When I became pregnant in my mid-20s, it became the source of invasive gossip amongst my group of childless friends.
Many of my friends didn’t get it.
“A pregnancy? That you don’t want to end? But what about alcohol? You can’t drink alcohol when you’re pregnant, did you know that? And isn’t there a baby at the end of a pregnancy? Who will change the diapers?”
My pregnancy was unplanned, but still welcome. I was on birth control and my partner was just beginning graduate school. But the stars (or sperm and egg) are still aligned. I immediately knew the pregnancy felt right, even though most people were telling me it was wrong.
Photo: Janko Ferlic/Pexels
My partner needed time to reconcile with the fact that he was going to be a dad and when many of our acquaintances heard this, they latched on.
“See, he doesn’t even want the pregnancy. They’re doomed.”
There was a lot of negativity and nay-saying surrounding the start of our pregnancy, with the exception of a few good friends who fully embodied the concept of “unconditional love and acceptance.” If I felt good about this pregnancy, they felt good about it.
One of these defenders alerted me when one of my “close friends” began actively spreading her shock and amusement over my pregnancy to all who would listen. She used my unexpected life shift as an opportunity to remind others she would never be so silly as to let something like this happen to her, and that my relationship was doomed.
My pregnancy was the platform for her soapbox of self-righteousness.
I wasted no time pruning that friendship. My priorities were no longer shrouded in the muddy confusion of my pre-pregnancy self. I was in for a serious challenge and had no space for people who wanted to throw me back in the mud.
As the weeks ticked by and our friends learned that my partner and I were stoked to unexpectedly be growing a human (well, he technically wasn’t growing the baby, but he bought me lots of frozen yogurt), they shifted into a space of acceptance and support, even though none of us knew how to navigate a pregnancy. It takes a village, right?
We were such novices that our baby shower had lots of beer (none for me, thanks) and a drum circle that lasted late into the night.
On the day our son was born, our friends poured with authentic love and encouragement. I realized then that they weren’t “wrong” for initially being skeptics; their understanding of our foreign situation and ability to support us anyway just needed time to gestate.
Fast forward one year and many of the skeptics are pregnant. Ha! We went from being the weird couple that was excited about their unplanned pregnancy to the couple people called for advice on parent groups, wipe warmers (don’t do it), and sleep training (no comment).
Before this pregnancy, an intimate and huge aspect of my life had never been the subject of so much gossip and resistance. It was really difficult.
The raw emotions I moved through simply because I was the first one to have a baby gave me deep empathy for every challenge my friends go through, even if I don’t agree with or understand it.
I was also reminded to not be lured in by the thrill of gossip that I often sunk into pre-baby. It’s okay to not understand. Just keep it to yourself, or talk to the source.
Our son is almost three now and our little trifecta of love is thriving. This early stage of being a parent, partner, and different brand of friend is so freakin’ hard but so blissfully worth it. And my son is surrounded by a group of friends (and kids of friends) who love him wholly.
(P.S. Now the gossip revolves around whose kid is potty trained or not.)
Bailey Gaddis is the author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance Amidst the Chaos for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. She has written for Elephant Journal, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Scary Mommy, and others.