My best friend’s pregnancy forced me to face up to my own fears

I’ve had this one friend since we were 3 years old, and we share a great deal in common. We went to the same schools all the way through high school, we’re both artistically inclined and highly neurotic and we both have former-actor moms. Our friendship is a rarity, because it’s outlasted a number of big life changes, a series of moves and several bad boyfriend situations.

However, we’ve come to one particularly monumental life change that may end up separating us forever — she just became a mom.

MoreI was absolutely terrified that I’d give birth to a little girl

Now let me preface what follows with this disclaimer: I’m so happy for her and her husband, and I do think she has everything it takes to be a great mom. That being said, when she got pregnant, I had a hard time thinking that positively.

Perhaps it’s the way she told me. While she had opportunities to do it in person, she waited until she had no choice — when she bowed out of a wedding we had planned to attend together. It was in Colorado at high altitudes, and apparently that can be dangerous for an early-stage pregnancy. When she finally admitted why she wasn’t coming, I felt totally betrayed. How could the girl who’s totally on my level in every other way be ready for this step when I’m not, and why had she been keeping it from me for three months? The conversation between us went very much like this:

Image: Giphy

Let’s just say it was incredibly hard to keep my true emotions inside at that moment. Later, I tried to figure out exactly what it was about her exciting news that upset me so much. I finally landed on this: I thought I was more mature than her in every other way, so the fact that she was taking the ultimate maturity step before me made no sense.

Of course, that was completely illogical. There were actually many reasons why she was totally ready — she’s more comfortable financially, she doesn’t work so she has the time to devote to motherhood and she’s been married for three years. Yet all I could see were the ways she could potentially fail at motherhood.

MoreConfessions of an accidental attachment parent

She never needs to go back to work if she doesn’t want to, so I saw the potential for her becoming a helicopter mom being quite high. Of course every mom-to-be experiences heightened levels of anxiety, but at times, hers were downright scary. How could all this translate into a capable mom?

Then I realized something profound. All these concerns were projections of fears I have about myself as a mother. I’m afraid I’ll obsess over my baby’s health, and exacerbate every little issue until I practically live at the doctor’s office. I’m afraid my already high anxiety levels will turn into some severe form of postpartum depression, like Juliette on Nashville. But most of all, I’m afraid having a baby will turn my life upside-down, and make it impossible for me to maintain my relationships with my friends.

MoreI hadn’t processed my feelings about giving birth until I read this book

That last one is hitting more now than ever before, because I already feel my friend distancing herself from me, and it’s only been a few weeks since she had her baby. I hope with all my heart that will change as time goes on, and more importantly, I hope I can look to my friend as motherly inspiration rather than a cautionary tale.

And despite all my fears about motherhood that have been exacerbated by my friend’s new-mom status, I still want to have kids. I know it will be hard, but when I look into the lives of some of my other friends who’ve had a baby less recently, I see more good than bad. It’s then that I realize I might be judging this situation with my best friend too soon. New moms, like new babies, need time to develop into what they’re ultimately going to be, so I’m going to back off and let her do that.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do my best to keep focusing on the positive side of becoming a mom, and when she’s ready, make myself as available to my old friend and her new life as I can.