How did you tell your family that you were/are pregnant?
April 5, 2008 6:09 AM   Subscribe

How did you announce to your family that you were/are pregnant?

We're pregnant. Yay. This wasn't planned or expected though, although we're very happy. While we've been living together for 6+ years and we're in our 30s, I think that this is going to be a bit of a shock for our families. How did you tell your folks/family? We're 2 months along and live quite far from our families. They'll probably be happy, but shocked.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
i don't have kids, but i always thought it would be cute to open the conversation by asking my parents whether they want to be called grandma and grandpa or the yiddish bubbe and zayde.

a more direct route would be to call your parents and say, "we have some wonderful news. we're going to have a baby." let them know right upfront that you're happy about it.

they may be shocked, but that's okay. keeps life interesting.

posted by thinkingwoman at 6:24 AM on April 5, 2008

We live quite far from our parents, too. I called my parents up and while on the phone with them, I said, "Go to the computer--I'm going to send you a file that I want your opinon on." Then I sent them the ultrasound photo. It was fun because I got to listen to them processing it ("Is that what I think it is?!?") We did something similar with my in-laws, too.
posted by wallaby at 6:49 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Since both our pregnancies where highly anticipated, all we had to say was "guess what?"

Get ready for some questions about when/if you're going to get married, though. If not from your families, from friends or coworkers - somebody will ask.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:51 AM on April 5, 2008

About 4 months before my sister was pregnant, we had a deep and personal conversation about kids and having babies, and whether or not this was something her and her husband "had" to do because they were married, and pressures from our parents and her husband's parents. She confided in me that she didn't ever want to have kids, or at least for quite some time.

Fast forward about 4 months.

ring! ring!
me: hello?
sis: hey raztaj, it's sisterofraztaj
me: hey sisterofraztaj! what's goin' on? how are you.
sis: guesswhatimPREGNANT!
me: . . .
sis: hello? raztaj?
me: um, great! that's... cool! how do you feel about this?

I had no idea whether or not to say "I'm so sorry" or "Congratulations!" (turns out she intensely and suddenly felt this urge to have kids shortly after her 30th birthday).

If you mentioned to members of your family that you and your partner didn't see kids in the near future, you will have to very well expect some confusion and possible silence when you first tell them the news, on the phone or in person. All they're doing is trying to process what you've told them previously, and the new, contradictory (but great!) news. Once you explain that you guys are happy and excited, hopefully they'll feel just as happy and excited. Expect some shock. But it'll pass pretty quickly.
posted by raztaj at 6:54 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Phone call. I was having cramps and was worried I'd lose it. They didn't know we'd been trying. My mom started whooping and wouldn't stop for 5 minutes, so I had to talk to dad. After a while she calmed down and was able to reassure me, but it was intimidating. I was kind of glad she was 1,500 miles away.

Be prepared for lots of boxes of stuff
posted by lysdexic at 7:18 AM on April 5, 2008

Yeah, to avoid any confusion over whether it is desirable or not, you might want to preface the news with your judgment that it is "wonderful news" or "great news" as others have suggested. Then people will know to be excited despite it being a surprise.
posted by grouse at 7:41 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

We went out with my wife's parents to a pizza place to let them know. While there my parents showed up so we let them know at the same time.
posted by ericales at 7:47 AM on April 5, 2008


It's probably better to wing it, since planning out a special way to announce can go goofy. We made the trip to tell my parents in person, but it ended up coming out before my stepdad got home from work. We were talking to my mum about a trip we had just taken down south to an all-inclusive resort, and she was asking what kind of drinks I had down there. I told her that I really didn't drink that much when we were down there (not completely out of character, but I do like a drink or two, especially on vacation). My mum then said "well all-inclusive was wasted on you then" and laughed. She then asked why my husband and I were looking at each other that way. "Is there something I need to know?" We ended up telling her by saying "you know how most people take trips to go and get pregnant? Yeah, well we did it wrong - we were pregnant when we left."

We had planned to go down the weekend before, which was Ontario's first Family Day - it felt kinda significant, expanding the family and all. The weather was bad though and we didn't do it. I kinda wish we had because it turns out my stepdad had been dying to ask "So, it's Family Day, are you in the family way?" My folks were really trying hard not to put pressure on us, so he didn't use the line with me on the phone. I told him that was too bad, because it was a good line.

I won't even tell you how my husband ended up telling his mother - it's just embarrassing.
posted by melissa at 7:52 AM on April 5, 2008

"Hey, we have a wonderful surprise for you! I'm/[Girlfriend]'s pregnant! Isn't that great? You're going to have a grandchild this fall! Congratulations!"

That ought to both convey the information and indicate that their response should be happy.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:58 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

My wife and I invited all our immediate family members out for a meal (Easter Brunch, actually), and just told everyone halfway through. No big planned speech or anything, and everyone was happy although a bit surprised that it happened so quickly after getting married.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:24 AM on April 5, 2008

At the age of forty I called my dad and said "Guess what? I just got my drivers' liscence!" whereupon he congratulated me heartily (for it was true, it did take me a while, but I live in NYC.) Finally when the call was winding down I finished it up with: "oh yeah, and I"m pregnant." Worked like a charm.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:24 AM on April 5, 2008

If you can wait, Mother's Day is May 11th this year. I'd give a card to the grandmother's to-be, saying "happy mother's day grandma" since you're giving them the gift of a grandchild. That way you'd almost be in your second trimester, which is usually when people start making it public knowledge. But I'm cheesy like that.
posted by librarianamy at 8:45 AM on April 5, 2008

If you can wait, Mother's Day is May 11th this year. I'd give a card to the grandmother's to-be, saying "happy mother's day grandma" since you're giving them the gift of a grandchild.

I was coming here to suggest exactly that. My brother and his wife gave my parents baby bibs with a similar message and their reaction was priceless.
posted by jmd82 at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2008

raztaj: I had no idea whether or not to say "I'm so sorry" or "Congratulations!"

Handy tip for everyone:

If anyone EVER tells you they are pregnant, even if yesterday they were talking about setting up a credit line at the abortion clinic, the correct response is,

"Congratulations! How are you feeling?"

On the other hand, anyone reacting negatively to an announcement of a pregnancy would instantly be weeded out as someone I don't need to waste my time on ever again, family included.
posted by peep at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

In my husbands family a majority of the members have birthdays in October. So at the end of the month they have a big October Birthday to celebrate everyone birthday together. Our baby is due October 1st so we announced to my Parents in law that we were going to add another October birthday!! I was disappointed that they were a little negative to our news. But after a few minutes they were overly excited!! I have 2 other sisters so when i told my mother about the pregnancy I had said "Mom I passed a test you passed 3 times!" She said what? A pregnancy test!! Congratulations!!
posted by Snoogylips at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2008

Seconding that you should decide in advance how you'll respond to questions about marriage, especially if your family is remotely traditional in any way.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2008

If anyone EVER tells you they are pregnant, even if yesterday they were talking about setting up a credit line at the abortion clinic, the correct response is,

"Congratulations! How are you feeling?"

Well, I think tone of voice has something to do with it, doesn't it? If you have a young friend who has previously expressed a lack of interest in having children / is single / etc who comes to you clearly upset and tells you that news, I don't think it's universally proper to congratulate them. That could very well alienate them or make them feel judged for wanting to have an abortion. You might say something like "wow - how do you feel?" and just let them lead the conversation.

Hopefully you can read the tone of voice when someone announces something like this - "guesswhati'mPREGNANT!" even just typed sounds like good news to me, so I agree you always brush aside what people said last year if their current opinion has changed, at least when they first announce it (i.e., you congratulate your friend who is getting married when they announce it instead of skeptically saying, but you said in college that marriage is domestic slavery, even though you might tease them about it at some point)

For the original question, I think the phone call with "we have some wonderful news" is really all you need, although downloading the sonogram is cute if you have tech-comfy enough parents for them to enjoy it. And congratulations!
posted by mdn at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

I emailed my parents a photo of the positive pregnancy test. This one, actually. It went over pretty well. :)

It was actually great for me since I hate breaking news to people which sort of sounds like your situation. Instead I just hit "send" and then like 45 minutes later got an "OMGWTF" call from them.

For bonus points, Dad forwarded the email to his mom, who had no freaking idea what it was.
posted by mindsound at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

My mother was staying with us at around the time we wanted to tell her, so we just went with "guess what? you're going to be a grandma!" Then mr. gaspode called his parents and said "good news - [gaspode]'s pregnant!"

We're kind of basic like that.
posted by gaspode at 12:41 PM on April 5, 2008

One of my best friends and her husband were living far from home when she got pregnant. They sent each of the grandparents-to-be a framed photo of the ultrasound. This went over very well, and mailing everyone at once avoided the sticky family politics of who was the first to be told.
posted by nadise at 1:36 PM on April 5, 2008

I was at a Japanese restaurant with my sister and her husband and our mom. I was ordering sushi and asking her if she wanted to get some. "I can't," she said. I asked why not. "Because I'm pregnant."
posted by bendy at 2:11 PM on April 5, 2008

Peep: If anyone EVER tells you they are pregnant, even if yesterday they were talking about setting up a credit line at the abortion clinic, the correct response is

I don't want to get off topic and detract from the poster's sincere question, but sorry, this is absolutely false. Not every pregnancy is wanted, continued, despite many unexpected ones that end up with great celebration, and an overflow of infinite joy. Please speak for yourself, and not for my sister, nor me. And please cut your friends/family some slack, especially if once you explain the situation, they become much more receptive. Thanks much.
posted by raztaj at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2008 [4 favorites]

Well, whatever you do don't tell your upper management before your family only to have a subordinate (who went to highschool with your sibling) find out through gossip and pass it on to your younger sibling during a chance encounter...

Her: Congratulations on being an uncle again!
Me: ???
Her: You didn't know...?
Me: uhhh, no, I haven't heard from my sister for a couple months...

Evidently my sister is in her second trimester; it's not like we have some dicey history or she lives in another city. She lives a mere ten miles away.

So you know, if you plan to have a kid, go ahead and tell people in any way you'd like. Just tell your family if they're at all important to you/you want them involved in your childs life...
posted by Matt Oneiros at 2:31 PM on April 5, 2008

My husband and I informed his baseball-obsessed dad that no matter how much the Mets might mess up that year, he was going to have something good to look forward to in the post-season.
posted by Asparagirl at 3:58 PM on April 5, 2008

Though it's not exactly the same thing, we announced our engagement to our respective parents by sending them flowers with a cute card attached. Something like "Congratulations! You're going to be grandparents!" would do the trick.

It was great fun to wait for the hysterically happy call.
posted by defreckled at 4:15 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

For my parents, we purchased a baby-themed picture frame, with a note inserted where the picture should be. It said "Picture to follow in seven months."

We gave a copy of "Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul" to the other set of grandparents.
posted by Ostara at 4:21 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not every pregnancy is wanted, continued, despite many unexpected ones that end up with great celebration, and an overflow of infinite joy. Please speak for yourself...
posted by raztaj at 5:27 PM on April 5 [+] [!] "

The etiquette doesn't presume that every pregnancy is wanted -- it assumes that it's up to the pregnant person to decide whether she wants to discuss her feelings about the pregnancy.

The polite default response is a simple "congratulations" until the pregnant woman tells you otherwise (mentions that she's not happy about it, mentions that she's planning to end it, mentions that there are doubts or troubles or whatever). The woman who isn't pleased with her pregnancy is free to reveal that fact to the people she trusts, and free to conceal her feelings from others. Until she says how she views it, the default is to act as if it's a happy announcement (obviously this doesn't mean going over the top, or ignoring her current cues). The same rule applies to parents announcing a wedding -- the default is to say "what happy news" or "i wish them every happiness" to the parents, even if one knows the engagement is not particularly welcome. Then the parents are free to say "yes, we're looking forward to getting to know Rupert better" or "well, frankly, it isn't making me very happy" -- whichever they choose depending on whether they want to discuss it more.

This rule is meant to prevent busybodies from reacting to the announcement with "oh no" or "I'm so sorry" or "oh, was it an accident?" or "oh, I thought you didn't want kids" or whatever. This would be bad because maybe the woman has changed her mind and is happy about it now, or maybe she is trying to decide how she feels, or who knows what. It's not up to others to probe, it's her choice whether to discuss it. The other option would be to react to the announcement with neutrality: "I see. And is this happy or sad?" which again forces the pregnant person to discuss her feelings about it.

posted by LobsterMitten at 4:23 PM on April 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

LobsterMitten said it much better than I did. The default should be congratulations - obviously someone sobbing and telling you they are devastated is an exception.

People say astonishingly stupid things to pregnant women as it is. When in doubt - and raztaj, you said yourself you didn't know what to say - say congratulations.
posted by peep at 5:14 PM on April 5, 2008

Lobstermitten, Peep -- we'll have to agree to disagree. Having been the person on the line, when on a different occasion someone told me they were pregnant (not sobbing, not clearly distraught) but followed seconds later by a firm decision by the caller to not continue the pregnancy, I've gotta stick to absolutely not defaulting to 'congratulations.' And not holding a grudge on someone based on their initial, and first couple of seconds of their reaction to these kinds of occasions, understanding that more often than not, people mean well - even in a reaction doused with confusion and sometimes shock.
posted by raztaj at 5:33 PM on April 5, 2008 [3 favorites]

I told my parents while out to dinner at a restaurant. They asked if I wanted a glass of wine and I said "No thanks, I can't have any alcohol right now", with a grin on my face. They were silent and looked worried so I followed up with the big news and they were both thrilled.

Only later did they confess that they had thought I was telling them that I was an alcoholic.
posted by Cuke at 7:45 PM on April 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


The first time I was pregnant, I told my mother by way of mentioning I was having a miscarriage.

The pregnancy was anticipated, but the miscarriage was not. (Nor was the second miscarriage a year later. That time, I told my mother I was knocked up by saying I wouldn't be able to attend our big family Thanksgiving dinner because it would be too close to my due date.) Each time I've been pregnant, I've carefully considered who I told, determining whether I'd be comfortable telling them the pregnancy failed. What I learned, for me, was that after one miscarriage I realized I needed a bit more support in case things went awry. That strategy worked for me. In my third pregnancy (now in my third trimester), I didn't tell many friends until the end of the first trimester, and I waited for amnio results to tell my office.

I suggest you consider waiting until the second trimester to spread the news far and wide, unless you're comfortable telling every work mate and acquaintance about a loss. As for parents, the question is, would you want to be comforted by them if something went wrong, or not?

Don't mean to sound like a pessimist. The odds are in your favor, and I wish you a long, healthy, and happy pregnancy.
posted by stonefruit at 9:37 PM on April 5, 2008


Make DAMN SURE you tell the important ones first, and save the ones who will blab until last. My wife's dumb sister took it upon herself to inform a bunch of their extended family, thereby robbing my wife of an experience that should have been hers.

If you're emailing, a picture of the sonogram is a great conversation starter.

Good luck!
posted by idiotking at 8:22 PM on April 6, 2008

yeah, not to add to derail, but I agree that there is as much potential for awkwardness or possible judgment by congratulating someone who is actually quite troubled by the news and has turned to you for support and counsel. HOwever, I think you can usually read the difference between "omigodI'mPREGNANT!!" and "ok. I'm. Pregnant." And if you truly, honestly can't, you react with something that tries to stay neutral, like, "Oh, wow! when did you find out?" and try to read them. I think the person giving the info should supply the "I have great news" part in general, and should not be offended if you're unmarried or have health issues or have expressed a disinterest in having kids in the past, if other people don't immediately know how to respond to your news. Pregnancy is a huge, complicated undertaking, with absolutely wonderful results if you're up for it, and really possibly life-changingly difficult results if you're not, and there is nothing rude about acknowledging that. Moms should be proud of that.
posted by mdn at 9:04 PM on April 6, 2008

My second child was conceived after now-husband and I had been dating for a couple years, but was a big surprise to everyone. We decided to get married, so told our parents that news first, then followed up, in the same conversation, with the baby news. His mom cried. His dad, as is usual, didn't say a lot. My parents congratulated us on the marriage-then, when the baby news came, my mom burst out with "oh no!"-and my dad congratulated and hugged me. My folks are great and have been thrilled-but it was a disconcerting response.

As an aside, on the derailed topic-my guy was out of town the night I took the pregnancy test, and so I called one of my closest friends. She knows me very well, and responded very appropriately with a "Wow! How are you feeling?" which was the perfect opening for me to talk about my shock/surprise/worries/excitement. For me, that worked better than "congratulations". Once I figured out I was happy :) congratulations were perfect.
posted by purenitrous at 10:27 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

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