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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!

ThreeTomatoes Fri 18-Jan-13 12:27:21

purple actually it's my friend who has no family around that I've been more involved with, than the friend who has very strong family ties. The latter seems to be busy all the time, and tends to prefer meeting up without kids (at least if we haven't seen each other for a while), whereas the former likes the company during the day and my involvement with her kids , and of course my occasional babysitting ability! smile

Also, it makes a difference that our DPs are sort of part of the group too, we often all hang out together and get on, whereas the latter friend's DP i hardly know even though she's been with him for years ! If you're visiting each other's houses a lot, and DPs are going to be around at home, this does make a difference.

tazmo Fri 18-Jan-13 13:01:22

purple - your time will come so try not to worry too much. I do sympathise but must admit, within my circle of friends it has been challenging because of the circumstances. Out of a flat of 5 girls, 3 of us had to have ivf. I had ds1 with ivf but went onto conceive naturally dd2 and dd3 (lucky i know). One flatmate had 2 attempts but had bad reactions to drugs so hospital would not treat her anymore. She was 31 and has now gone through menopause at 43 so no children for her. she says shes over it - but her DH isn't. she's been a good friend and has offered to help - but she lives over 1.5 hours away so not practical. However, she does despair at how many people have asked her to be godparents (which she sees as token parenting because she hasn't had any kids - or free babysitting.... ) and she says she can't understand how people take their kids here there and everywhere (what else can you do?? can't take the bus when they're 3?) and is obsessed with all her friends having PND (which I have had - but not too severely - but she's obsessed and it can really drive me crazy). Then another friend had 4 attempts at IVF, 2 miscarriages, one failed and was successful on 4th attempt. Anyways shes had really bad PND and now her son is query autistic. She wanted another baby but DH said no because of her bad PND - now she can't be around me having had another baby and has been complaining to my friends how I just seem to breeze through it and make it look so easy (which is totally untrue; have had my days and she keeps cancelling on me because of her issues - and its driven me mad as I could really do with having a close friend girly chat when - er must go - kids playing up.

VariousBartimaeus Fri 18-Jan-13 13:05:16

I'm not in a great position to reply as I didn't have many close friends (geographically speaking!) before having DS.

DS is now 15 months and quite frankly, I am knackered. I work FT, come home, put DS to bed, grab a sandwich, talk to DH for a bit and go to bed. Then start it all over again at 6am the next day. Weekends I like to see DS and DH as much as possible because I don't see much of them during the week.

I do make an effort to meet up with a friend most weekends whilst DH does his sport.

With friends who don't have DC, I really appreciate it when they come over to see me because my flat is babyproof and I can leave DS to play by himself whilst we chat. I've tried meeting in cafes or parks but DS is either whingy or runs off so conversation is tricky!

Plus I don't have to think about his food etc. and if it's naptime, then he can go to sleep and we can keep chatting.

LoopsInHoops Fri 18-Jan-13 13:07:37

We were pretty much the first of our friends to have kids. No babysitters. We go out less, but still go out, and have always been the party hosts. We tend to go on holiday/weekends away with our friends, now we've emigrated we seem to still be able to do that. No festivals any more though, purely because of the emigration, not the kids. Little DD was 2 weeks old at her first festival, 9 days old for her first camping trip. smile

Corygal Fri 18-Jan-13 13:17:50

IME people with new babes are crashing bores but desperate to get a life, or at least an evening, simultaneously.

The new baby thing is overwhelming, and as a non-parent you may feel very isolated for a while, but they get over it. So will you.

In the meantime, start getting used to even a 15-min Starbucks break with a friend being controlled by the baby - too hot, too cold, too happy, too angry, too hungry, too overfed, add as applicable. Oh, and not being able to get a sentence out without an eldritch shriek chilling you both.

The smells are not life-enhancing. The baby is not good conversation. Your friend looks like death. This can be alarming and tiring. However...

As you can probably tell, I feel about babies the way vampires feel about garlic, but even I can tell you one day you get to the bit where you actually like the babes as people, most lovely. One day.

In the meantime, take migraine pills to appts. with people with small children, tissues, and your most cheerful line of chat from The World. Watch out for signs of friends being depressed - they'll be more tired than anyone would have thought possible, but that's different. And keep things light, bright and normal.

FadBook Fri 18-Jan-13 13:34:52

Some really great advice on here Purple. And I second that you are an amazing friend to be considering what you can do to keep the friendship going.

Friendships take effort on both parties and sometimes when one forgets this, the friendship gets lost amongst the day to day running of things (work, house, partner) and before you know it, you haven't seen or spoken to your friends for several weeks.

Ditto the whole organising a takeaway / cooking a meal and taking it around / arranging a coffee morning at your house etc. I loved my friends making an effort with me (which didn't always happen hmm) but when it did, it made me feel more than just Fadbook's mum / partner or a milk machine!!

My non baby friends have reduced since dd. Location aside (I live around 35 mile from my home town where a lot of my friends still are) I got told: we'll come and see you / we'll meet for lunch etc and it never happened with a very good friend and my best friend. It was hard for me but I had my priorities and they had theirs. I even did the arranging and organising on several occasions which got cancelled by them; one was for a Sunday lunch and it come down to one of them being skint (despite managing to go out on the lash for the last 6 weekends according to her Facebook updatesshock) It was at that point I knew the friendship meant more to me than her so I cut her off.

However, my one friend who has no children but has kept in touch has met me for breakfast/brunch on a Saturday morning, sometimes with dd sometimes without. Because of distance, we don't see each other often but every 2 months we both make an effort to meet up. And it's nice as I like to hear about her work and her life outside of my mummy discussions ( "I've switched to Aldi nappies" or "my dd isn't sleeping well at the minute, what would you do" type of discussions!)

I have also made a ton of new friends at baby groups, and we meet every month without children for a meal out. It's lovely even if we do talk about our kids all night!! smile It just gives us some well deserved "me" time

firawla Fri 18-Jan-13 13:40:59

I have 2 best friends, one doesnt have kids yet, other one has one baby who is younger than any of mine. They are my best friends cos i like them more than i like other people, nothing to do with whether they have kids at the same age or not. Guess it depends on the person, but i dont think having babies means you have to cut yourself off from everyone else and focus only on "mum friends"
I wouldnt worry too much, see how they are when the babies are born. Do go easy on them for first few months though cos there is a possibilty they wont be up to much in the first while they adjust a bit, sure you wouldnt be pressuring them to leave baby with babysitter to come out or anything but obviously if friends do that and dont understand if they are not ready to do that it could be a bit of a problem

Dozer Fri 18-Jan-13 13:45:42

My friendships with people who don't live nearby (most of my friends) have often suffered or ended since I had DC.

I found parenting hard from the start, and harder with two DC, sleep deprivation for years (both DC bad sleepers), mild depression/anxiety, relationship problems, limited family support, working, commuting etc. Just couldn't / can't get it together or find time and energy to keep in touch with or travel to see people ( with or without DC). If I get any time for myself I have a list a mile long of stuff should/would like to do!

The longer I leave it the harder it gets, and tbh I doubt things will improve, largely because am unable/unwilling to travel long distances to visit friends anymore on top of work, domestics, extended family commitments and DC/DH. Am sad about it.

A couple of friends, early on, pointedly didn't want to talk about the DC / my being a parent at all, and lectured about how important it was to "still be you" and maintain "your own life" etc, saying "we're all tired" when I tried to talk about sleep deprivation. what they really seemed to mean was that they wanted me to still do the things we did before, eg travel to visit them, be a good hostm go on weekends away, late nights drinking, and judged me because I didn't want to. That pissed me off.

I have deliberately backed off from two friends after we all had DC because of incompatible parenting styles, eg one friend boasts about her DC and DH and their personal choices (eg she is a SAHM) and is just too gushing/judgmental about others! another likes to engage with / educate her DC all the time rather than have any adult conversation, which is dull, and her DC are - for the moment anyway - annoying!

God, I sound/am really horrible! Don't mean to be.

HollyMadison Fri 18-Jan-13 13:58:07

I want to see my child free friends more than I do and I really miss them. They don't have much time, what with all the going out to bars and restaurants and going on holiday! It's mostly actually that timings don't work out - they can't leave work to have dinner at baby time of 5:30pm and then once I've got him to bed I'm shattered. Also BFing made it difficult for me to go out for a long time.

How much your friends go out after the birth may depend on things like the health, feeding and sleeping of the baby, as well as your working hours and other commitments.

I think the best thing is an early takeaway at their place. Hopefully dads will look after baby whilst you goss but mum and baby won't be stressed about leaving each other.

Good luck with TTC x

CailinDana Fri 18-Jan-13 14:07:07

It's hard to predict how things will go. Two (male, childless) friends of mine, who live elsewhere, called me at 11pm when my DS was tiny, waking me up from much needed sleep. I basically told them to fuck off, and to have a bit of fucking consideration for a new mother. One apologised, the other took the hump. I know they just weren't thinking but to be fair I wouldn't have liked someone ringing at 11pm pre-DC and to ring someone with a tiny baby at that hour of the night just seems incredibly stupid. Feeling that friends just don't get your situation in such an obvious way can change a friendship irreparably.

Other childless friends have been brilliant. As we moved recently they all live elsewhere, but a few of them have made a huge effort, sending presents for my DS, making the effort to travel, sometimes long distances, to visit us etc. The fact that they show a genuine interest in my DS is absolutely key - he is a huge part of my life and while I absolutely do not expect them to listen as I witter on about him, total disinterest, or outright hints not to talk about him, are very damaging to the friendship.

The fact is, the childless half of the friendship usually ends up making more effort to keep the friendship going, in terms of travelling, accommodating the needs of the parent-friend, etc. But that's almost unavoidable really and if you're interested in keeping the friendship going then you have to suck it up for while, until the parent friend has things more under control and can get out more. You have to accept that the child might have to be part of the socialising, depending, or that the friend won't want to leave the child and that's normal, especially when they're young. Making a new mother feel silly for not wanting to go out with her young baby is a surefire way to piss her off and damage a relationship.

tumbletumble Fri 18-Jan-13 14:23:19

My eldest DC is 7. Pre-DC, DH and I were very close friends with two couples who ended up having DC quite a bit later than us (one couple's eldest is 2, the other's is 3). Neither family lives very near us (over an hour's drive in both cases) which doesn't help.

We've found that we've stayed just as close to one couple, and drifted apart slightly from the other. Ironically, we stayed close to the latter until they had their own DC and became very precious about them!!

As people have said, it needs compromise on both sides. You need to accept that they will talk and think a lot about their DC (and you may sometimes find it boring) and will want to do different things, eg meet in the day time rather than the evening, spend time at home rather than going out etc. It can't be too one sided though. They have to do their best to find things that are still interesting for you too. The important thing is good communication - so you could give several possible suggestions of how to spend your Saturday and let them choose ("would you like to drive to us or shall we come to you?"), but each must be something you are happy with as well or you risk the silent resentment thing.

Don't be too sensitive - if they decline / cancel a couple of invites in a row, don't take it too personally as long as you do eventually manage to meet up!

It will help if you get involved with the DC rather than watching from the side lines.

It can work - we've even been on holiday with a childless couple and our DC!

tumbletumble Fri 18-Jan-13 15:30:11

The fact is, the childless half of the friendship usually ends up making more effort to keep the friendship going, in terms of travelling, accommodating the needs of the parent-friend

I would say that, although it will probably feel like this to you, the parent friend will be making sacrifices that you aren't necessarily aware of. Yes you are likely to be travelling more and adapting to child friendly times and places, but remember she may be fighting a sea of tiredness just to have a normal conversation with you!!

VariousBartimaeus Fri 18-Jan-13 15:44:23

One thing I really love about one of my childfree friends is that he thinks of us at random times. We don't live in the same country anymore so don't see each other often, but a few times now I've received a little present for DS through the post because my friend was away for a weekend somewhere and saw something and thought of us. Totally lovely.

We have a strange friendship where we can go months without contact then plague each other with emails or texts, or meetup and nothing has changed.

He was also very understanding when he came to visit and I didn't stay up past 10pm cos I was dead on my feet. He's used to much more party animal friends! But didn't hold it against me.

purplefairies Fri 18-Jan-13 15:50:00

Some really interesting insights here - thanks, everyone.

Makes me feel a bit bad looking back to how I treated my friend when she became a teenage mum. I suppose I never really made much of an effort to discuss her DC - it was hard for me to see as anything other than an entity in herself who'd just happened to have a random baby plonked into her life as opposed to someone who was building a new relationship with a person she really loved. But I was very young then too so hope to not make the same mistake twice smile

I have to say that this thread is also a really good insight into how much having children changes your life (I'm trying not to be just a tiny bit scared!). I think a lot of us without DC assume that all parents are dying for a "break" at any opportunity and will relish any evening doing "pre-DC" things - I suppose I also have to factor in the possibility that my friends may not WANT to be away from their babies smile at least not right away. It's hard to grasp how all-consuming the relationship must be when you've never experienced it and only see "babies" as a generic group without any of the emotions involved.

VariousBartimaeus Fri 18-Jan-13 15:57:40

Yeah I fall into the not wanting to be away from DS if possible category - possibly because I work FT so have reduced time with him anyway!

Friends wanted to organise a 4day weekend away when DS was 7 months - I said no because I was still BF. So they asked when I was planning on stopping hmm I said maybe at 12 months, so the next day they started planning a weekend for when DS was 12 months - and yes, they did suggest the weekend his birthday was on!!! grin

Again I had to make my excuses. I offered to do a weekend where I just stayed 1 night and they did the rest but they didn't want that.

We have now finally booked a weekend away together. DS will be 18 months and it's the first time I've left him overnight but won't be the first time I haven't seen him in the evening/put him to bed so I'm feeling a lot more confident about it. I'll miss him like crazy though!

Incidently, I'm still BF DS in the evening but haven't publicised that. I get too many hmm looks if I mention it.

See, I didn't really expect my childfree friends to make big changes or adapt a lot just because I had DS. Why should they? For that matter, why should I? After the first few months of exhaustion, I was more than happy to do what we had done before, i.e. meet up in the evening for some food and drink and chit chat. DH was happy to take care of things of home. The only real change was that I didn't go out quite as much as before, so I did have to ask my friends to be patient in terms of not meeting up as much, but otherwise things were about the same.

I agree it's annoying if people expect you to be exactly the same but -- well, I was the same person. Having a baby added something to my life but it didn't erase everything that came before.

I was surprised to find that the friendships that changed the least were with my childfree male friends -- perhaps because it didn't occur to them that things would change that much, and I was happy to keep some things in life the same.

Instead it was my friends who had kids around the same time who I suddenly saw less of, because the only things they wanted to do were baby groups and big coffee meetups, which aren't really my thing.

I realise from reading this thread that my experience was probably a bit odd but I just throw it out there so you see that there isn't just one way of doing things. You just have to see what happens.

x-post

Yes I was one of those parents who wanted a break and some pre-DC activity! We do exist!

And I didn't really want to talk about DS too much, not with childfree friends. It's not really that interesting if you're not sharing it with someone who's going through it too (kind of like how work chat can be so interesting among colleagues but so boring to anyone who doesn't work with you).

So don't feel bad smile

ThreeTomatoes Fri 18-Jan-13 16:53:30

Aww got to corygal's post haven't read the rest just wanted to say - I LOVED my friend's little babies! There is nothing like holding a little baby, I could sit there all day although the bizarre thing is when it was dd I was always desperate to hand her over to someone else, for a break grin (dd was ebf & frequently hence far too much babe-in-arms for my liking!).. I fed a lot of bottles to my friend's babies, loved it smile

ThreeTomatoes Fri 18-Jan-13 17:11:33

It's true it isn't everyone who stops doing pre-DC things. I know someone who is now a lone parent and she still seems to be out a lot (when her ex has the kids) drinking as much as she ever did. I always wonder how she manages it. For me, out on the lash in a noisy pub or club, back home in the early hours and then feeling shit the next day is my idea of hell and I avoid it as much as possible - i will only go along to a night like that if it is something special, like the leaving do of someone I'm really friendly with at work, for e.g., and even then I'll only have a couple of drinks and leave as soon as I've had enough. So glad my 'real' close friends aren't like that. Funny, cos I used to do it all the time!

Re talking about the DC a lot - I remember actually in the first year or two when the focus seemed to be constantly on dd, especially with my family (doting grandparents) I used to find it really refreshing when I spent time with someone who wasn't obsessed. For e.g. I had a boyfriend (eventually DP smile ) and we spent a lot of time watching films, talking about his life etc, plus i did try and go out more than i do now & spend time with him & his mates, and it was nice to have a break from dd-obsession.

BertieBotts Fri 18-Jan-13 17:42:17

Have not read whole thread so sorry if I'm duplicating.

Perhaps they just hadn't thought past the way that you usually meet up as a group, and are aware that they won't be able to keep that up at least while the babies are little.

You sound really thoughtful and aware of their situation and that's great, I had DS pretty young and I have some friends who made the effort to ask rather than assume whether I could go out or not and then listen to what I said rather than when I said "Yes I'd love to go out but I need more notice so I can organise a babysitter" they'd hear "Great! Invite me next time you make last-minute arrangements" or "Don't bother inviting me - I won't be able to come anyway" It was the ones who actually listened to my suggestion of "...But you'd be welcome to come over to my house!" and took me up on that that I've stayed in touch with, and stayed good friends with.

CheungFun Fri 18-Jan-13 18:17:08

I wish one of my friends was half as considerate as you purple, she's not a 'baby person' which I totally get as I was never into babies before DS.

Anyway here's my take on the whole thing, at the beginning, keep it short as the new mum will probably be exhausted - maybe a tea/coffee at her house or yours for half an hour. I remember being unable to put a sentence together once when visiting a friend and couldn't remember words blush

At the beginning, and always really, a nice walk outdoors is a good chance to chat without being interrupted. Babies seem to fall asleep instantly once moving. Crawling age babies and toddles can go on swings at the park and on slides with help. Toddlers can run around too!

Always ask how the baby is, my annoying friend never asks and it grates on me tbh as I don't have a lot else to talk about! Just ask questions, anything is fine e.g how are they sleeping? Do they like the bath? Make sympathetic noises about sleepless nights. My friend tells me how exhausting it is working full time she's probably not used to it having only worked full time for one year of her life and I've been working full time for the past 10 years and it's not a tiredness competition!

You don't need to go overboard, but it's nice to get the odd gift for the baby every now and then, like a nice rattle or board book. It's always a nice surprise and shows you care. One single male friend is very sweet and brings a little something for DS every so often when he visits and it's so thoughtful and nice to have something different to play with as much for the parent as the child.

Ask the parent what is best for them e.g. lunch or dinner and where's best yours/theirs.

The main thing really is to communicate and show that you care. I think you'll be fine because you're already being so nice and considerate!

I think the first 6 months are the hardest with a new baby, and I became more and more 'myself' from the tired shell shocked me grin

badinage Fri 18-Jan-13 18:31:55

Have only skim-read sorry but I'm another one like Dreaming. Once I'd got the hang of expressing, I couldn't wait to get out for an evening with my mates. It really used to hack me off when a couple of my other mum friends 'couldn't go out' because their knobber husbands wouldn't look after their own children. Yes life changes after children, but apart from the breastfeeding bit, it shouldn't change women any more than it changes men. It's actually very important to remember you're an individual in your own right and not just a mother.

Totally agree badinage smile

There can be lots of logistical reasons for not going out, or maybe you just don't feel like it, and it's totally understandable. But I do think sometimes there are limits that don't necessarily need to be there, like partners who can't cope with their own kids, or just a feeling like you shouldn't be going out now that you're a mum.

tazmo Fri 18-Jan-13 20:57:41

Hi purple went earlier. Was telling the tale. 5 flat mates. I failed ivf. 1 had child query autistic. Other flat mate young, free and single and about to go to Brussels with work. Has never met mr right. And the final flat ate conceived naturally but has gone on to have several miscarriages but has been a bit 'woe is me' about it which is fine - it is devastating losing a child but she was insensitive when our other friend was going through a miscarriage (ie said to said friend with query autistic child - "I want you to see me pregnant" when she knew she was losing her child. So every situation is different and marred by circumstance.

The best thing you can do is be supportive, offer to take lunch around, show an interest. A lot of new mothers at some point can feel v isolated and not know it - generally once the novelty has worn off and can be a bit down. The peak time is about 5 months and while new mums from new groups can be the new pals, there is a lot of competition amongst mums to be perfect - a time when a good old friend might be needed. So your friends may not actually be able to tell new mums exactly how they really feel and may need an old friend to chat to!

And as I said, it will be your turn at some point and friends remember who was supportive in the best/worst time of their lives. Good luck..

curryeater Fri 18-Jan-13 22:43:04

purplefairies, you sound lovely. I think if anyone can keep these friendships up, you can, and will, because you sound considerate and thoughtful.
but - in the nicest possible way - are you sure you should be tcc if you aren't sure? I am sure you have thought about it much more than in this thread (which is not what it is about) but - it really is fine not to have kids. And as you sound as if you will be lovely to them, you can always borrow other people's!

cerealqueen Fri 18-Jan-13 23:14:31

I wish my friends had been like you!
I had my first late in life and my two best friends were a bit shocked as I was never the baby sort and we were all single and no kids and late thirties.

When I gave birth, they promised frozen dinners and baby sitting and coffees and seeing me. I have no family support at all so this all sounded great. They came to see me ONCE. I had to instigate every other meet up for the first year, suggesting lunches out as I'd never have seen them. I made a conscious effort never to talk babies. They even said how great I'd been 'not going on about it and being so chilled out'.

Evenings out are rare but again, me instigating and reminding them 'I'm still here, don't for get about me' and seeing night out stuff on facebook and me not being invited.

After DC2, and a nightmare 8 months, did confide in them what an awful time I'd been having. Still no support.

I accept now that they are no longer my best friends, or even friends, just people I used to know. I wanted to maintain the friendships but they just could not be there for me, for whatever reason.

Life will be different but most people want to retain some sense of their other non baby self and their oldest friends can help them do that!

Lavenderhoney Sat 19-Jan-13 05:42:11

Just remembered, as an aside to my other post, we were living in the country and my best friend fom my days in London came to visit. Fabulous. She was so smart! She looked amazing and I was suddenly aware of my back to nature hair, lack of easy mani-pedi, and old jeans/ t shirt/ flats.
In my house, she bravely took my 8 week ds and said go on, I'll look after him for a bit. She held him up and said " oh you are so lovely" and he baby socked straight over her hair, face. Her expression was utter horror and revulsionsmile I took him back and we just had a chat together. She didn't come againsad smile

I bf til both were 2 and just over, so by choice was out of some things, but always happy to meet up during the day. Be aware when the baby is crawling/ walking they won't sit happily in buggys while you chat. It's a great friend who goes to soft play without their own. Although may be a deal - breakersmile

purplefairies Mon 21-Jan-13 11:29:12

curryeater - don't worry, I've given the TTC thing a lot of thought smile (far too much probably). The thing is I really like the idea of having older children (5 years plus). It's just the baby/toddler bit that really scares me. There have never been many small children in my family and I just feel a bit useless with them to be honest. I am also a marathon sleeper and the thought of years of sleep depravation is, frankly, terrifying....

meadow2 Mon 21-Jan-13 12:56:15

Nothing has to change if you dont want it to.Dh takes our kids whenever I have a bfed baby at mo and an older child but have still been away for the weekend, been to pub/club and also meet my friends in the day for meals etc.

curryeater Mon 21-Jan-13 22:46:27

Sorry purplefairies, didn't mean to sound patronising.
I speak as someone who didn't have the baby-node of my brain active when a lot of my friends did and came to child-bearing late and, honestly, in a rather detached and speculative frame of mind. The early years almost killed me. I lost all my energy and with it any ability to do anything but survive. It was depressing. but as you have the foresight to see, it is temporary, and you get through it. But then I suppose many people who thought they were desperate for babies find that just as hard, so [trails off into pointless rambling]

Anyway, you will be fine because you sound like an interesting and considerate person so will always maintain good friendships and make new ones.

hrrumph Mon 21-Jan-13 23:20:56

For me, I was quite busy to start with (eerily similar story to curryeater), but never so busy I wouldn't have appreciated an old friend coming round for a coffee.

birdofthenorth Tue 22-Jan-13 07:25:39

I still see my child free friends regularly but in the early days I found daytime coffees/ lunches far easier than the evenings when DD would cluster feed and need a lot if settling for bed- trying to do that whilst maintaining an adult conversation on no sleep wasn't easy!

Now she is 2 we're much more flexible -though I did horrify my single gay friend by suggesting Sunday lunch in Wetherspoons instead of Carliccios where I am less embarrassed if she runs/ throws food/ starts singing TheWheels on the Bus loudly! It's been a process of adjustment but I'd never ditch my real friends, you need them more than ever when struggling in isolation!

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