I am surrounded by childfree couples. How do I announce my pregnancy?
August 10, 2015 9:09 AM   Subscribe

After years of unsuccessfully trying to start a family, my partner and I have resigned ourselves to the idea of never having children and fully embraced a childfree lifestyle with a busy social life, lots of travelling, sports and fun hobbies. I just found out I am 8 weeks pregnant.

This was a very unexpected surprise and while we are so so happy for this new development, I find myself extremely anxious to announce the news to friends and family and need to have some strategies in place on how to deal with possible negative comments/jokes/snarky remarks. We are planning to announce it at 12 weeks if all is well.

This is stressing me out so much that it's taking the joy out of what should be a happy time in my life.

We do have some friends with children which we get to see regularly and know they will be supportive and congratulate us. Same with our parents.

However, most of our friends and some family members are childfree couples, that we meet/travel with regularly and frequently commiserate about crying kids on the plane, screaming tantrums in grocery stores, kids throwing food and whining in restaurants and parents just ignoring them. We often talk about how relieved we all are not to have to deal with out of control kids and then move on to some other subjects of discussion.

Some of the childfree couples are openly critical of other parents' parenting skills or lack thereof when out in public and I admit that we often agreed with them. I see few examples of parents disciplining, correcting and teaching kids basic manners, even amongst our friends with families and that scares me. Of course, in our ignorance, we still hope that we will be different parents and that our kid will be rational, well-behaved and will understand boundaries (HA!). I'm sure life will teach us humility and how wrong we were as we go (yes karma, I know you're coming for us).

Now I feel like a traitor and I don't know how to deal with announcing the baby-news to all these couples who think kids=little devils who ruin your life. How do I respond to jokey/snarky/negative remarks about our future life with a kid on board? Since I found out about the pregnancy, whenever some discussion started with "OMG family with 5 kids just walked into the restaurant, R-U-N!" I just smiled and changed the subject.

I don't expect anyone to jump for joy. I totally get the lack of enthusiasm at losing another set of friends to parenthood. I'm actually very private and don't want to make a big deal out of it. Am I overthinking this?

I need suggestions on ways to prepare myself for dealing with possible negative reactions to the news. Polite come-backs or ways of making the announcement as subdued as possible are welcome. Should I go for a funny announcement something like "Obnoxious parents checklist. Did we turn into someone who: 1).......2).......3)....... If yes, we need a babysitter and a night out. You pick the place, we'll book the sitter"?

Thank you :)
posted by Karotz to Human Relations (49 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
From my own (similar) experience, the reaction of CF couples we knew to the arrival of our own little C was... varied. Some of them were delighted to meet her (as long as they didn't have to take her home), some of them were happy to hang out with us (as long as we could get a babysitter), and one of my wife's friends felt so betrayed she went totally no-contact. So, uh, YMMV.
posted by Oktober at 9:18 AM on August 10, 2015 [14 favorites]

You know, you don't portray these childfree people in a particularly pleasant light here. I am sure - sure - there are actually nice, good things to say about these people (they are your friends after all, and you wouldn't be friends with them if they were good people, right?). I am pretty certain this is your anxiety talking rather than a true reflection of your friends. Think about what kind of human beings they are generally and you'll have an idea of how they will react.
posted by kariebookish at 9:19 AM on August 10, 2015 [39 favorites]

Best answer: They're not "losing you to parenthood"

Don't make the announcement subdued

Don't insult yourselves or be self-deprecating

If people are rude--which they likely won't be, at least not to your face--tell them you don't appreciate it, and that you love them, but they need to be respectful
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:19 AM on August 10, 2015 [31 favorites]

Well, generally speaking, true friends are going to support you no matter what you do, as long as what you're doing is not self-destructive and is not harming anyone else.

So I wouldn't worry exactly about how your friends react - you should think about preparing yourself mentally for negative reactions.

People who react negatively to this good news are not true friends, and they are going to be people you should just plan on cutting out of your life entirely.

So draft up a plan for doing that, and don't worry about hurting their feelings. If they were truly friends with you, they would worry more about hurting *your* feelings.
posted by Nevin at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

I think you just need to remind yourself that you can't control how other people respond. Tell people however feels right for you and your partner. If anyone responds badly, have some stock answers thay are vague "I'm sorry you feel that way." "I really don't appreciate that comment."

Some of your friendships were based at least in part on a shared childfree lifestyle. You won't be able to keep all of these friends and that's okay. You be you and see who sticks around. Don't feel like you need to bend over backwards to somehow prove that you won't be like all those other parents you've mocked over the years - you may or may not be - just be yourself. Gracious about any good natured ribbing about things changing. Shutting down anything mean spirited or just uncomfortable for you.

Things will change. Just roll with it the best you can.

posted by cessair at 9:22 AM on August 10, 2015 [15 favorites]

My friend was terrified to tell me she was pregnant. The little imp was born on my birthday and I babysat when she was an infant and we hang out to this day and she is a simply charming child and also a genius. Unless they're seriously phobic or allergic, your close friends likely will not put your baby in the reviled otherpeople'schildren category. You're not "other people" and your child won't be, either.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2015 [14 favorites]

Make the announcement with Joy and excitement.
If these people really are your friends, they will embrace this important event in your life.
Don't sell your friends short by assuming that they will be jerks.
posted by Flood at 9:27 AM on August 10, 2015 [14 favorites]

You may lose friends, yeah. You will definitely grow apart from your childfree friends. But you will probably make new ones who are parents. Don't sweat the announcement. And congratulations!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

IF they are your friends & you are happy they should be happy for you. Their reactions will tell you a lot about their friendship. Also remember complaints about other peoples kids are just that, other's peoples kids are uncontrolled your's are just free spirited, other peoples children are having a temper tantrum, yours is just expressing itself. Perception of behaviors depends a lot on their relationship to the child, and this is not going to be "other peoples" this is going to be the child of a friend, one they see grow up & get to know.
posted by wwax at 9:29 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Joyously! Unreserveedly!
posted by Oyéah at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

We are child-free but actually would not hang out with the type of people you describe, who complain about how children ruin your life, etc. That sounds really tedious. I think we would only be considering how this would change how often we see you, in this scenario. Announce away and let the chips fall. Don't coddle people who hate.
posted by zennie at 9:32 AM on August 10, 2015 [28 favorites]

I have no children and am happy about that. But I'd be disgusted if I heard someone making negative comments to a person announcing their own child-in-the-making. I suggest that when you say you're expecting, you should also smile and say that you're excited, or happy, or whatever positive emotion comes to mind. The only appropriate response is, "That's great! I'm happy for you!"

If someone does say something snarky, don't take it personally. It's all about the person saying it -- and has nothing to do with you. You could repeat that you're looking forward to meeting the little one, or that you feel very fortunate, that it feels like a very good thing. Keep a calm and even expression and tone. if anyone's rude enough to remind you that you've complained about other people's children, just tell 'em "yes, very true. Things change."

It sounds as if you're imagining a cohesive attack from your friends. But consider each of them as an individual. A flippant or derogatory joke from one might be insulting, while from another it might be tolerable effort to adjust to your new outlook.

It is often true that parents don't mix well with the child-free, but it's not universal. My husband and I have some great friends who are also parents.
posted by wryly at 9:32 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have not at all grown apart from all my child-free friends. I have even made more since I have had a child. I feel like there were a few people who didn't want to be friends anymore and that was cool, but ultimately if you want to keep friends who don't have/like kids you invest in babysitters or you leave the kid at home with its father while you go out so you can get one-on-one time. Even if it's just for an hour and a half until you need to go back and nurse again or whatever. It really is possible and okay. The stereotype that it's not or that you change into a whole different type of person (a "mother") is pretty inaccurate. You can make it be like that if you want but you really don't have to and it's not an inevitable conclusion. It's just like the stereotype that once you get married you get boring and your life sucks and you hate each other. It's true in limited circumstances but by no means does being married cause that state of existence. Nor should you bend over backwards to accommodate people who want to stereotype you in insulting ways despite claiming to be your friend.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:34 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Not all children throw tantrums in restaurants and cry on planes, and even when they do, there may well be good reasons for them to be doing so (long day, no naps, tough point in life, you'll see).

Yes, your life will change drastically - especially when your little one is very little, your events will often be dictated by their schedules. Gone are impromptu adventures and sudden travel on a whim, replaced instead by hours of planning and packing, and a car that feels half full of things for a very small person. Just be clear with your friends about what you need to do and why (place to eat every 3 hours, and a quiet nap space an hour after that, things like that). If others can plan for, or at least come to expect what it means to travel with your newly expanded family, it shouldn't be too much of a shock.

We have some friends who take joy in being child-free and being our friends, because they get to deal with the fun stuff of kids, without the messy, annoying things. Plus kids are a hoot, seriously. If you don't laugh when a tiny person giggles, you're taking things too seriously (even if the little person is laughing because they made some mess).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you absolutely have to make a formal announcement? I feel like that was one of those early-pregnancy (and especially, first-pregnancy) fallacies, where it was all really big and new and all-encompassing to us, so of course there had to be a ceremonious, carefully-planned Moment of Disclosure to everyone else. Which I guess makes sense if you're excitedly announcing to people whom you're sure will think it's rad; but for childfree folks, really, the nicest thing you could do for them might be to let the pregnancy emerge gradually as an is-she-or-isn't-she, bump-or-just-too-much-pizza?? kinda question, and give them all enough time and space to process it and think of civil responses at their leisure.
posted by Bardolph at 9:36 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi, I and my partner are one of those non-kid-having couples that may bear some resemblance to the friends you're concerned about. Assuming your friends are reasonable grown-up human beings, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Adults, especially those in the 20-40ish age range, can go through a *lot* of changes in terms of outlook and life planning, and the matter of whether or not to raise offspring is such a personal and monumental decision that I couldn't fathom passing judgment on a friend who went one way or another on it.

When our first set of formerly non-child-bearing friends added a kid to their family, things did get a *bit* different, but not in any way that ended up being a big deal. Yeah, now they sometimes have to take extra breaks to deal with naptime and whatnot in the middle of board gaming sessions, but that's not even a thing. And as someone who likes kids despite being ambivalent-to-no on having my own, it's actually pretty nifty to get to watch my friends' adorable spawn discovering the world. :)
posted by aecorwin at 9:44 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: OK, I'm a childfree person and the word "militant" has occasionally been applied to me across various subject matter. I'm not crazy about kids on any level, I'm not filling my world with surrogate nieces and nephews, I'm not a teacher, etc. I don't particularly rag on kids acting out in public or whatever, but like, kids are just not on my radar for How The World Is.


Man, when my friends have babies I am thrilled! Because my friends are thrilled! And I love when happy things happen to my friends.

I can't promise that I'm any help once the kids are here. I'm nobody's idea of a good sitter, and the hours I keep aren't probably super-convenient for hanging with new parents. So yeah, some things are likely to change in your relationships with some people. But 1) if people know that you were less childfree-by-choice and more childfree-by-circumstance, they have always known that you would be parents if you could. It's not going to seem insane to them. and 2) if they're dicks, well, they were always dicks, just selectively. And maybe it's for the best to not hang out with dicks.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:46 AM on August 10, 2015 [35 favorites]

Say it loud and say it proud because you are. This is now a part of your life, a big one. If people say something dickish about it, call them out on it privately. It's an insult for anyone to rain on your parade.

As for your friends, they get to remain childfree as is their choice. That's the only choice they get to make. Real friends will be happy for the happiness of their friends. It's not at their expense and they should realize that.
posted by inturnaround at 9:48 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't anticipate any snark or bitterness from them, and don't respond to any you do get. It's probably a good idea to hold back on being super-duper effusive until you can gauge their reaction to the news, but it's not your job to make them feel okay. If they're really your friends, they will still be your friends. It's not like you're betraying them; you didn't sign a No Kids Club contract or anything.

Judging from your description of your friends, a lot of them probably don't fully understand how life with a baby or toddler will work, and they might make assumptions like "well, you can go out now and just have the baby nap later, right?" Pay attention to how they handle this. The friends who start to pick up on your new limitations, and attempt to accommodate them, are still your friends, even if you don't see each other as often. The friends who keep butting their heads against that wall and expecting you to have your old childfree schedule will probably not be worth keeping.

My best friend is childfree by choice and typically hates baby stuff, and I fully expected her to be less than thrilled about my pregnancy announcement. I couldn't have been more wrong. You never know.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:49 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Please keep in mind that some of these other childfree couples may not be childfree by choice and they may need some emotional room in the next few months.
posted by advicepig at 9:51 AM on August 10, 2015 [26 favorites]

If you have friends who would actually be critical of you after you finally get something you have been trying for, do you really want them around your baby or in your life, period? My guess is that this will be a win win if anyone becomes truly rude about you being pregnant.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:53 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


A big part of friendship is embracing the fact that life goes on, no matter what the change - people move, have kids, get new jobs, buy houses, etc. True friends, at the very least, will respect that inevitability; at best, will adapt their interactions with you to accommodate the change in your life so that the friendship isn't completely lost.

Regardless of how they feel about kids (as someone said upthread - you do portray them unflatteringly), the people that want to remain in your lives because they value your presence in theirs will act accordingly. Announce your pregnancy when you want, enjoy this time in your life, and prepare for all the surprises that come with having kids - do whatever you like without worrying about what others think or feeling guilty! Those friends of yours who feel they can't even with your pregnancy will fade away; you wouldn't want friends that judgmental anyway, right? Besides, having a baby (or so I'm told), really makes you prioritize your previous relationships because time to yourself is somewhat scarce.

I'm the first in my group of friends to have a baby (I'm three months in now, and no one else is even close), and while I'm afraid that my friendships will change permanently, I'm also confident that the friends I trust and value the most will always be there regardless of how they feel about kids and family.
posted by Everydayville at 9:54 AM on August 10, 2015

Your friends will congratulate you and be happy for you (unless they really are complete assholes in which case um good riddance?) In every culture, "we're expecting our first baby!" is an occasion for effusive congratulations. Even from people who don't enjoy other children's tantrums (which, by the way, is everyone: nobody enjoys other children's tantrums.) Not enjoying tantrums doesn't mean that one shouldn't wish well to an expectant parent!)
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2015

you admit that you have been right there along with them - with the jokes and the eye rolls and the general letting off steam about other people's kids, so i think the best thing to do is to consider how you'd react if one of the group announced their pregnancy to you - you'd be excited for them, right? why are you sure your friends won't be the same?

my husband and i are childfree by choice and i can't imagine being anything other than ecstatic for friends going through a wanted pregnancy.
posted by nadawi at 10:01 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

I don't expect anyone to jump for joy. I totally get the lack of enthusiasm at losing another set of friends to parenthood. I'm actually very private and don't want to make a big deal out of it. Am I overthinking this?

I'm childfree by choice. You see it as losing friends to parenthood? I see it as "Yay! My amazing friends will raise amazing children who will make the world a better place!" Sounds cheesy but that's how I feel. Lots of my friends have kids and we still hang out and do fun stuff. The only difference is that now we get to do it with the wee ones, which enhances the experience.

Basically, if they're excited, I'm excited too.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Mr. and I are pretty solidly in the "childfree" category, for a mix of reasons, some deeply personal. A couple we are close with is expecting a little girl in just a few weeks. We've already offered to baby-sit the little scamp. But I like kids--especially nerdy, weird little kids, and this kid is bound to be that. I just don't like having them.

Some of your friends will be weird, some of your friends will be cool, and some more still will be overjoyed. If any of them are downright mean about it? They're probably not really your friends anyway.
posted by PearlRose at 10:07 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a childfree person who recently had a friend who was also an avowed childfree person for YEARS recently announce a pregnancy... HOORAY FOR YOU!

When my old friend who never previously wanted children told me she was pregnant, I simply asked her if she was happy. When she said yes, I said than I am 100% happy for you and congratulated her warmly. I even knit a baby blanket for the wee one.

If ANYONE gives you flak, that is on them. Lives change, people change and if they're jerks about it, they are not your friends to begin with.

Congratulations and good luck!!!
posted by bibliogrrl at 10:08 AM on August 10, 2015 [7 favorites]

Your reaction strikes me as odd. Surely if these people are your friends, then they will be happy for you. Now, I suppose you might get a tiny bit of teasing immediately after the announcement, just like a "confirmed bachelor" would when he announces he is getting married, but that is consistent with your friends being happy for you. And if some aren't, then they aren't your friends.

However, it is well within your power to drive good people away with negative assumptions. So my advice would be to try and rid yourself of these preconceived ideas concerning how your childfree friends will react, and stop caring so much about what they will think of your choices.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:12 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

nadawi's comment reminded me of something: it's human nature to not care about, or even be disdainful of, situations that don't affect you personally - and for that to change almost instantly when the same situation enters your social circle. Don't be surprised if your friends are sincerely and ridiculously excited for you, and if they start viewing parenting in a more sympathetic light (even if it's absolutely off the table for them personally).
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

Child free person who was absolutely thrilled to become godmother of a little boy who I have spent most of this afternoon entertaining. I was thrilled for my friend when she announced she was pregnant and am always keen for updates on kiddo. And I am as annoyed about screaming kid on plane as I am about the snoring folks on planes - most parents appear to do their best.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:18 AM on August 10, 2015

As long as these friends are not in fact terrible people, then I really don't think you have anything to worry about. I say this as someone who has definitely been known to bitch about children on plane and in public, and my commitment to not having children myself only gets stronger with each passing year. However, if I had a friend expecting their first child, I would be thrilled for them.

With that being said, I really have no idea what to do with babies, and no interest in holding them and whatnot, partially because I'm scared of doing something wrong, but also because it holds no appeal for me. I don't think they're cute--yes, really, even the objectively cute ones--but I would totally still ooh and ah over the pictures because that's what people do. And once the baby is old enough to walk and talk, I would happily come over and play with the little one, as opposed to just smiling on the sidelines. As they get even older, then I would be even more thrilled to engage with them. Of course, YMMV, but I think there are definitely a sizable minority of people like me who may not like babies, and certainly don't like children, but do very well interacting with slightly older children.

All of that is kind of besides the point. Regardless of my personal feelings, I would be thrilled on my friends behalf, because friends want their friends to be happy. I think your best bet is to tell your friends with enthusiasm, because I think they're more likely to reflect your positive reaction if you make it clear that this is a great surprise. I also agree with others that you should give them the benefit of the doubt, and go into these conversations assuming that they'll be happy for you.

And if any of them do make snide remarks or start snubbing you or what not, then they are just shitty friends, and that's on them.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:19 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think, given the terms you chose regarding your previous childlessness, you're just going to have to let it go in situations where the reaction is uncool. You should probably assume that most of those friendships are over, unless they were firmly in the "it's super fun to be mean but only to people we don't know" camp.

It doesn't mean you have to let them be shitty to you ongoing, but all you can do is cut them off if they are, or if they don't grow up a little. Probably the noblest way to forge forward is a shrug and "well, things change" to give them a chance to recalibrate and if they don't, they don't.

I would say do a big group announcement, and if you can do it in email (which is a lot "realer" to people than Facebook or other social media) that's probably preferable.

Not all people-without-children have to act like that, though. And some of the people you already know to be kinda shitty may just be poorly-developed and incapable of empathy until something affects them directly, so there's hope and you shouldn't automatically assume that all of them will be terrible about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:21 AM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have never wanted children, am "not good with them", bitch often in public and private about obnoxious kids and even more obnoxious parents, and more seriously I think overpopulation especially in the resource-squandering rich countries is World Problem One, and all my friends know all this. I have never reacted to being told by a friend they are having a baby with anything other than voluminous, undiluted, and UTTERLY genuinely felt joy and congratulation. My best friend is pregnant for the second time and her kid is showing me I AM good with kids if I like them cos I love their parents, I would jump in front of a bus for her cos she is a. a kid and b. my friend's kid. And my best friend and I STILL go on about obnoxious kids and obnoxious parents. Anyone who reacts any different to your news is a. broken, b. not a friend. If they do have reservations a grown up will keep them the hell to themselves. This is as automatic and compulsory as not saying "good! couldn't stand the bitch" when someone tells you their mum died.
posted by runincircles at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

It will be okay! We used to complain about landlords and then some of us became landlords and started complaining about tenants. True friends adjust. If some friends don't adjust, then your own real bond was being childfree and if you are no longer childfree then you won't have that bond.

I have all kinds of friends...once I was parenting things did change but it was not because of the announcement, it was because things changed, as they do.

posted by warriorqueen at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: To me it sounds like your discomfort is largely coming from having so closely identified yourself as childfree and aligned yourself with other childfree friends, and now feeling weird about finding yourself among the "enemy" (you say you feel like a "traitor") and not unhappy about it? But, you know, there's no inherent conflict between disliking other people's kids and adoring your own, being annoyed by screaming kids in Wal-Mart and but feeling compassion and tolerance for your friend's kid who is crying from an ear infection. MANY people can't stand other people's kids but are head-over-heels for their own. And MANY of their friends can't stand other people's kids but love the kid they know. It's not that you were wrong before, and it's certainly not that you're a traitor. People are complex and it's not internally inconsistent to hold both feelings at once.

As for how your friends will react to your news, there's really only one thing you need to know: Kind people will be kind.

Some may be awkward in their attempts to be kind, or find kindness difficult if they have raw feelings about their own childlessness. But you'll be able to tell who's trying to be kind and who's not.
posted by HotToddy at 10:56 AM on August 10, 2015 [6 favorites]

Any person you call a friend that isn't supportive of you and your family isn't really your friend. Make the announcement. If anyone gives you shit for it, good riddance.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2015

Even if someone does react poorly by avoiding you or acting distant, I think it is important to remember that sometimes such reactions come from people who are dealing with infertility issues (even if they haven't said anything publicly.) I remember two women in particular who mostly didn't actually say anything mean or nasty (maybe there was one bitter comment), but who clearly found it very painful to be around my wife after her pregnancy was announced. It isn't always about good friends who will respond positively to your happy news regardless of their personal feelings about children vs. assholes. Sometimes there are people who wish they could be happy for you, who would be good friends in other situations, but who just can't be there for you now because of their own issues. Knowing that can make it a little easier to deal with if someone does have trouble reacting positively to your good news.
posted by Area Man at 11:30 AM on August 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

there are two things here:

first, there may, or may not be, some kind of karma for how you behaved previously. if you mis-represented yourselves, or were unfair, well, it's payback time.

but second, maybe you're unsure about whether you were unfair or not. and i think there are two things worth saying there: we are childless (by choice) and we wouldn't care (well, i wouldn't, but my partner would happily wander off and buy you / your baby a present); second, everyone bitches about other people's kids - the worst person i knew at doing that had two badly behaved brats of his own.

i don't think other people can make a serious call on the karma point. you know what you said and did and thought. maybe you just have to suck it up. but i guess it's more likely that you and they are pretty much normal and you're over-reacting...
posted by andrewcooke at 11:37 AM on August 10, 2015

Here's a secret: while you will no doubt make friends that have kids at some point (and will be glad that your kids then have someone to play with), child free friends are awesome. Our very best friends are two sets of child free couples. They 1) can do things on(because we have lots of sitters available) they can always do it. 2) they become the awesome aunt and uncle by virtue of being around so much. They are my kids' favorite people. 3) they come to our house to hang out, so we can put the kids to bed and then continue to party. Works out for everyone.

Now, they are childless people who don't hate kids, and they are people who agree with our parenting philosophy, so they don't have to worry about kids screaming in restaurants without us talking to them. As long as you continue to do stuff with your friends - and sometimes that means coordinating stuff with them, and doing the inviting, and explaining that it's easier to hang at your house than to bring the toddler over where he's going to sit on their cats - it'll be fine. If the people aren't happy for you because you've made a different choice than them, they aren't your real friends.

Congrats :)
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:39 AM on August 10, 2015

You're scared. That's completely natural. All your previous babies never even conceived, or worse, miscarried. Naturally your instincts are going to start bellowing that you are about to have a tiny, enormously vulnerable individual, and you will go completely paranoid. Some people get fiercely worried that toxins in the paint will cause a tragedy, some people start a rigorous program of getting their abdomen to listen to Mozart, other people become activists preventing global warming and some people finally learn how to run a washing machine for the first time at the age of forty-eight, and some go on record stating that any parent who immunizes/refuses to immunize their child should lose custody immediately and face prosecution.

Panic is a perfectly normal reaction to the sudden change in your life direction. You have previously not had to pick and choose your friends according to how tolerant they are, and now you are wondering on some subliminal level if the fact that Maggie once rolled her eyes contemptuously when some stranger mother momentarily blocked the aisle with a stroller, diaper bag and vigorously disobedient toddler means that when your infant blocks an aisle to take its first sweet toddling steps Maggie will drop kick it over the back of the couch.

Give your friends the chance to decide if they want to adjust to your new life. Since Maggie and Jerry and DeWahyn and Jade do not have criminal records for grabbing and shaking other people's babies, I think you will find that they will either crowd forward or back up according to how good they are going to be with your baby. They will self select. Let them decide if they want to back up. Be prepared to find new friends. Be prepared to discover that some of them will want god-parent or honourary uncle/aunt status. Be prepared to realise that you don't want to grant them god-parent status and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are a completely different religion from you.

Accept your fear. It is there because you are embarking on some unpredictable social unknowns and now have to protect another individual. This is normal. It is part of the process whereby you learn to sleep through a house fire across the street complete with screaming firetrucks and multiple media crews, but wake up because you heard a tiny little cough in the next room while you are in deep sleep. You are beginning the process of being aware of all the new things you will need to be aware of - Is that pimple impetigo? Could that sneaker be flushed? Is that baby about to spew? Did you remember to buy diaper wipes? Is this lollipop red or orange? Did you remember to fasten the car seat securely? Are you too tired to drive safely? Is that a normal shape for a baby's abdomen?

Your fear of telling your friends that you are experiencing a miracle is part of your bonding instinct. It's part of what will make it possible for you to curl up in a nest with your new baby, hoarding her and gloating over him while you sleep and nurse and sleep and nurse and your oxytocin levels sizzle higher and higher. It helps you to bond. You got this. You are going to absolutely rock this. Be cool.
posted by Jane the Brown at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2015

My husband and I will forever be a kidless couple. I don't let my personal feelings about children cause harm to those that want kids or have them. If people I know want them or have them, then that's the right choice for them.

I do agree that you have to accept that some of your friend-relationship will change. That would happen over time as things change with people anyway.

Comedian Tig Notaro said a great thing in her documentary when talking about how she wanted children. "People keep saying, 'Your whole life will change.' I say, 'Yeah, I know. That's the point. I want my life to change.'" I think that's important to remember. Things will change, and that's okay! Some of it will be good, and some may be sad if you get distant from some friends.

As a kidless person, and as someone who doesn't want to be around kids much, I would probably grow distant if a friend had a kid. At least somewhat. But it doesn't mean I wouldn't be happy for them. Or it may mean you have some friends that you still need to hang out with in a kidless environment. Things just change, but you'll make new friends and I'm sure many of your friends will be overjoyed! Just tell them you are happy about it. And be happy about it!
posted by Crystalinne at 12:08 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a little mystified by the people who are commenting that "lose them to parenthood" isn't a thing, because in my experience it's been a thing every.single.time. It's not on purpose, but it's inevitable.

I am childfree by circumstance, and at this point more or less by choice. I have never not been happy for my friends as they have announced their pregnancies over the course of these past years, but I have also known (and truth has borne out) that I *will* lose them to parenthood. And that does suck for me, and I do sort of hate it.

Almost every one of them has lovely, well-behaved, sweet children who cause me no particular agita one way or another. I'm not particularly interested in children and children-related things, but these are not the nightmares-on-the-airplane types. That said, the mere fact of parenthood has made the people who were once my close friends now emotionally and logistically unavailable, which has been a loss to me and a detriment to my life.

So +10 to all the messages that you don't want to be friends with someone who can't show some basic happiness and excitement for you. But please do see their POV too, and if some of them are obviously having to work hard muster up the excitement, cut them some slack. They are going to be the losers in this situation, and they know it.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:25 PM on August 10, 2015 [16 favorites]

I love kids, but am in the childfree by choice camp. Many of my friends who are parents hold the very prevalent attitude that the childfree are selfish/incomplete/untrustworthy/shirking their christian duty/etc. It hurts. It hurts deeply, especially when I wrestle with my decision to be CF as well. I enjoy my friendships with my CFbC friends bc I know they are never going to lay those types of judgments down against me.

When my best friend (at the time) who was CFbC decided to embrace motherhood (her husband wanted kids so she grudgingly went along) I was terrified at first. What if we didn't get to spend much time together anymore bc of the demands of a new baby? What if she went out and found all new friends who were parents? I worried about these things bc in the past when friends had babies that's the kind of stuff that happened- their lives got very busy (understandably) and they didn't have much time for me for the next 5 years or so. After her baby arrived, things with regard to scheduling and her finding lots of parent friends didn't really materialize and so that fear was alleviated. However there was a whole new and unexpected change that was HARD. This girl- this best friend of mine who previously laughed at those sappy moms who can't even stand in line at starbucks without looking over at their kid to make silly faces at them....who thought it was ridiculous that moms can't even go a couple days away from their kids without missing them so deeply...who thought taking a gazillion photos of your kid was stupid...this girl flip flopped on all of that. Literally one day at Starbucks she stood in line while I sat with baby and she turned to us and started making goofy faces at baby and I felt so..so...abandoned. It's like if you're a foodie doing all kinds of amazing restaurants with a friend and they suddenly adopt a strict diet and now view food as just fuel. When people closest to you change it's very unsettling. But that was my own emotional baggage to deal with - and it will be something that your CF friends will need to deal with and it's not on you to fix it or a reflection of anything you are doing wrong. Just give them the understanding and emotional space to deal with the sudden change.

Mostly what I came here to say is this: if you want to preserve your friendships with CF people (assuming they are amenable) the most important advice I have is that you must guard your thoughts and words so that you do not ever assault them with the cruelty that they face from most of the parents out there regarding the judgments I mentioned above. As long as you aren't looking down on them, or pitying them, or suddenly feeling that they just don't get life bc they don't have kids, you should be fine.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 12:29 PM on August 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

So I'm a staunchly childfree person who is really not excited about anyone getting pregnant. I have a cousin I'm close with, and I thought she was also in the "No thanks" camp regarding having children. She got pregnant and told me "it's okay, you don't have to be excited". I told her "are you fucking kidding me? Of course I'm excited! It's your baby!". I am really not actually excited at all and am kind of sad because I thought we had years of couples vacations ahead of us, BUT I would never ever everrrr tell her that! It's life, people change, circumstances change, and yeah you'll probably have a totally different set of friends in a couple years. But that's okay, because you'll also have a kid that you love more than anything! Congrats! Seriously.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 12:29 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Something you may want to specifically say in your announcement, especially if you go low-key, is "we are thrilled" or similar.

It's always awkward for me when one of my loudly childfree acquaintances gives me the, "So um...I'm pregnant..." thing and I never know whether to say "Congratulations!", or "Do you want me to go to the clinic with you?" and wow, does it go over poorly if I say the wrong one.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2015 [21 favorites]

I would definitely not go jokey, be serious and tell people you're pregnant and you're thrilled. Being self-deprecating is going to open the door for people to make ostensibly-supportive/positive but "jokey" remarks that you'll feel forced to smile with and be a good sport about.

I have friends and family who do that "bitch about other people's bad parenting" stuff (some of whom are parents themselves) and it is absolutely corrosive to your mental health as a new parent. If I could go back and change it, I would have put a stop to being nice and listening to that crap the instant we started trying. It wasn't a big deal when I was pregnant, and could believe that of course other people's kids acted in ways that were inconvenient or annoying to strangers in public because of bad parenting and that wouldn't be me. But now that I have a kid, and he sometimes does totally developmentally-normal stuff that is annoying to others in public, I find myself being a less-effective parent because I'm really hung up on how other people must be looking at us and judging me. It's been one of the toughest parts of parenting a young toddler so far and I really wish I had been more self-protective about not giving mental space to the thoughts of judgmental people.

Don't be jokey and give your friends the impression that it's okay to continue slagging on kids and their parents in public, because you're "different" and "special" and that would never be you. Be earnest and happy and play devils-advocate when they want to complain ("Oh, I feel so bad for that lady, her kid is probably tired and I'm sure she doesn't want him screaming") so they get the very clear message that you're not up for hearing that sort of stuff anymore. You future self will thank you.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:27 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

The only people I 'lost' when I became a mother were the ones who consistently berated me and fretted about how I was 'losing myself'.

My absolute BFF is still my absolute BFF, one kid and living two states from each other. Some of my newest and best friends are childfree. The loss is two sided, in that I am not gonna prioritise time with someone who refuses to accept my life is different now, and keeps borrowing trouble about my identity. I was fine, they were not, and their inability to accept me as I am (which includes motherhood) was the crux. I still went to cafes and would go to galleries but instead of being able to chill with me, it would be this...patronising? Pseudo-feminist? Mostly just irritating exercise in proving I still had a brain and an identity while never ever actually talking about the things I do a lot.

They tended to be the kind of people who thought open judgment and nastiness about children was acceptable too, and had little empathy for children or parents.

So yeah, it depends on the people. My BFF? Loves my kid, gets teary at how fabulous and quirky she is, plans all sorts of artistic expeditions and fashion endeavours, but doesn't actually spend all that much 1-1 time (yet). My mates who are childfree? They 'awww' at stories, and get irate on her behalf when things go badly for her, and give me truly wonderful advice sometimes. Others? Still launch into lectures about parenting that have no basis in experience, research, or childhood development, and expect me to nod approvingly at their ignorance because *my* kid is so 'good' obviously I must agree*. You can't prime those good and nurturing relationships, or create them, they just happen based on mutual respect.

Like, I don't give a shit about knitting or crochet or boardgames or wrestling or comics but I love hearing my friends talk about their passions. If you can't talk about your life or your passions with someone, are they your friend?

*I know some parents like this too, for what it's worth. It's less about kids and more about entitlement and arrogance.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:26 PM on August 10, 2015

I loathe children, but I like my family and friends' children. When my oldest friend had her baby and her husband had to go back to work after 3 days, I took time off work to be with her and her baby. I'm that kid's auntie now, and I love it. One thing that helped is that my friend never became one of those tedious people who had nothing to talk about but her baby.

My point being, kids are awful, until they're yours or someone's you love. Your child-free friends will probably cope, and likely even like the kid.
posted by Mavri at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: OP here: Thank you all for your input! I love MEFI, you are all awesome people. It helps seeing things from different perspectives (I didn't even consider the feelings of those couples who are not childfree by choice - thank you for reminding me to be mindful of that) and I realize that this may be mostly my anxiety just blowing things out of proportion.

I will try to relax and to stop trying to control outcomes and worry about what-ifs (I really need to get used to this!). Thank you again!
posted by Karotz at 6:22 AM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

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