At 28 and living in London, you wouldn't necessarily assume I would have to deal with this issue, but coming from a small town called Northampton where most girls are up the duff by 14, I certainly have to... I am talking here about 'mates with babies.'
At 27 I looked around me and found that 5 of my 8 best friends have had children. One of them has two. I absolutely adore them all, I am the token 'Aunt Gina' and twice Godmother. I never miss birthdays, go "ooo" and "aaaah" in all the right places while looking at photos/ instagrams/ snap chats and whattsapps/ printed canvases/ phone sceens/ screen savers/ key rings... But recently, my other non-parent friend and I have noticed something. We are the ones feeling left out. Not because we are also ready for kids, but we have lost our girlfriends, our confidants and most importantly, our nights out.
My best mate is turning 30 in November, and has sadly told me, instead of having a full on two day bender of a birthday, she is keeping it "low key", because sadly, she doesn't think any our friends would come. One of the babies is teething, the other isn't sleeping well, one can't afford the trip... etc.
Now, of course I appreciate what my friends have to deal with. Most of them work full time again now, have babies under two, boyfriends to clean up after, they can't just pack up and trek to London to be £50 down and retire with a sore head, but it also doesn't make myself or my friend feel somewhat sad about our lost friendship circle. To see our friends now means having to take a midweek day off work, train it to Northampton, book lunch somewhere 'baby friendly' and accept that we will be the ones who (rightly so) have to compromise.
Knowing all this still doesn't make it any easier though does it? When all you want is a random Friday night with your mates in a tacky wine bar talking utter pants.
So, what's the answer? Continuing to be the selfless one and booking a day off once every 3 months to trek back home to see the mums and tots so I get to keep my friendships intact? Or to dump the lot of them and buy new, cool, hipster friends who hang around Hackney in their packs?
We all know the answer. Being a Mum changes everything, and I, along with the other childless media types in London must grin and bear it and hope that when school starts, so do our nights out again.
Because lets face it, my friends of twenty odd years are pretty irreplaceable.