The moment I announced I was having a baby, some friends saw me differently.
When I got pregnant, I knew that life as I knew it would change. This included everything from my home life to my relationship, my body, my sense of self, my finances, and my responsibilities.
What I didn’t expect to change so much were my friendships.
In the past, I had seen mothers post online, saying that pregnancy really shows you who your true friends are. I never understood it until now. It’s true.
Pregnancy quickly sorts out who should be in your life and who no longer deserves a place, and it doesn’t take much to figure it out.
At 37 weeks pregnant, I’m lucky enough to have had one strong friendship that hasn’t changed at all. We have an amazing bond, and she’s been a huge support throughout the entire pregnancy.
This wasn’t a surprise because we’ve been friends for years. Nothing has ever come between us.
However, I was surprised to see other friendships drift away. It was as if the moment I announced I was having a baby, some friends saw me differently. I became annoying to them because I talked about babies while they weren’t quite there yet.
It’s funny how the event invitations seemed to drop off the further along I got. Maybe they felt they could no longer involve me in things because I couldn’t drink or smoke or go out partying. It’s almost as if people forget you don’t need to drink alcohol to have a good time.
Suddenly feeling like I was obsolete to some of the people in my social circle was painful, but it taught me a lot about myself, the people I love, and moving forward in life.
Read on for tips on how to cope with this little-talked-about aspect of the pregnancy journey.
If you’re pregnant and currently dealing with fading friendships, you can follow the steps below to help you navigate the hurt.
Acknowledge your feelings
It’s OK to be upset. It’s OK to feel lonely and vulnerable and hurt. It’s also OK to feel angry, numb, or not know what you feel.
Give yourself the time and space to grieve the loss of those friendships that are fading away.
Find someone you can talk with about it, like a friend who stuck around, a family member, or a therapist.
I’m not mad at the people I’ve lost during pregnancy.
I’m aware that pregnancy can be a hard subject for some. Many have had devastating experiences, like miscarriages and abortions. Although I’ve never spoken to my friends about this, I would understand if my pregnancy was hard for some of them.
I know it can be difficult to talk about something that’s hurting you, and perhaps it’s easier to pull away. I’ve even lost social media followers for this reason. Still, I understand when something is just too hard to bear and I don’t resent anyone for it.
It does sadden me that the online posts about pregnant people and friendships have been true.
It feels like some people who’ve been there for me in the past suddenly don’t know how to be. We’ve become different people going down different roads, and we just don’t ‘click’ anymore.
But I get it. Having a baby is a huge, life-changing thing. Sometimes people just don’t know how to handle friends with kids.
Make new priorities
Not only did these friends drift away from me, I also feel like a part of me drifted away from them, too. Becoming pregnant forced me to grow up. As I grew up, I outgrew some people, too.
I now have different priorities and dreams, a different life plan ahead of me. Around certain people, I couldn’t embrace it. It seemed as though they weren’t willing to embrace it, either.
Learn to let go
When a friendship has meant a lot to you, it’s painful to see it change so quickly. You may remember the good times with a bittersweet mix of feelings.
You may feel the need to find closure, and one way to do that is by writing a letter.
You can thank your former friend for everything they did for you in the past, acknowledge what you learned from them, and even reminisce about your favorite memories together. You can write whatever you need to write to express your feelings, because it’s a letter you’ll never send.
When you’re ready, let the letter and its contents go. Shred it, burn it, or simply toss it in the trash. This little ritual can help things feel final.
Realize it was probably inevitable
As hard as it may be to acknowledge, it’s likely these relationships would have ended sooner or later. If your former friends can’t deal with your big life changes now, they wouldn’t be able to in the future.
The qualities that make friendships last are enduring. They don’t change on whims. Remembering this can help ease the pain of a sudden end.
Focus on the friends who are there
While it’s sad to lose friends, I think there are some positives to come out of it. Losing those I thought would be there forever has given me perspective on who I currently have in my life. It’s made me appreciate the people who’ve stuck around and not left my side.
It’s made me love my family and friends who are still there even more, and it has made me realize how lucky I am to have the support that I do.
It’s always upsetting to lose friends, especially when you’re at your most vulnerable and need people around you. It can also be a blessing in disguise. It can teach you who’s worthy of a place in your life and who never was.
I know it’s hard and in some cases even devastating, but you will come out of this stronger, with a support system you can trust. Just like I did.
Let it grow
Ultimately, the space that’s created in your social life when you have a child doesn’t have to feel like a hole. You can use it to grow into the type of parent you want to be.
You can make plans about what you and your child will do together once they’re here, and you can even involve those who are still sticking around.
Did you always love the science museum as a kid? Or riding the carousel at the mall? Talk with your friends and family about the little things you’re looking forward to doing with your little one — and invite them along.
Once baby is ready, strap them into your favorite carrier and get going.
Any life transition can be difficult. When you add in the pain of losing friends, it can be devastating.
Even though it hurts, there are positives to the shedding process. Parenting involves new responsibilities, a new identity, and in some cases, it requires a “changing of the guard” when it comes to who you spend your time with.
Just remember, your true friends will stick around, and there’s plenty more love coming your way.
Hattie Gladwell is a mental health journalist, author, and advocate. She writes about mental illness in hopes of diminishing the stigma and encouraging others to speak out.