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Dealing With Pregnancy Busybodies

Dealing With Pregnancy Busybodies

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

I’m new to your blog, but could really use your advice on determining when and how to share the news of our pregnancy.

Thanks to my husband’s work as a resident physician, we inherited a social group when we moved across the country three years ago. There have been moments where I’ve felt truly grateful for the friendship of other women whose lives have been similarly turned upside down by their husband’s career. Many times though, I’ve retreated as I’ve dealt with elements of superficiality and a lack of concern for privacy. Case in point, one of the first questions that I am regularly asked in the first or second time interacting with wives and female residents is: When are you starting a family?

At first I thought that their interest must reflect a genuine interest in getting to know me, but after invitations to further the friendship went unanswered, I realized that they just wanted to know… for their own information.

Jump ahead two years and I’m navigating the same choppy relationships, though often from the sideline. In the meantime, I’ve been repetitively ‘checked in with’ and essentially expected to keep them abreast of any updates, to the point that they notice and ask why I’m not accepting a glass of wine. This happens even when I haven’t spoken to them in 4 months.

Simultaneously, about 6 of these women are due in the next 6 months. Every gathering they share who else just announced and give a roll call of due dates.

Amy, I’m 11 weeks pregnant and over the moon. My husband and I are so excited to become parents and meet our little one. This social situation is a wet blanket. How can I own this information that they feel so entitled to? Can you help my think of a classy reaction to the husbands and their snarky ‘something in the water’ comments? Is there any way to avoid alienating the few friends I have while still asserting that my pregnancy has nothing to do with theirs?

I would so appreciate your thoughts on this, Amy. It’s the silliest thing to let this steal my joy and I know that. But until I figure out how to deal with it, I’m keeping myself and my pregnancy ‘in the closet’.

A

You’ve found yourself tangentially pulled into the orbit of a pack of bored but harmless busybodies, for whom life currently revolves around getting pregnant and having babies.

I can think of no better reaction than…shrug.

This feels like a big deal, and I hope I don’t sound like I’m dismissing your feelings when I tell you it’s NOT a big deal, but…it’s not a big deal. You tell them whenever you want to tell them — at 12 weeks, 13 weeks, once you start showing, or only after you’ve shared your happy news with people you genuinely care about and who you know will genuinely share your joy, rather than just circle around while chanting ONE OF US ONE OF US WE ACCEPT YOU ONE OF US.

Casually add your due date to the roll call, or just give a knowing smile and a “Yep!” when they zero in on your non-alcoholic beverage. Accept their superficial shrieks of congrats graciously. The news is out there, but it is still your own, and their knowing/not knowing or caring/not caring has no real impact on you. Because again: You’re semi-kinda acquaintances with a group of bored but harmless busybodies, for whom life revolves around getting pregnant and having babies.

Even though you are currently pregnant and going to have a baby, that doesn’t mean you’re one of them, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to join in their weird EVERYBODY GET PREGNANT NOWWWWWW reindeer game or whatever it is. You don’t owe them detailed updates on doctors’ visits, test results, ultrasounds, shower plans. You probably owe them some politeness, since it doesn’t sound like you’ve been egregiously mistreated by this group — they just aren’t your BFF jam and that’s totally okay. If they start asking questions you don’t want to answer, go vague and then pose the same or different question to another pregnant woman who seems more talkative. (And it doesn’t sound like you’ll have a problem finding one.)

That said, try to give some of these women the benefit of the doubt. It can be awful nice having a friend who’s also pregnant at the same time as you, even if you’re weeks or months apart. It can be even NICER to have a friend or group of friends with babies the same age. Since you only see this group in full-on pack mode, it’s possible that as INDIVIDUALS, there is potential for the kind of real, non-superficial friendship you’re after. Maybe get a couple of those other pregnant ladies away from the Queen Bees of the group and you’ll find someone you have stuff in common with, some playgroup potential or maybe just one woman you can text or call when you need a break.

Or not. Maybe this pack is just always going to be the arms-length sort of friends who are nice to your face but think you’re kinda stuck up behind your back because you don’t really share their priorities or approach to social situation. You can still be polite and a nice, well-mannered grown-up to them.

If you want to keep your pregnancy under wraps for awhile longer until you’ve cooled on their years of pestering you, do it. Just remember that WHENEVER the news comes out (and it will come out, so consider just telling them before they ask again so it’s at least on your own terms), it’s still YOUR news, not theirs. Their mass group pregnancies still have nothing to do with YOUR pregnancy. If they want to pretend to think so, whatever. If a bunch of doctors want to make dumb jokes about your city’s water supply being tainted with fertility drugs, whatever. Shrug it off and think how lucky you are that you have more going on in your life than caring SO DEEPLY that everybody needs to start families on the exact same timeframe…and how lucky you are that YOUR husband tells better jokes at parties, because “something in the water” WOW SO LAME YOU GUYS.

********

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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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Comments

  • Kass

    I’m with Amalah. It’s only “their news” if you let it be their news. I’ve seen this kind of thing, and sometimes I’ve probably even been guilty of asking a woman when she wants to have kids/making stupid comments because I’m ignorant and assume everyone wants the same things/life/whatever as I do. I’d also like to think that I’m just asking about the only thing I think we might have in common, because sometimes it’s hard for me to make meaningful conversation with strangers (you guys, I am SO BAD at small talk. I come across as either awkward and aloof or suuuupper nosy. I can never find the line, and my good friends just tease me about it and ignore my questions if they are pushy – its unintentional, I promise!). I say, give everyone a break. Yeah, they like babies, and yeah, seems like they are super close to just opening up their own factory…and yet, maybe this is just how they deal with being uprooted and having to make friends with a circle maybe they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves (kind of like what you are doing). Give them a break, share your news when you want to and when you are ready, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they really ARE excited. And maybe they really DO like you and DO care, and do want you to share your experiences with them, because that seems to be how they relate to each other. Just a thought. Also – congratulations 🙂

  • Karen

    I think you should have a glass of wine while you’re in your first trimester and really give them something to talk about. Lol. I’m only half joking.

  • Allison

    I second Kass’ response (and she said it more nicely than was my first inclination). Give them a break. They first came together because they related through a big life change, and that may still be how they are able to relate to each other. Those situations can bring on the closeness you’re wanting (but still lacking), and despite you only seeing “snark” and nosiness, they’re still making an effort to draw you in. I’m pretty sure none of them really think they have any ownership over your pregnancy, nor do they want it. A lot of moms-to-be are just happy to have some others to relate to and share stories with, and excited about the prospect of little friends for their kids.

    Also, if you’re feeling judged and under the microscope now, just wait until people know you’re pregnant. Unsolicited advice and questions will come from every corner, and how you take it is your choice, but really, do you always want to be stressed about it? At least with other new moms, they’re going through it too, so you may find some relief in those alliances. In my experience, most new moms are absolutely fine with others’ choices and plans–if they ask, they’re just curious how others are doing with xyz, no judgment intended. Pregnancy affords the opportunity to be the special pregnant snowflake among friends and family who aren’t pregnant, but it can also be a nice thing to share with others going through the same thing.

  • S

    Yeah. You’re reading a LOT into this. Flippant, common comments about “something in the water” are just something to say, it’s not someone trying to take over news of your future child. Allison is right that you’ll be hearing lots of unsolicited advice soon, so start practicing the fake pleasant smile and letting it go. I can see waiting longer to let them know just because these people bug you and making sure the first people to know are YOUR friends and family.

  • Athena

    … is it really that lame? Cause, y’know, seven pregnancies at once in the same social circle would make me *genuinely* wonder if there was something in the water 😛 (or probably more specifically, something in the hormones… you know, similar to women’s periods syncing up? Cause even in a sizeable group of women around the same age, that’s a *lot* of babies in one place :P)

  • Lisa

    We had 2 children while my husband was in residency.  I did not really connect with the women in the resident spouse association and I’m a little awkward in large social gatherings, so building friendships took time.  That being said, starting a family while undergoing medical training comes with some unique challenges and I’d encourage you to keep trying to make a connection with someone.  Being hundreds (thousands?) of miles away from family when your spouse is in the middle of a 30 hour shift and your newborn has an ear infection can be very lonely.  Be polite to the busybodies.  If you can’t fake it, don’t go out.  Post your pregnancy to Facebook or send a text to the biggest gossip in the bunch then turn off your phone.  When you feel ready ask your true friends out to brunch and enjoy the benefits of having a built in set of friends with so much in common.

  • Allison

    Personally I never tell anyone about my pregnancies until I’m 20+ weeks. I’m not a fan of pregnancy (love the babies though!) and all the “Yay pregnancy” talk makes me want to smack people. Don’t feel bad if you don’t want to tell the ladies until later because you are enjoying this time in life and don’t feel like being lumped together with all the other prego ladies. And hey, if people are miffed you didn’t tell them sooner you can always just use wanting to find out the gender before you announced to everyone as your excuse.

  • Melinda

    This is pretty similar to bring a military spouse. It’s annoying now, but pretty soon you’ll have a baby and you’ll be so busy, you won’t care about anyone else’s opinions. Seriously, you’ll be amazed at how much none of this junk will matter anymore.

    I recommend finding your own group of friends, if you haven’t already, that are in no way connected to your husband.

    And, remember, you’ll now have a perfect excuse to NOT go to these events! Babies are a great scapegoat.

    • jill

      Yes to the military spouse connection, that’s what I was thinking to.  It’s really a group of women who probably don’t have much in common on their own OTHER than the fact that they married similar men.  So what do they talk about at parties?  That other similar thing they have going on: childbearing.  And then it will be baby talk and then it will be school talk and etc.  
      I think Amy’s advice was spot on that you should try to meet some of them one on one to see if you actually have anything in common with them.  If so: great!  If not, you don’t have to see these people forever so play nice and then move along when it’s your turn to go.

  • Diane

    Eh, it seems like you’re reading a lot into the whole situation. Maybe they’re superficial but it feels like you’re taking offense to a lot of stuff that is mostly benign. “Something in the water” is something I’d say with that many women pregnant at once, and it’s just a saying, not a life proclamation. I dunno. Major shrugs to the people and this whole situation. Try not to let them bother you so much.

  • Suzanne

    I second what she said about it being nice to have a friend who is pregnant at the same time you are. I had that with my first pregnancy, and it turned what was a professional relationship into a warm personal friendship. It was someone to laugh with as we hustled to the bathroom at the same time (every hour on the frikkin hour all day long) and someone to ask,’This is normal, riiiiight?’ So just be open-minded. The hivemind might be appearance only, not all the way through (at least with all of them).

  • Buttercup

    I had a similar problem only with my group of good friends. They didn’t understand that I really wanted to wait until 12 weeks and our ultrasound to tell *anyone* (including our parents). So after repeated questions on the state of my uterus I just said, “Ok, every time  you ask if I’m pregnant I’m going to say ‘yes'” and I said it with a smile…but the next time they asked I put on a big smile and said, “YES!” It worked pretty well because it let me stop being defensive and let them know that I was actually serious about not telling them until I was ready…but did it in a bit of a jokey way.

  • Jen

    I’ll chime in and agree with everyone who’s said these women’s friendship will become very valuable as you all have your babies and need extra help/support/understanding while you’re so far from family. I’m currently an expat, and live in a neighbourhood full of SAHMs, and mums who work part-time hours. I’m pretty sure they all think I’m a bit crazy for working full-time outside the home. And I really didn’t think I had much in common with them. But we’ve all got kids the same age, and have all given each other a hand when emergencies happen. And through it all, I’ve found that a few of us do have things in common and are developing real friendships along the way.

  • Jeanne

    I agree with what’s been said. As the first person in my circle of close friends to have a baby, I really appreciated the conversations and support from other moms even if I wouldn’t have chosen them as non-mom friends. Sometimes people who are just a few months ahead of you in pregnancy/baby stages have the best idea of what your life is like right now.

  • Kim too

    The thing is, you probably all started off talking about the Big Thing in your lives – the moves, the beginning of the residency – but that wore off quickly,  Pregnancy and babies is the Next Big Thing, and it is so BIG and it keeps being BIG because babies are overwhelming and then they become kids.
    Here’s the thing -another mom asked me, when my first was a couple of months old, whether I had any moms groups.  Hold on to those women, she said. After a year or two, you may never talk to them again, but right now, they will be your lifesavers on the tough days, you will need them.  And she was absolutely right.  Some of them became my closest friends and the next best thing to cousins for my girls.  Others, I see on FB or occasionally at Target, or not at all.  But having other moms around gives you a village in a place where you very well may need one.