When I found out one of my closest friends was also pregnant at the same time, my imagination went wild with images of prenatal yoga followed by (decaf) iced coffee dates and side-by-side stroller speed walks. Together, we would take on nursing, sleep training, and homemade baby food and complain about lack of sleep and bad swaddle strategies.
It took just months to realize that wasn’t going to be my reality. My friend and I approached motherhood quite differently. Among other things, we looked at schedules and sleep training in very different ways. This not only created a bit of judgment but also proved to be a deal breaker when it came to hanging out. Simply planning playground playdates became such a scheduling challenge that eventually, we stopped even trying.
Pregnancy comes with so many changes – physical, emotional, spiritual. While many of us try to stay the same and maintain our pre-pregnancy self, this shift is not just ok, it’s necessary. Lean into it.
Maybe you’re the first in your group to get pregnant. The brunch plans and party invitations keep hitting your calendar, but now you’re too tired to accept. (And let’s face it, if you do get the energy to go, a boozy brunch is no fun when you can’t participate.) Maybe you and your friends are pregnant at the same time but you’re having a much more challenging pregnancy – physically or emotionally – while others seem to breeze through each trimester.
Regardless of the reason, at some point, it becomes clear that some of your friendships now demand things from you that you no longer can, or want to deliver as a mom-to-be. Then, when you become a mom, you may find that you have very different parenting priorities than some of your friends. You may realize that you can’t, and don’t want to be, everything for everyone as you were before.
They aren’t changing, but you are. And that is ok.
For me, the real growing pains came as I realized my friendships were changing much more than I expected. I felt guilty as I began moving away from certain people who had played important roles in my life up to now.
I wish someone had prepared me for this shift. I wish someone had warned me that I would see some of my friends so differently once we became moms. I wish someone had shared that I would meet a new version of myself; one who connects with women with whom I never would’ve connected – because of age, experience, or ethnic differences – before embarking on motherhood, simply because we parent similarly. More importantly, I wish someone had told me that all of this is perfectly acceptable.
Give yourself grace. Embrace this evolution, acknowledge that you are different and that your priorities and friendships will likely reflect that. Most importantly, celebrate this transformation. Enjoy the new choices you make regarding where (and with whom) you put your energy. This is your moment to choose you, choose motherhood and those choices highlight your commitment to your body, mind, and that baby you are carrying.
Despite it being such a magical time, pregnancy often also comes with doubt, fear, and the imposition of other’s expectations and opinions. From your maternity style, diet and exercise habits during pregnancy to whether you will go back to work, hire help, breastfeed or give a pacifier, there are so many ways we judge each other and ourselves. The choices we make are absolutely going to impact the people we choose to have around us.
There’s no cheat sheet, and so many of the changes we experience during pregnancy are personal and circumstantial. But as with most relationships, communication is key. Being open, honest, and vocal with those around you about how you’re feeling, what you’re going through and how you’re experiencing this time will not only empower you but also make it clear to others where you are. The likelihood of hurt feelings or damaged friendships will diminish when you’re transparent and the weight of holding it in will be off your shoulders. How your words are received is out of your control, but owning the transformation, stepping into your new power, and talking about what you’re experiencing will give you and those around you clarity.
Reprioritizing is a necessary part of pregnancy and motherhood and just as you reevaluate the need to go certain places and eat certain foods, you will also have to make similar choices about the people you spend time with. Considering how important it is to expose children to positive influences and like-minded parenting, those choices will only become more important once your child arrives. Anticipate this change, know it is part of the process, forgive yourself for the discomfort it brings, and embrace it. It’s one of the early affirmations that you are going to be a great mom!