In documenting my very public infertility journey on my blog, scores of people knew the very day I conceived my pregnancy. Friends, family and complete strangers read along as I wrote about our appointment with the fertility clinic, the failed cycles, the thousands of dollars spent trying to get pregnant when so many around me had it happen so easily. My phone lit up its notifications as people congratulated me when my blood test for my first in vitro fertilization (IVF) was positive. When the doctor called two days later to deliver the news that I was going to have a miscarriage, I knew I would have to turn around and share with everyone (and believe me, it really did feel like everyone) that there was no more cause for celebration.
When I lost my first baby, I was broken. I felt the world drop out from under me and I wondered how I was ever going to function normally again. The night we found out we were losing him, my husband and I isolated ourselves. I don’t even remember much of that time, what we ate, what we really even talked about. But I remember sending off some messages, turning off my phone and curling into him, wanting to disappear. I needed some time alone to grieve, but when I was ready, I had people waiting for me. People in my corner who were there immediately, to support and love on me and when I think back on it, how could I have ever have kept that grief to myself? How could I have returned to work, a smile pasted on my face, or met my mom for lunch and had to refrain from telling her she had a grandchild, but not anymore?
I was lucky. Those who heard the news from reading my blog or my text messages, they showed up. They gave me hugs and cried with me and I know not everyone has that experience. My support system knew I lost a child, one I had fought so hard for and they, while maybe a bit overbearing sometimes, had nothing but love and kindness to show me.
The thing is, we have this time called a “safe period” after the first trimester ends when we think, OK, finally I can announce our pregnancy on social media! We seem to think that after 12 weeks, we’re safe, our babies are safe, and it’s smooth sailing from here on out. And for many women, that’s absolutely the case. They go on and have healthy babies, but for those of us who lost them in the first trimester, so many grieve in silence.
I’m a very open person, and I get that there are those who aren’t. But why do we think we need to bear the grief alone when a baby is under 12 weeks gestation? Why are we waiting three months, when, unfortunately, something could go wrong at any time?
Miranda, a mother to a little girl in Minnesota knows all too well that things can happen at any point in a pregnancy. Two days shy of being twenty weeks pregnant with her son, she found herself delivering him in the emergency room. “I stress that because I was two days shy of delivering my son in the labor and delivery unit where I would have received the necessary support needed with a loss this devastating,” she told me. “Instead I gave birth to my son in the ER. Don’t get me wrong. My doctor and the nurses were all caring. But my husband and I had waited seven years for this baby.”
The moment Miranda lost her little boy, she was surrounded by love. You and your baby, no matter how many weeks gestation, should have that support too.
Let’s talk numbers for a moment. Ten to twenty percent of all confirmed pregnancies will end in a miscarriage and most of those happen in the first thirteen weeks. So if most losses happen in the first trimester, wouldn’t it make sense that that’s when you’re going to want the most support?
Announcing your pregnancy means different things to everyone. While some will put their news on social media, others may be only comfortable telling a few trusted people. But in sharing your news with others, several things happen, and the most important one is obviously for support. Miscarriages can happen, no matter how careful you think you are, no matter how much healthy food you eat, or how much you refrain from heavy lifting. They can happen, and if they do, the emotions can be intense. And no one should have to go through that alone, regardless of when it happens.
But announcing early isn’t just preemptive support for a possible miscarriage. Most of us will go on to have a baby. Deciding to share your news in the first trimester can give you the chance to be surrounded by other women who can help you through some of the rough symptoms of pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I don’t know how I could have handled debilitating nausea and exhaustion without being able to lean on others. There were people I could text at all hours of the day to find out if some of the things I was experiencing were common. There’s a sense of community surrounding pregnancy, a sort of solidarity from those who’ve been there. Finally, sharing the early weeks of pregnancy is just more time to celebrate with others the life growing inside you.
On the flip side, telling people your pregnancy news means you’re taking the chance of having to come back to those same people and tell them you’ve had a miscarriage. Coming from someone who very publicly shares her reproductive defects, this is quite daunting. It’s emotionally draining having to share that awful news with so many people. Luckily, I had the comfort of text messaging and social media to share it all at once and be done. It was the people I had to go back and tell in person. Another downside is that you may also start getting the unwanted advice from others much sooner than you wanted. Everyone who has experienced pregnancy understands that they become a catalyst for all sorts of judgment and opinion of how their pregnancy should unfold, whether it’s the advice from a mother-in-law to refrain from vacuuming or the jokes of eating for two from your unfiltered coworker.
The thing you have to take away from all this is that yes, announcing your pregnancy before that so-called “safe period” can bring about so many good things, but it’s such a personal decision for each person. No one should feel pressured to tell anyone they’re pregnant, but even confiding your news to someone else besides your partner can help with the stress and uncertainty in the first trimester.
I don’t regret sharing my news early, both for the pregnancy I lost and the one I carried through. For every unhelpful comment, three more positive ones overshadowed it. I received incredible love and support during both, and it’s something that will always stick in my memory.