I read this, because at 32 weeks pregnant, the input from strangers, and family, still hasn’t stopped. Like Amy said, just remember it is one of the most personal things you will go through. You and your partner should do what you need to make yourselves happy, because you will have to live your decisions, not anyone else.

  8. IrishCream Mar 21 at 3:53 pm Reply Reply

    Congrats! I would stand my ground with my mom if I were in that position. As others have said, better to establish now that you make the decisions regarding your child (and your own body, for pete’s sake!). I would also be super mature and passive-aggressive, and next time she talks about how hard it is not to share the joy, I would bat my eyelashes, smile sweetly, and say “I’m so sorry to have put you in that position. Next time we have big news, I promise I’ll wait to tell you until we’re ready to tell everyone!”

  9. Zinna Mar 21 at 4:29 pm Reply Reply

    This may not help but when I miscarried my 2nd pregnancy at 11 weeks, I didn’t have to call everyone to tell them. We told our parents, I told my siblings and my closest friends (the ones that knew we were pregnant). Our parents are the ones who called the rest of the family to let them know that we had lost the baby.

    It was an awful time but knowing that we had our friends and family to lean onto for support during a very difficult time helped. I know that’s not everyone’s experience but sometimes, having your support network know is better than having to keep all of it bottled up inside.

    Also, the reason our extended family knew we were pregnant again was because we never TOLD them not to tell anyone. My husband’s parents did ask, Can we tell people?, and we said, well, we’re waiting but we never swore them to secrecy. They respected our decision but they did let it slip to some of their friends and our family.

  10. Rebecca Mar 21 at 5:12 pm Reply Reply

    When my husband and I finally got pregnant after two years of fertility treatments we waiting 8 weeks to tell our parents that we were pregnant. We asked them to tell no one as we 1. wanted the ability to tell them ourselves and 2. wanted to wait until we were 12 weeks along. My father-in-law immediately called everyone in his family (my husband’s brother, grandparents, etc.) and both ignored our request and took away the opportunity to share the joy with family. I have never had my feellings hurt so badly.

    We won’t be telling my in-laws next time until after we have told everyone else.

  11. Bridget Mar 21 at 5:17 pm Reply Reply

    As someone who doesn’t share pregnancy news lightly (previous m/c), I have opted with both pregnancies to share the news at 20 weeks (I just wear loose clothing and DARE anyone to suggest I’m pregnant – ha!)
    Anyway, my point is that not everyone shares at 12 weeks, and if you decide to wait, then there will still be plenty of time to celebrate being pregnant – even if you choose to share the news at the viability milestone of 24/25 weeks. This is your first test in the “parenthood comes with ridiculous external pressure” challenge. This is YOUR baby, YOUR pregnancy, and it’s YOUR decision on how you want to handle it –
    And congrats!!! I hope you have a happy and healthy pregnancy!

  12. JenVegas Mar 21 at 5:50 pm Reply Reply

    Oh good gravy. Yeah this happened with my mom too. She got way too amped up about the news and insisted that I tell our entire, gigantic, Italian family at my cousin’s wedding. I felt it was inappropriate but despite all of my “No Moms” it happened anyway. And after the birth she made me send out formal birth announcements which took a LOT of time, money and energy to send out – none of which I had to spare at the time.
    In hindsight I wish I had stood up to Ole Mom in both instances because now I feel like this kid’s life is going to be a constant battle with my mother over how stuff gets done. Sigh.

  13. Rachel Mar 21 at 6:38 pm Reply Reply

    My only advice is Amalah’s P.S. section. Tell your mom you are telling people when YOU want to and SHE can make personal phone calls to anyone she wants. Who wants to spend that much time on the phone?

  14. z Mar 21 at 8:11 pm Reply Reply

    Totally stand your ground.  She needs to respect your boundaries, and respect them the FIRST time you express them, not after whining and pestering and wheedling and alienating you for a couple weeks first.  

    She might be trying to “use” this in some way, like there’s some weird baggage or personal agenda going on in her relationship with one of your relatives.  Her concern about family quarrels might point in that direction, no?  My mom tends to use events in my life as opportunities to push personal agendas (usually it’s trying to plan some “fun” event designed to coerce my dad into spending time with the man she left him for) and I always have to be on my guard and be extra clear about my expectations.  Nothing really works though.  Sometimes I have to sit her down and speak Very. Slowly.  And.  Carefully.  About.  What.  Is.  Not.  Acceptable.   It makes me mad, but more than that it just makes me so disappointed that she’s dragging her baggage into my life at what are often very stressful times for me.  It hurts her feelings to be kept at arms’ length, but until she’s ready to behave in a manner I find acceptable, what choice do I have?

  15. z Mar 21 at 8:45 pm Reply Reply

    Just a suggestion, but maybe it would help to boil it down to a big Because I Said No.  These discussions tend to get bogged down in the reasons why one choice is better than the other, but really it’s beside the point, and it just makes her think she can persuade you.  If you repeat Because I Said No, and firmly nip it in the bud that way every time she brings it up, maybe…. 

  16. eb Mar 21 at 10:21 pm Reply Reply

    Dude. Send her the link to this and be done with it!

    Mama, do you hear us?! The internets say Leave J Alone!

  17. Megan Mar 22 at 8:13 am Reply Reply

    Sounds like your mother does need to understand boundaries – and perhaps how they are changing asap with this pregnancy. It’s probably the perfect time to do this anyway.

    My parents had a gag order. Once I lifted it, they were told to tell who liked, but to be prepared to be the ones to have to un-tell them if need be. 

    So far, all communication duties are off my shoulders and I prefer it that way. I have enough to worry about and frankly, so do you. Tell her this is “matriarchal grandma in training” stuff, and she better stop delegating and start doing. ;-)

  18. Magpie Mar 22 at 8:16 am Reply Reply

    Of course I agree with everyone — it’s your decision. Your way, your say, your day! Give Moms like this an inch and before you know it they’ll be dictating every decision (in your “best interest” of course). That said, at least she’s excited and happy for you and wanting to share the joy with her family. My MIL has said negative, nasty things both times we’ve told her we’re expecting, and I’d trade her anyday for someone who was excited enough to want to tell people. So stand your ground, but be grateful for her enthusiasm.

  19. Amy M. Mar 22 at 9:39 am Reply Reply

    100% agree with Amalah here too. this is one of MANY battles that will come up so you might as well start standing your ground now so people get more used to it!!!

  20. Michelle Mar 22 at 11:06 am Reply Reply

    Not only did I not announce either of my pregnancies to family until the second trimester, I also forbade my own mother to visit and meet the babies until they were a few months old. She lives out of state so visits are not simple or short-term. It was hard to stand my ground (well, at least it was with the first one) but it was much easier on me than any of the alternatives. And, really, who is it all about when you are pregnant? YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU!

    (Ok, fine. It’s also about the baby. BUT! As long as the baby is INSIDE OF YOU then it is still about YOU!)

  21. andrea Mar 22 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    Or you could have your mother in law tell everyone before you even had the chance to.. it was awful. The only person who knew at 10 weeks was my husband. But we had a trip planned long before we knew to San Francisco with his dad and sister. With as sick as I was there was no way I’d get through a whole week without telling them. Well we knew after we told his dad and sister we’d have to tell his mom because his sister would if we didn’t. My family did not know and with my parents about to leave for a month long trip out of country (and with my mom being very sensitive about celebrating her 70th birthday) I was planning to wait. But his mom decided to call my mother…mere hours before they left to congratulate her on the news. Yes we told her not to say anything but she has a big mouth. Oh it was awful. My family was so upset with me.. that I told his family first. His mother never apologized and insisted that I should have told my mother because she deserved to know. It was a long time to get over hurt feelings. In time though thankfully all was put in the past. But it definitely was a sure indicator of how careful I needed to be with transmitting information. Because as mad as I was his mom did have a point.. once you tell one person you better be prepared to tell everyone. Lesson learned.

  22. EW Mar 22 at 12:02 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, honestly my advice to people is don’t tell your Mom until you are ready to tell the world (sorry).  We miscarried our first without ever telling anyone, so with our second we wanted to wait until 14 weeks.  Wound up telling my parents and his at 13 weeks because I needed to turn in my spring schedule the next week (I’m a college professor) and so needed to tell my colleagues I wouldn’t be teaching in the spring.  So much for my own timetable!

    We told our parents on Saturday, and said please don’t tell anyone until noon on Monday when I’ll have talked to my department.  There are connections between my family and my work, and I didn’t want Dad making the big church announcement before I told my colleagues.  My parents managed, but at 9 am Monday morning, I got congratulations phone calls and email from my sister-in-laws.  My MIL couldn’t hold the news 48 hours!

    I did make personal calls to aunts, uncles, and a virtual aunt who isn’t on the internet at all.  

  23. Amy J Mar 22 at 12:16 pm Reply Reply

    I sent cards to all whom I wanted to tell and let the people who got them tell anyone else. I waited until 12 weeks for everyone including parents. I hope that all goes well and that you get to tell everyone exactly how you wish to.

  24. KK Mar 22 at 12:25 pm Reply Reply

    This is your life and the start of YOUR family. Your news should be shared when you want. Like it or not this is just that tip of the “advice” you will get from your Mom. Start early and show her you have this and don’t be forced to do anything. Better to fight now over this then after the baby is here. Congrats on the pregnancy!

  25. jL Mar 22 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

    Let your mom tell all the people she wants to tell…when you are ready for the news to get out.

    And tell her that in the grand scheme of things – waiting another four weeks or whatever is not going to kill her and she will still have 4 or 5 MONTHS left to share her joy with the world and the rest of your child’s life to be joyful about their existence.

  26. Christina Mar 22 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

    Do these Aunts happen to be your mother’s sisters? Do these Aunts or any of the other people happen to be of your mother’s generation and rife with grandchildren of their own? I’ve noticed in an inordinate amount of family members in the grandparent stage with really huge mouths lately. Maybe she is just dying to shove it in their faces? Might be worth trying to figure out your mother’s motive here. Babies can be an amazing competition for grandparents and by amazing I mean cause ridiculous behavior.

  27. b Mar 22 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

    Just to echo everyone else- when you decide it’s time, just have your mom to call everyone she thinks should have a “personal call”. I never told my extended family I was pregnant because my mom blabbed about it as soon as I told her. The next time I saw everyone (around 14/15 weeks, I think), everyone already knew. I took the stance that if she told them my happy news, she could also tell them if the news was, God forbid, unhappy.

  28. J Mar 22 at 2:44 pm Reply Reply

    Oh I just love you all! I’m so relieved that I’m not alone and I am grateful for all the advice. Truth is, I had NO idea that she’d react this way and be so pushy. This is our first kid, her first grandbaby (I don’t have siblings) – I assumed telling her would be drama-free. Sigh. Lesson learned. I’m not sure what her motive is, other than sheer excitement and wanting to blab to her sisters and friends. I don’t think she truly grasps how important it is to us that WE tell people when we’re damn well ready, despite trying to explain my feelings maturely and calmly to her. Calm rational thought usually backfires with her, but silly me, I keep trying! Anyhow, thanks everyone. I’m going to stand my ground!

  29. MH Mar 22 at 10:30 pm Reply Reply

    I feel for you. My parents were great about this, and willing to make calls for us (or, given the timing, put it in their Christmas letter to family), but my mother-in-law started telling people before we’d even thought to ask her not to. Because she came out to visit when I was around 8 or 9 weeks and we didn’t want to lie/cover it up with her around, fearing she’d feel hurt when she found out later, we told all our immediate family earlier than we’d hoped. She not only called people we were looking forward to telling ourselves later, but she emailed them the cute pregnancy announcement we’d intended only for family (it included references to infertility issues and pictures from ultrasounds that we weren’t inclined to share with the world). When confronted, she didn’t apologize, but said she’d stop until we were ready for her to share. I was crushed and so hurt by her choices. But, since my parents were wiling to share on our behalf, it meant we didn’t have to call the aunt who is a scary mess on Facebook, and (almost) everyone found out at the same time. (The scary aunt found out from my grandma, and was mad she didn’t know at the same time. She’d already been stung by finding out about my brother’s wife’s pregnancy on Facebook. Some folks will never learn they’re just not THAT relevant…)
    I hope you and your mom can work out some sort of arrangement. Maybe make a plan for when you can call people together – both to save you from talking to the people you don’t want to call yourself, and to help her feel included when you are good and ready to share the good news. Good luck!

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