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#578: How do I tell my parents that my spouse and I are thinking of starting a family? Spoiler: Don’t just yet.

Ahoy Captain & Company!

I have a question that is not 100% relevant yet, but may be in the next few weeks. My husband “A” and I are planning on starting a family. Although we are young (by the time any baby is born, I will be 23 and A will be 25), we have been together for eight years, married for two; we have stable sources of income, ample savings, and a plan for how we will support ourselves. The problem? How to tell my parents once we have good news to share. A’s parents will be over the moon, but mine… Well, when we announced when we were going to get married, it led to a public meltdown at my birthday dinner. Judging by comments that my mother has made in the recent past, I have a feeling that any baby news would not be welcome. Add to that the fact that my extended family is not too keen on me right now (black sheep, etc.) and I am completely lost about how to tell them.

Again, this is a totally premature question, but this is stressing me out more than any other part of the whole process. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Maybe Baby

Dear Maybe Baby:

Tell people who are not your spouse that you are starting a familyย after you’ve had the “You’re three months pregnant, let’s see if this thing is really gonna take” tests. Not before. It’s not only about medical reasons or viability, it’s about giving yourself time to get used to the idea before inviting the whole world into your body and your choices. Being a pregnant woman is vulnerable enough (Everyone can see! Everyone feels like they have something to say about it!), so don’t make it public until you’ve had a chance to get right with it yourself.

No one can critique or weigh in on your hypothetical life choices if they don’t know about them. If you don’t need your parents’ judgy input, then don’t invite it (It will show up on its own later, no need to roll out the red carpet). When you tell your parents three months in, I strongly suspect that your mom will make a show of being hurt that you didn’t tell her right away. That’s okay, because you say yourself, she would be weird no matter when you told her. You can say “We wanted to make sure everything was medically a go before announcing” and she can fucking deal. Or not. If she doesn’t deal, that will limit her access to you and to her grandchild, because you will have too much to do to put up with one lady’s need to be the center of everything.

Also, it’s always kind of weird when people I know say “we’re…trying” in that insinuating way. What does that mean? Removing birth control? Fucking constantly? I’m happy you’re getting it on the regular (kind of assumed that already, sport!), and happy at the prospect of new awesome people in the world, but I don’t need to see the recipe.

Parenting is going to change your life in ways that we can’t even imagine. One way is that what your mom’s judgment of you is going to matter less and less. She had her chance to parent. If she wants to offer help, support, wisdom, and encouragement, great. But this is your time, and you have the final say on when you tell, how you tell, what you tell.

Bonus: Tell people what you are naming the baby when you say “here is my baby, Name” and show them the baby (or a picture of the already-born, already-named baby). Trust me. Just, trust me. Names are easy to hate in theory, harder to hate when they are attached to an adorable wee person.

 

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174 comments
  1. evil fizz said:

    I agree strongly with the Captain here. There isn’t really a need to tell a wider audience preemptively that you’re trying or have a proposed timeline for childbearing. There are obviously people with a need to know (partner, doctor) or people who you’d choose to confide in, but everyone else? A “Partner and I are thrilled to announce that we’re expecting a baby who is anticipated in April 2015!” is absolutely sufficient, whether you tell people at the end of the first trimester or at 38 weeks or if you go with “We are pleased to announce the arrival of Yes Certainly Baby, born April 6th at 3:19, 7 pounds, 9 ounces, 20 inches,” instead.

    Having said that, I’d suspect part of what you’re running into is the cultural assumptions about moms and daughters and the sort of relationship you’re “supposed to” have. You “should be” able to talk to your mom about pregnancy, ask her questions about what happened to her when she was pregnant, find out if there were things she’d have done differently. I use the quotes there because plenty of people don’t have that kind of relationship with their mom for all kinds of reason that range from “mom and I are private people and not close in that way” to “mom was abusive and we’re not in contact at all”, and everything in between.

    Ideally, telling your mom that you’re pregnant and she’s going to be a grandmother is a happy cheerful time full of excitement, not a stressful ball of judgment, crossed arms, and yelling about the wrong choices. If you have good reason to think that your situation is going to fall more into the latter category than the former, planning accordingly is the way to go. Share information on your time table, when there’s a need to engage on this topic. I assume your mom’s not pestering you about when you’re planning to get pregnant, so no need to bring it up preemptively.

  2. Ace said:

    I’ve had a baby and a couple of miscarriages and i’ve found that for me, there’s 3 stages of telling.

    1. When you’re ‘trying’ you tell your partner. It’s a fun sexy secret to keep!

    2. When you get the positive test you guys tell only the people that you’d want support from if it all went wrong. If everything goes fine then great! If it doesn’t though,๐Ÿ˜จ you might need help with doctor visits or tests or just a shoulder to cry on and your partner shouldn’t be the only person to do that for you if you can help it. They’ll be hurting too.

    3. 12 weeks have passed, you’re happy, baby’s happy, this one’s going the distance, tell everyone else!

    Best of luck to you!

    • Jaz said:

      I think that’s some really good guidelines for the timing. With one small change, the “telling a partner” comes before the “trying”.

      • Ace said:

        Yikes, totally didn’t mean for it to come off like that. Only meant to indicate that they should be the only one that knows what’s going on at that stage besides you. Sorry!

        • Jaz said:

          That’s what I thought you meant ๐Ÿ™‚ Just wanted to make sure ^^

      • JenniferP said:

        For sure.

    • Sarabeth said:

      I’d just add that, especially if it takes awhile, you may want to talk to the supportive people in your life about that, too. You certainly don’t need to, but as a friend, I’m happy to be a shoulder-to-cry-on about the frustrations of another month when you didn’t get pregnant. Infertility can feel like a terrible secret, and if it’s something you end up dealing with, I hope that you will have good friends who will help you through it. Obviously, this knowledge best restricted to the people you can trust to react appropriately. I told my best friend and not my mom, for example.

  3. Amy said:

    LW, I’m with the captain – even in the best and closest of families where a new baby will be welcomed, nobody needs to know that you’re “trying”, or even preparing to try. For one thing, it could take a while; do you want to be under constant observation, or, if it takes more than a few months, have your parents chip in with helpful, “Well, maybe you’re just not doing it right,” , or “Have you tried being more RELAXED?”, or, “Well, how did you expect to conceive right away, you just don’t drink enough milk, I’ve told you before…”

    Keep other people out of it, other than maaaaaybe a close and trusted friend, until there is actual news to share; it’s up to you who you tell once you’re pregnant, but again I’m with the captain on keeping it quiet until you’re past 12 weeks and a viability/dating scan. Early miscarriages are very common, and it sounds as though announcing a pregnancy to your mother, then sadly losing the pregnancy, would give your mother some lovely ammo to devastate your emotions when you have enough heartbreak on your plate.

    Good luck.

    • boutet said:

      Oh my god the “relaxed” comments. They are a plague all on their own.

    • hrovitnir said:

      Yes, I did want to say I don’t think “we’re trying” is always a bad thing to tell anyone. If a friend of mine said they were “trying” to have a baby I would be into that because it’s a big decision! I’d be more than happy to talk to them about how it’s going, whether exciting or frustrating.

      I’d also assume it means “stopped birth control, having regular sex, possibly having sex based around ovulation times”. I’m happy to discuss these things too but even if that’s not your cup of tea, inferring lots of sex isn’t the same as having their sex life forced on you IMO.

      Not to discount at all that so so many people are nosy pains in the butt, and I do think keeping it way on the down low is a good plan. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • NH said:

        I currently know 5 people who are trying (+ partners for some of them). Most with donor sperm, which makes it less awkward to tell, and sometimes more awkward NOT to tell. “Why are you flying to Portland with 12 hours’ notice once a month?” “Oh, no reason.”

        But I don’t think it’s weird to know they’re trying and it puts me in a great position to be supportive if it takes a long time, or they have to deal with an early miscarriage, or they just want to talk about the huge life decision. That’s really affected by being queer, though. My queer friends are way more open, possibly because they mostly just aren’t saying ANYTHING about their sex lives when they say they’re trying.

        • JenniferP said:

          Thank you for pointing out I had my straight goggles on for that piece of the answer. Good luck to your friends!

  4. Salamandrix said:

    Re: announcing the baby name – the Captain is SO right! I vetted a few names with family members before the birth, and they felt free to criticize them and I was influenced by their reactions to avoid a name that I still love, and wish I’d given to my kid.

    • boutet said:

      Yeah. And even if you had used it, those criticisms would be sitting there between the criticizer and the baby all their lives. People might even hold it against them/you, like “she asked me what I thought of it and then she used it anyway! I guess my opinion doesn’t matter! Why did she even ask?”

    • Yes I want to second this one too. Don’t tell anyone. I never ask my friends if they’ve picked out names. The minute you say “We’re thinking Penelope if it’s a girl” someone will say “OH I KNEW A PENELOPE IN 2ND GRADE AND SHE STOLE MY CRAYONS!!”

      My best friend of 25+ years didn’t tell me the names she’d chosen, and they weren’t even anything weird (her daughter has the same name as my sister). I wasn’t offended, because I already had kids and knew exactly how the name conversations go down. Just tell people you haven’t decided yet.

      • Emmers said:

        A boy named Edward stole my special salmon-colored crayon when I was in 3rd grade AND I STILL REMEMBER IT.

        (It made me gleeful about the Twilight choice of name, though.)

    • H.Regalis said:

      Double-agreed. Wait until the baby’s a done deal and then introduce them as $_name. It’s a lot harder (socially) for people to have a baby in front of them and be like, “My ex who hides in sewers and cosplays as Pennywise the Clown has the same name.”

    • Guava said:

      This was such a minefield for us. We’d have this exchange all the time:
      Stranger/Friend/Family member/Acquaintance: “SO…what are you thinking for names?”

      Me: “I don’t know.”

      SFFA: “Oh, come on, you have to have *some* ideas.”

      Me: “Not yet. Spouse and I are still deciding.”

      SFFA: “So you’re not going to tell me, then. Huh. I get it. Wow.”

      Me: “OK, fine. We’re thinking of [name].”

      SFFA: “Ew! That’s an AWFUL name.”
      See also: “You can’t name baby that! She’ll get TEASED!”

      My advice: Tell everyone that you and Spouse promised each other to keep the baby’s name a surprise until after the baby has been born.

      • boutet said:

        My tactic with the people who push was to topic jump to the most unusual names I had found (in my opinion/experience). Like, “Have you decided on a name yet?” “No, but I found some really interesting ones I don’t want to use! Have you met anyone named Donelda? I didn’t know that was a name!”
        People really want to one-up you so mostly they just jump on that topic with both feet. Your chosen name dwindles in the conversation, overwhelmed by all the Bathildas and Obediahs.

        • Jaz said:

          Bathilda Bagshot wrote A History of Magic! ^^

          Which reminds me, most of the names from the Potter verse are on the “do not use”-list for my hypothetical future kids xD

      • Uncommon Hussy said:

        My parents thought up the most over-the-top terrible names they could and insisted with a straight face to anyone who asked that those were the names they were considering for my siblings and me. It made the inevitable pestering about names from the extended family a lot more bearable for them when they made it into a game and it made keeping our real names a secret much easier, since they had preplanned decoy names.

        • Guava said:

          Boutet and Uncommon Hussy, those are great tactics!

        • Lost Marbles said:

          I did a variant of this game while pregnant with our kids. Our last name is an adjective, so we invited people to come up with silly name combinations to not-use. It was a lot of fun and avoided the judgy “you can’t name him [that]. I knew a [that] who was mean to me in elementary school” conversations.

        • I told an ultra-Christian relative that we were thinking of Jezebel Lillith.

  5. MJH said:

    The only people you tell are the people who would be supportive to you were the pregnancy to end in miscarriage. Based on your letter, it doesn’t sound as though your parents would be particularly supportive and loving in that situation, so I would take the Captain’s advice and wait until week 12.

    (I recently had a positive pregnancy test and then got my period a few days later. Apparently “chemical pregnancy” is a thing that can happen. For four days I was super excited, then not so much. And I was REALLY glad I hadn’t gone telling people about the positive test.)

    • Kat said:

      I’ve seen so many people post photos of positive pregnancy tests on Facebook and it always weirds me out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy if they’re happy about it – but if something were to happen, would you really want your Facebook friends asking about your pregnancy all the time?

      • JenniferP said:

        Also, that has your pee on it.

        • Kat said:

          Never saying it, always thinking it.

          • The Aphid said:

            …Huh. That is not something I think about. I’m glad I mostly made sure we didn’t have ovulation kits just sitting out in the bathroom when company came over, I guess – it did occur to me dimly that some people might mind. What’s TMI is so very variable.

    • KellyK said:

      Yes, definitely. For that matter, the existence of chemical pregnancies is a reason to not necessarily grab the pregnancy test the minute your period is late, either (unless you have medical reasons to need to know as soon as possible, of course). I had a miscarriage/chemical pregnancy just shy of 5 weeks–sooner than I really should’ve even known I was pregnant. Physically, it was a slightly late, kind of heavy period with more cramping than usual, but emotionally it was pretty awful. And the only thing that made it emotionally any different than any other period was that pregnancy test.

      • MJH said:

        Yeah, part of me feels like it was stupid to test! Because all the feels. But I am also really glad to know that sperm can meet egg in my body; that is a hopeful sign.

        • KellyK said:

          I wouldn’t say it was stupid–you know, don’t be hard on yourself or anything. If you want to be pregnant, it’s totally normal to want to test and find out the minute you think you might be.

    • jess said:

      Yes to this! I recently had a miscarriage at just on 7 weeks – apparently nothing had developed since about week 5. Having taken the pregnancy test when I period was one day late, I’d known I was pregnant for three weeks. Which seemed like a LONG TIME at the time, but in retrospect wasn’t long at all. And if it was pre-early home pregnancy tests I would have just assumed it was a long cycle (like what I’ve had in the past when pregnancy wasn’t an option), and an annoyingly painful and long period.

      I’d told one set of good friends who had known we were trying. I’d told my parents and some family since week 6 was travelling to a wedding and so I’d taken the opportunity to tell people MUCH earlier than I would have otherwise planned to since I could tell people in person, although when I was telling people I did say that it was still very early days.

      Happily everyone I told was super cool about being told “uhhh…November won’t be exciting after all!”. It was nice having just one or two people to vent to without having a wall of sympathy. Plus, now I’ve had a practise run of the whole thing!

      My caveat is – my HUSBAND has been the one who is super excited to tell people we’re trying. I was very aware of not wanting to be under a microscope every month (did it work? did it not work? ARE YOU DRINKING?), and keeping things under wraps until appropriate dates. Next thing I know, his family know we’re trying, some of his friends know… I’m happy he’s excited and luckily he was sensitive to my wishes when it came to who to tell and when when it comes to actual pregnancy, but it was a bit strange to be thinking about when/what to tell my family about possible maybe future plans to be told that his family, and a bunch of friends, already know!

      My brother also promptly spilled the beans to his in-laws, so I had an awkward phone call of congratulations while I’m thinking “I was in hospital yesterday, think this is a bit premature…” His penance was that HE had to be the one to go back and tell them what happened.

      I’ll probably wait longer to tell people next time, although my parents might conversely get an EARLIER call since they do now know that we’re seriously trying.

      • commanderlogic said:

        Oh! I just saw this! I’m sorry about your miscarriage, though I’m glad that it sounds like your Team You is on the case. I know it wasn’t long, but I also know how long three weeks of knowing and wanting to TALK TO SOMEBODY feels. I designated the Captain as my keeper of crazy reproductive secrets, because some stuff I just couldn’t share with Mr. Logic. Or I could, but needed to share with a lady person, too.

        And I also want to say that however you’re feeling about that pregnancy now is ok, even if it’s grief, even if it’s annoyance, even if it’s something totally weird that doesn’t make sense to you, even if it’s just… nothing. You’re amazing, you have amazing people supporting you, and I wish nothing but the best for you and your growing family.

  6. First off, they reckon a healthy young couple will take an average of a year’s effort before conception. So no way should you share the intention with people who might give you hassle for it – it could be closer to two years between then and the point the baby shows up. And that hassle could make things so much more stressful (or even effect the outcome) if you don’t get pregnant quickly.

    My sister couldn’t wait to tell us once she’d done a few tests. She and BIL were in their late twenties, home-owners with a very good income, but for some reason, it hadn’t occurred to my Mum that this might be on the cards. Sister decided to tell her by writing out a Christmas card out to “Granny and Grandad” which completely threw my Mum – first she thought she’d received the wrong card, then she thought my sister was losing her marbles because both Grandads were dead. Once it was explained, my Mum could only say, “What are you going to do?!”

    Once it had sunk in, Mum was very excited and pleased but we were all a little anxious. This was Christmas, the baby was due in late August! Everything turned out fine, but miscarriages are extremely common (1 in 4 pregnancies, though often so early women don’t yet know they’re pregnant).

    However, given my sister didn’t get the reaction she was hoping for in a family where everything was cool and the news was – basically – entirely welcome, i’d very strongly second the Captain’s advice.

    • emily_of_athens said:

      Hey, not disagreeing with you, but just wanted to point out your first sentence is factually incorrect. Most healthy couples with no known fertility problems get pregnant within three months. If you’ve been trying for a year and haven’t gotten pregnant, that’s when you’ll want to go get checked out. That said, you’re absolutely right that there can be plenty of variability even without fertility issues, and it could definitely take a while.

      • KellyK said:

        Do you know what the stats are for that? If I recall correctly, 80% of couples get pregnant within a year of trying…do you know what the percentage is for 3 months? (Also, there’s trying and then there’s *trying*—“stop using birth control and have sex whenever” presumably has a lower success rate than “take a daily ovulation test and have sex on a schedule”.)

        • emily_of_athens said:

          Here’s what I copy-pasted from BabyCenter:
          30 percent get pregnant the first cycle (about one month)
          59 percent get pregnant within three cycles (about three months)
          80 percent get pregnant within six cycles (about six months)
          85 percent get pregnant within 12 cycles (about one year)
          91 percent get pregnant within 36 cycles (about three years)
          93 to 95 percent get pregnant within 48 cycles (about four years)

          • KellyK said:

            Thanks!

      • I’m sorry – I’ve heard a year, but I have probably misunderstood, or been listening to the wrong source.

      • JenniferP said:

        Hi Emily, I deleted many other comments you left with “get checked at 3 months” because there was no source and I don’t know your bonafides. Since there are responses, I’ll leave it up, but what’s your source? All the stuff I’ve seen says within 1 year.

        For future reference, “My doctor told me that we needed to…” = A-OK! “You, Internet Stranger, need to do x medical thing” = out of bounds.

        • emily_of_athens said:

          Sorry, I commented multiple times because my internet was having problems leaving comments here, and some of them probably came out less well than I meant them to because of re-typing multiple times. That was not my intention!

    • Erika said:

      I have to agree with emily here about the facts in your first sentance–If a couple is healthy and in their twenties, and actively trying to conceive, then an OBGYN would want to do tests after four months of no conception. If you’re an older couple, in your late thirties, then the OBGYN wants to see you after six-eight months of no conception. I know this because I that’s what I was told my my OBGYN the last time I was trying for a baby. I had an appointment for six months after we started trying, and he gave me a routine pregnancy test before he prescribed any medications (good for getting pregnant, but bad for babies). I found out I was pregnant with my daughter that day.

    • Amy said:

      Just FYI, early miscarriages are actually something to the order of 40-50% of fertilised eggs, although concrete stats are difficult to come by since many of them happen before a woman knows she’s pregnant. But yes, post-positive test, your odds are around 75% of carrying to term.

      And while I’m agreeing with Emily in pointing out that a year is not the average, it is considered normal for conception to take UP TO a year, and you are usually advised to give it a year of trying and having sex at the right time before you seek treatment or investigation. Not conceiving after three months is nothing to worry about.

  7. Sarah N said:

    Add me to the people who are with the Captain on this. I expect this is why trying to conceive and early pregnancy forums are so popular because discussing those details with people you know adds unnecessary pressure and expectations. It is not worth it. No one needs to know your timeline but you and your partner. You have no real control over whether you get to follow that timeline anyway.

    Also, people who do not react to pregnancy news well, have been known to pull a complete about face once the pregnancy resolves itself into a miraculous bundle of joy. I’ve watched several people who complained about not being ready to be grandparents transform into doting Grannies within minutes of the birth. It’s not a guarantee but it does happen.

    So the first reaction may not be a permanent thing.

  8. I feel these feels, too. I do know that when we do decide to expand our family, the resulting reactions are going to be interestingly mixed.

    But Miss Manners has quite a good model for presenting this kind of news to people who aren’t 100% trustworthy with making the Socially Appropriate Face. It’s something I’ve found very helpful, because my pre-programmed behavior when presenting people with news that they won’t like was to be all guilty and feet-shuffly and pre-apologizing, like “ummmm… I’m… kind of engaged. :(”

    Whereupon they will reflect ๐Ÿ˜ฆ back at you, often with extra interest added. Because they are dicks and think that’s okay.

    I’ve dismantled that program pretty thoroughly with Miss Manners’ Joy Expectation Technique. Don’t be ambivalent when presenting big news to an ambivalent person. Instead, model the behavior you want and they’ll have to follow. When you do present your offspring (at whatever stage of development – from ultrasound to toddler) do so while expressing your joy, in the apparent expectation that they will share it with you. You cannot control people’s reactions, but it is harder for them to be churlish when you joyfully present them with your kid. Not “ummm… I’m … pregnant :/ hope that’s ok” but

    You: “GUESS WHAT MOTHER! I AM PREGNANT! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ :D”
    Your Mom: *shock*
    You: ISN’T IT WONDERFUL?!
    Your Mom: *says shitty thing* or *has a meltdown* or *is jealous* or whatever
    You: Um how can anyone NOT be happy about my wonderful NEWS ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€
    Your Family: *is unhelpful*
    You and Your Partner: GOSH, sounds like you guys don’t want to hear any more of our HAPPY NEWS. Okay, don’t worry, we won’t share any more with you!
    (Exuent to get ice cream, in cloud of shiny balloons and sparkles)

    In my case, this has also made me feel much better about telling happy news to a jealous/grumpy/incapable of making the Socially Appropriate Face person. Because it is HAPPY news and I am HAPPY (look at my HAPPY reaction!) and anyone who is not reflecting HAPPY back at me is clearly Doing it Wrong. So their reaction is wrong and mine is right, and also – they are not HAPPY.

    Congratulations, LW! I wish you the BEST in building your family.

    • jdrives said:

      “Because it is HAPPY news and I am HAPPY (look at my HAPPY reaction!) and anyone who is not reflecting HAPPY back at me is clearly Doing it Wrong.”

      I love so much this.

    • It also tells the person whether a pregnancy actually is a happy thing. Because sometimes it’s really not. If someone tells me they’re pregnant without any emotional cues my reaction has typically been “So, uh… is this a good thing?”

      • staranise said:

        Yes! “Congratulations? I’m sorry? Are you asking for a ride to the Morgentaler Clinic? POINTERS WOULD BE NICE.”

      • Erika said:

        LOL I found out I was pregnant in the OBGYN office after a routine pregnancy test they have to give before starting you on certain meds. I overheard the conversation in the hall between the midwives “She’s pregnant? Um, is this a good thing? I mean, does she need me to go do some counseling?” “No, no. She’s been trying for six months. She’s thrilled.” “Oh thank goodness!”

    • gallantqueer said:

      Yes! This! I’m glad you reminded me of it! I totally used as similar “:reflecting the appropriate response at the person” when I told my Dad I wanted to switch to using my Mom’s last name when I was a teen. I think it works particularly well with people who want to be jerks but also love you. They people who love you, even imperfectly, generally want you to be happy and want to keep the peace.

    • Adelene said:

      Possibly I’m derailing, but I’ve been wanting to ask this question for a while and this is a very good example of the phenomenon: What’s the difference between this and gaslighting? Is there one?

      (Even if it is technically gaslighting I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do – I do it myself, even – but it seems to fit the definition and I’m confused at that.)

      • hrovitnir said:

        Because gaslighting is trying to convince someone of something that isn’t true/causing the other person to question their understanding of events.

        Trying to direct someone’s emotional response is something we do all the time. This can be used abusively but it becomes gaslighting when they are questioning your lived reality – eg: being really happy about a pregnancy announcement with their partner, just after breaking down in private about just having an abortion, then getting upset and telling her she’s making it up when she gets confused.

      • Vicki said:

        Gaslighting is trying to convince someone that things that happened didn’t, or vice versa. Not about asking for support or at least not-undercutting from your family.

        Cuing your mother with “Hey, Mom, I have some wonderful news! I’m pregnant” isn’t gaslighting even if you had previously told your parents that you didn’t want children, or know that she doesn’t want you to have a child (right now, or with the current partner, or without a partner, or…). If the mother responded with “Hey, I thought you didn’t want to have children right now” an honest answer might be something like “I changed my mind” or “I thought so too, but when I got the pregnancy test I realized I do want a baby, so we’re rearranging some plans.” “How could you think that? I’ve always wanted kids!” from someone who had repeatedly said she didn’t want children might be gaslighting, though her parents might just quietly drop the topic if there was no pattern of such. (There’s a fair amount of pressure to never admit to changing your mind, as if doing so was a weakness rather than either a sign of looking at new evidence or just part of the human condition.)

  9. attica said:

    I completely agree about people not needing to hear you’re trying. My sil regaled me with the ‘We have to Do It every other night! Every! Other! Night! Can you imagine??!?!?’, which was, omg, soooo too much information.

    There’s a reason ‘Discretion is the better part of Valor’ is an aphorism, people. Sharing is not always caring.

    • FlyBy said:

      I’m falling over giggling here. How do you respond to that one? “Eew, yeah, having sex with my brother on the regular must be so gross”?

      • attica said:

        I think I went with “Hey, how ’bout those Mets?” which is my go-to subject changer.

      • Drew said:

        “OK, so is next week MWF or TTh? I don’t want to interrupt something when I call.”

  10. 30ish said:

    I took this to be a question not just about the timing of announcing a pregnancy (totally agree that waiting until 12 weeks in is smart), but also about how to announce to family members who might react negatively. First of all, I’d say steel yourself for a potentially less-than-excited reaction and choose a moment when you’re feeling strong and happy to announce. Second, don’t make any apologies and don’t defend yourself for having a baby at a relatively young age, instead focus on positive statements such as “we’re looking forward to having a baby” and “we felt ready at this point”. Third, you are completely within your rights to keep some distance from your family during your pregnancy if they are being negative – you don’t need that!

    • Chickie said:

      Also if they do say something about too young blah blah, a comment along the lines of “that stork has flown” would be appropriate. You’ve planned and its a wanted pregnancy, it’s not like you’re going to put it back. Should shut them up.

  11. Mary said:

    I am 20 weeks pregnant (today!) and I have flippantly said to people that I think “keep quiet until the second trimester” thing is mostly designed to stop us regaling people with how sick and awful we feel. It does massively increase the pressure to shut up and soldier on even when you’re feeling like you’re about to puke/faint/die/all of the above, and to be a bit cynical, that seems very convenient for employers.

    Less flippant and cynically, I’ve seen people suggest that the thing of keeping quiet until 12 or 13 weeks helps keep the stigma and silence around miscarriage.

    Which is to say: you don’t owe it to anyone to tell them that you’re pregnant, but equally, you don’t owe it to anyone NOT to tell them either. The whole thing about not telling people until you’re past the “danger zone” for early miscarriage sometimes stops feeling like a guideline and like you’re breaking some kind of rule if you do, but, if you want to, YES, it is totally OK to tell people earlier.

    I also used to worry a lot about how I’d tell my mum when me and my partner had kids, because I’m gay and when I first told her she freaked out a bit; then she said she was sorry and calmed down; then she freaked out when I first told her that me and my partner were getting civil partnered; then she calmed down and was happy for us. But I decided at that point that I was over having joyful news greeted with a freak-out, and that I was using email to tell her when me or my partner were pregnant or adopting, and any negative responses would be sent straight to junk mail and ignored and I would start listening to her when she got around to the “calmed down and ready to congratulate me” stage. (And because my mum was 99% awesome and only a little bit “freak out about teh gay”, I knew she would get there eventually: the decision was that it wasn’t my job to hang around holding her hand whilst she went through the panicking and freaking out process.).

    As it happened, my mum died of cancer four years ago, so I never got to tell her about my pregnancy. We kept our trying almost 100% secret (had told a couple of very close friends), for the first year because it was an exciting secret, for the second year because we were starting to get worried that it would never work, and for the third year because we were pretty much convinced that it wasn’t going to work. So it’s been a totally surprise pregnancy to nearly everyone, and we literally had no idea how people would react, but I am glad to say that *everyone’s* reaction has been “oh my god that’s AWESOME!” (Alas, it has been closely followed with, “but HOW?” People. This is a rude question. Do not ask this question. Although it does give me a chance to say, “threesome with Pat Mustard.” (http://fatherted.wikia.com/wiki/Pat_Mustard))

    Anyway, LW, if you feel that you can’t trust your mother to react positively, it is totally OK to protect yourself from being hurt by her negative reaction by telling her through email, or telling your in-laws or friends or sisters and brothers first to get their unmixed congratulations before you brave your mother’s disapproval, or whatever. You don’t owe her a chance to tell you that you’re making a Terrible Mistake or anything. Hopefully, she has got the disapproving out of her system with the wedding freak out and will behave herself this time, but it is totally up to you whether you want to give her a chance to be awesome or whether you want to take precautions against her not being awesome.

    And masses of luck!

    • sunshine and lollipops said:

      Father Ted reference for the win!

      • Mary said:

        There are some very hairy babies on Craggy Island…

    • commanderlogic said:

      Congratulations on 20 weeks!

      And you and I (and the Captain?) appear to agree: 12-13 weeks is a GUIDELINE. If the editorial You wants to spill the beans the instant the peestick does its peestick thing, go forth and instagram the shit out of it! Wanna wait until 20 weeks? Great. Wait until in active labor? Rock the fuck on. We are all the boss of what is best for us. But I think the suggestion to leave Mom out of the loop until there’s a peestick or LW’s preferred marker of pregnancy remains sound.

      • Mary said:

        Thank you! Anomaly scan on Friday – very, very nerve-wracking and exciting!

    • emily_of_athens said:

      Yep, totally with you. Pregnant people/couples/families should tell others whenever they want to and feel ready to. Sometimes people will criticize you for not having told them earlier, sometimes if you tell them before twelve weeks they’ll go “what is WRONG with you don’t you know you could have a MISCARRIAGE”. Either way, ugh.

    • KellyK said:

      Thank you for this. You’re right that it shouldn’t be a *rule* and that less silence and shame around miscarriage and infertility would be a really good thing. Much more a guideline, where you only tell the people you’ll be comfortable having know if it does end in miscarriage, rather than feeling pressured to keep totally silent.

      And I think you have a point about this being terribly convenient for employers, the way it creates a “suck it up in silence” mentality.

    • The Aphid said:

      N’thing the thing about not-telling-till-second-trimester increasing the pressure the soldier on. That, too, has been a factor in how early my wife and I have been telling people. We were already telling a lot of people, and then wound up telling even more when she started having a bunch of uncomfy symptoms. “Sadly, you will not see me at Event this weekend BECAUSE I HAVE SUCH HAPPY NEWS! And thus I am sick and tired. But happy!” has been an awesome script for her.

  12. MrsMorley said:

    Dear LW:

    Let me chime in on the tell later rather than sooner.

    In my early youth the jocular rule was tell when you’re really showing. Typically, with my circle that was no earlier than four months (and sometimes five or more).

    Did most of us know that A or B was pregnant? Of course. Did we bring it up? Nope.

    So if you feel that your mother isn’t very supportive, wait. wait. wait.

    Also on the subject of trying: it’s pretty painful when the world at large feels called upon to discuss what you’re doing wrong in the getting knocked up department. It’s one of those areas where you can feel pretty shaky. Try to protect yourself and only let in those you can trust to show you the gentleness you need.

    • Karyn said:

      I’m with this. Don’t say anything about it at all to your folks. Even when you’re nine months along. Get your husband to play along. Eventually, someone will ask, and you can say, “I always thought it rude to ask if someone’s pregnant,” or, “My, what a personal question.”

      But then, I can be a jerk sometimes.

      • MrsMorley said:

        Nah, that’s not jerky.

        And it is a very personal question.

        Only topped by “When are you and spouse going to have children?”

        • Laughing Giraffe said:

          When asked that, I usually reply, “When the Dark Lord commands it, in accordance with the prophecy.” (Actually, that response works for just about any intrusive question.”)

          • Amber said:

            I am borrowing this forever.

          • Is it wrong that I’m now hoping for somebody to ask me an inappropriately personal question so I can use this?

          • MrsMorley said:

            That’s wonderful ๐Ÿ™‚

        • stickyrice said:

          > Only topped by โ€œWhen are you and spouse going to have children?โ€

          People I like get “Eh, one of these years” as the default answer to that.

          • MrsMorley said:

            Good reply. But it’s a difficult one for some people to make, for example, people for whom conceiving was a very big deal indeed (as it wasn’t happening), and the many attempts and methods were just so not what they wanted to talk about, but their interlocutors wanted to hear even less.

        • “Our sex life is great, thanks” another possible response.

          • Drew said:

            “We’re still scrimmaging. Do you want tickets when the season starts?”

        • staranise said:

          “Oh, I don’t know, is Tuesday convenient for you?”

        • RP said:

          My husband got that question before we even got married. If that doesn’t sound that weird in this day and age please also consider the fact that we were long distance while we were dating. “We would like to be living in the same city before that happens.”

        • boutet said:

          The last time my mother asked my brother he said, “But Mom, I’m practicing as much as I can to get ready!” She being Catholic, and he being unmarried, the topic was then closed.

      • The partner that I thought I’d marry, back when I was in my twenties, had a plan; his mother hated me for not being a Jehovah’s Witness, my mother hated me for being bi and not Mormon (she laughed at me when I had a miscarriage, and said that God wouldn’t have killed my baby if I wasn’t a whore), so he and I decided that when we had kids, we wouldn’t tell them until it came time to send out Christmas letters. We’d send photos with the faces blotted out, and mass-copied letters with the kids’ names scribbled out with black marker. In individual conversation, we’d say “Child A is doing well in their state-mandated training courses,” and “Child B is reaching all of their age-appropriate milestones.” And that would be it.

        It’s very unlikely, of course, that we ever *would* have done that. It’s much more likely that my mother would simply never have known that there were any children, and his mother would (by virtue of physical proximity) be part of their lives in carefully-monitored situations. But it was a viciously happy fantasy…

        To OP–you should concentrate on you, and your partner. No one else matters here, not until you’ve a little one, at which point the three of you and no one else will matter. Regardless of how much the people around us think we’re owned things, this is yours and entirely yours. Best of luck.

        • H.Regalis said:

          “She laughed at me when I had a miscarriage, and said that God wouldnโ€™t have killed my baby if I wasnโ€™t a whore”

          O_o
          O_o
          O_o

          Gaaaaaaah, that is so awful! Jedi hugs.

        • RP said:

          I am so, so sorry you went through all of that with your mom. I would not have blamed you if you had ended up doing that.

          • I ended up eventually deciding she wasn’t to be any part of my life anymore, which has worked out pretty well in the long run. And the partner found the love of his life and married him, a bit ago, so everyone who counts in the situation is happy.

        • MrsMorley said:

          “she laughed at me when I had a miscarriage, and said that God wouldnโ€™t have killed my baby if I wasnโ€™t a whore”

          That was a dreadful thing for her to do. I’m glad your life has improved since then.

          • It’s MASSIVELY improved. ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Nicole said:

    Honestly, if this was me, I probably wouldn’t tell *my* mother until the birth announcement. She is the absolute reverse problem: wants a grandbaby and I’m barely a year into steadily dating my S.O. She quite literally cries on the phone to be about how she has to “fake being happy” for a recently-crowned Grandmother she works with. P.S. My mom is not even 50 yet, so let’s hold the phone.

    I would really second the advice to keep the “trying” part completely to yourselves here and share the good news when it’s official. This is obviously something you and your partner want (not an “oops” situation) and are rightfully excited about. I don’t see anything wrong in keeping your distance from any people (family included) who are apt to rain on that parade.

    • staranise said:

      Whoa, that’s a lot to deal with. Crying at you because you’re living a different life than she wants you to??? I’m sorry. That is so not your problem to solve.

  14. Catherine Cross said:

    Hi LW, adding another vote for waiting, because of personal experience –

    I told my mom me and my husband were trying to get pregnant pretty much when I stopped taking birth control, and I regret that decision. I have a fairly good relationship with her, but she’s always been rather “all up ins” when it comes to my life. So each month she would ask me if I got my period. When I did get the period, she’d ask what I had tried, or didn’t try, why I hadn’t been to the doctor, when I was going to the doctor, etc etc etc ad nauseum.

    Well, it’s been going on 3 years now, and while she has significantly decreased the questions about my cycle and activities (because I had a talk with her and told her to stop), she still asks every now and then, and is pressuring me to see my doctor.

    So waiting is a good idea. I told my best friend and my brother and sister in law, because they are the people who are supportive of us, no matter what happens or what we do. Do not tell anyone for whom you do not wish to give monthly period updates.

  15. commanderlogic said:

    I’m currently serving as residence for WeeLogic#2 (coming in August, oh boy), and I wholeheartedly endorse the good Captain’s advice here. I waited until the 12 week all-clear to tell my mom both times. Until we got the all-clear, the mantras were:
    (WeeLogic #1): We’re just enjoying our family as it is right now.
    (WeeLogic #2): WeeLogic#1 is plenty of baby.

    Was my mom upset that I didn’t tell her the instant the peestick told us its business? Yup! But she got over it right quick, because there was a BAAAAABYYYYYY coming. Did nosy family members ask us if we were having a baby any time I declined a beer? You bet! Mostly on my side – Mr.Logic’s family is very reserved when it comes to such things, for which a million blessings upon them.

    Now, if I had had a miscarriage, I fully planned to tell my mom about it, because I would need her support; for all I talk about how she stresses me out, she really shines in a crisis, and she loves me fiercely. But she is a very anxious person, and I didn’t want to ride the rollercoaster of 1st trimester emotion with her in my ear, telling me all the things I might possibly be doing wrong. I was doing that just fine myself, thanks! And I had Mr. Logic, and the Captain, too, to tell what was going on with me without fear of being managed.

    But still! My mom couldn’t help kibitzing about “how to make me some grandbabies, STAT” in the following, horrilarious ways:
    “Do you and Mr. Logic even have sex often enough to have babies?” (LOLWUT?)
    “Is it that Mr. Logic doesn’t want kids? Is he pressuring you not to?” (OMG NO.)
    “You know, you need to get on having kids, or your eggs will dry up.” (NOWAI. TELL ME MOAR)

    ANYWAY. LW, however you choose to proceed, I wish you the greatest of luck and all kinds of warm wishes.

    • “(WeeLogic #1): Weโ€™re just enjoying our family as it is right now.”
      This was totally our logic with LJ. I wanted to be able to have conversations with people that did not revolve around the fact I was pregnant for as long as possible. It was hard sometimes with going out socially and not drinking, but I had the excuse that I was detoxing from a rocking six-week booze filled tour of Europe.

  16. Suzy said:

    Horrilarious is the best word ever.

    I’ve had people announce to me that They Are Now Trying For A Family and I was like “Oh….okay, that’s great news.” And I didn’t bring it up again. I don’t know why they felt the need to say it in the first place, and I certainly wasn’t going to start saying “So! How’s all that unprotected sex coming along?” First off, I didn’t want to know and secondly, if they were having problems conceiving, I absolutely didn’t want to bring it up and possibly trigger them.

    The first time I’d seen my uncle since getting married he greeted me by trying to put his hand on my (NOT PREGNANT, NOT THINKING ABOUT IT YET)tummy. Even my mother (who ever ever supports me or agrees with me and believes I bring everything on myself) thought that it was inappropriate.

    So yeah. People will make enough judgments and assumptions without you giving them fuel.

  17. Anonaconda said:

    I have to say, I don’t really want to know if a couple’s “trying” either, but I get why people do that. A lot of times the first question people ask when they find out someone’s pregnant is “Was it planned?”

    I just want to add to the Captain’s wonderful advice: please, don’t put pressure on yourself over what your mother’s role “should” be in your pregnancy. I hope that she will fully embrace being a grandmother when the little booger arrives– it’s hard to be a jerk to a new baby in the family. But if she is difficult and prone to meltdowns and making things all about her, you might just have to make a little protective bubble around yourself and your partner for a while. You’re starting a new family of your own, and this is a good time to start drawing some boundaries. Good luck!

    Oh, and SO agree on the part about the name.

    • Flowery Hedgehog said:

      “A lot of times the first question people ask when they find out someoneโ€™s pregnant is โ€œWas it planned?โ€”

      Wait, do people actually ask that? Like, people who are not a healthcare provider to the pregnant person?

      • commanderlogic said:

        ALL. THE. TIME.

        And I actually understand (though DO NOT CONDONE) it – a lot of the time the asker is just trying to gauge their expected happiness levels. Per Elodie’s excellent example, you can attempt to ward it off by being demonstrably SUPER HAPPY.

        • CMart said:

          I’ve been in the weird position recently where several young women I know have told me they’re pregnant, and each time I’ve responded with an inquisitive “….yay?!” In each case I knew it was unplanned and probably an unwelcome shock at first, but I would have reacted with a happy “yay!!!” if they had presented it to me enthusiastically themselves.

          But… how do you respond to your “How have things been?” question when the response is “Okay…. I’m, um, pregnant….”? Yay? I’m sorry? Cool? No? Bleh.

          • Mary said:

            It’s actually really weird because it’s such a total change of subject from whatever you’re talking about. Like, it’s pretty much always, “We interrupt your regular scheduled conversation to bring you… hi! I’m pregnant!” So it’s hard not to be a bit diffident and, “Um, so, um – well!” about it.

            Plus, it took us a really, really long time and there was a long period where we thought it wasn’t going to happen, and sometimes it was really hard to hear everyone else’s good news. So I’m a bit nervous about being SUPER HAPPY at people because you don’t know what’s going on in their lives.

          • Mary said:

            (To make that comment make more sense, I’m pregnant right now, have just started telling people in the last six or seven weeks, and I’m finding telling people very weird!)

          • Jane said:

            Do other people think it might be okay to say something like, “Okay! How do you feel about it?” in response to such an announcement?

          • Elsajeni said:

            I think “inquisitive yay” is a decent response! My go-tos have generally been “Are you excited?” (trying to keep it in a tone that implies neither “Because you should be!” nor “Because I’d be FREAKING OUT!”) and “Wow! That’s big news! [wait hopefully for clarifying response like ‘Yes, I’m thrilled’ or ‘Yes, I’m freaking out’]”.

          • Yeah, now that I’ve given actual thought to it, in the future I’m going to ask “Are you happy?” or something along those lines

          • toadlily said:

            Ha! I know this one! Say, “Wow! How are you feeling?” Then they can choose to share with you either physical or emotional feelings. I don’t even ask if it’s happy or sad, because I feel like it forces the pregnant person into deciding that, when they may be going back and forth and sideways about it. (Or maybe they feel sad, but don’t want that to go down on the official record.) Just “how are you feeling” says: this is big, I care about you, and you get to decide what we talk about.

          • Flowery Hedgehog said:

            I think some of the “Um, hey…I’m…pregnant?” comes from the pregnant person not knowing how other people are going to respond. Ambivalence about sharing the news may or may not stem from ambivalence about the news itself, if that makes sense.

            toadlily’s response is the one I would most want to hear. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d find most variations on “Are you happy?” a bit uncomfortable.

            “How are you feeling?” is a great way to give the pregnant person an opportunity to share–and most important for handling something that personal, it implies no assumptions about the pregnant person’s life or plans or desires.

          • Mary said:

            “How are you feeling?” is a really good one. Because actually, sometimes it was damn difficult to be all HAPPY NEWS! HAPPINESS YAY! when 80% of your brain is focussed on “don’t puke on this nice person, don’t puke”!

        • ptrst said:

          Exactly. In a less serious, less personal analogy, it’s like when I told my coworkers recently that I was going on vacation to visit my in-laws. Basically every person I mentioned that to said some variation on “Is that good?”.

          For pregnancy, the stakes seem higher; I really wouldn’t want to be SUPER EXCITED for someone who isn’t happy about it themselves. I’ve never been in the situation of someone announcing a pregnancy, and honestly I’m not sure how I’ll handle it when it does inevitably come up.

        • MrsMorley said:

          My age may be showing.

          I’ve only heard from people that they were pregnant when it was a happy announcement, or a prelude to a discussion of termination. In other words, it’s always been very clear that whether they were happy, and what my response should be. I’m kind of surprised that it doesn’t work that way in other groups.

          That’s not to say I didn’t hear terror or ambivalence, but it was always pretty clear what they wanted to hear from me

      • Sarabeth said:

        Yup! I got pregnant in the most predictable of circumstances (early 30s, married 4 years, in stable jobs for 2 years) and was shocked by the number of people asking if it was planned. Even for purposes of gauging a response, I find the question odd. It might be unplanned but still a welcome surprise, you know?

        • Jane said:

          Yeah, I feel like planning vs. no planning is not necessarily the primary issue with whether a pregnancy is to be celebrated or commiserated about, but unfortunately. “Does this event mesh with what you want from your life” is probably even less okay to ask.

          • hrovitnir said:

            Yes, that is definitely weird to me. Lots of people seem to conflate planned with wanted though (to my great irritation). I do respond to pregnancy announcements (unless it’s obvious) with “is that yay? Yes? Yay!”

            Admittedly I don’t know many people keen on teh babies but I did have that with a male coworker and we do have the kind of relationship where I would discuss the potential not-yay so I feel OK with it.

          • Ellen Fremedon said:

            I admit, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that pregnancies could be both unplanned and wanted.

            I can reason my way around to it– if a person has already made a positive choice in favor of pregnancy someday, but has decided to delay it until more propitious circumstances, I can get that an unplanned pregnancy might force a review of current circumstances and their likelihood of improvement vs current health and fertility and their likelihood of decline. And that the result of that calculus might be that they would decide to move up the timeline and continue the existing pregnancy.

            It does make sense to me when all the steps are spelled out like that, but it’s still really, really counterintuitive.

          • Vicki said:

            Ellen Fremedon–

            I know someone who was unplanned but wanted. His parents wanted to have a child, and had decided that they were going to start trying to conceive after X event; his mother discovered she was pregnant several months before that. Several months is different from several years, but she might have said “no” if people asked whether the pregnancy had been planned. (I didn’t meet her until several years after the child was born.)

          • @Ellen – We are similar to Vickis story.
            We had planned to start trying a month or so after we got home from a six week holiday in Europe. Instead we got pregnant just before we left Europe, and I do admit I had expected a couple of months of it not working out, which would have hopefully allowed me time to find a new job.
            So planned, but unplanned in its own way – stuffing up the timeline by a few months, thats for sure!

          • Jane said:

            @Ellen — I guess I always knew that was an option — both me and my brother were “oops” babies, but we were “oops” babies in the context of a happy marriage where kids had been discussed and decided in favor of. I’m not totally sure they even had plans for when the “perfect” time would have been.

            In another context where this could happen, I suspect that one or two of the couples in my acquaintance REEEEEEALLY WANTED kids, but knew that in their current financial circumstances it wasn’t the best idea. But when the baby appeared in any case, that didn’t stop them from being ZOMG HAPPY.

          • espritdecorps said:

            Ellen,
            Spouse and I were not yet married, but had already discussed long term things like having children, buying a home, etc. I had known fertility issues, so we weren’t expecting to have kids without money and time being spent on that.
            When I got pregnant with our first it was a very happy surprise.

        • MamaCheshire said:

          I was conceived, unplanned, under similar circumstances (parents married for 7 years and in good stable employment, and they didn’t particularly want kids but then I happened) so it doesn’t necessarily follow. Still kind of an awkward thing to ask but probably better than having a BIG YAY reaction to something that is not so certain to be one.

          FirstKid was conceived unplanned, several months after Spouse and I got married, and it totally WAS a welcome surprise, because we definitely did want kids but were part of a crowd where either people became parents before turning 20 (and usually the relationship fell apart) or “wanted to be ready” – and I don’t think we would have felt “ready” enough for many years if we waited till planned. But finding out FirstKid was on the way, then almost losing her a few weeks after finding out, changed the perspective right quick for us.

      • Amy said:

        OH BOY DO THEY.

        14 weeks over here.

        • commanderlogic said:

          Congratulations! :D!

      • espritdecorps said:

        “Was it planned?” “Do you know who the father is?” “How long have you been together?” “Are you married?” “For how long?” “Are you quitting your job?” “Should you be eating that?” “How old are you?” “Is this your first?”

        It is impossible for someone to know how much they should care about your pregnancy without knowing these things. Random strangers will be invested in the process, and it’s critical that they know exactly how much consideration they should give you. Is it 28 year old married for 3 years first child level? Or 35 year old single woman who did in vitro level? Or 19 year old single mother of a toddler who’s pregnant with her second level?

        Because no one’s giving up their seat for 19 year old unmarried mom, even though she’s coming off a double shift.

  18. Vicky with a Y said:

    This is good advice, LW, but I wanted to add a slight caveat to what the Captain said about your mother’s judgement mattering less and less. Once the baby is born, there are so many things that your mother will have an opinion about: The baby’s sleep schedule, the baby’s sleeping arrangements, what the baby eats, how often you pick the baby up, the baby’s weight, etc. etc.

    This will be especially difficult if you end up using a different parenting style than your parents, but even if you agree about the big things, there is still a good chance your mother will think that you are doing everything wrong. I’m sorry to stress you out more, but it can be helpful to have some scripts ready for dealing with that sort of criticism. Something like, “This is what works for our family,’ or “The pediatrician recommends [opposite of what she just said].”

    • DameB said:

      THIS! THIS! THIS!

      And I’ll add, LW, that you’re going to hear this a lot: “Oh, being a mother made me so much closer to my mother,” or variations like that. For me, at least, it was just so much BS. Worse, it was BS that set up unrealistic expectations that took a fraught relationship and made it fraughtier.

      Becoming a mother made all the tensions between my mom and I terrifyingly obvious. Our strained relationship fractured, then splintered, and finally broke under the weight of the baby stuff. (The time she tried to *nurse* Baby Bodacious? Yeah, that was a *thing*.)

      I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else on this thread, but if you’re not pregnant now, I recommend seeing a therapists to try to get Captain-like scripts and set healthy boundaries with your mom before you get preggers. (I’m basing this on the idea that, if she had a screaming meltdown at the idea that you were getting married, she’s clearly not going to be the most supportive of grandmums.)

      The reason I suggest doing it now is because once you’ve boarded the baby train, there’s no getting off. While you’re pregnant, you’re (maybe) on the Barfing and Crying Roller Coaster. And then there’s the first six months of Sleep Deprivation. And when you’re puking in your hat or so tired you’re seeing light trails (it happens!) are both bad times to try to construct a healthy dialog.

      • mintylime said:

        THIIIIIIIIIIIS.

        My mom and I have a strained relationship (she’s a functional alcoholic, for one thing), but it’s been fairly stable and ok for a long time. Me becoming pregnant and then having a child has strained it again … WeeLime makes a good focus both for it and to distract from it.

        I’m now trying to imagine having done it when our relationship was really bad and …. do what you can now to set boundaries and baselines so that it’s easier to coast along later when the baby is eating all your spoons.

      • Muse142 said:

        “(The time she tried to *nurse* Baby Bodacious? Yeah, that was a *thing*.)”

        O_O
        WHAT
        oh god that is… wow.

  19. John said:

    Just seconding (or thirding) the notion of not telling anybody about potential names. I don’t have any kids of my own, but I’ve had friends name their kids something that made me crinkle my nose (metaphorically!).

    BUT: a few months later? The names just became totally banal. The kid is now a person in my mind, their name is Cabinet, and I couldn’t imagine calling little Cabbie anything else.

    Don’t tell anyone your plans, just go ahead and name your kid Milkdud or whatever. I promise nobody will give a shit after a couple months.

  20. LW, first of all congratulations! Deciding to start a family is a big decision for any couple to make and I’m happy for you.

    Second, I’m agreeing with many of the above commenters on the “Don’t say that you’re trying, do consider eventually saying “I’m having a baby, how amazing is that?!”. Why? Because whilst someone who Disapproves can try to convince you not to make a baby happen, no one can argue or disapprove or tantrum an existing fetus or baby out of existence.
    I’ve never been pregnant or started a family but I have learnt over years of doing things that people might disapprove of (changing my name, applying to Uni, converting to a different religion, getting engaged, etc etc etc) that often the best thing to do is to do the thing and *then* present the news that the thing has been done rather than announcing an intention of doing the thing. “I think I’m ready to start a family” can be wilfully misinterpreted as “Let’s discuss how ready or not you think I am to start a family” whereas “Here is an ultrasound scan of Mini-LW who is clearly going to be the most gorgeous baby ever in a few months” cannot turn into a discussion of how you shouldn’t try for a baby as Mini-LW exists already.

  21. I actually disagree with the Captain?? This, like, never happens.

    There are definitely Good, Sound Reasons about why you’d need to talk to people who are not your partner about Trying – from ‘my partner and I are going to need you to Not on this topic for X time’ to ‘please don’t make any plans to move to a smaller house because: grandchildren’.

    The way we did it was to casually mention ‘our kids will be able to…’ and ‘in the next few years when we have kidsโ€ฆ’ and this got the message across without A Big Announcement.

    • dustedeste said:

      Yeah, I also disagree to a point on the “trying” thing… My husband and I would dearly like at least one kid (though not quite yet – in a couple years probably), but I have PCOS. More to the point, I have PCOS that wasn’t diagnosed or treated at all until long after very clear symptoms showed up, which means that I am, at this point, rather less likely to be fertile than the average woman.

      Which means that our “trying” is – regardless of how awesome my husband is about it (and I have nothing but faith that he will continue being amazingly supportive about the whole thing) – going to be a stressful time for me. I don’t want to put all of that squarely on my husband’s shoulders, so, while I highly doubt my family will be getting any “we’re trying” news, I rather suspect that it’s something I’ll be going to my Me Team with, looking for support. I would also not be surprised if my husband went to Team Him with worries, either.

      • espritdecorps said:

        I*hugs*

        That’s a good plan.

        Having a close friend(s) who has shared the frustration with you means having someone who is as joyous as you if it does happen, or who can politely tell Clueless Acquaintance (“It always happens when you stop trying.” Shut. Up.) to go take a flying leap if it doesn’t.

    • neverjaunty said:

      “In the next few years, when we have kids” is not really the same as “we’re trying”, though. The first one is just setting out what you would like to happen with your family. The latter really does conjure up unfortunate mental images and invites a lot of questions you won’t like if the “trying” doesn’t go well.

    • Ha, I shoved my parents into doing their “next big trip” by suggesting there might be “very good reasons” they wouldn’t want to go overseas at the same time the next year, all going well. Which it did – our little one arrived bang in the middle of when they they would have been in Alaska if they had waited another 12 months.

  22. J. Preposterice said:

    Am I the only one who thinks the Captain answered a different question than the one that was asked?

    “How to tell my parents once we have good news to share. ” seems to imply to me that the LW is planning on waiting until they are pregnant, not that they are going to announce *trying*.

    On the chance that I’m reading that correctly, LW, I think the answer is going to be “in some way and location that allows you to get away should your parents choose to be difficult”.

    A phone call you can hang up from would be my first suggestion, especially if you can then send all return calls into the void (even if the void is “voicemail, deleted without listening to”).

    Not at any time when your parents could reasonably have an expectation that you’d be around a while (like, first day of a four-day weekend visit is a terrible idea) or when you have to be in their physical presence again anytime in the next week.

    And I would say you might want to think about your boundaries. Like, if your mom gets all weird and starts what-if’ing you about your life choices, or complaining about your finances like it’s any of her beeswax, how are you going to handle that? What are things you & your spouse can say that will protect you both and keep you from having to defend your decisions?

    • Myrin said:

      That was my understanding of the question as well because LW says “How to tell my parents once we have good news to share.” And I really like your answers/suggestions here, J. Preposterice!

      • Myrin said:

        Okay, the “once we have good news to share” was supposed to be bolded for emphasis (I’ve been having this a lot lately, the usual html tags – at least for italics and bold – don’t seem to work but then I see other commenter’s having italicised parts and I’m just like “HOW DO?”).

        • Jane said:

          Some of the other commenters’ italics show up only on my phone and not on my computer? MYSTERIOUS.

        • staranise said:

          Instead of i for italics and b for bold, the tags are em for emphasis and strong for… strong.

          • Myrin said:

            Ah, I’mma try this. See if it works and thank you, staranise!

          • Myrin said:

            YAY, it worked! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Jane said:

      I think a combo of your and Elodie’s comments above would make for a good action plan. LW can project HAPPY ABOUT OUR GREAT CHOICES all over her difficult mom during a short phone call and as much as possible refuse to entertain any emotions from her parents other than ALSO HAPPY ABOUT OUR GREAT CHOICES.

      Perhaps it would be a good place to deploy the broken record, too.

      LW: Incoming wee!LW!
      Mom: YOU’RE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A BABY
      LW: Well, Partner and I are very excited and happy to be parents. Your concern has been noted and I would like to talk about something else.
      Mom: YOUR BABY WILL HAVE THREE HEADS BECAUSE YOU AREN’T DOING THINGS LIKE I SAID YOU SHOULD
      LW: Partner and I are very excited and happy to be parents.
      Mom: THREE HEADS
      LW: I would really like you to share our happiness! Maybe when you have gotten used to the idea we can talk again. *click*

      • The Aphid said:

        I’m thinking the boundaries could potentially start being worked on before Happy News, too. Could possibly help cut down on the THREE HEADS thing down the road? Depending on the mom and her history with LW, obviously – the LW is the only who can judge whether/when it’s worth venturing into that minefield.

        Like, I’m probably terrible at scripts, but I’m thinking something like:
        Daughter: So we were thinking of turning the storage room into a nursery when Spouse and I have kids! We’re still trying to decide where we’d move the hobby stuff, though –
        Mother: WHY ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT KIDS? YOU’RE WAY TOO YOUNG TO BE THINKING ABOUT KIDS!
        Daughter: Uh, what? That’s not very supportive, Mom.
        Mother: WHO KNOWS IF YOU’LL EVEN STILL BE WITH SPOUSE BY THE TIME YOU HAVE KIDS? YOU ARE ON BIRTH CONTROL, RIGHT? RIGHT?
        Daughter: Wow. That’s a really personal question. So anyway, I’m thinking some of the hobby stuff might fit in the living room if it had to. Do you think there’s room for another shelf behind the couch? [or a question like “how was your vacation”, if any advice whatsoever is poison]
        Mother: (is redirected)
        OR
        Mother: ABOUT THE BIRTH CONTROL!
        Daughter: My reproductive choices are not up for discussion. Let’s either change the subject or cut this call/visit short.

        Best of luck with telling your family, LW, whenever you tell them. And I hope you have other people in your life who will cheer you on. If you think your mom is going to give you a hard time whenever you get around to telling her, it might be worth thinking about who IS on Team You and who you CAN rely on to rally around and celebrate with you and A. And maybe have someone standing by to listen afterwards if your mom was crappy, and reassure you that it was crap and that you’ll be wonderful parents and remind you how excited they are for you and your FutureBaby. If it’s just you and A, you’ll get through it; but both of you are going to have a lot of emotions to be managing, and an outside Team You might be a helpful antidote to any poison you get from your mom/extended family.

        Also, best of luck also with expanding your family, and congrats! It’s a big, exciting step, and this is one internet stranger who is so happy for you and A.

    • Maybe Baby (LW #578) said:

      Oh man, those are… certainly interesting! And would probably get the message across ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. gallantqueer said:

    Hey Maybe Baby, other general thoughts once you tell your Mom…maybe this is a time in your life to spend plenty of time talking to people who are over the moon about futurebaby and keep talking to your Mom about safe topics or even cut down how much you talk to her at all?

  24. annstarrr said:

    Re: baby name announcement timing. You know… I generally agree that you should just keep the damn name to yourself until the kid is born, for all of the really excellent reasons everyone has already listed.

    BUT. Sometimes a pre-announcement can be helpful. My very WASPy middle-aged cousins wanted to name their first child, a girl, Marley. It was a cute combo of the grandmothers’ names (Mary and Lee). When they told the family, every single person over the age of fifty had the same reaction: “You mean like Jacob Marley?” Every single person under the age of fifty had the same reaction: “You mean like Bob Marley?”

    Neither of these thoughts had occurred to the parents, and they very much did NOT want either association. (I kind of like the Bob Marley thing, but whatever. They didn’t.) So they picked a new name. Running the name past people really helped them not make a choice they would have later regretted. At family gatherings, they still laugh about potentially naming their child after a dead miser or a musician they don’t listen to.

    So… I guess they’re the one exception of announcing the baby name early and getting a good result!

    • MamaCheshire said:

      LOL! Wow, yeah, I can understand not wanting those results. (And in our case, with SecondKid, we were going to have her middle name be either my grandma’s name if she was a girl, which she is, or the masculine counterpart if she was a boy, but we wanted to clear that with family first, because some families are superstitious about naming babies after living older relatives. Mine’s not one of them, fortunately, but I’m glad we asked.)

    • olivia0330 said:

      This is a good point. I wanted to name my youngest a particular name, until friends that I hadn’t spoken to since high school pointed out (over facebook) the similarity to a dirty acronym that I had never even heard of. Apparently it is popular and well-known, this acronym! I just lead a sheltered life, online and off. I still think the name is really beautiful, though.

      On the other hand, when I was expecting my first, my mother saying, “Oh, I HATE that name! You caaaaaaaaaaaan’t!”, really threw a bucket of cold water on our relationship.

      • jess said:

        Is it Sylph? I’m curious.

        • olivia0330 said:

          It isn’t. I actually typed out the name, and the acronym, but then I remembered a previous thread where the good Captain drew a line under comments that were judgmental about (baby?) names, so I reworded. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. emily_of_athens said:

    Huh. I have a way, way different perspective than the Captain does on this one. And I’m bristling a bit, largely because the tone of the response here has been different than normal – rather than “consider doing things this way because reasons”, it’s been “this is definitely the way to do things”. And I dislike that, because we live in a culture of Telling Pregnant Women What To Do.

    So, I’m going to talk about my experience some, and relevant facts here include 1) I’m 22 weeks pregnant, and 2) my husband and I are both generally pretty open people, and tend to tell other people a fair amount about our lives. I recognize that not everyone is that way, and you have to make your own judgment about what is best for you.

    We very very much wanted to get pregnant, and when we did we decided not to tell the world at large (including our parents) until the standard 12 weeks. The beginning of pregnancy, though, is full of so so so many feelings that, even having a fair amount of knowledge of pregnancy, I was not prepared for. I felt totally overwhelmed, anxious, panicky, astounded at the significance of this decision we’d made and our inability to take it back. I felt that I wasn’t myself anymore, and I didn’t know who I was yet, or how to be that person. I felt that no one I knew could relate to me because no one else was going through this particular thing. I was more introverted than normal, more easily overwhelmed by people. Most importantly for the context of this discussion, I was LONELY.

    Most of those emotions have calmed way the fuck down by now, but I still feel lonely sometimes. No one else is in this experience in the same way I am. Pregnancy is weird and isolating, your friends who haven’t been pregnant don’t really understand it, your friends who have been pregnant are already firmly in the club that you’re not quite in yet. Not having all of my friends know was fairly isolating in those first few months, although at the same time I wasn’t ready to tell them yet.

    Ultimately, I think there were around fifteen people besides us who knew before we hit the going-public point. And I felt better and better the more people I told, because each one made me less alone. I really needed to share and process my emotions with other people. The cultural expectation that I wasn’t supposed to share those emotions was stifling.

    You have to make your own call whether you need to tell people or not – people in general, close friends, less close friends, parents, will all likely have different answers. Please don’t get stuck under this cultural story that it’s somehow oversharing to tell people about a really important thing that’s going on for you. Most people will be happy to hear it whenever you tell them. And the same goes for “trying” – we had a handful of close friends who knew we were trying, because they were interested in our lives and cared about important things that were going on with us. I really dislike the idea that you can’t tell people about that just because it involves sex – uh, you tell people when you’re dating someone, right? That can imply sex too, but you tell them because sharing things about our human experience is important to us so that we can honestly connect. Sure, not every random stranger wants to hear, but you can make reasonable judgments about that.

    In summary: Up with honesty and real connection, as long as it is comfortable and right for you! Down with shame!

    (Having posting trouble – will this actually go through please?)

    • Good points. The 12-week rule is worth considering for anybody who doesn’t want to risk having to tell people “never mind” if something goes wrong, but it isn’t mandatory. And I’ve never been squicked by “we’re trying” either. Unless your friends or family members are in an asexual relationship, it probably didn’t only occur to them to start having sex when they decided to reproduce.

    • Maybe Baby (LW #578) said:

      Thank you for this. I thought I was pregnant last month and called my best friend mid-freak out. He took it better than I thought he would (not really sure why I had such low expectations. Thanks, Jerkbrain) and really helped me allay some of my concerns. I’m really glad I’m not the only one feeling weird about what society tells us is “normal” about this!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

  26. MamaCheshire said:

    AGREED with the “don’t tell them until you know for certain there are things to tell.” It may be for the best that only the most reliable part of Team You knows until 2nd trimester, unless you are fairly certain that this will simply create more nonsense with family from not saying anything.

    FirstKid was conceived, unplanned due to contraceptive mishap, after Spouse and I got legally married but while things were still in the stage of not being very pleasant between Spouse and my mom or between me and my in-laws. I was 27 and Spouse was 22 at the time and a whole lot of the “he’s too young!” pushback was occurring.

    THEN, a few weeks after the “Wait, what, pregnant?!” I had some complications that initially led me to think I had miscarrried FIrstKid. And to this day, neither Spouse nor I have fully gotten over the incredibly cruel thing that came out of his mother’s mouth when he called her in tears to tell her we’d lost the baby.

    “Well, what would she want to go and do a thing like that for???”

    Yes, really. And then she called AGAIN early the next morning and woke him up with the same question. Because apparently my being a feminist meant I would miscarry an unplanned but VERY MUCH wanted child ON PURPOSE. And once we got over this enough to talk to her again, she kept on with the bewilderingly offensive things, complete with telling us once FirstKid was safely home that “you gotta show that baby who’s BOSS!” (Yeah, because a five day old baby is a manipulative little terrorist.)

    I was fortunate in that my own mother, while still not very certain about what she thought of Spouse, loved the idea of being a grandmother and bonded super-well with FirstKid. And her advice was generally something resembling reasonable, along with being OK when explained that Science Says We Don’t Do That Anymore.

    SecondKid was planned, but the only people either of us mentioned anything about “not preventing” to were friends that we’re comfortable sharing TMI-ish details with. NOT either set of grandparents, not until we were reasonably certain that the “tummy kid” was progressing nicely.

  27. henryPQ said:

    My wife and I (we are both cis women) faced a similar question under rather different circumstances, and I’m sharing my experience here in case it helps, because I haven’t seen this perspective in the comments so far.

    If you think your parents/family members/friends/loved ones might give you any unwelcome grief or drama or anything, AND if you are prepared to block them over such a thing, you might want to tell them earlier rather than later. At least then you can get it out of the way before there is a happy pregnancy, or a happy baby, and you can start moving on with your life that includes a baby but does not include these people who only want your new-baby situation to be ALL ABOUT THEM.

    My story is less extreme but, in case it helps or provides perspective: We told my parents (who had responded to my coming out AND to my very very long-term relationship with what can best be described as “cautious acceptance with a dose of maybe-this-is-a-phase”) AFTER we had decided to procreate but BEFORE we started trying. I told my mom at the start of a long weekend together (we live far away and only see them a couple times a year). I definitely put the spin on it of “we are just very delighted to be doing this and we wanted to let you know the good news beforehand.”

    THEN my parents both had a quiet freak-out and asked us, two nights later, to sit down to a family meeting (I should point out we were two grown-ass women, in our mid-thirties, who had been together for Fourteen Years). What were our plans to make sure our future child had quality relationships with men? Had we thought about the difficulties of raising a kid in a Metropolis, far from family? Had we remembered that our home doesn’t have a washer/dryer? The worst โ€” they were all awful, but the worst: Why did we even want to have children in the first place? We calmly answered their questions โ€” sometimes with a firm “Yes, we have thought of that, and we don’t have to go into details, also we are so happy about this” โ€” and calmly did not remind them that they never asked such personal, infantilizing questions of my straight brother and his straight wife.

    And you know? I am glad we got that all out of our systems before there was actual News To Share. Because by the time I was pregnant, I don’t think I could have handled the negativity particularly from my parents. By the time I was pregnant I would have (rightly) interpreted the “WHAT ABOUT MEN” and “HOW WILL YOU WASH BABY CLOTHES” as doubts on our fitness as parents. Instead we were able to talk about it in a less stressful time โ€” kind of the way it’s often recommended to talk about sex, or relatonship issues, or Big Difficult Topics, at a neutral time, when the topic or big issue is not directly on the table. And I felt completely ready to set (and enforce!) boundaries with my parents about what was and was not up for discussion, while that might have been a harder task, mid-pregnancy.

    ALso: Definitely n-thing the advice to keep this kind of announcement relentlessly happy. “We are so excited for this! We know you will share our happiness!!!!!” Keep it happy because you are happy. Act as if you totally expect the best possible reaction from others, because that is how you tell them that that is the only reaction you want.

    • Mary said:

      Same situation, different response – my mum brought up all those kinds of things when I told her me and my partner were gettting civil partnered (because apparently she only got married because she was having children, and if we weren’t having children then why did we need to get CP’d, and if we were having children, then WHAT ABOUT THE…) I decided then that I wasn’t entertaining questions like that, and if she needed reassurance she could go and look for it elsewhere, but I wasn’t defending or justifying our decisions. Unfortunately it doesn’t mean I don’t still have them ringing in my ears every now and then.

      • The Aphid said:

        Also same situation, different response. And being a couple of women (which apparently meant we were dealing with “complete male infertility”, as the doctor needed to give us an infertility diagnosis for proper referrals and insurance coverage) had a huge impact on the timing of when/how we told.

        F’r instance, I sat my boss down a couple of months before we started trying and explained about how (during a very busy time for our deparment) I was going to periodically need time off on very short notice to travel to a fertility clinic, so he could plan ahead and make that as smooth as possible for everyone. (I’m lucky in having an extremely family-friendly workplace; I know that wouldn’t work for everyone, but it was perfect for our situation.) My wife is 9 weeks along now. The embryo has barely lost its vestigial tail (eek!) and a lot of my coworkers already know – again with the time off/taking calls at work/people very politely wanting to know how we’re doing/etc., and it’s wound up being even more support than expected. My parents-in-law know because we’re all housemates, and they knew damn well when we’d gone to the clinic and when we were going to be taking the pregnancy test.

        And – here’s the part where I disagree even with the Captain’s updated post, though I am grateful for it and very glad she followed up – we did a somewhat similar thing with my parents as you did with yours, HenryPQ. I am so glad we got some of the weirdness out of the way gradually. “We’re going to have kids someday”/”will start to try in a year”/”Wife is going to try to carry, Brother might donate sperm”/”actually, no, Brother isn’t donating, yup, Wife is still trying first”/”we’re trying now, and are stressed about it, so DO NOT PRESSURE US TO COME TO CHRISTMAS”/”we’re still stressed, I’ll talk to you when I’m less stressed”/”HAPPY NEWS! Positive pregnancy test! And you’re some of the first to know!” has been so much easier for our family than I think it would have been to get through everything suddenly when the stakes had already risen. In some ways, having seen how my mom got better at handling my marriage over time prepped me to protect myself over this. And figuring out how to protect myself over this has given me useful info for protecting myself over other things down the road.

        Is it my problem that my mom had some emotional work to do about her first grandbaby not being biologically related to her? Nope, that’s all on Mom. Was I better prepared to defend boundaries around that before I started getting emotionally invested in the actual baby in my wife? Yup. I’m glad Mom got a chance to get some grieving out of the way before we got to the Happy News part of things. Is it my mom’s problem that she’s jealous when my MIL finds out stuff first? Absolutely. I rarely go out of my way to make sure they’re “even”. Was I up for having it Be An Issue when I made that announcement? Nope. That announcement was going to be 100% about me and Wife and our exciting new blastocyst, not about Who Knew First. And it was! For a miracle, my mom actually managed to be happy and supportive when I told her. It was still something of a pleasant surprise – I don’t count on Mom for much these days. But it was still a very pleasant surprise. She even managed to wind up being a net support while we were TTC, which would not have been possible if I hadn’t laid the groundwork for that before the support was needed.

        So I think LW should feel free to tell/not tell anyone whenever it feels right. If you need to turn inward and focus your energy on yourself and A right now, cool. If you want to start working on boundaries right now, while you have time and energy and before the stakes get any higher, that’s cool, too. And this probably goes without saying, especially in this space, but because Jerkbrain might forget this: whenever and however you tell, if your mom proceeds to be horrible and trample all over boundaries and stress you out, then that’s your mom’s fault – you won’t have “asked for it” in any way by sharing something special and vulnerable with her. You get to protect yourself as much as you want/need and you don’t have to let your mom treat you badly; but it also is NOT your job to prevent your mom from treating you badly. That is a choice she makes.

        Now, one thing that was VERY different for me than it is for the LW is that I knew that baby news was ultimately going to be welcome – my mom is very eager for a grandbaby, and on some level knew that she had to shape up if she wants a relationship with said grandbaby. So I do think the Captain’s advice IS probably right for the LW. It’s OK, LW, if you don’t want to tell your family anytime soon (or ever). You don’t have to open yourself up for crappiness, and there’s no amount of laying groundwork or hand-holding that can magically give you the happy, supportive parents one might wish for. I wish there was.

        It’s survivable, though. We don’t NEED our moms to approve of our choices anymore (though I know how desperately, stomach-clenchingly, inevitably I desired and sometimes still desire that approval). Your journey with A towards expanding your family will still be meaningful, and any happy news will still be happy, even if your mom is a jackass. If she wants to share your journey, she has to earn that privilege from you. I hope she does, but I know you’ll figure out how to handle it even if she won’t.

        P.S. It has just occurred to me that I have no actual data on whether LW is the one carrying the baby, so if I’ve misgendered you in either of my posts, LW, I deeply apologize.

      • henryPQ said:

        Hi Mary, and Hi The Aphid! It looks like we are the little queer-lady thread in these parts. Even though (if my reading comprehension skills serve me) you are both expectant-parents (for the first time? yes?), and my own little baby is now a lanky 3ยฝ, I wanted to say thank you both SO MUCH for chiming in. It made me feel less alone โ€“ retroactively!

        Mary, your story in particular really resonated with me. My wife came out to her mom only after we had decided to have kids (at which point we had been together for THIRTEEN YEARS). Up to this point we just operated on the assumption that everyone in her (socially conservative, immigrated to the US as young adults) family KNEW my role in her life, even if no one said anything out loud. And I always felt accepted and loved with my then-outlaws. So she told her mom about the baby plans, and about our plans to get married (they were the same plan, really), and she and her mom worked through some things they needed to โ€“ and then when I was right around 20 weeks, her mom died. A sudden end to a long, long illness. Fortunately, we knew that my MIL considered our baby-to-be as her grandchild. But I know it’s been difficult and truly sad for my wife not to have a continuing relationship with her mom, and for her to know that her mom never got to meet our son.

        I’ve gotta say that my parents really both stepped up, even before the arrival of their grandchild. They got through their icky weird questions and processed some of their baggage that had been lingering since I’d come out to them sixteen years earlier. The hurtful things they said and did over the years are still with me, and still (as Mary said) ring in my ears now and again. But for now, we are in a good space! The Aphid, I think your take was spot-on, regarding who is responsible for what kind of emotional work; also thank you for the reminder that “any happy news will still be happy, even if your mom is a jackass.” I am definitely going to carry that with me!

        Anyway CONGRATULATIONS to the both of you and to your partners and to your families!! This is exciting! I totally share your happiness!!!

        • The Aphid said:

          Aww, thanks henryPQ! Also thanks for being the first into the breech with the queer-lady perspective – I was reading down the thread and starting to think that was going to be me, and was oddly relieved to find you’d beaten me to it. I’m glad you’re in a good space for now, despite the hurtful stuff that does ring down through a relationship forever. Retroactive congrats on your 3 year old!

          And yes, first-time expectant parents here! Maaaaybe not a coincidence this was the thread that finally lured this long-time reader out of lurking to write several embarrassingly lengthy posts, My brain’s inner monologue seems to run a lot like this lately: “Baby. Baby. Baby? Baby! Babybabybabybaby.”

  28. boutet said:

    Slightly off topic of the letter itself, but I’m really not a fan of the phrases ‘starting a family’ or ‘trying for a family’ because it kind of erases all non-child-having families. My husband and I were a family years before our kid was born. I know it’s a standard phrase and all. I just wish it could be “expanding the family” or something to that effect.

    • KellyK said:

      Totally agree. “Expanding” is much better than “starting.” My husband and I are a family, just the two of us and the critters. And we’re part of his parents’ family and my parents’ family.

      And while we’re on the side topic of language that just grates, “miscarry” as a verb needs to die in a fire because it makes it sound like the pregnant person somehow screwed up. No, she did not “miscarry”–she had a miscarriage. This was a thing that happened to her, not a thing she did.

      • jdrives said:

        Thank you for these thoughtful posts. You’re both absolutely correct – a family is a family with or without tiny humans involved, and using “miscarry” as a verb definitely carries negative, blame-y connotations. I’ve never thought of this before and plan to be more intentional and mindful with my language as a result.

    • I always use “expanding” or “building,” or whatever gerund happily encompasses childfree + all the ways that one can grow a family. Puppies? DIY-baby? Adoption? acquiring stepchild? Acquiring another committed partner? Acquiring two more committed partners and their kids? Acquiring a new questing partner, bond forged in blood and fire? Giving an unrelated teenager permanent houseroom? Giving a young mother and her kids permanent houseroom? Adding another superhero to your branded team? S’all good.

    • Maybe Baby (LW #578) said:

      Thanks for that. I try to be really aware of my language choices and hadn’t considered this one.

      • boutet said:

        I love your user pic so very much ๐Ÿ˜€

  29. AnonaBanana said:

    I would plan to tell people about things after they are already pregnant, as well as after they’ve found a way to support themselves. They said this “and a plan for how we will support ourselves” They did say they have stable income, but if they can’t support themselves on it how can they support a baby?

    • Rachel said:

      LW said “we have stable sources of income, ample savings, and a plan for how we will support ourselves.” I take the “plan” part as meaning “a plan for how we LW-spouse-and-offspring will support ourselves once the logistical and economic changes that come with babies hit”, not as meaning “we LW-and-spouse don’t support ourselves now but we have a plan about how someday we will.”

      As a general principle, considering the question “How will we financially manage all this baby stuff?” is an important thing to do when considering expanding one’s family, but taking that kind of question into the third person is usually treading into None Of Your Business territory.

    • Maybe Baby (LW #578) said:

      Hi! I wanted to clarify this point a bit. My husband (A) is a MASSIVE planner. Like, he cared more about wedding planning than I did and he has spreadsheets/lists/plans for EVERY eventuality. The “plan for how we will support ourselves” means “we currently are supporting ourselves quite well, and this is how we will deal with the extra expense of a child.” AKA, there are spreadsheets/lists/solid plans/financial safety nets already in place for this eventuality. It was a big part of our decision that now was the time to expand. I totally see where your concern was coming from, especially since we are a younger couple, but rest assured that we have taken these things into consideration ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Groovy Biscuit Intervention said:

    While I agree with the general sentiment that, at such time as the LW might in future be pregnant, she tell whomever she pleases whenever she feels comfortable to; and while I can see reasons why people do and don’t feel like waiting until after the 12-week mark is a good thing, it does have the advantage of being a handy reason to explain any decision to not *immediately* tell her mother about a pregnancy. By the same token, though, waiting too much beyond that point does risk generating a shitstorm of “why did you not tell me this before?”, especially if significant numbers of other people have been told in the meantime. I suppose what I’m saying is that yes, maybe the LW’s mother will be weird about that news whenever she gets it; but she’ll probably be weirder if she’s getting it at a time that objectively does seem unusual.

    I should add that I’m all for not telling people stuff you don’t want to tell them, to the point where I’m ridiculously secretive – I didn’t tell anyone I was buying a home until I’d already bought it; next week I’m sitting an exam that marks the two-thirds-of-the-way mark through a degree I haven’t told anyone I’m studying for… – so I’m not saying this from a standpoint of believing that people are in some way obliged to tell one another stuff. If I were pregnant I probably wouldn’t tell anyone at all, for as long as I could possibly get away with it; and my parents would deal with it (when I eventually mentioned it, quite possibly by presenting them with an actual kicking and screaming grandchild) because they are used to me and my ways.

    But, I feel like that’s not what your-average parent might expect; and that it’s definitely something that wouldn’t go down well with the LW’s mother. The vibe I get from the LW’s letter is one of “at such time as I have something to tell, I’d like that telling to go as smoothly and un-weirdly as possible”, and maybe part of achieving that is in avoiding giving any weirdness-ammo to her mother. I feel like timing is part of that – so, waiting until after 12 weeks would be easily explained (“we just wanted to be sure everything was progressing OK”) whereas waiting significantly longer would ultimately become a conversation not about the pregnancy and growing family, but about “whyyyy didn’t you tell me this before?” and all the reasons behind that, and would probably not be a smooth conversation. Given that the LW is getting really stressed out by this whole idea anyway, I feel like that would add to the stress.

    So, LW, if you’re mentally trying out ways you might go about sharing this future news, I’d suggest thinking through the timings you might feel comfortable with, who you would want to share your news with in what order, and how you manage that process to make sure news doesn’t end up in places you didn’t intend it to be yet. In particular, it’s worth thinking about who else might share news – for example, it might be awkward if your parents were to hear from another source before you told them, or to realise that A’s parents knew significantly before they did. Probably the most practical way of managing that would be to bite the bullet and include your parents in the fairly early rounds of “Good news!” announcements – not necessarily first, but not way later than everyone else. The other handy side effect of that is that, even if you do get drama and weirdness from your mum, you’ve then got loads of other non-dramatic, genuinely happy for you friends and family still to tell.

    • Maybe Baby (LW #578) said:

      Thank you so much, that’s definitely what I’m going to do! (The announcement planning, not the handing over of a new person randomly. That would be hilarious for me and possibly heart-attack inducing for them!) I think I need to make a list…

  31. emmers said:

    Ew ew ew this reminds me of how my FIL grilled us to find out if we were “trying” yet. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Don’t be that parent.

  32. Mindy said:

    Okay, so something I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned yet, is that you should also think about your birthing plan. I don’t mean the whole “natural vs. epidural, candles and soundtrack” thing, I mean think about who you want with you during labor and delivery. You obviously only want people on Team You (and Baby) there, but often moms can give you a LOT of pushback about being there. Particularly if your mom is the type who wants to make everything All About Her. (I speak from experience.) She may want to be right next to you from the moment contractions start (she might not), but you need to do what’s best for you. Try to enlist other family members to shut her down if she starts giving you grief about it. (Also consider invoking hospital rules to limit the number of people in the room/how long they can visit.)

    If you don’t live nearby this can be more easily dealt with by just booking tickets/planning the trip for after the baby is born (but don’t forget some pregnancies last for 42 weeks, so discuss timing with your doctor!). If they try to give you grief remind them that they don’t want to miss out on actually seeing the baby! If they live closer though you have to decide: do we call them when we leave for the hospital? Once it’s progressed to a certain point? After the baby is delivered? And don’t hesitate to let people wait outside while just you and your husband get some bonding time with the baby first. This is a special moment for you guys; other people can wait.

    • mintylime said:

      Seconding all this.

      My mom (and sort of my dad) really wanted to be with me during the birth, just like they did with my sisters. I know they wanted to be supportive, but … argh. Especially when WeeLime’s labor started and then didn’t go anywhere for two entire days. Despite telling them not to show up, they did, and having them in the house with us all that time was not helping.

      If it seems like she may do this to you (and you’re doing a hospital birth), do find out about the hospital policies on how many people can be in the room. While some places are, in practice, more flexible, it can be handy to say “only 2 people allowed, sorry!”.

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