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Mom-to-be has trouble finding her way in first pregnancy

Mom-to-be has trouble finding her way in first pregnancy

Q: I'm pregnant. It's the first time, and I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. I feel like everyone (from family and friends to society) expects me to feel sheer joy, and I don't. I find pregnancy talk boring, and I'm amazed at the amount of unsolicited (and unwelcome) advice I'm receiving. Yesterday I yelled at my best friend because she chastised me for a food choice. I used to be a grownup — now I feel like I'm being scrutinized like an ungrateful, irresponsible child. I feel really alone. Any thoughts?

Pregnant in Chicago

A: A few, which you're free to dismiss.

I've gotten quite a few complaints like yours . . . and about as many from the other pole entirely: women who are pregnant for the first time and sooo excited, but all anyone can talk about (from family and friends to society) are the horror stories. Or, they'd take joys or horrors, but everyone's shrugging them off like it's no big deal when it is a very big deal to them.

In other words: A first pregnancy is new, strange and has life-altering consequences. I think people all come factory-equipped to seek out like-minded others, no matter their particular circumstances — and when we're processing something big, like a pregnancy, the impulse becomes especially strong.

When we seek but do not find, the distress is especially strong, too.

So you're on a natural quest for someone who gets it, who will listen without judging, respect you as a mother instead of treating you like a rookie, assure you without platitudes, inform without condescension and warn without hype. You want the friend every pregnant woman wants — but the quest isn't going too well. Meanwhile, thanks to the newness, fatigue, hormones or whatever else, your resources for rolling with bad news are a little strained.

Does that sound about right, or am I just the next one in line to get it wrong?

Either way, your best chance at getting what you need is to put a finger on exactly what you want people to provide, and ask for it without rancor. "I'd like to be able to express mixed feelings without feeling like a monster." "I'd like to eat without worrying whether the judges approve." "I'd like to be treated like a person, and not a vessel." "Please remove your hand from my stomach." (File that one away for later.)

You're not only the same adult you were before, you're also at a threshold where being one is essential. Think of it as a particularly obnoxious test, where passing demands that you be true to no one but you and your kid.

Bride and groom should plan a wedding they can afford

Q: Bride's family: small, small social circle, modest means. Groom's family: large, extremely large social circle, wealthy. Is it okay to expect the groom's family to pay for the reception, or most of it? If not, what is an appropriate stance for planning this wedding?

Mother of the Bride

A: It's not okay to "expect" anything. The bride and groom should plan the wedding they can afford. If the groom's family would like a longer guest list, then they can ask their son if he and his bride would accept a financial assist (and, for the record, butt out if the answer is no).

Mom-to-be has trouble finding her way in first pregnancy 07/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 8:56am]

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