Balancing BFFs and Babies

Balancing BFFs and Babies

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By Lauren W. Hopkins

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Friends with Babies

Six years ago, my best friend since kindergarten got pregnant. We now live in different states but we keep in touch and visit frequently. When Angela told me she was expecting, I was in complete awe. "Wow, are you really ready for this?" I asked her repeatedly. Still single and loving it, I couldn't imagine having a kid.

Anyone I had ever met had always smiled angelically and chirped, "Great!" when asked how it felt to be pregnant. And I believed them. Angela told me the truth. "I have to pee all the time, my clothes don't fit, and I feel like crap," she said. Many of our conversations would start with her commenting, "They never tell you that when you're pregnant..." The first time I saw Sara, I was smitten. She was a beautiful creature with the sweetest disposition. Angela was officially a mom and I couldn't believe it. But, she was still my crazy friend, I realized, as we played cards and drank margaritas once Sara went to bed. I would call Angela to chat about work or my latest boyfriend and there would always be a baby sounding in the background or later, a little voice calling, "Mommy!" Pretty soon we would have to get off the phone. We were still great friends, but our relationship was definitely changing.

When I got married, Angela was my matron of honor. She was considerate, caring, and thought of everything. Looking back, it was her maternal instincts that really paid off with the stressful wedding planning. Angela had her second daughter when I was just a newlywed, enjoying our first home together and taking off for the weekend whenever we wanted. Again, I couldn't fathom the lifestyle she had chosen, but Angela was still the first one I would call to dissect a problem or gossip about the latest celebrity hookup.

Friends Without Babies

My friends nearby were just getting married or many of them were still single. My husband encouraged girls' nights. He didn't mind when I went out dancing with my friends, and sometimes, he even came along. He grew up with two older sisters, so it was natural to him to be around women. My friends would joke that he was one of the girls, but I loved how comfortable he was in that environment. I could maintain my friendships with my single friends pretty easily. We also enjoyed double dating with married friends.

Gradually, my friends all coupled up, but there are a few independent women remaining. I mostly meet them for a walk or lunch, because chatting up guys at happy hour isn't my thing anymore. Time out with them recharges my batteries and also makes me grateful for my happy marriage. About a year and a half ago, our best married friends announced they were trying to get pregnant. Lucy was very open about their methods and quoted the fertility books she was reading. It was a little weird to say the least. As Lucy got more into taking her temperature and charting her cycle, the farther away I felt. I gravitated toward other friends who were still interested in movies and politics.

Slowly, more and more of our couple friends began trading in nights at the bar for Trivial Pursuit competitions at home. Babies weren't far behind. Many of our social outings became dinners at the homes of friends who didn't want to take the baby out to a restaurant or fork over big bucks to a babysitter. We enjoyed home-cooked meals rather than loud bistros, so it was a nice change. Going home at 9:00 p.m., though, was a different story.

Friends Since My Baby

In the midst of these new babies, I started to get a slight twinge, but my husband and I loved to travel and we were both focused on our careers, so kids seemed a long way off. Then, something happened to me. I would see babies in church and feel little butterflies. A little boy would grin at me at the airport and I'd make a goofy face to make him smile even bigger. My niece sang "Happy Birthday" on my voicemail and I'd proudly re-play it for friends any chance I'd get. After soul-searching conversations with my husband, we made the decision to try to get pregnant. At first, we were casual and took the "let it happen" approach. After a few months, that went out the window. Suddenly, Lucy's charts were a godsend. We were back in friendship business. Another friend who saw a fertility specialist became another best pal as I fretted about what was standing in the way of conception. Now, I was the annoying girl to my single pals. I tried to keep my desire to have a child in check when shopping for shoes or discussing The Bachelorette, but it was tough. Talking with my mom friends was more comfortable. I ate up all their theories and suggested techniques for getting knocked up. I babysat their kids, soaking in the experiences.

Finally, it happened. We were pregnant! Lucy gave me a prenatal yoga video. Angela sent me her extra small diapers. I was ecstatically set! When I announced my pregnancy to the world, it was like being granted membership to an elite club. An older generation of work colleagues, my parents' friends, relatives and even women in the grocery store became instant confidantes, sharing their stories of childbirth and child-rearing. Suddenly they could relate to me on an entirely new level and it was very overwhelming. Luckily, my friends who have been there are a wonderful support. It's exciting to share maternity clothes and daydreams about the man my son will become. And when I need to forget about all this impending responsibility for awhile, I meet my single running buddy for a (decaf) latte.

At my 32nd birthday dinner last month, I looked around the table at who was helping me celebrate -- three married friends with toddlers, one married pal with no kids, one engaged gal, one living with her boyfriend and one playing the field. The conversations ranged from sleep schedules to Obama's health plan, but everyone was equally thrilled to watch my stomach pulsing with baby kicks. I then realized that it didn't matter what stage of life we were all in -- our friendships would go the distance.

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