We recently met up with our friends Jack and Rhona, the purpose of which we didn’t even try to disguise: we wanted to talk babies. Rhona is due exactly a week before me, so we are at practically an identical stage (like Elly and I). A pleasant evening ensued; while there were occasional lapses straying from the main topic, it was mostly complete baby indulgence on the part of all four of us.
We didn’t get onto this subject with them, but I do wonder whether they hold themselves back when discussing pregnancy with their non-pregnant friends. For me, I’m finding it is a delicate balance between sharing information (they’re my friends, after all) and oversharing to the point of boring them. It is difficult to gauge how much they actually want – or need – to know. And I don’t want to be too shiny happy people either: yes I’m fine, yes I’m well, blah blah blah bleuurgh!
In the creepy but riveting Alys, Always by Harriet Lane there is one bit near the beginning that made me feel uncomfortable, when the protagonist has just had dinner with her friend from university, Naomi: “a dull evening, as she’s newly married and pregnant, obsessed with nutrition and travel systems. I’m thinking about how I may have to let her go…”
I don’t want to become boring to the point of being “let go”! I vaguely remember reading something about trying not to alienate your non-pregnant friends in one of my pregnancy books – something along the lines of “make sure you ask them about their lives too”. Although I feel amused and faintly superior to think that some people have to actually be told how to interact with their own friends, it does worry me that perhaps I am monopolising conversations with boring pregnancy talk. I need to remember that although I personally find subjects such as nutrition and travel systems fascinating, that doesn’t mean that everyone does!
As Elly has already pointed out, this is all part of a wider issue about being labelled the “pregnant lady” and the struggle for a meaningful identity that encompasses both the woman you were before and the current life change. I’m going to follow the example set by my two sisters in law. Through five babies between them, they have managed to maintain their own personalities and are most definitely “themselves” as mothers as much as they were when not mothers. Plus, they’ve always seemed to (spontaneously) ask me loads of questions about myself!
Without wishing to over-analyse it all too much, the fact that no-one has let me go just yet leads me to believe things are going ok so far. I believe the real challenge will be once the baby arrives – what else could there possibly be to talk about then?!