6 Tips for Not Being an Asshole to Your Pregnant Friends
At some point you reach an age where all your friends are getting pregnant, but now they're doing it on purpose, ignoring all the advanced technology we invented specifically to avoid that hassle. It's like arriving at their house to find them augering a well, or saddling a goat, or other things people did back in your parents' time. And we're not talking about sex positions. Although your existence proves your parents also did those things. Basically, you need to call ahead before visiting friends or parents.
Or friends' parents, who in fairness weren't expecting you to come. While watching.
Your priority is helping your friends against the new invaders. A great way to do that is by buying my eBooklet, "Self-defense Against Babies," DRM-free defensive goodness for 99 cents. It makes an excellent gift, and is as subtle as a velvet sledgehammer when plugged into the intro of a pregnancy article. "Velvet sledgehammer" may also be a sex position.
"Why does our son's friend keep following us?"
"I think she's a stock photographer."
There are thousands of guides for the newly pregnant, but most guides for people whose friends have been infested with a growing organism just tell them to run and open the airlock. And are misfiled in the "horror" section. Which is why I've collected advice from parents (aka "point-blank pregnancy survivors") on how you can best help the future of the human race.
Talk to Them Like Human Beings
Expecting parents are stereotyped as nothing but biological engines built to serve the needs of their offspring. Sorry, not "stereotyped," I meant "genetically programmed."
"This will make a great toy for my son. I think it might also be genes or something."
But, like anyone biologically enslaved to serve the whims of a new lifeform, many want to rebel and escape. When visiting pregnant friends, you don't have to parse everything in terms of the baby. Trust me, if there's anything they want to tell you, they will absolutely tell you. Filling up with things to unleash upon the world is their entire deal right now.
"I'm thinking Daenerys Boudicca Hannibal."
They're not in prison, but they are sort of biologically being a prison, and the mindset leaks across. Possibly because growing an ever-expanding new person specifically to stomp and headbutt your bladder beats the hell out of ankle bracelets in terms of enforcing house arrest. And leaking. They're undergoing an inverted Chinese water torture where the constant small drops of water are coming out of instead of landing on them. As a friend of someone in prison, it's your job to help them remember the outside world.
"When you see only one set of footprints, that's when I was pissing in the sea."
Don't Tell the Obvious Jokes
It's amazing how many people think they're being original about something that had to have happened before they were born. Pregnant ladies didn't put on weight, they're not smuggling watermelons, they didn't sit on a bicycle pump, and they're really not amused. They just find it easier to smile and laugh than punch you in the face right now. It seems harmless, but you're saying the most obvious things about the most obvious thing about them. They've already heard every one of these jokes a thousand times, and that's annoying enough without learning that all their friends are unoriginal assholes.
"Yeah, if we want someone smart to talk to we'll have to grow them ourselves."
Most importantly, don't make jokes about their life being over. Christina already talked about this. It's nonsensical and insulting, and even if it were true that would make saying so even worse. You sincerely believe they're about to be enslaved by a squalling shit factory, and you're laughing in their faces about it? What kind of asshole are you?
Allow Yourself to Experience Contact Maturity
Hanging out with pregnant friends can be like flying near a black hole: They're getting bigger and bigger, consuming as much mass as possible, and proximity will radically alter the flow of time. They're going from seemingly endless months of anticipation to a nonstop everything always at once. This uterine warping of space-time can affect those nearby. You find yourself unconsciously acting more mature around them.
If only because babies can't hold their liquor.
You don't get hammered as much around them, because they no longer need your services as someone who slurs their words and throws up. They're getting somebody new to do that in-house. You don't complain to them as much, because your everyday problems really do seem small when you realize the only asshole you have to look after is your own. It's important to use this period of enhanced intelligence to maintain good relations with your friends. After all, they're working toward outnumbering you. Keeping them sweet is just good tactical sense.
Keep a hose handy for when the baby reaches Sun Tzu's chapter on fire.
They're about to welcome someone infinitely interesting into their lives, so if you ever want to see them again you'll have to install good memories right now. A newborn is the Emperor's New Personality: to any bystander it's just pink flesh and nothing else at all, but to the parents that child is more interesting than Stephens Fry and Colbert asking the Egyptian God of Knowledge about the meaning of life.
"Actually, that's me as well, according to my parents."
Bring Gifts of Food
It might seem like everything is revolving around the pregnant party. That is because it absolutely is. Pregnancy triggers all the instincts and overrides buried in the self-swamp of goo-wiring we call a brain, and that can be a surprise. You've been living inside your own skull for decades, decorating the place and filling it with all the things you like, and one day you find there's been a bizarre anti-murderer locked in the basement all this time. It bursts out trying to create more life, and it's a more unsettling change than hearing rustling in the crawlspace after noticing all your knives have gone missing. These things are instincts, and they make us prioritize the pregnant because otherwise there won't be anybody.
You might not want children yourself, which is extremely fine and quite a lot of fun, but you'd have to be a shrieking incarnation of insane selfishness to think that your friend's pregnancy should be about you. Hey, Cosmopolitan, what do you think?
You are absolutely an insensitive garbage person for feeling that way.
The idea of the mother goddess is ancient, outdated, and an extremely good role model when ministering to the pregnant. Especially if that status is your fault. The mother should be treated as a primitive creatrix: You go to her shrine if you want to communicate with her, and you bring offerings of food. Pregnancy turns standing up into a full-time job, because you're standing up while building an entire other person.
As a friend, you can bring meals, food, and snacks as little gifts. Don't make it sound like a favor. Asking if you can bring food over is an offer they will feel bound to politely decline. Make it more like: "I'm already on the way over and I happened to save some Korean chefs from rogue Hwarang warriors. They're insisting on giving me my weight in barbecue as a matter of death-honor. Can you help me finish it so they don't take offense and render me down into replacement ribs?"
"One way or another, my debt to you is being paid through this pan."
The simple fact is that congratulations have never been as good as food.
Give Cash and Cards Instead of Clothes
There's a strong urge to buy adorable little outfits and costumes for the baby, because we all love cute things, and babies are the best "other people's toys" ever. You get to go and play without having to spend all that money or clean up after them. But the rate at which children grow -- not so much fast growth as a slow explosion -- means the child will be able to wear each cute costume exactly once. Kids expand faster than bamboo emerging from the mountain of fertilizer they're producing. And if they're receiving gifts, they receive so many outfits they may as well be using those fluffy little lobster pajamas as a diaper. Which will absolutely happen.
"I can't count to number 2 but have otherwise mastered the concept."
The most common piece of advice I received from beginner parents is that cash and gift cards aren't an insulting present. They're diapers. They're mountains and mountains of diapers, they're a glorious relief supply of diapers, they're a cavalry charge of diapers against the endless hordes of stinking expense. It might seem unoriginal, but so is the idea of babies shitting. That doesn't change it from happening. It's just something they have to deal with. That cute onesie would have been for you, not for them, and it adds the unspoken requirement that they put on a little toddler fashion show at a time when the limit of their clothing ability is "not currently covered in excrement."
Don't Touch Anything
Quick, how many of your non-sexual-relationship friends do you regularly grope? Multiply that by "how cool is it to molest something they're trying to protect?" and "how much do people want to be felt up when their body already feels weird?" If your answer is anything other than zero, please start wearing oven mitts and a tracking collar.
"My lawyers now advise me to preemptively offer cash settlements and hope for the best."
A pregnancy is a combination human cloning lab, experimental chemical factory, parasitic organism, and several other things movies have taught us never to mess with. Which doesn't stop people from seeing it as a giant red button marked "Touch Here for Free Legal Drugs!" (Which is technically true, with the endorphins and all.) This one applies even more to strangers than to friends. Something about a pregnant bump tells total strangers that they can do what they want, no matter the desires of the pregnant person, and that really shouldn't still be such a topical joke.
"Just wondering how many votes this is worth."
It is terrifying that people still have to be told this: Don't touch strangers without permission. And getting permission doesn't mean lurching forward like you're about to feast on their fresh stem cells, hovering your hand a millimeter over their bump, then asking "Do you mind?" as if the other living being was a mere formality. That's awkward as all kinds of hell, and many sleep-deprived souls are likely to say sure just to avoid the hassle of seeming weird. Weird for refusing you access to their flesh. Yes, that does sound creepy when you say it out loud.
You want to touch the magical pregnant woman? Offer a foot massage! I swear you'll give that woman more pleasure than anyone else alive, including the one who helped with the conception. If you think rubbing a stranger's feet would be weird and awkward, well done! It's actually worse over the rest of the body.
Of course, many people are happy to share this most amazing of events with their friends. But that is their decision, and their choice to offer. This really cannot be reinforced enough. This is the one thing more pregnant women have told me than anything else, which makes me sound bad, but it's an important lesson: Don't grope pregnant strangers.
Instead, teach them The Oven Mitt Grip, how to counter The Rising Phoenix Prevents Rival Siblings, and how to engage in long-term judo revenge on their own children with "Self-Defense Against Babies."
Cracked can also help defend against children with 4 Pregnancy Souvenirs That Will Put You Off Kids Forever and 6 Terrifying Things They Don't Tell You About Childbirth.