July 26, 2005
I'm certain that I can now guess a person's age and marital status by how they react to the news of a friend's pregnancy. Seriously, send me someone's comment, and I'll tell you whether it was your great Aunt Hilda or that single girlfriend who still parties till 2:00 in the morning.
While my own pregnancy is not yet public knowledge, Tom and I have told enough folks to notice some trends in responses. Here we go:
"Are you sure? Have you been to the doctor to confirm?"
This would be your mother-- or anyone of her generation (in my case, my aunt). She probably knows that a rabbit no longer has to die, but she can't believe that a plastic test from the Piggly Wiggly has the same authority as someone in a white coat. You can explain the rarity of false positives, but she won't believe you. At least you can say, "See, I was right," after your first prenatal visit.
"I though you looked a little bigger, but I wasn't going to say anything."
Most assuredly, this will not come from your friend still trying to lose postpartum weight. No, this would be your single friend-- in my case, one I hadn't seen since my wedding. Truth is, most of my extra pounds are marriage ones, but it was nice to have a pregnancy to blame them on.
"Have you heard the heartbeat?"
This friend has at least one child. She is well-acquainted with what happens at each prenatal visit and rejoices with you after each one. She will not tire of talking about your pregnancy. After all, it gives her a chance to talk about hers. You want to hear every word and feel a new bond with an old friend.
"Miscarriages aren't bad, because most likely there was something wrong with the baby."
Back to the single friend. She thinks about babies about as much as the Cookie Monster does vegetables. She doesn't realize that 1) the grief of a miscarriage is over the baby you imagined you had, who you pictured greeting as healthy and well in nine months, and 2) how much you'd love the baby regardless of any birth defects.
Rarely does this come from a mother, though you might hear it from one who's never experienced it. In fact, when I shared my fear of miscarriage with my sister-in-law, she regaled me with the horror stories of her friends.
"When are you going to quit work?"
This is your great aunt. She asked the same question when you got engaged, and she sure can't understand why you'd like to be gainfully employed throughout your pregnancy.
"Are you going to use a pacifier?"
Back to your friends with babies, who find such discussions stimulating. Closely related are the questions of how long you plan to breastfeed and whether or not to spank. My internet readings have taught me to tread lightly when answering such questions. If you thought Israeli-Palestinian talks could get ugly...
So I've left out those friends who might be contemplating a baby of their own. None of the people we've told fall into that category. But if my own time in that group was anything close to normal, I'd say these friends won't ask the questions really on their mind let it give them away: "Were you charting? How long did it take? How many times a month did you, um, you know?"