How to Behave with Other People’s Pregnancies

People have babies. They feel the need to experience three hours of sleep a night like some people want to try zero gravity. Fine, whatever makes them happy. But I know you have no interest in having kids, raising kids, being a kid-type person. You waited for years, aching years, to wear little black cocktail dresses and drive a sports car and you aren’t about to give that up for the frantic search for mittens at 7:15 am. Also fine.

Problem is the world is basically set up to appreciate those who continue the species. And us without offspring are, ever so slightly, seen as selfish types who will be dead for days before anyone notices while the progenitors will spend their golden days in the sweet care of their children. Hmm.

But until those happy golden years arrive, you’ve got to figure out a way to deal with your formally-normal friends and relatives who suddenly start sprouting basketball stomachs and diaper bags. You can’t lie and, believe me, you can’t say what you are really feeling.

First, the ONLY thing to say when someone one says they (or their spouse) are pregnant is “Congratulations!” Also acceptable are “How wonderful” and “You must be so happy.” Note: you don’t have to say, “I’m so happy for you.” Because, let’s face it, you are about to lose your boon drinking, partying, late-night phone call pal. But act happy for them. They’re happy and they would act happy for you if you finally got that dream job in Paris and left them to molder in Topeka.

The above paragraph is especially important is you want children and haven’t found a mate, found the mate but he’s infertile, or if you are having problems getting pregnant. A diva NEVER brings out her pain at the moment of another’s happiness. Never. No exceptions. You smile, though it may kill you, and say “Congratulations” and do not mention how you wish you had similar news. If need be, go watch the sob-story trumping scene in Notting Hill and grieve with the people who have earned the right to grieve with you.

After you have congratulated the hopefully happy parents-to-be, prepare to spend money. All things have their price – being baby-free means that you will shell out lots of money on baby shower gifts while not getting anything in return except some (probably not very good) food and too many stories about pregnancies.

Listen to the stories carefully – hear all that stuff about throwing up and swelling ankles (and other body parts)? That’s your reward for giving baby shower gifts, you don’t have to go through that. If you want to be pregnant and aren’t, weigh carefully if you want to go to a baby-shower. It is not worth it to go if it will make you miserable. At a certain point most people at the party will notice your pain and a Diva never causes general consternation at another’s party unless she has been grievously insulted (and being invited to a baby shower is not an insult). Even if it your best friend or a sister, beg off from attending graciously and then take the mother-to-be out for a brunch (or make her a special dinner).

Please note baby-shower gifts follow the same rules as wedding gifts – whenever you feel a bit cheated out of life because you have given an average of three wedding gift per year since you were twenty-one (or whenever you saw yourself as an adult and you, not your family, bought the required presents) and you, being single, have not yet or perhaps will never get a return on all those investments, ask out a married friend for lunch. Ask her if she had the chance to do it again, would she get married, hopefully she’ll say ‘yes,’ but on the way to ‘yes’ – you can bet you’re in for a good 45 minutes of the toilet-seat left up, kitchen utensils used for outrageous purposes, blame, recriminations, sleepless nights – voila – that’s your pay off.

Next will come pregnancy. Depending on the degree of closeness to this person, you will have to endure stories about all sorts of icky things – morning sickness, weird food preferences, etc. Immediately arm yourself with at least three truly gross-out stories, make them up if you need to. If momma or papa-to-be ever start in, listen with much care and attention, then quickly segue into the time you and your entire basketball team got dysentery on a four-hour airplane flight. Don’t omit any possible descriptive adjectives about aroma, physical evidence, symptoms, etc. This should put an end to all excessive detailing of symptoms, but if you are again tortured with long recitals, feel free to go into the time someone gave your family’s three dogs Ex-Lax. Cover all effects in minute, photographic detail.

This should get you through the pregnancy safely. By all means express sympathy, but no need to endure hours of descriptions of nausea. Don’t ever yield to the temptation of saying “You wanted one of those things, this is the price” and don’t discuss alcohol around the momma, no matter how lovely the Beaujolais is.

If the woman is a sister or good friend, you will have to feel the baby kick. Act pleased to do it. It is a simple thing and she will be glad. Don’t offer baby names, criticize the name they choose or enter into speculation about whether the 40-pound weight gain means a boy or girl. You open the can of worms on name or gender and parents-to-be can pull out a three-hour conversation – what names they are thinking of, what their parents were thinking of naming them, what they wanted to name the cat, if boys show in the front and girls all over or vice versa: it never ends.

On the same note, be very wary of discussions about doctor’s office visits. Yes, you want mother and future child to be well – but do you honestly want a recital of invasive medical procedures? Thought not. Best way is to, if possible, put off phone call until a few hours after each visit so the momma has had plenty of time to discuss events with someone else, then start out the conversation with “I hope everything went well at the doctors.” If it didn’t, you have to listen and sympathize. This is the person who counseled you through all sorts of truly wrenching events like date-less New Year’s Eve parties and bad haircuts. You have to give her a shoulder for C-sections. But if everything is ok, you’re quickly off to a new topic.

In the last month or so of pregnancy, never complain to the momma about anything. She’s got an active basketball inside her and 20 million concerns. Don’t add any of yours. Go into Maid of Honor combat position: listen, agree, support, assist. Be a Navy Seal of Solace. Be a Green Beret of Compassion.  Don’t tell her about your lost Dior lipstick and the PowerPoint presentation with the wrong slides, she can’t handle the truth.

Finally, when you hear she is in labor, make a prayer as according to your religion or, at least, light a candle. Childbirth is natural, but it is not always safe; pray in whatever manner you choose.