Regardless of past miscarriage experiences, the “when to tell” question is a big one during any pregnancy. Conventional wisdom is to wait to tell until after the first trimester, because “what if you have a miscarriage.” Even after having experienced miscarriage myself, this logic still puzzles me slightly. So I guess you’re supposed to just keep it a secret if you miscarry before making a pregnancy announcement? (even if you were 1 day away from telling?) Why is miscarriage considered so shameful or “taboo” that you’d have to just hide it away if you miscarried before the first trimester had passed? Or, you could be like me and make your public announcement after the “safety” of the 12 week mark (or even the 14 week mark for pete’s sake) and then still have to tell people that your baby died. I also had the unfortunate experience of having to tell my workplace about the miscarriage without them ever having known I was pregnant—following that conventional wisdom logic, I’d hadn’t yet taken the opportunity to tell them and then, we found out Noah died one HOUR before I was supposed to go teach class. So, I had to call up crying and tell people my baby died, who hadn’t even known he existed in the first place. I think it would have been better had they known! With Noah, I was physically incapacitated for quite a few days—how could I have just pretended like nothing happened?
Of course, then I had my second miscarriage and suddenly I understood some things I hadn’t understood before. This time, I did feel like keeping it secret. I did feel kind of ashamed of it (like it was a “failure”). And, it was not physically impactful so no one had to know. But mostly, I felt like I literally couldn’t STAND the experience of having people feel sorry for me again. Couldn’t stand feeling that pity again so soon. By not telling, I “protected” myself from that. Now that more time has passed, I do mention it on occasion and I don’t keep it “secret” anymore.
My basic philosophy on telling about a pregnancy actually hasn’t changed—I think you should tell those people who you would tell regardless of pregnancy outcome and you should tell them whenever you feel like the time is right. With this new pregnancy, I kept feeling like, “might as well tell some people so that they have a chance to feel happy and hopeful for me, rather than only sad and sorry for me,” but then balking on the actual telling. It was strange for me to realize that there were people I would have told about a miscarriage, that I wasn’t telling about being pregnant. That doesn’t really make sense! So, today I sent an email announcement to some of those friends—the ones I’d tell if I was sad, also should know when I am happy! 🙂 No Facebook announcements are forthcoming anytime soon however.
I also can barely manage to talk about being pregnant in person—I just do not feel “secure” or “safe” doing so. I have only spoken the words “I’m pregnant” out loud to two people—my mom and my friend Kate. I told a couple of other people sort of cryptically in email (i.e. “think that bridesmaid dress will work for maternity?”) and some people found out via this blog. And then today, I sent that email to a couple more friends. I just can’t say it out loud. Even to Mark what I said was, “I seem to be a little bit pregnant” (faint positive line). Maybe I need to go outside and shout it into the trees a couple of times, “I’M PREGNANT!”
Yesterday we had another ultrasound (yes, I know. I can hardly believe I’m doing it either—this is my most ultrasound-exposed baby ever and I know there are concerns about overuse of ultrasound, etc., etc., but I just have to know that it is still alive). The baby measured 10 weeks and had a nice little heartbeat. We even saw it kicking!
Being pregnant again does, in a way, “heal” some of the wounds from loss. The not-spotting has “healed” some of the leftover pain from the spotting and fear of that. The seeing a lovely heartbeat via ultrasound has “healed” some of the pain of NOT seeing one. That sort of thing. Because, for now, my most recent experience of pregnancy is not about miscarriage—it is healing that.
Also, while it obviously doesn’t make the loss go away, it does restore my “rightful” state of being pregnant—the state that was arrested so sharply and that registered as “wrong” (physically and emotionally—those months of feeling like I “should” be so many weeks pregnant, etc., etc.) This is a really hard feeling to explain—the experience of not being pregnant felt wrong, because I was emotionally, physically, and mentally invested in and attached to being pregnant and when that ended/arrested/stalled it felt physically and emotionally wrong to be thrust back into the “nonpregnant” identity.
I do know that if this pregnancy ends abruptly too, I’m done. I will just have to live with the lingering wounds and scars left by pregnancy loss and perhaps no longer be able to continue on my birth work path and that will just have to be okay. Shortly before I got pregnant again, I did have a meaningful moment alone outside in which I realized that I could do this again (handle the prospect of one more loss) and that I would survive and be all right. Before that moment, I felt like I would literally not survive losing another baby. Now, I know that I could, though I desperately do not want to have to, but also that my personal limit would be reached and I’d have to be okay with ending my family there. Though, I also just said to a friend the other day that I “couldn’t survive it” if this new baby dies too—I think what I really meant is, I don’t think that my work with birth couldn’t survive it. I’d still be here, but the focus and purpose of my life would be irrevocably altered. Or, maybe my work could survive it too—or become transformed into something better and more meaningful because of it.