A Womb of One's Own

A Womb of One’s Own

How to be friends with a pregnant woman: a primer.

  • I’m not stupid; I’m pregnant.  I want to discuss the same things we discussed before I got knocked up, whether it’s grad school or your dating exploits.  If anything, I want to discuss these more, because everyone thinks that as soon as you get pregnant, the only thing you’re capable of discussing is BABIES. I want to remember who I am, not just what I’m doing.
  • I’m still fun to hang out with.  Just because I’m up the stick doesn’t mean I have a stick up my ass.  I still have the mental capacity and propensity for saying or doing dumb stuff, I’m just saying it sober.   I may not be able to stay out as late as pre-pregnancy me, but I still want to see you and socialize with you.
  • If you’re feeling lazy or depressed, I suggest calling your pregnant friend.  We’re riding some pretty gnarly mood swings and are the perfect person to share a couch with for a fascinating afternoon of Friday Night Lights and a bag of ruffled potato chips.
  • As much as we’d like to join you at the club or the bar, we may have physical issues barring us from standing around for three hours clutching a drink.  If I can almost pass out in an empty coffee shop, I can almost pass out in a crowded bar where I can’t get to a glass of water.  Can we at least go to the bar with lots of chairs?
  • If you don’t plan on being a parent, that’s cool, I don’t mind.  I still like you and your company.  But I will like you less if you constantly bring up how glad you are you’ll never be pregnant, and I may try to stab you if you give me pitying looks.
  • My decision to be pregnant has nothing to do with you, stop acting like it’s a personal offense.  Alternately, my decision to be pregnant has nothing to do with you, stop offering me advice about everything.  If I want advice, I’ll ask.  Until then, could we please discuss something that’s doesn’t involve my uterus?
  • I understand that some people will decide that they don’t want to be friends with a pregnant person, or, alternately, a parent.  That’s fine.  Bow out of the friendship gracefully.  I assume that some people won’t want to be friends with me because I decided to have a kid.  It makes me sad, but I’m not going to cause a scene.
  • If we’re very close, don’t hesitate to ask me if I need anything.  I’m new to this pregnancy thing as well, and I’m afraid to discuss how I’m feeling because I’m afraid it will alienate other friends and acquaintances.  Honestly, I’m afraid to tell you, but I need you now more than ever.  I can complain or dissect the pregnancy experience to my spouse or my mother only so much, I need someone who’s not related to me by blood or by vows.  I’ll pay you for your time in wine.
  • I’m the same person you’ve known for six months/four years/two decades.  Talk to me about the same things you would if I wasn’t pregnant.  I promise, I’ll appreciate it.

By Jessica Werner

Free-range librarian in Seattle. A sucker for happy endings, teen angst, and books that make me want to sell my possessions and travel the world. Incurable homebody and type A. Send love letters and readers advisory requests to

38 replies on “A Womb of One’s Own”

I actually slapped a woman’s hand when she came in for a stomach touch. She then had the audacity to be offended that I had 1) hit her (okay, I’ll give her this), 2) touched her without permission. Because it was OKAY to touch my bulging stomach without permission because I was pregnant.

This is so awesome.

My decision to be pregnant has nothing to do with you, stop acting like it’s a personal offense.

A to the fucking MEN. I had (operative word being “had”) a very good, albeit selfish, friend who became livid with me because while she was out visiting from the east coast I was totally sick with, you know, pregnancy crap, and I wasn’t able to see her. I ended up getting a bullshit email that said “I’m not bitter, but my friends are getting pregnant and married and…”

Yeah, honey, you are bitter. And, not everything is about you.

Haven’t spoken to her since. And we were friends for years.

Even from a less dramatic view…dude, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU! Just like I don’t think your dating an addict or wanting to go to clown school has anything to do with me. Get over it.

One of my formerly very close friends is coming to my coast for a visit next month, and she knows I’m pregnant, but she doesn’t know my husband isn’t drinking in sympathy with me, or that our other close friend isn’t drinking temporarily for medical reasons. The three of us decided not to tell her until she came to town, because we honestly think she would have canceled her visit otherwise.

All of her friends on her coast are married with kids, but she seems to take my pregnancy like a personal insult. It’s very weird.

I once spent so much time around a friend when she was pregnant,we were both convinced that her son knew the sound of my voice from in utero. That’s an advantage, imprinting solidifies relationships.Also, I learned that pregnant women gets scrutinized by so many people, so offering your support and commiseration can be helpful towards your pregnant friends.
-lady without a baby.

This was true of my bff when she was knocked up, and it was true when her baby was 3 months old, and it’s still true now that the little dude’s 7 months old. She loves the hell out of him, but she very much still needs the girls’ nights out, the conversation and gossip, all of it. It just takes a little more planning. And it’s fascinating to see someone I know so well grapple with all the major changes in her life that challenge her fierce independence and sense of self. I’ll look to her for guidance if I ever find myself in a family way.

This is great. I would also add:
Please don’t touch my stomach without asking or unless I’ve already expressed I’m okay with it.
I found this to be rude and it made me uncomfortable.
I also hated being told I MUST be carrying twins when in fact I wasn’t… but that’s my mom for you.

On the other hand, I found that after actually having the baby, I was happy to discuss dilation and water-breakage and crowning with pretty any anyone who wanted to. I’m also a grad student and I recently found myself in a conversation about all three of these things with two men in our grand lounge [both had young kids]. I almost didn’t notice the poor horrified first-year sitting in the corner.

My decision to be pregnant has nothing to do with you, stop acting like it’s a personal offense. Alternately, my decision to be pregnant has nothing to do with you, stop offering me advice about everything. If I want advice, I’ll ask. Until then, could we please discuss something that’s doesn’t involve my uterus?

Oh, heavens, this. From both sides of the issue. Why is it so hard for even other women to see us as more than whether or not we choose to produce offspring? Unless someone asks your opinion, don’t offer it.

If we couldn’t offer unsolicited advice to other women and pass judgement on them, how would the internet exist? ;)

But seriously, I have some close friends who never want kids, and that’s totally cool! I think they’re wonderful people who should make the choices that are best for them. But at the same time, one of them constantly brings up how happy she is that she’s gotten sterilized every time we’re talking and I mention being pregnant, even in passing. It makes me feel like I’m some sort of disappointment to her. The other friend is excited to be an auntie and has been interested in the process while still being confident that she doesn’t want kids, and as a result, she’s the one I’ve talked to much mroe.

Yeah, I have/had a LOT of pregnant friends, and I wouldn’t dream of being shitty about my choice not to have kids to them, as long as no one’s shitty to me. I mean, sometimes when they’re detailing all of the ways that pregnancy sucks, we’ll both give a little chuckle about how I’m glad I’ll never go through that, but they usually bring it up first, and it’s not judgy, just joking. As long as people can talk about things other than their pregnancies, I can talk about things other than my childfreedom (childfreeness?). You know, as people do.

Being someone whose entering the age where everyone seems to be ripe with crotch fruit, this was probably a much needed reminder that people having babies isn’t a good enough reason to bale on a friendship. I too, am trying to remember that my friends being excited about having babies is as interesting to me as some of the weird stuff that I’m excited about is interesting to them.

I still think the to have babies/to not have babies is still a new idea as a “lifestyle” choice for people, and more than anything else I think people can be overly defensive about their choice. On more than one occasion I think I’ve caught myself deriding having babies as a preemptive defense of why I don’t want to have babies.

I’ll try to remember this well-put call to reason next time I’m informed someone is zomg-expecting!

Although, I will never be okay with sonograms on facebook. They’re your insides people! YOUR INSIDES. Some things are for close friends/family only. Like your insides.

“Crotch fruit” is a pretty common phrase in the more vocal childfree communities. In my younger, more rabidly defensive days, I used it all the time. I’ve found that it’s a pretty quick way to piss parents off, though, so I usually avoid all the typical CF lingo if I’m trying to have a productive conversation. (Also, “crotch droppings” was a favorite, too.)

We totally call the kid “crotchfruit”. It’s too awesome to pass up.

We’re the first of a couple of our circles of friends to have kids, so it’s been interesting how those friends have reacted to the pregnancy in comparison to my friends who already have kids. The kid-free friends are the ones who stopped calling as much, but when we do see them, I inevitably get cornered by a couple women who pump me for how it feels to be pregnant. Which is fine, but I can only tell you so much and then I just want to discuss Jersey Shore, you know?

I think my issue with the sonogram pictures is less baby-related and more “Eeeeeee, inside of the body”-related.

Part of me really really wants to have a colonoscopy so that I can put pictures of that on facebook. I see your pictures of your uterus and raise you a picture of my lower intestine.

I actually try to keep all my childfree propaganda to myself when people tell me they’re expecting.

My reaction when an acquaintance told me she was expecting was “Omg, what are you going to do?!” Totally expecting, “Oh, abortion/adoption/sell it on the black market/my life is ruined sobsobsob” and she, sort of horrified, responded “Raise it and love it forever….?” And then I realized I was totally out of my depth forever and ever.

Now I keep it to “congratulations”. Can’t get in too much trouble for that one.

My reaction when an acquaintance told me she was expecting was “Omg, what are you going to do?!” Totally expecting, “Oh, abortion/adoption/sell it on the black market/my life is ruined sobsobsob” and she, sort of horrified, responded “Raise it and love it forever….?” And then I realized I was totally out of my depth forever and ever.

Question: Are you me?

One of the points in my life when I realized that I am now considered an adult is when friends and acquaintances get pregnant, the acceptable response is, “Congratulations,” instead of, “Oh, no, I’m sorry.”

Despite my adultyness, I would still freak out hardcore if I found out I was pregnant. But I’ve reached the age where it’s something people are actually trying to do. Which is weird to me. Not that I think wanting to have kids is weird in general, but the fact that I’m old enough to be of an age where wanting kids is not weird is… well, weird.

The #1 thing I learned from my bestie’s pregnancy & mamahood is that saying she still wants to go out with the girls and saying she wants to be with her family are not mutually exclusive. She wants and needs both. My job is to respect the latter, be in charge of occasional forays into the former, and learn to love this new aspect of her life just like I love the other stuff about her.

I wish all pregnant were as cool as this. My good college friend is now with child, and all she talks about is being pregnant, her other pregnant friends, their babies, her baby, nursery furniture, baby clothes, baby names, baby registries, etc. At first I didn’t mind and was glad that she felt comfortable enough to talk to me about such a personal issue. But now, every time we meet or talk on the phone it’s about the baby. When I gently try to guide the conversation to a topic we used to enjoy discussing (design, fashion, idiots at work) she turns it back around to the baby. She’s not the person I was so close to in school. I’m glad she’s happy, healthy and excited but I miss her.

How far along is she? I can definitely see myself getting more baby-centric as I get farther along (I’m only at 22 weeks), but it sometimes still feels barely real– we don’t have a nursery, I’ve only half-heartedly registered, I don’t show too much. If she also doesn’t have anyone else that she feels comfortable talking to, you may be it. Have you tried gently addressing it with her? While becoming a parent is a huge change in her life, she’s still who she was before she got pregnant, the person you became friends with. Was she like this about getting married or other big life-changing moments?

I think it’s probably totally ok to miss her, but this is a major change in her life and I think it’s reasonable for her to be focused on it in a huge way, you know? Give it some time, and there’s nothing wrong with letting her know you miss her, but it’s kind of part of who she is now, too.

I think this is really important! Being pregnant and having a kid IS a huge change, especially for someone whose early life did not revolve around finding a husband and getting ready to start pumping out babies. It’s an enormous change and a pretty weird thing to be happening to your body. It’s pretty normal to get kind of obsessed with it, at least for a while. Of course that doesn’t mean you have to like it–and eventually she might meet other parents or parents-to-be who will give her an outlet for it :)

Leave a Reply