I have read a lot of articles and blogs lately about why we should do away with the antiquated “12 week wait” to announce pregnancies. The idea is that if you wait, and you have a miscarriage, you are then forced to go through it alone. There are even some people who believe waiting implies that miscarriage is shameful and should be kept private. The arguments are quite persuasive. The über feminist in me could see how the pressure to keep quiet might make women feel like miscarriage is something not suitable for conversation. Tradition says wait. For Avery I waited. I counted down the minutes with excitement. But after reading these articles, I wondered…is waiting the right thing to do?
I have watched some of my best friends go through multiple losses. I have seen how healthy and beneficial it was for them to have the support and understanding of those closest to them. I’ve seen firsthand how much more understanding and empathetic I myself have been through their losses having shared their excitement from the very first positive pregnancy test.
I applaud women who feel open and empowered enough to share their experiences. I respect others’ decision to shout their positive pee stick results from the rooftops, without fear of having to potentially share a loss later on.
But still, I was on the fence about sharing the news earlier for baby #2. Unfortunately, I now greatly understand the value in waiting.
I had a feeling I might be pregnant. I peed on some sticks, got a couple big fat positives, and filled instantly with excitement. Followed by “oh shit” where are we going to put another child in our 1br + den that the three of us barely fit in. I ran out and bought Avery a “cool bro” t-shirt to subtly surprise daddy as he got home from work. I eagerly started planning for our family to grow from three to four. I downloaded baby name apps, put my info into a pregnancy tracker, calculated my due date, started planning our perfectly timed, Pinterest-worthy pre-Christmas announcement and scheduled our first prenatal doctors appointment.
And then I woke up about a week and a half later bleeding and cramping. I went to the doctor, got an ultrasound, had some blood drawn and was called later that day and told that I was in fact experiencing a miscarriage. It was devastating, sad, scary and just plain awful. I didn’t think that I would be so upset by it since it was so early. But I was. It ripped my heart out. I don’t really have words to explain how it feels to know that a life is ending inside of you. It’s this gut-wrenching emptiness, followed by self-blame and for me denial. (I had to take another pregnancy test after days of bleeding to comprehend it was really over.)
I traced back every activity, every workout, every day in the hot sun without enough water. I scrutinized every bit of food I put in my mouth over the last two weeks. Was it the day we went to the pumpkin patch and it was 95 and sunny? Was it the three cups of mint tea I drank? The extra cup of coffee? The tuna salad? The 4-mile run? The fact is, it was probably none of these things, but you still wonder…try to understand…try to explain it.
I know there is nothing I could have done or not done to change the outcome. I know that it has no bearing on the ability to have another successful healthy pregnancy. But I also know that one day there was a life beginning to grow inside me and then in one morning, one trip to the bathroom, one visit to the doctor, one phone call with test results…it was gone. My baby was gone. A life was lost. I acknowledge not everyone believes life begins at conception, but I do. And whether you believe or not, when you find out you are pregnant, you know you are now creating a life inside you and when that ends unexpectedly you inevitably grieve that loss.
Which brings me to the point of sharing this…I wanted and needed to grieve ALONE…very, very alone. I left the doctor and walked around outside by myself. It has been a month and I haven’t even really talked about it with my husband. I wanted to go through this silently, without judgement, advice, reassuring platitudes, sympathetic looks or shoulders to cry on. I didn’t want to hear people say ridiculous things like “at least it’s so early” or “at least you have one healthy child”. Which are HORRIBLE things to say B.T.W. I wanted to privately acknowledge the loss and move forward. I avoided phone calls and texts from the three people who knew about it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to be asked how I was. I didn’t want support. And now I KNOW why I’m glad I waited and will continue to wait 12 weeks next time around.
You may be thinking, but weirdo, you are blogging about it for random people to read. Yes. Yes, I am. Partly because this is my strangely public pseudo diary where I vomit out my innermost thoughts as therapy. Partly because I have had the opportunity to grieve and move forward and know those who love me and know me will respect that and not look at me with weird sad puppy dog eyes and ask how I’m “feeling”. And mostly because I want other women who may feel the same to not feel alone.
I want women to know that it’s ok if you don’t want to talk about it. It’s ok if you don’t want people to know. It’s ok if you avoid phone calls, texts or conversations so that you don’t have to be asked how you are feeling. It’s ok if you keep your pregnancy to yourself for 12 weeks so that you don’t have to grieve publicly if God forbid you experience an all too common early pregnancy loss. I want women who may have read the recent wave of “shout it from the rooftop, don’t wait 12 weeks” blogs circulating the inter-webs to stop and consider if they too might be one who wants to, if faced with a miscarriage, grieve alone, silently, without any one knowing. Waiting 12 weeks doesn’t mean you are oppressed or ashamed, it just means that if put in the horrible circumstance, you want to be able to choose how you grieve and who you want to know about it.
Just food for thought…you can always tell someone you have experienced a loss, and if they are a true friend they will embrace you, support you and be there for you through it even if they didn’t know about the pregnancy from day 1. But, you can’t un-tell people.
So, if there is a sliver of a chance you would want to grieve in your own space, on your own time… then WAIT. Wait those anxiety, excitement filled twelve weeks. Wait to shout it from the rooftops. Just wait. It doesn’t mean you are ashamed or oppressed. It just means you may want to grieve a private loss privately. And that’s O.K.