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Pregnancy has a tendency to throw everything into focus. All of a sudden, you’re planning for a major life change, and that planning requires you to take stock of your life and the people in it; to prioritize your time and how you spend your limited energy; to learn who you can rely on and who you can’t. This process can be painful, especially if it means watching some friends exit your life, but it is, without a doubt, beneficial. For one, you realize that there are more than a few essential friends every mom-to-be needs during pregnancy, and who can step up and round out your support system.
I was among the first in my friend group to become pregnant, so not only was I experiencing a plethora of changes as I prepared to become a mother, but our friend group went through a noticeable shift as well. Suddenly I wasn’t able to indulge in our weekly happy hours. I wasn’t as present in our late-night group chats. I was paying more attention to my swelling limbs and developing fetus than I was to my friends’ relationships or coworker squabbles. In other words, during those 40 weeks (more or less) of pregnancy, I was selfish. I was self-involved. I was a shitty friend.
But that doesn’t mean I was a shitty person, or that my objective shortcomings at performing friendship were anything other than a fundamental part of being engrossed in a new project. It’s not dissimilar from going dark while trying to launch a new business — my head was elsewhere. When you’re growing another human being inside your body you’re allowed — no, encouraged — to be selfish. It’s essential for a time.
Under any circumstances, relationships are never an even 50/50 split of emotional labor and mutual investment. Sometimes one person requires more of the other, and if the relationship is healthy, the pendulum will swing in the opposite direction, and you’ll also give more than you take at times. When I was balancing my career, navigating unforgiving hormonal changes, dealing with the anxiety of impending parenthood, and doing the hard work of learning how to trust in my abilities as a future mom and parenting partner, I needed more from my friends than I could give them.
Recognizing this also meant recognizing that there were certain things I needed in a friend and that becoming a mom meant a shift in that criteria.
So if you’re pregnant, know that not only are you deserving of the following essential friends, you’ll likely need them now more than ever.
The Child-Free Friend
Making the personal decision to procreate doesn’t mean you have to ditch your kid-free friends and surround yourself with gestating women or seasoned moms. Having friends who either haven’t had kids yet and/or don’t want to have any kids in the future will be a godsend, especially when you feel like you’re losing yourself to your pregnancy and parenthood is threatening to take over every facet of your life. Your child-free friend (or friends!) will give you a healthy dose of perspective and remind you that who you truly are is so much more than your role as a mom.
The Experienced Mom Friend
Of course, having someone who has “been there, done that,” so-to-speak, will also be invaluable. While there are no two pregnancies alike and the postpartum experience varies depending on a variety of factors, the ability to pick up the phone and call that friend who has been around the baby block once or twice about that weird pregnancy symptom or that awkward patch of hair that’s growing where you didn’t know hair could grow will help mitigate the fears and anxieties that often accompany pregnancy. This friend is your sanity check for the countless moments when you’ll desperately need exactly that.
The Sarcastic Friend
If there was ever a time for comedic relief, it’s when you’re pregnant or have a new baby. Yes, pregnancy is serious and sacred, and you’re a mystical, magical unicorn human harnessing the power of the universe and all that, but you’re also a walking fleshbag of feelings and intense emotions. You’re going to get mad over things that, even five minutes later, seem utterly ridiculous. You’re going to leak bodily fluids in objectively terrifying but equally hilarious ways. You need to share these moments with a friend who will laugh with you, make fun of you (in a nice way!), and who can remind you that not taking anything too seriously will always serve you well.
The In-The-Know Friend
This friend can give you the low-down on every Bravo celebrity’s wayward relationship. They’ve seen the new episode of Killing Eve, knows which of your favorite brands is having a sale, and could answer any of your political questions as if they were a reporter for BBC. They will help keep you informed of the world (be it politics, entertainment, or otherwise) when your focus is elsewhere. It’s hard to say “in the loop” when you’re busy tracking the size of your fetus, so this friend will give you a play-by-play of Andy Cohen’s latest Watch What Happens Live, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed a beat. This might seen like a superficial quality to care about in a friend, but when your head is so far down the rabbit hole of comparing ring slings and wondering if you’ve taken your prenatal today, it’s sincerely refreshing to have someone who can catch you up on all the “important stuff.”
The Dog-Mom Friend
She will provide soothing pictures of her adorable pup before that anxiety-ridden 20-week check-up. She’ll bring over her pooch for some necessary puppy kisses after you’ve endured that horrendous glucose test. She’ll allow you to enjoy all the benefits of having a cute pup at your disposal, but without all the poop and pee cleanup. There’s no measuring the value of what this friend provides.
The Diligent Researcher
Pro Tip: Do not use Google when you’re procreating. Do. Not. Do. It. Whatever ailment you type into that nefarious search bar is sure to end with a terrifying pseudo-diagnosis of some uncommon infectious disease that you simply do not need to know about (and definitely don’t have). Sidestep a possible panic attack and have your research-savvy friend look up any questions or pregnancy symptoms for you, process the information through their impartial brain, and tell you what you need to know (as opposed to what hundreds of random blogs have to say).
The Always Awkward Friend
Pregnancy is awkward, so you need a fallible but oh-so loveable friend to help pull the focus away from you and onto them. When you’re feeling off-balance, experiencing vertigo, putting your TV remote in the fridge and your ice cream in the microwave, washing your laundry with dish soap and your dishes with laundry detergent, they’ll be there, doing something awkward and weird and hilarious to help keep you nice and distracted (but in a fun way, not a “body wash in your hair” kind of way).
The Perpetually Late Friend
Sure, all those moments they told you they were “on their way” when you know damn well they were still in the shower were annoying, to be sure. But now that you’re finding it increasingly more difficult to move your ever-expanding body, constantly forgetting where you put your car keys and therefore spending 30 minutes (at least) trying to find them, and even forgetting how to get your favorite restaurant spot, you’re going to appreciate that one friend who is later than you are. When you don’t feel like you don’t have your life together, she’ll remind you that, in the end, who cares? The fact that you even show up at all is worth celebrating.
The Always-On-A-Rant Friend
You know exactly who this person is in your friend group, and you’re going to rely on them now more than you ever have before. This is the friend who majored in curse words, who can go on epic rants over the smallest of slights, and who is always ready to get mad about whatever you’re mad about because they know the value of the emotional release. Pregnancy is wonderful, yes, but so many things about it can be annoying — the loss of your bodily autonomy, pregnancy discrimination in the work place, morning sickness, no longer able to eat your favorite foods or drink your favorite alcoholic drinks; the list truly goes on. This friend will be more than happy to listen to you go off for an hour and won’t even try to hold you to whatever you said the next day.
The Unfailingly Optimistic Friend
Toxic positivity is real, and when you’re feeling less than enthusiastic about your decision to procreate (which we all do at some points while expecting) the last thing you want is a happy-go-lucky friend to remind you of all the positives in life. But, to be honest, sometimes that’s exactly what you need. What you’ve decided to do — grow another human inside your body and then take care of it forever — is truly massive, and nothing that big is ever wholly positive or easy. From time-to-time, you’re going to need that always smiling, glass-half-full friend to help you focus on the positives.
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