I guess there’s a million different ways one can announce their first pregnancy. I opted for a hiking blog post, why not?
And of course, I feel there needs to be a little follow up on this. You see, I’m only ten weeks along. According to many, it’s not recommended that I share this news until after I’m well into the 2nd trimester (after 12-14 weeks).
I’ve totally blown that. I probably told about 25 people when I first tested positive at five weeks. Since it was mostly family and close friends, everyone reacted with generous excitement. But as I continued to share the news with acquaintances or colleagues at work, I was met with mixed reactions.
“Oh, only x weeks?” someone said. “Well, congratulations…but take it easy, okay?”
To my overly-paranoid mind, this translates to: “You shouldn’t be telling me this because I don’t want to hear about your upcoming miscarriage.”
(For the record, I intellectually understand that this person was just being kind and that my interpretation is a result of my nut-jobbery.)
But I find it particularly aggravating that a miscarriage is something a woman should try to avoid having to share. So it turns out the best way to avoid sharing the news of a miscarriage is to wait to share the news of your pregnancy.
“If I lost my foot,” I explained to Lou one day, “I would want the support of my family and friends through that loss.” After he stopped laughing at my comparison, Lou agreed.
But I think this has deeper roots than just wanting support.
Because every time I deliver the news in this early stage of pregnancy, I feel a bit of shame.
What is that all about?
I’m shooting from the hip here, but I don’t think I’m the only woman who has feelings of shame intertwined with the idea (or the experience) of a miscarriage. And this, I believe, is left over from time periods in cultural history when a miscarriage was interpreted as a total failure. It meant a woman could not fulfill her purpose. And it meant the husband had made a poor investment.
I don’t want to perpetuate a behavior that references this unfortunate history.
So I’m spreading the news about my pregnancy.* And if I have a miscarriage I will be sure to get the word out about that as well. I know there are other women who experience this in silence. And if they can’t lean on family and friends, maybe they’ll quietly find my miscarriage blog and feel some comfort.
(Christ, I feel squeamish about describing that scenario but this whole topic is a superstitious trap so there’s no winning here.)
When contemplating the decision as to whether or not to tell “early”, I’ve often thought of an email exchange I had with a friend a few years ago.
“It’s okay…we’ll catch the next one!” was her response when I congratulated her on a pregnancy. Her polite message revealed that I hadn’t received the news of her miscarriage.
I still admire her for that. She handled it with grace and a positive attitude. She wasn’t ashamed.
Because she (and we) shouldn’t have to be.
*I absolutely respect anyone who makes the decision to wait to share their news. For some, it’s as simple as a matter of personal privacy.