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Dear First-Time Mom: Announce Your Pregnancy Whenever You Freaking Feel Like It

Image source: Thinkstock
Image source: Thinkstock

So, you’re pregnant. Crazy, right? While I was still midstream onto my pregnancy test, my boobs started to buoy around my neck and I suddenly couldn’t button my pants. My friend, however, looked like a Pussycat Doll until she turned 25 weeks, where she just evolved into a slightly bloated Pussycat Doll. My point is – it’s about to get weird and unpredictable. Just roll with it.

Undoubtedly, you have a lot of questions. Many women, particularly when they become pregnant for the first time, wonder when is a good time to announce their pregnancy. The most commonly accepted advice is to wait until the second trimester when chances of miscarriage significantly decrease.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed a shift from this school of thought. Many are now making the case against waiting to share the news, encouraging women to announce their pregnancies right away, because a baby should be celebrated at all stages of life. The rationale for this position is that waiting implies there will be shame in the event of miscarriage. They feel that miscarriages have become unspoken burdens that women must carry alone, and they want to lift the stigma. Miscarriages should not be feared and if they do occur, women should feel completely comfortable sharing the news without dread or shame.

Both perspectives are solid opinions, but in the end, they’re just opinions. So here’s my advice — announce your pregnancy whenever you freaking feel like it.

People can offer you their viewpoints and often times this is helpful in coming to your own conclusions, but ultimately there is no right or wrong answer. Pregnancy is a deeply personal experience. Dare I say, it hits us right in our soul, the deepest part of our own humanity. It’s thrilling and exciting. Sometimes it’s terrifying. At times, devastating. Basically, it’s life. We can’t avoid our destiny or the destiny of our unborn child, all we can do is walk through it. Live it. And hold on for dear life with the one hand that’s not white knuckling a tub of mint chip ice cream.

But you, and only you, get to decide how you’re going to walk through this extraordinary season. You can announce it with a bullhorn out of your window the minute you get a positive test or you can wait until you see your baby giving you a thumbs up in the ultrasound. It’s your world. There’s no right answer because we’re all different.

Our health, our personality and how we prefer to navigate our joy and suffering are the only things we should be considering when deciding what to do — not other people’s opinions.

Personally, when I’m sad, upset, mourning, or angry, I like to process my feelings alone. I seek solitude and the last thing I want is attention. I love to get loved on, but my pain feels amplified when I get the sense that people feel sorry for me, particularly people I don’t know well — like the guy on Facebook I barely know in real life or the co-worker I occasionally bump into by the copy machine.

Knowing my personality in this way, I decided to only tell my immediate family and my closest friends about my pregnancy. I knew that if I did experience loss, I would feel comfortable telling them and accepting their love and support, but they also know me well enough to give me the elbowroom I need to grieve privately.

I have friends who feel the opposite. They feel comfortable announcing their pregnancies right away because they want to express their joy openly. If they do suffer loss, they welcome the outpouring of love and support they will receive throughout their grieving process. Although no one really likes sharing devastating news, they accept and feel comfortable doing so and it doesn’t matter much if it’s with their closest friends, on social media or with the office. Being open helps them grieve.

Most of the time, regardless of when you share, this entire conversation will be for naught because healthy, happy pregnancies are statistically in our favor. But even so, one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. It happened to me. Three times. All in a row, before I became pregnant with the baby I’m currently carrying at 8 months.

Each time, I miscarried before my second trimester. I was relieved only a handful of people knew. It gave me the opportunity to grieve in my own way, and because I’m a writer, share my story when I was ready.

Recently, I came across an online discussion surrounding an article, “I’m Pregnant. So Why Can’t I Tell You?” Although the atmosphere of the conversation was loving and supportive, many blanket assumptions were being made and it concerned me. Many assumed waiting to announce originates from shame or fear of feeling shame if I had announced the pregnancy, then had to announce the miscarriage. Another assumption was that those waiting to announce were choosing to postpone their joy until they feel safer and “out of the woods.”

None of those assumptions were true for me (emphasis on “for me.”) My decision to only share with those closest to me wasn’t because I was protecting myself from shame. I never felt or feared shame. It was because creating a human being is deeply personal and I want to communicate joy and devastation when I want, to who I want. It’s really that simple.

I definitely didn’t postpone my joy for any of my pregnancies. And no, falling into the lap of pure joy did not make the pain of miscarriage worse, so I don’t regret a single giddy feeling. Although, I must admit – at the very beginning of this current pregnancy, I did feel a bit numb and had difficulty tapping into my joy at first. Recurring suffering can do that to a person. I’m human, what can you do?

Then there’s the other side. A friend recently shared that a co-worker of hers had announced her pregnancy early to the entire office and shortly after had to announce her miscarriage. They thought it was “dumb” she had announced so early and now she had to awkwardly tell a bunch of people she really didn’t know that her pregnancy was no more.

But it wasn’t dumb. And it shouldn’t have been awkward. She simply made the decision to announce something true and exciting in her life. Then, sometime later, she had to share something true and sad. Perhaps it’s the kind of judgment that her actions were “dumb” that causes the shame or embarrassment some people feel around miscarriages, and the stigma others are advocating against.

But our response to random judgment or blanket assumptions shouldn’t be defiance to the contrary. Our response, in my mind, is to simply do whatever the hell we want to do. These are our pregnancies – whatever works best for us is the only answer. Being true to our authentic selves and making decisions that nurture us from that place, regardless of what other people think, is always the sweet spot and the one true place where we can feel confident.

If you want to wear your pregnancy joy like a cape and run around like a mad woman in your town square, be free my friend! If you want to keep the preciousness of the life you created close to your heart, cradle it on your terms! If you want to wear your maternity yoga pants every single day of your pregnancy like me, get your comfort on, girl! It’s your life! Be free and unrestricted!

And while you’re at it, can you swing by my place with some mint chip ice cream?

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