Dear Carolyn: I am six weeks pregnant; we confirmed it last week. My husband then told two of our closest friends without my knowledge. He told me he wanted to get me a gift and was at a loss at where to start, so reached out to them for advice.
His heart was in the right place, and he’s already apologized for not thinking it through (my sense is these friends gently reminded him that it was weird mom-to-be was not there). But I still feel cheated — of the chance to decide when we’d tell people and who we’d tell first, of the chance to be part of that first telling and to see the first reaction.
I’m having a hard time letting go, but I don’t want to rake him over the coals for an honest mistake he’s sincerely apologized for. Advice on coming to terms with this?
— Baby’s Out of the Bag
Baby’s Out of the Bag: Congratulations — that’s such happy news.
I’ll admit to a strong bias upfront: I believe expectations of control are the most powerful way to make pregnancy, birth and child-rearing difficult (even miserable) for all involved.
So I can be only a little bit sympathetic before I hit a big wall of Better Get Over That Soon.
At the very heart of child-rearing is this: Each kid is his own person completely. You have only so much say in who that person is.
This is obvious when kids are old enough to advocate for themselves in full — i.e., disagree with you utterly and back it up with their own logic and actions — but can be really remote when they’re tiny or especially in utero. They feel like “yours.”
You’re envisioning facial expressions (!) now, and then you’ll get to furnishing a nursery, and eventually you’ll tackle bigger stuff like breast-feeding and circumcision and sleeping arrangements. These are parts of a process of becoming a parent.
But they’re all about how you’re going to run this show. The sooner you can make it reflexive to think bigger than that — to flip it from what parents are supposed to do to the more personal: What does our child need from us? — the sooner you gain access to the most satisfying elements of child rearing.
Namely, that’s when you see yourself as temporary host and guardian of a fully realized human being vs. person in control of someone you intend to control. I don’t mean to put it so harshly — just trying to make the point.
So, how to feel better about your husband’s blabbing? Recognize none of this is fully “yours,” not even the news, and Let. It. Go. See it as toning your letting-go muscles, because you’re going to need them.
Re: Announcing: What happens if she miscarries? Then she has to announce to these friends she no longer has the baby, which can feel like a ridiculously hard mountain to climb. I think it’s right of the wife to ask that the husband not share their news yet.
Anonymous: Yes, that alone warrants discretion. But some friends or family are people you’d lean on in the event of a miscarriage, presumably — so why withhold from them?
Plus, she wouldn’t have to announce anything, the husband would. It’s not a one-woman show.