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Maintaining friendships when friends have babies

(57 Posts)
purplefairies Thu 17-Jan-13 10:01:38

I hope this doesn't sound like a silly post but it has been bothering me for some time now.

I have two close friends (both part of the same friendship group) who are about to give birth in the near future. I am currently TTC. We have all been plagued by the "to have children or not" debate over the past few years - this ambivalence towards motherhood welded us together for many years. Eventually, we all decided to "take the plunge", deciding we might regret not at least trying later in life, and lo and behold, my two friends got pregnant right away.

I'm really excited for my friends and have been looking forward to playing an active role in their new lives as mums, also because I hope it will give me a better insight into what to expect if/when the time comes for me and DH. At the same time, they have both been circulating commments along the lines of "let's meet up for a night out soon, because it will probably be months after the birth before we get a chance to meet up again"/"let's go for a meal out because we won't be able to do that (ever again) when the baby's here". Am I being totally unreasonable to expect to see them in some form during their maternity leave (both are taking a year off)? Obviously I don't envisage seeing them in cocktail bars the week after the birth, but I was thinking we could still go over and visit/bring take-away/have them to ours for dinner? Or is that completely unrealistic and really invasive of me?

I'm worried I'll lose my friends, who have been a big part of my life since we all graduated and got jobs in the same city. I've read posts on here about friendships between the childfree and people with kids and some of the advice seems pretty grim (along the lines of: you've got kids now so your childfree friends won't understand, better find some mummy friends instead). Surely my friends won't morph into totally different people even once their babies are here and we'll still have at least some things in common?

To those of you with DC, do you still have childfree friends and how much did you want to see them in the early months of motherhood (if at all)? Did you just prefer to have your own space during that time or what sort of meet-ups do you think I can reasonably expect? Obviously there's a chance I'll be pregnant soon myself, in which case I can "join the club", but I'm also aware of the fact that it doesn't happen for everyone (DH and I agree that we wouldn't want to have fertility treatment), and I'd like to do my best to keep my friends even if we do end up having really different lives.

All sounds a bit rambly now - would be grateful for any input.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 17-Jan-13 10:15:30

I think if your friends go into self-imposed isolation once their babies arrive they will regret it smile Once the first few frantic weeks have passed at any rate. Yes, you have to adjust where and when and for how long you socialise.... home-based is good because it means no baby-sitters... but giving up on a social life completely is a big mistake. I really loved the friends that would swoop in with offers of DVDs and takeaways or would be OK with me taking baby DS to theirs and pop him in a spare bedroom while we all had supper. Occasionally you get bad days where you've had terrible broken nights or everyone's under the weather and you have to cancel... but I think it's worth making the effort.

However, do be aware that some choose to play martyr. I've never met it in real life but I've been horrified occasionally reading threads from parents saying how they've never let anyone baby-sit their kids ...and they can be 4 or 5 years old!

MoodyDidIt Thu 17-Jan-13 10:21:18

when i was younger my best friend had a baby, and sadly that was the end of our friendship as was really, because she seemed to suddenly make loads of new "mum friends " (,<cringe> at expression,) and didnt have time for me anymore sad ...and then a couple of years later i had my DC but she was already at a different stage with hers so we were still poles apart.

but now i have 2 dc myself, i find i have done the same.....as tbh i just can't relate anymore to people without kids blush i know that sounds awful, i do have one friend without kids but she just doesn't "get" my life - but that might say more about her than the fact she hasnt got dc

sorry, probably not what you want to hear....

purplefairies Thu 17-Jan-13 10:28:07

No, Moody, it's ok to tell me the truth smile I suppose a lot depends on how my friends respond to motherhood, which is impossible to predict. Surely it can work both ways though? One of my best friends from childhood became a mum in her late teens and is a SAHM and our friendship is still rock solid. I think we're both equally fascinated by how different our lives are: I'm happy to go to her daughter's dancing displays and it's interesting to listen to her take on parenthood from the parent's perspective, and she likes looking at my holiday photos and hearing tales of office politics in the working world.

I don't know if she's less of a "hardcore" parent BECAUSE she had her daughter when she was still so young. I find it's people of my age-group (mid-30s) who end up making more of a science of parenthood and really becoming consumed with it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 17-Jan-13 10:31:13

Don't be too pessimistic about your mates. I think the biggest risk that happens to anyone when they become parents is the age-old problem of being baby bores. People who talk about nothing but how much poo their little bundle has produced should expect to be ostracised! Your friend with the dancing DD can clearly find a balance.

DoItToJulia Thu 17-Jan-13 10:38:15

Awwww, you sound like a lovely friend!

I have kids , I have friends with kids and friends without. In my experience, the friends that didn't have children that I stopped seeing were those that just didn't get it.

They didn't get that some times of the day were no good for me or the baby, they didn't get that I didn't want to take the baby to certain places, they didn't get that it wasn't as simple as express milk and leave the baby with DH/baby sitter/whoever.

The child free friends that I kept were thoughtful and prepared to take it is it happened. So, for example, would suggest meeting for coffee at a child friendly venue. Also, I think it is worth adding that I also craved seeing my friends without the kids around but that sometimes it meant doing things a bit differently to before...just a couple of drinks in the pub, not a big bender, or lunch dates not dinner dates.

Your friends may take some time to adjust, but be patient and persist. If they are worth having as friends, having babies won't get in the way!

Overreactionoftheweek Thu 17-Jan-13 10:46:33

I love your description of turning parenthood into a science...I am guilty of this! But now ds is 14 months, I'm chilling out a lot more.

So it may be your friends do retreat into a child bubble to start with, but persevere and give them a chance to get used to the huge change in their lives. I'm now desperate for nights out again, but I really wasn't interested in the first year.

Hope it all works out well for you

MoodyDidIt Thu 17-Jan-13 10:47:52

I don't know if she's less of a "hardcore" parent BECAUSE she had her daughter when she was still so young. I find it's people of my age-group (mid-30s) who end up making more of a science of parenthood and really becoming consumed with it.

purple IME that is often the case, me and my friends mostly had DC young and we are all very chilled out about it, and don't mind still keeping our "old lives" on...and having nights out, holidays away etc without dc. i have found older parents don't do this as much. am not saying its always the case but in my circle it is.

and its great you have stayed such good mates with your friend who had dc in her teens.

JaneyLiz Thu 17-Jan-13 10:58:39

Reading your post reminded me of when I had my first DS. Two of my closest friends were childless and it was hard. There will be a transition period and you might need to be very patient in the initial weeks. Once the dust settles, it could be difficult to arrange evenings out, but be flexible and be open to meeting perhaps at different times of the day, coffee, lunch etc. meet ups might be more home-based as well. I was desperate for friendship in the first year and felt friends backed off possibly because it felt a bit harder to arrange things and I was at a different stage to them. Also be prepared for it to feel harder to have a proper conversation - if their child/children are around there will be multiple interruptions! My sons are older now but I have a good friend with two younger children and it still feels really hard to see her and its easy to feel rejected. But another friend in the same boat is always up for a social. So its difficult to predict how motherhood takes people - be patient and hang on in there. Friendships don't always survive transition periods but good ones will hang in there.

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Thu 17-Jan-13 11:10:24

Well hmm at cogito's post, unfortunately some parents are not able to have sitters, and some don't want to. Neither situation is about being a 'martyr'.

OP - you are kind to think about this. I have maintained some of my old friendships and lost others. I have no family babysiting to call on & use what babysitting friends do for nights out with dp usually. I also actually prefer being home much of the time.

I would say the friendships I have maintained have been because:
* I genuinely had more affection for those people
* they were willing to adjust times/types of meetup - if you asked me for dinner at 9:30 followed by a nightclub I just wouldn't fancy it. I'm quite tired. Dinner at 630 and a film? Yes please.
* they were generous/understanding if I had to cancel. People who were cocks about this weren't worth the stress of an arrangement in the first place
* they made some effort to relate to me as a mum as well as me going out with them - so it wasn't like I was just pretending nothing had changed. Some friends didn't even ask how the kids were before launching into a monologue about their work
* never, ever say 'well you chose to be a parent' if a parent mentions any issues - and then launch into a five hour moan about your work!

Ultimately I had loads of free time pre-kids so could afford to waste an evening on someone ok. Now I see time out as more precious so spend it more wisely.

If you want to keep up with these people, do things for them. Drop in a meal. Pop over for ten minutes. Send texts. Buy them choc to help cope with tiredness. Don't put pressure for more than they can give in the early times. I dropped someone who kept pressuring me to go out & leave baby before I was ready. I just associated that person with pressure.

purplefairies Thu 17-Jan-13 11:12:49

Thanks everyone - all of your comments are really helpful and I'm feeling a lot less pessimistic smile

StillSmilingAfterAllTheseYears Thu 17-Jan-13 11:56:13

I think if you can accept and indulge the baby bubble phase, you can then pick up when they emerge hopefully. But be warned - everyone's baby bubble is different - some last weeks, some years!! Good luck with your own ttc too btw.

Lavenderhoney Thu 17-Jan-13 19:08:27

You sound like a nice friend. They may become less close with you mainly as they will have more in common now. They may also feel awkward to be having babies and know you would like to, so you might want to reassure them you are not a jealous harpy. It is equally fair to say you may feel differently if you don't conceive and you may keep your distance to maintain a happy life not worrying about ttc.

I was dropped like a stone by a few friends when I became pregnant. Two were single and desperate for a dh and babies. I was very hurt and was quite dense not realising the " busy" excuses meant go away. Another friend expected me to want to go clubbing and wingman, when I just wanted to stay home with my bf ds. She was lovely but we had different lives so are friendly but not close iykwim.

Another who didn't want dc was horrified when I got prgnt and stayed away. I have since found out she was secretly ttc for years and couldn't bear it so I am glad i just accepted her reculance to sit round my house with her dh on sat night.

Communicate is all I can say. Pop round for coffee, but keep your own life and interests as no one knows what might happen.

ThreeTomatoes Thu 17-Jan-13 22:38:48

For me, I lost all those acquaintances, work friends/drinking buddies (other than some on FB wink), but kept my very solid circle of close friends. dd is 9, and i haven't made any new 'mum friends' whatsoever! Similarly to what StillSmiling said, my friends had to be people who could fit around my dd, who I felt comfortable having round at mine, breast feeding in front of, asking to meet in weird child- or baby-friendly places, etc. And, when dd was older, were willing to muck in playing with her and all that, and didn't mind our conversations being constantly interrupted & that sort of thing. It's amazing how you feel about somebody who is nice to your DC and enjoys spending time with them vs someone who pays them no interest or attention whatsoever. I have one childless friend who works with children, who is fantastic with dd, she has tons of genuine fun with her ,they are real buddies (dd is 9 and has always adored her). A mutual friend who has DC (3.5) appreciates her in the same way, we both agree she's special smile. She seems to really understand and 'get' it, the whole parenting lark. But then, we hit it off from first getting to know each other, she always did feel like a 'soulmate'.

There was a wonderful period of time, before any of my circle had their own kids or moved away, that they'd all come over to mine of an evening, we'd play games and have loads of fun, or they'd visit 1:1. I sooo appreciated that they were all willing to do that, I was a lone parent at the time & the first of our group to have a baby, so couldn't reciprocate and come to theirs or out instead unless it was during the day with dd. Now that a few of them have their own DC (and one couple have also moved away), that's not as possible, so we tend to get together en famille e.g in the park, or just visiting each other with the kids in tow - and I admit, even while missing the days they were free to fit around me, I was SO happy to have them properly 'join my world' so to speak. I also babysit now & then for a friend who has no family around, and she the same for me (although I do have parents who babysit sometimes too!) It's lovely having guilt-free babysitting options - i'd say do keep on offering your help to your friends because they might not feel comfortable asking otherwise and would really appreciate it! smile

It's really interesting thinking about this actually. Now that I'm really thinking about it, it's the friends who are involved with dd (and genuinely interested) and whose DC I've been involved with that I'm closest to now and see the most often. I guess cos dd is such a big part of my life, the most important part, we're a package, it's very difficult to have a full, genuine friendship without dd being part of it one way or the other, i know that sounds ridiculous, but that really does feel like that's the way it is. That being said though, it's also been hugely important for my close friendships that we get to spend child-free time together too, i must make that clear. Even if it ends up for a while being just time in the park so the kids run off and play and you can snatch a proper adult chat while they do that. Even if the chat's about the DC! grin

pebblesandbamm Thu 17-Jan-13 22:55:35

I had children before all of my friends - some showed interest in the new stage in my life - asked about the children, visited at appropriate times, suggested appropriate social events. I was so grateful for these friendships. I found being a new mum overwhelming and needed support.

Other friends just didn't have time to fit me in to their social lives at all and despite my best efforts we got together rarely and they wouldn't ask about the children - instead talking about all the nights out they'd had without me! Now my children are getting older, those friends are in my life more again but I will never think of them as close friends because I feel they found it easy to temporarily do away with me while I dealt with babies!

I think you'll be one of the supportive friends that your friends will embrace in their new stage in life and welcome you to join in their learning curve. You are a true friend and I think your friends are very lucky.

I sincerely hope you are successful in ttc very soon. Good luck.

blockednose Fri 18-Jan-13 01:41:31

Hi purple, I'm just going to reply to your post with how my situation is because I think it will help you to see how life will be like once your Frieda are mums, and also hopefully you too.

I had my DD when I was 25, she will be 3 years old at the end of the month. When I got pregnant none of my friend had had children, bar one whom I'm not close with, never really see. My dearest friend hasn't had children yet, but we have grown closer since I had my daughter. I don't feel like our relationship has changed, but she is an extremely good Aunty, she is very interested in my DD, she sees her and looks after her more than my own sisters do. We go out for drinks together still, we do lunch, have girlie sleepovers (sometimes with DD). And she never leaves me out just because I have a child now.

When I was pregnant I even went out with her for her birthday., I just didn't drink, went home early while she stayed out partying with the rest of our friends but I knew she was happy I was there. We would meet up all the time as well during pregnancy.

I also have two fairly close friends whose daughters are a year younger than my DD. We don't all get to see each other much, but we meet up about every once a month to two months, always there for the girls' birthdays and about twice a year leave the kids with the DH's and go out for drinks and partying.

I don't think you lose your friends once you have kids unless you isolate yourself, or the friendship was never that strong. Pregnancy and having children is a special time to share with close friends too, and I have a small amount of friends who have been here for me, and I for them. We have matured together whether we have children or not.

Good luck with TTCing, I hope you get a BFP very soon!!!! Xx

blockednose Fri 18-Jan-13 01:49:42

Cogito I have a friend who was a "martyr" with the babysitting thing, I fact she very nearly lost her few friends with children (myself and another girl) because no one was even allowed to touch her DD's face and all sorts of silliness. She was isolating her own child from forging friendships with our DDs and us. She saw that and has relaxed now, thankfully!! My DD And hers now love spending time together.

Don't be a martyr!!

bellamafia Fri 18-Jan-13 03:35:14

A subject I think about often as I'm approaching that age of having to think about whether I want kids

IMO, I think if they're truley friends, you'll have no problem. Thankfully for me, one of my friends doesn't want kids, one (sadly) can't have them, the other cant even find a decent guy to have a relationship in order to have them, and the others are still around the late 20s mark so have time.

I know for sure I won't be that typeod friend should I have a baby. And what infuriates me is that it never seems to change for the fukin men! Their lives don't change one iota! So why the hello we ladies allow it for us?!

Don't forget who will be there for you if / when your P shacks off with OW! Stay true to your friends for gods sake!!

HollyBerryBush Fri 18-Jan-13 04:27:15

Surely my friends won't morph into totally different people even once their babies are here and we'll still have at least some things in common?

Yes they will! Peoples priorities change.

Also, on the info you have given us, we can't comment on their home situations. They may or may not have an army of willing Gps to step in and baby sit (I'm of course assuming that the Gps are normal and not toxic, narc, or the ILs from hell) whether they would be EBFing, or whether they are going to suffer sleep deprivation, find it difficult to shift those few pounds and feel self conscious, suffer PND and so forth .... you can't predict what will happen in that first year.

As I said people and their priorities change - I was the party animal pre children, is it going to shock you - and I am not Mother Earth - that it is now 15 years since DH and I have been able to go begin going out again, together. We didn't have the family back up to facilitate a social life.

My solo social life went out the window because (a) difference in working hours for myself and DH, this no child care (b) the commute to The City, after he got home would mean everyone I worked with would be 3 sheets to the wind and ready to go home (c) lugging a baby uptown for lunch just wasn't worth the effort, less so as a toddler.

You have friendships during different periods of your life, some friends come and go, some friends stick. People constantly evolve as do friendship needs

Obviously I don't envisage seeing them in cocktail bars the week after the birth, but I was thinking we could still go over and visit/bring take-away/have them to ours for dinner? Or is that completely unrealistic and really invasive of me?

Only time will tell on that score! It is very difficult, to have friends without children, babies are cute and stay where you put them, toddlers are a different ball game and visiting childfree people can be a minefield - people get precious about belongings, kids fingers touching, other people are a lot more easy going and don't care about material possessions. Child free people also have opinions on childrearing grin which people with children don't want to hear. Generally people with children are baby bores for that first year.

TempusFuckit Fri 18-Jan-13 05:17:38

You sound like a lovely friend, you really do. And I'm coming down on the optimistic side - you already seem to have the right idea, and DVDs, takeaways etc is exactly how I maintained my friendship with my best friend (who a year later got her own BFP). Weekend lunches are another good bet.

Be prepared for them to become baby bores, and yes, they will make plenty of friendships with fellow mums, but this is for the practical reason that they need company during the day midweek. It's unlikely they'll replace you.

Keep visits (or visit) for the first week very brief, bear in mind most babies cluster feed throughout the evening for the first three months, and most are still waking at least once a night for the first year.

A silver lining though is that you'll probably end up drinking/partying less, which will probably increase your chances of a BFP smile.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 18-Jan-13 08:08:05

Further thoughts - I have definitely changed, beyond recognition, since having dd. Pre-dd I was in the pub a lot, mostly with work 'friends' after work, I had a self-centred streak, I was emotionally unstable, neurotic, erratic; with my close friends I was quite self-absorbed, waffly. After dd, I grew up, developed better self-awareness, stopped drinking, became stable, reliable, responsible, ok, boring, and had so much more time and energy to give to other people (although, like someone else said, your 'me time' becomes more precious, so I am less likely to want to talk on the phone for e.g., I prefer a focused meet-up than spontaneous calls.)

But thinking about it, perhaps one reason I've become closer to my circle of friends is that they were never the out-partying types anyway, it was me who was like that, with other friends & acquaintances, so in a way I suppose I changed to the benefit of those friendships as opposed to in a way that would have made us drift apart!

purplefairies Fri 18-Jan-13 08:56:17

To be honest, I'm not exactly a "party animal" myself anyway, even without DC. My idea of a good night is a nice meal out and preferably being home in PJs by midnight smile
HollyBerryBush, neither of my friends have any family living anywhere nearby, so that will make it difficult for them to socialise. I accept that their priorities will probably change and I just have to take that as it comes.

It is equally fair to say you may feel differently if you don't conceive and you may keep your distance to maintain a happy life not worrying about ttc.
"LavenderHoney*, I'm not too worried about this because (and I hope this doesn't sound odd), TTC isn't the be-all-and-end-all for me and it wouldn't be the end of the world if I couldn't have DC (I've never had the overwhelming belief that I MUST have children, it wasn't on my radar at all for many, many years). I really hope that doesn't change and I don't start to feel bitter and jealous - I know people who are like this in lots of different areas of life and they just end up isolating themselves.

And what infuriates me is that it never seems to change for the fukin men! Their lives don't change one iota! So why the hello we ladies allow it for us?!

That is a very good point BellaMafia. I worry about this a LOT, as DH and I have a very 50:50 relationship at the moment and I really feel strongly that both people in a relationship should take equal responsibility, but DH (who is older than me) has lots of friends who are dads and, no, their lives have hardly changed. They still go out to the pub after work and are quite happy to go out with the boys at the weekend. I wonder how men manage to achieve this without attracting any negative comments?

HandbagCrab Fri 18-Jan-13 09:19:25

Me and dh are the first to have a dc in our local circle of friends. We don't get out very much as we don't have many people who can babysit. Our babysitting quota from mil is used up covering emergency childcare so we can go to work. We get sick a lot as well as ds picks up every bug known to man at nursery. Plus the constant broken nights due to teething and... but every baby is different and if ds slept more and we got ill less I would go out more.

The only friends we have that we don't see much any more are the ones that only invite us to child free events. E.g. Come to our new years eve do, but no kids thanks. They're having a child free wedding too soon. If their family are anything to go by if they do have kids they will be in the child bubble for 18 years, so I observe with a wry smile!

We try and do baby friendly stuff with friends, dh likes going on boy days out with his childless best mate and ds so it's sexist arse if the men in people's lives just carry on as normal I'm afraid.

Since ds has been born just over a year ago I've been out drinking four times to pubs! But I've been out for meals, spa days, gigs, theatre, festivals, parties, round people's houses etc. I think I can't be bothered just drinking though, it feels like such a waste of money and time and has to be really good to be worth the effort.

You sound like you're really thinking about this and that will make you a lovely friend. When your friends have their dc they do want to talk about them as they are amazing to their parents and I bet you will feel that way too as you are so close smile

I find it interesting that so many talk about not being able to go out because of no babysitters, even though they have a partner. I think a big reason why DH and I managed to keep all our friends post-DC is that it was no problem for each of us to go out on our own with people. We could still meet friends down the pub, DH still went on long bike rides with friends, etc. As you say, there's no real reason why men's lives should be able to continue as normal and women's can't!

So I guess just keep in mind that if your friends disappear, it could also be because of their partners. For example, I had a lovely mum friend who I could never go out with on our own because her husband wouldn't put their child to bed on his own.

But see what happens anyway, it's very common to think 'I'll never go out again!' and then when you're actually on ML you realise, well hey why not actually?

AmelieRose Fri 18-Jan-13 11:01:16

I completely sympathise with you Purple. I'm in a similar situation - we have been TTC (are TTC? - miscarriage a fortnight ago) and I share some of your concerns.

I have a very close-knit group of friends - known each other for ages, live in each other's pockets, but they are all a few years younger than me. I will be the first by a long chalk to have a baby and already two of them have been a bit weird about us TTC. I think it's because a lot of our socialising revolves around drinking, and the two friends in particular are not interested in doing much that doesn't, even though the rest of us do other things together if that makes sense - e.g. days out, shopping, dinners, lunches etc.

I'm also very close with three other friends (been friends for 20+ years), who sometimes do things with the group above, and sometimes we do things just the four of us. One of these girls has a 3 year old, and I can honestly say it hasn't affected our friendship at all. I think this is because none of us would dream of letting it and so adapted our socialising - i.e. going over to hers with a takeaway and some wine, meeting for lunch instead of dinner so she could bring her DD etc. Also her daughter is an absolute delight and we all adore her and fight to babysit too!

Also, her DH and her take turns to go on the odd night out while the other looks after their DD. They do have great GP support so they can also spend time together as a couple if they want to - it must be tricky if to maintain friendships if you have limited childcare options and obviously want to spend the limited time you have with your partner.

So I suppose what I'm saying is it doesn't have to be the end of friendships, but that depends on how your friends are once they have their babies, and how you all adapt as a friendship group.

I suspect that if I'm lucky enough to get a BFP anytime soon that my friends who are inflexible will drift away, and the ones that are willing to have a little give and take will not. And to be honest, I think I'm ok with that!

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