Dealing with negative responses to 3rd pregnancy
May 12, 2010 9:10 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way handle negative responses to the news that we are expecting our third child?

My husband and I have two kids already, 7 and 4. Both of my previous pregnancies were very difficult for me - hyperemesis for all nine months, sciatic and joint problems, extreme fatigue, post-partum depression - but not at all for my kids, who were born perfectly healthy and are thriving.

After the second, we said, yeah, probably no more kids to anyone who asked (and wow, are people nosey!), but didn't do anything particularly permanent about it. My mother, in particular, made it clear that she didn't think I should have any more kids, just because she worries about me. She lives most of the continent away, and adores my kids, and really just worries mostly because she isn't here.

Yesterday, I found out that I am pregnant (only about 5 weeks). I was shocked, as was my husband, but we're both cool with it and getting more excited as the shock wears off. We are definitely financially sound and very much able to love and raise a third child. We are already planning ways to manage our family if I should have a similar pregnancy experience to the other two. This is all a Good Thing.

We agreed that we wouldn't tell anyone until the end of the first trimester, but that I could tell my (unmarried, childless) best friend, who lives overseas and with whom I am planning a trip this summer. I told her over chat this morning, and her first reaction was "don't you people know what causes that?"

I was stunned that she said that - and she did eventually congratulate me. But it's got me thinking now that when we do start sharing the news, not all of the reactions we get are likely to be positive (even though I know it's incredibly rude on the part of the other person). How can we handle it? I really don't want to have to have every conversation about this become me telling people they are being rude or unhelpful.

Also, any suggestions on how to breach this with my mother, whom we won't be able to tell in person, would be especially helpful. Again, she's not anti-more-grandkids, just a major worry-wart.

Anonymous because I'm not ready to have someone I know figure out that I'm pregnant just yet. Throwaway e-mail:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (50 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Just keep in mind that any negative reactions would be due to concern for you and your well-being, it's not that people don't want you to have children per se. They'll get over it.
posted by Neekee at 9:14 AM on May 12, 2010 [9 favorites]

Are you sure your friend wasn't joking? Chat isn't the best medium for figuring out tone or intent. You may be feeling a bit oversensitive and projecting. What leads you to believe you're going to be getting so many negative responses you'll need to have a stock response? Your mother will be concerned, but honestly, I've never been so invested in a friend's reproductive choices that I would weigh in negatively, especially given your stable (finances and family) situation.
posted by availablelight at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2010 [10 favorites]

I would have taken "don't you know what causes that?" as a funny pregnancy joke. Along the lines of "must be something in the water". I wouldn't have taken it personally. People think they're being funny, even if it's not.
posted by CathyG at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2010 [7 favorites]

The fact that you described your best friend in such a pejorative manner (what does it matter that she's unmarried and childless when it comes to your upcoming trip plans being nixed?) makes me wonder if you're telling people about your pregnancies in an "Oh how fabulous that we are pregnant!" way when you could just casually mention it. Casual notices tend to be received with friendly, casual congratulations.
posted by meerkatty at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2010 [7 favorites]

It is more unusual nowadays for people to have 3 kids. When you tell people, you have control over how you want to frame it.

If it were me, I'd say "Well, we got a some unexpected news recently - we're pregnant! While this was obviously unplanned, we're pretty excited. Madison especially is thrilled to have someone to boss around! So far I'm feeling pretty good, so hopefully this pregnancy will be easier than in the past. We're prepared no matter how it goes though. And thankfully Mike got that promotion at work last year, so we're not concerned financially."

Have control over the framing and hopefully people will fall in line with their reactions.

Also remember that you have pregnancy hormones swirling and you're possibly taking their reactions a bit personally.

posted by k8t at 9:23 AM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

it's always a bit complicated relaying big news over chat - is it possible your friend thought she was just being cute/ jokey? I agree it wasn't a good way to respond, but she may not have realized how it would come across when not delivered in person.

Also, it may have depended partly on how you delivered the news - again, over chat it can be complicated. If you want congrats, make sure to deliver news in a "we have great news: we're pregnant!" sort of way. If you sound too easy going about it ("by the way, don't say anything, but, we're pregnant") you could get a jokey response, and if you don't make it clear you're psyched about it, you could get a "how do you feel about it?" sort of response since you've said in the past you were going to stop at two.

Overall I'd try to deliver news in person/videophone, or by phone when possible, and make it very clear you are very happy. If they are still difficult about it, all you can do is tell them to drop it.
posted by mdn at 9:23 AM on May 12, 2010

"don't you people know what causes that?"

Yeah, not only a pregnancy joke, a MIMETIC pregnancy joke. It's one of those things that people say because it is (ostensibly) funny to say, not because it means anything to your case.

I say head 'em off at the pass. When you tell people your happy news throw in, "and I think we've finally figured out what causes this!"
posted by dirtdirt at 9:23 AM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

That's the answer: Tell them you're surprised but thrilled as you give them the news. This makes it a LOT harder to be negative.
posted by xammerboy at 9:24 AM on May 12, 2010

I would respond as if the person had been polite instead of rude. Friend: "Don't you people know what causes that?" You: "I'm so glad that you're happy for us! Thanks so much for sharing in our joy." They'll get the picture pretty quickly.
posted by medusa at 9:26 AM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

In situations where you can't control other people's reactions (that is to say, in LIFE), the best you can do is control your own reaction. Choose not to be offended. Choose to believe that your friends and family members are still worth loving even if they say something rude. Choose to believe that some people will put their foot in their mouth while trying to be funny or clever, and that they did not mean to be rude. It's your choice. (and congrats!!!)
posted by vytae at 9:27 AM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

>"Oh how fabulous that we are pregnant!"
But... it IS fabulous to be pregnant when you're looking forward to having another kid. It's not weird to be happy about it, especially to your best friend. The slightly snarky friend is the one who's out of line here, not the pregnant lady who's happy about her news.

OP, I'd make sure to stress the "we're really excited" part when you tell people, to cue them about how to react to your news. If you say, "I can't come on a trip because we're pregnant" you make it sound a little like a burden and therefore open to snark. On the other hand, if you say, "I have super-exciting news, we're really happy... we're pregnant!", then it's probably harder for the person to be cynical in response, since you've already told them how happy you feel about it.
PS, congrats!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:27 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

We don't know the tone of the comment, but it sounds completely innocuous to me. It's something funny that friends say to each other when one gets pregnant. I'd say she's happy for you. Also, what Neekee said.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:27 AM on May 12, 2010

I think it's a framing thing for sure. You've said you'd told people you weren't planning to have any more kids, while you and your husband in turn really didn't do anything to not have more kids, I think the rest of your friends/family are gonna view this as unplanned, oops, so I think the joking response of your friend isn't going to be all that out of line.
posted by nerhael at 9:29 AM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

It seems extremely unlikely that that was meant as a "negative" response, or that you are likely to encounter any genuinely negative responses.

Given the detailed list of pregnancy hassles but it's your mother who's the "worry-wart" and this sort of overthinking "I'm pregnant" but wow, are people nosy! maybe it's time to evaluate where any perceived drama is originating? Also keep in mind that while this is huge for you and your family -- it's just not life-changing news for friends of yours.
posted by kmennie at 9:29 AM on May 12, 2010

"don't you people know what causes that?"

Yeah, she was only joking. It makes sense especially if you told her it was unplanned. At any rate, give her the benefit of the doubt because she's your best friend and I'm sure you know she loves you. Also, congrats! I don't think you really need to tell people the unplanned part, but if you do, make sure to say how happy you are about it.
posted by JenMarie at 9:32 AM on May 12, 2010

That's the answer: Tell them you're surprised but thrilled as you give them the news. This makes it a LOT harder to be negative.

I wouldn't be so sure, saying you're surprised means it was an unplanned pregnancy - which really isn't hard to be negative about at all.

The friend's comment might have been a poor attempt at a joke or maybe it was a dig at the fact that your pregnancy wasn't planned (were your others?) If all 3 pregnancies were 'surprises' then it makes the 'dig' seem more likely
posted by missmagenta at 9:32 AM on May 12, 2010

I really don't want to have to have every conversation about this become me telling people they are being rude or unhelpful.

Total sympathy here - people do dive in, uninvited, with staggering casual rudeness when they think a woman is over producing!

Spike their guns with humor.
It may not be your style, but perhaps make the announcement, when you're ready, saying: "I am sure you think we're mad - but funnily enough we are both thrilled...".

(It takes a really thick-skinned friend to confirm they believe you're nuts!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:32 AM on May 12, 2010

I really don't want to have to have every conversation about this become me telling people they are being rude or unhelpful.

Really, don't do that, regardless of what they say. Because people will make jokes along the lines of the one your friend made. They mean it in a fun, friendly way. Don't over-analyse or become defensive.

Just say 'Did you hear our wonderful news? We're going to have another baby for Christmas! We're so excited!" This cues people to the fact that you consider it good news, and they will likely respond in kind.

Regarding your mom - she will worry no matter how you tell her, so just use the same phrasing as above and add that you have come up with some plans to manage whatever difficulties arise, and leave it at that. You can't control how she's going to respond over the next several months. She's going to worry. It's her job. She's your mom.

And congratulations, by the way!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:39 AM on May 12, 2010

"don't you people know what causes that?"

She was just kidding around.

As far as negative comments, I like feigning obliviousness with that sort of thing. Like if they're 'OMG--your third???' You just act as if they said congratulations and say 'thanks -- we're really excited.' It's a lot less effort in the long run. Also a handy approach for if you're asked for your zip code or email address by a cashier -- 'No thanks!' -- as if they've offered you something, rather than imposed on you.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:43 AM on May 12, 2010

Mother of three here. I wouldn't say anything about it being unplanned/a surprise - just frame it that you're thrilled although possibly crazy. And then, especially if your two kids are the same sex get ready for all the "trying for a boy?" questions - we got a ton of that. But framing it as "our lives aren't crazy enough and so we're thrilled to let you know...." should short-circuit a lot of the stupidity. And congratulations!
posted by leslies at 9:46 AM on May 12, 2010

It's a joke. Grow a thicker skin.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:46 AM on May 12, 2010 [7 favorites]

Also, don't interpret neutral reactions as negative, and don't force the 'joy' on others, as you may be let down.

For example, I am not a big fan of having children. Fine, that is my own thing. But when I feel I have to reciprocate the level of excitement the parents have, I find it exhausting and kind of rude. Not my business, don't care, please don't make me have to care (beyond that you are happy, of course, that I do care about). I feel a lot of soon to be parents expect a certain type of reaction, which just isn't fair.

It sounds like you thought you 'should' get a different reaction other than a joke, and that you 'should' get a certain type of congratulation. I am not sure why you would think that. What is a big deal for you might not be for her. And I get the impression (I may be wrong) that if people don't respond to the news as you would like, it would be 'rude'.

As to your mother. You know she is worrying so come to it from that angle. Assure her of your safety, let her know what you will be doing this time to make it as safe as possible. Always come to it from "I know she is worrying, how can I relieve that for her?"
posted by Vaike at 9:47 AM on May 12, 2010 [21 favorites]

Pffft, we have four. Plenty of people either made jokes about it or told us we were crazy and it's All Just Too Much. Last time I seem to recall telling people that the first three kids were so perfect that the world deserved more great humans like them.

Your eventual family size is larger than the typical family. So what? Will people say something stupid while their brain is still processing? You bet, almost every time! The extra kid(s) simply violate their norms, and their mouth engages before they realize that you're excited and, heck, they are too -- as well as maybe being a little worried for you based on your previous history.

Sometimes you can laugh with them while others might get the back of your hand (which will be catharsis for all the folks you were forced to be nice to). When they see your beautiful baby next Fall they'll shut their traps and congratulate you. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:55 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker
To clarify, I was not canceling my trip with my friend this summer - it is absolutely still on, I just wanted her to know I wouldn't be boozing my way through the city like we would normally do. I described my friend as single and childless, because she is, and is quite happy that way and I am happy for her - I did not intend the description to be in any way pejorative. And I just wanted to share the news with someone I've known a long time and who has always been loving and supportive. I think that's why I was surprised (and yes, tone over chat is hard, but I've known her for 20+years, so I know her tone in general).

My husband did come up with a response to the question: yes, and clearly we enjoy it. I'm sure I'll use that on friends.

I know my mother is just going to worry. We will do our best to make it clear that we're happy and excited. And thanks to those of you who did offer congratulations - it means a lot, and I appreciate it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:57 AM on May 12, 2010

It's a joke. You are being waaay sensitive, and if I was your best friend and read this I'd be a little peeved at your characterization (unmarried, childless). WTF.

I doubt anyone is going to make any derogatory remarks to you, but you need to have a sense of humor if someone else makes a joke.
posted by amro at 9:58 AM on May 12, 2010

Your friend was making a joke that everyone makes to families with a third or fourth baby on the way. It's especially common from people who don't have kids because they're pretending to not understand why anyone would have multiple babies. You shouldn't feel slighted.
posted by zoomorphic at 9:58 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I described my friend as single and childless, because she is

I don't believe that. It was a completely unnecessary thing to say unless you were trying to make some statement about her that you thought was relevant.
posted by amro at 9:59 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Congratulations on your news!

I'm of the camp that the only thing you should say when you hear of someone's pregnancy, (when this someone is obviously excited or pleased about the pregnancy herself) is, "Congratulations! Best wishes." Or something to that effect. But absolutely no judgments, attempts at humor or further questions ("How long were you trying?" etc). It's just not polite. It leaves the expectant parents with a strange taste in their mouth, or offended, or with a negative view of that previously perfectly fine person.

People don't keep their fool mouths shut when they ought to, and you know from having two children previously that anything and everything you do, say, attempt to do, or look like, as a pregnant woman, is apparently fodder for other people's "clever" remarks. So all you can do in this situation--and your husband, too--is to be cheerful, pretend like you didn't hear the juvenile responses, and move on. Or, if you're in a particularly snarky mood, stick up for yourself and ask, "Why would you say something like that?" But you don't owe anyone any explanation for anything at all.

And by the way, if any of my friends said something like that to me, my feelings would be hurt, too. It's a really insensitive thing to say. I would have definitely called her out on it. I don't think you're out of line for having that type of reaction to her words. She should have thought before she typed!
posted by FergieBelle at 10:08 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

If someone I cared deeply about told me that she was about to do something that was extremely detrimental to her health, I wouldn't be particularly enthused either. I understand that you are excited for your new baby, and that it is a very exciting thing for you and your partner. However, while your thoughts are on the baby, the people who love you are thinking about you, and how this will effect you and your existing children. I think that concerned responses are totally normal and to be expected in your situation. Couching that in sarcasm maybe wasn't the best way to go about that, but you'll have to judge that one on a person by person situation.

Anyway, congratulations. I hope this one goes easier on you than the last ones did.
posted by crankylex at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm going along with the it's a joke comments, and also wonder if you considered your own tone when you told her. Did you emphasize the "We were shocked, this wasn't planned" part? Because I don't see why that even has to come into play.

I'd just go with, "We're expecting! I'm feeling great this time around, and we are both so thrilled," to keep your Mom from worrying if all goes smoothl.

And if you do have a tough time, "Mom, guess what? I'm pregnant! (insert complications here) are so worth it. Can't wait until the baby's born!"
posted by misha at 10:35 AM on May 12, 2010

I suggest that you tell people the news by saying, "Anonymous husband and I are expecting a child, and we're very happy about it." Or, "I have some very (positive adjective) news..." Essentially tell them how they should respond. The only acceptable reactions to an announcement of pregnancy fall along the lines of, "I'm happy for you," "How wonderful," "Congratulations," etc. If someone still sees fit to make a negative comment, funny or not, treat it as a gracious person treats any unwittingly rude remark: Don't respond to the comment. Repeat your positive statement, or change the subject.
posted by wryly at 10:36 AM on May 12, 2010

I agree with Vaike that those who aren't totally into children do have a hard time giving an "I'm! So! Excited! My ovaries are twinging! SQUEE BABIESSSSSS" reaction when you want one. But besides this, I also agree with crankylex. if I was your friend, I'd be thinking, "but the first pregnancies were so rocky, this worries me" and have a hard time faking the required amount of happiness and joy when this was sprung upon me.

That said, I think that she was trying to make a joke and cover up that she might not be bouncing with joy for your new baby right off the bat due to the health issues.

You might want to cut people a little slack for being worried about your health during a third pregnancy, though. Hell, I don't even know you and I'm a little worried.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

You've not cancelled the holiday but it sounds like it'll be a different one than the two of you had planned. She might have been a bit disappointed because of that. Also, why do congratulations from internet strangers matter to you? Sorry if I've misread but it sounds like you're a bit anxious (totally understandable given your history) and looking for validation. Just tell people honestly that you're expecting and you're pleased. If you think you might need some support let them know.
posted by freya_lamb at 11:12 AM on May 12, 2010

Both of my previous pregnancies were very difficult for me - hyperemesis for all nine months, sciatic and joint problems, extreme fatigue, post-partum depression

Not just difficult for you...but for your friends too, right? Can I gently suggest that she may be remembering your misery? As one of your closest friends, did she also get an earful of your frustrations with your mom's over-protectiveness? Our friends are happy to support us even in difficult times, but it doesn't mean it's easy.

You may not mean to be judgmental sounding when you describe her as childless and unmarried, and I'm sure you're careful to not project that, but...y'know how insanely nosy and rude people are when you get pregnant? Well, you're familiar with the baggage and insanely nosy questions that unmarried, childless women get dumped on them by allegedly well-meaning people, right? Even if she is totally happy about her decision not to have kids (which she secretly may occasionally question, because our hormones, they do that) the subject still gets to be wearying.

We are already planning ways to manage our family if I should have a similar pregnancy experience to the other two. This is all a Good Thing.

If you have some specific plans in place to mitigate stuff that was really hard before, that would be a really good thing to have at the forefront of your mind when you talk to your mom. That way, you can acknowledge that her concerns are valid, but that you're taking the issue seriously and not just handwaving her off as a worrywart (even if she is.)
posted by desuetude at 11:26 AM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sometimes, single childless people can feel a little bit beleaguered by the rising tide of parenting around them, or increasingly alone in their child-free choices, or of course increasingly upset at their own inability to follow the marriage-house-kids path for whatever reason.

So, sometimes unenthusiastic responses to pregnancy announcements are really not all about you, but more about the other person's feelings about their own life.

For that matter, parents who are having a rough time raising their own kids can probably be a bit jaded about other people's pregnancy glee. They may think they're the only ones who occasionally wish they had used more contraception, while you are some paragon of successful contented motherhood.

Maybe if you told (some) people in a less immediate medium, where they weren't expected to respond immediately, you'd give them time to marshal their thoughts, get over themselves a bit and remember that "congratulations" would be a good start to the response.
posted by emilyw at 11:29 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

"We're thrilled to be expecting a third kid, and we get better and better with practice at the whole pregnancy thing. We're more prepared than we've ever been, and this is just a wonderful surprise for everyone. I hope you'll join us for dinner/tea/a walk in the park soon."
posted by juniperesque at 11:38 AM on May 12, 2010

We had three children in 3 years. I guarantee people are rude enough to question your decision. We found that if we just smiled and kept to our mantra, "We are so excited for another." it eventually made them uncomfortable to stop. Otherwise, it was our personal decision and since we didn't consult them before we got pregnant we certainly weren't going to listen to them afterwards.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:48 AM on May 12, 2010

i love Vaike's response!

and just wanted to add -- a lot of people don't really think that being pregnant/having another kid is an accomplishment that deserves a congratulations, and that's a pretty justified stance. sperm + egg, child rearing, etc, happens all the time. i really don't mean to be rude (at all! and good for you that you're happy about it!), but you may want to consider that some people just don't really care. nothing against you, just not their thing at all.

if i got offended every time someone scoffed at what i value, i'd be a mess! everyone values different things -- be prepared for some people to not care about what's important to you.
posted by crawfo at 11:51 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

If your question really is how to handle negative responses to your third pregnancy (and not how to thwart future negative responses), then I suggest you give the person the benefit of the doubt (maybe not a negative response at all), remember that if it is a negative response it could be based on their concern for you, and remmeber that if it is a negative response, it could be based on their own issues. Most of all, just let it go! There are more important things to worry about. If they care about you, they'll come around as soon as they see you are happy.

Also, remember how you were shocked and are getting excited as the shock wears off? So was your friend, likely, and so will your mom be, likely. So give them a moment to let the shock wear off before they get excited for you.
posted by Amizu at 12:05 PM on May 12, 2010

I'm sure that you're delighted--and with good reason--but I'd like to mention that maybe the best way to handle some of these responses is not to handle them. Don't try to force other people into being happy for you or expressing their joy and excitement that you're adding another child to your family.

It's awesome for you that this has happened. For other people in your life, though, it might be less awesome--your mother might be thinking about the other pregnancies and how much she worried about you, how stressful it was. The coworker you have lunch with might be struggling with infertility, and to be told that you've just gotten pregnant for the third time might make her stomach knot. Your best friend might be disappointed that the vacation that you were planning together is now going to be at least somewhat different than planned--hyperemesis and no booze can really change the course of a holiday.

In an ideal world, all of these people would have the empathy, self-awareness, and concern for you that they'd be able to set aside their own issues and congratulate you sincerely and wholeheartedly. This isn't an ideal world, though, and most of us are still looking out for number one, however subconsciously. For at least some people, this is going to be like a slap in the face, even though you--and they--know that it's not meant to be.

You have the power in this situation. You're having a child you want, and you're happy. Allow them to not be overjoyed. Be gracious when they respond with "oh, that's...nice." Yes, it's difficult, and yes, it sucks that you're not getting the response that you want, but dwelling on it will only poison your relationships with these people. Remind yourself that you are the fortunate one in this situation, and feel sorry for them that they're not, at this time, able to share in your joy. They'll come around eventually--maybe not to the point where they're thrilled and excited, but to a place where they can be happy for you, even if they're sad for themselves.

I've been on both sides of this situation (first when I got pregnant quite young and had a child that no one felt I should have, and now, struggling with infertility as friend after friend gets pregnant) and I know that they both suck. I hope that your friends come around sooner rather than later, and that you're able to enjoy your pregnancy and new child. In the meantime, on behalf of anyone you know who's not able to say it right now: Congratulations! I'm so happy for you, and I hope that this child is as wonderful and brings as much joy to your lives as the other two.
posted by MeghanC at 12:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

Not everyone sees things the same way you do. To me, "I'm pregnant" is right up there with "I have herpes" or "I just bought a new Hummer" on the list of Things People Should Be Happy and/or Excited About. So if my friend was ecstatic about her new pregnancy, I could appreciate her happiness and be glad that she's happy, but that's about it.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am also pregnant, 7 weeks with #2, and I will be virtually the only person I know with multiple children. Most of our friends were rave kids, a lot are still barfly types, so I know all about the odd responses. Although most of our friends were pretty cool about it.

Honestly, I just braced myself for odd responses. Even my boss at the time asked if #1 was planned - wtf! He immediately apologized as soon as the words left his mouth, but seriously people just do not freakin' think.

Even my in-laws were like "I thought (husband) said he'd never have kids!" Yeah, he also said he'd never get married or work a full time job, but he was also 19 when he said all those things. They later apologized. But they said the same thing this time! They weren't being negative, that's just the way they are. They're delighted we had our first, and will be equally delighted this time.

So as long as you go into it fully expecting people to react in dumb ways, and you can just brush it off, you'll be fine. I'm too tired and pukey to get upset about someone thinking I'm an idiot for having kids 2 years apart.
posted by kpht at 12:57 PM on May 12, 2010

"don't you people know what causes that?"

To the folks who just think that is jokey, let me just let you know that is an incredibly rude statement. I had my three children rather close together, and that kind of comment stings. (I like the OP's husbands answer, btw!) And just because people are concerned for someone's health, that does not excuse rude personal comments. Because the only appropriate comment for 99 percent of pregnancy announcements is "congratulations." Whether you approve of the particular pregnancy or not.

To the OP, the best way to forestall bad comments is to couch your announcement in happy tones, making it obvious you are happy about the news (as, you are!) As for mom, she'll manage. My mom is more than likely a worse worrywart than you (I told my AUNT I was pregnant for the 3rd time before I told Mom) but even she dealt with it fine. (even tho she had offered to pay to get my tubes tied after number 2 was born, which I declined-good thing too, as I was unknowingly pregnant again when she offered!)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:05 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

When two close (male) friends of mine announced that their wives were pregnant my first words were, "Well, shit." And then I laughed and congratulated them. They laughed too because they knew I was kidding. I'm married and childless and sometimes my husband and I feel like rare birds. We bid adieu to our friends with each new baby. It's just the truth -- in those first years of new baby, they become insulated and hard to connect with. I'm happy for their happiness and sad that our friendship will be changing. So, when people say things that you don't like about your news, just try to laugh about it -- these are their issues, not yours.

I also think that your friend might have really been looking forward to celebrating the good old days with you. Hey, your kids are out of that need-mom's-focus-constantly and you are probably more able to be your old self. She was probably really looking forward to that and -- oh bummer -- that won't be happening. Perhaps in another three years, she might be thinking.

Try to give your friends and family the benefit of the doubt -- most people are well-meaning even when they say stupid things. Good luck and congratulations!
posted by amanda at 1:25 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]

We are expecting our fourth the end of July, and let me tell you--this happens all the time to us. It's quite annoying, similar to how the "jokey ironic racism" must feel for folks (though obviously different in degree).

It does sting, and it's not just jokey so lay off, please, folks?

Now, to the rest of you and the OP--it's kinda hard to say. Not everyone will agree with your choice. That's their problem. Arguments about population notwithstanding, it's not really their place to be judgmental. You have to deal with it the same way you deal with other negative people.

I guess that's a long-winded way of saying, "Flag it and move on."
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:46 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think the friend being single and childless *is* relevant because it is a different perspective. Maybe the OP was trying to say the friend might have said X, even if it was innocuous, because the friend hasn't had the experience of raising 2 kids already.
posted by ShadePlant at 2:57 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't tell people its unplanned. It's none of their business, and you are revealing a level of detail that invites them to make personal comments. By that I mean that if you willingly volunteer implicit information about your sex life, people may follow your cue and think it is OK for them to comment on your sex life, when really its not. Of course you can never escape inappropriate responses to pregnancy announcements, but I think that would help minimise it. A friend of mine was upset that when she got pregnant with her third baby, people assumed it must be an accident, because OMG who has more than two kids these days? People are rude, even though they don't really mean to be.
posted by Joh at 3:08 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

Speaking purely - purely - from my own, personal, anecdotal experience, I have had a lot of friends who get pregnant and are like "wow! Total surprise!!", and then it emerges that they weren't using contraception, or weren't using reliable contraception in favour of rhythm or something - and, whilst I try (at least I hope I do!) not to show it, I get a little bit jack of the "omg pregnant again from having unprotected sex! How?! What?! Why?!" thing (note, I do realise it's entirely possible to get pregnant when you genuinely think you're using reliable contraception or whatever).

For me - just for me - The "we were so surprised!" thing bugs me a little bit, because it feels disingenuous and also defensive. I'm like, "Guys, have as many kids as you want, I don't care, but either you were open to children but not trying, or you have some pretty serious ignorance going on about reproductive choices and their consequences. Don't feel guilty about having a child, please, but don't do this weird form of lying where you pretend you didn't want one but actually kinda sorta did, or that you don't know how to use contraceptives but kinda sorta actually do."

Thus, I just prefer when friends say, "hurrah! We're pregnant!". They're happy, I'm happy; I can react genuinely without feeling obliged to enter this weird forced, fictional compact.

I'm not saying this is what your friend is thinking, or this is what you're saying necessarily, but I just wanted to add another perspective.
posted by smoke at 5:38 PM on May 12, 2010 [6 favorites]

Because the only appropriate comment for 99 percent of pregnancy announcements is "congratulations."

There is etiquette, and then there are the various unwritten rules of friendship, and there are differences; one is permitted to break out of the formal boundaries of the former with close friends.

smoke is totally right vis-a-vis the disingenous aspect, which can make this stuff so hard to respond appropriately to.

Strip the OP's post down, and it is "I had a big shock, and my close friend commented on my surprise. How rude." Awkwardness is not being created solely by the OP's friend.
posted by kmennie at 3:51 AM on May 13, 2010

"Don't you know what causes that?"

"No, why don't you tell me? I want details."


posted by balls at 9:37 AM on May 14, 2010

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