The Pregnancy Closet, Part I – Keeping Baby a Secret

As I mentioned in the first post, we found out on a Thursday and decided we weren’t going to tell anyone until after we’d gone to the doctor. While I’ll talk about the process of who we told and how in a future post, I wanted to share some amusing stories and tips about how to keep your pregnancy quiet without arousing too much suspicion about your fragile condition.

Keeping the small one Under Wraps

Unfortunately the very next morning we found out that my husband’s great uncle passed away after a rather long illness, so his immediate family would be arriving later that night to use Charlottesville as the starting point for an early morning drive to North Carolina. Now I really do enjoy the company of my husband’s siblings, and his father’s side of the family is a fantastic, friendly and large (100+) group of good Southerners.  So besides the unfortunate circumstances of the gathering, this is normally something we would both look forward to. I say normally because our recent bit of “good news” had us both pretty drained and looking forward to a quiet weekend at home. Now we would have to pose as our everyday, non-pregnant selves while sharing a room with his sister and her husband, and driving down in a car with his father and his girlfriend (read: basically not having a single private moment to ourselves).

And so we developed what I will now term the ghost drinking technique. There are two versions of this, depending on the beverages being served.

Beer is the easier of the two, especially when it comes in a can (although a bottle is also pretty simple). All you have to do either find a floater (half full beer) or have your partner finish half a beer and hand it to you, and then carry it around all night. This works best at larger gatheringss, where everyone is always trying to make sure you have a drink in hand. At smaller functions like a BBQ, you may need to switch beers once or twice if more than one type of beer is being offered, to better keep up the illusion that you’ve been participating in the fun. Tip: whenever your spouse runs low, offer to be the one to get everyone else drinks. This keeps you in the world of the drinkers in their eyes, despite your never actually taking a pull from your bottle.

Wine gets a little trickier as your glass is a dead give away. At a party, the wander factor allows you to hang with the same half glass for an hour or so, but a dinner party mandates your finishing your glass in time for the next bottle to be poured. This is where we get a bit more sneaky. Be sure to sit next to your partner. While one of you keeps the other couple entertained (read: watches their eyes), the other switches glasses so it appears that you’ve polished off your beverage. To really sell this one, pretend to take a sip right before the switch (hold the glass to your mouth and tip it like you were going to drink it, just don’t part your lips – this has the added bonus of giving you that red wine stained look that the rest of your friends are now sporting). Put the glass down in a place that’s easier for your partner to grab and switch-a-roo. Now they’ve seen you take a sip and know your glass is empty, so unless you are the world’s most boring guests, no one should have noticed that your glass goes from full to empty pretty quickly with long rests in between. The downside of this approach – you need to have a spouse who can really put it away, so to speak, as he will now be drinking both of your wine rations. Another tip – be the one who controls the pour. If you can always be sure your guests’ glasses are full, they won’t notice that yours is as well (and they’ll be having too much fun to care) – and you can be more merciful on your doubling up partner.

All of these work great for being at someone’s home, but what if you have to meet people out?

Bars/Restaurants are more challenging, as you now have this outside source pouring and selling you booze. The best bet is to simply avoid this situation and opt for in home entertaining when possible during the first trimester, but here are some tips to stay under the radar. Be careful about excuses. Nothing screams “I’m Pregnant” quite as loud as someone who orders water and then says she has a stomach ache while still ordering a completely normal meal. My preferred excuse is to claim a hang over, a la “I met some co workers at Miller’s after work yesterday and I think I still smell like bourbon. I’m taking tonight off.” Now you can only pull this once with the same person, so be aware of how far you can take the fraud.

Another technique is to arrive early and order something that looks like a cocktail (cranberry and seltzer with a twist is a favorite of mine), so that you have something in hand when your friends arrive. If you think it’s going to be a long night, go ahead and enlist your waiter/bartender in the scheme so you only have to say “I’ll have another of the same” when the next round is ordered. And don’t worry about the bill – when’s the last time you covered or split a bill and you looked at each line item (and if you hang out with those type of people, well, I apologize)?

Other Tricky Situations

The other dark side of being pregnant beyond the booze thing can be food. If you have friends who love to go out for sushi or only cook eggs sunny side up, you may simply have to avoid them or insist on having them over this time. If you find yourself faced with a food you either shouldn’t eat (surprise – we just got the best tuna steak from Whole Foods) or your now finicky, morning sickness addled stomach simply refuses (the broccoli looked so fresh at the farmer’s market), you may just have to be rude and say you are too full to possibly touch the runny-looking chocolate soufflé. Just be sure to compliment something else before you have to turn down or pick around anything.

Cigarette smoke is another hazard you may decide you are going to avoid like the plague, which may make it difficult to go certain places or hang out with heavy smokers, especially those who smoke in their homes. Since we’ve always had a no smoking in the house rule, there haven’t been any issues with having our smoking friends over during the black ops period, although we did have to decline an invitation to go bowling.

So how did we do? Well, I can report that no one I’ve since told about the small one mentioned having any suspicions, although my sister-in-law’s second reaction, after being excited, was to ask if that’s why we decided to turn in early instead of joining all the cousins at a bar after the funeral.

In fact, the people who were the most suspicious we not the folks we’d hung out with in the past two months, but instead the friends we were calling out of the blue. As a dear friend from high school put it, “It’s been awhile – what are you pregnant or something?”

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