After the amazingly positive response I received on the post I made yesterday, I wanted to add a few additional thoughts.
Sharing the News
Getting pregnant is an exciting thing and it’s natural to want to share that news. People go to great lengths to plan funny or exciting ways to share their news. They make funny videos, do photo shoots, take cute pictures with their older child holding a sign saying “only child expiring July 2016” or with a tiny pair of baby shoes between the parents’ shoes. When I got pregnant with Julia, Ken and I told our parents right away. Within a week of my positive pregnancy test, we had told the rest of our immediate and extended family. Within a month we had told pretty much all of our close friends, and by the end of the first trimester we posted on Facebook to share the news with the world. We were blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy and we got to bring a baby home at the end of 9 months.
I am the type of person who likes to share exciting news with the knowledge that if anything horrible were to happen, I would want the support of my friends and family. I’ve never been a private or secretive person. (If I were, I wouldn’t have this blog!) But deciding whether or when to share news of a pregnancy is a very personal decision. When we started telling people, a couple friends were surprised and suggested that we wait until 12 weeks to tell more people.
This time we did the same thing we did last time… we told our parents immediately and shared the news with some close friends. We told Ken’s whole family on Thanksgiving (my sister-in-law asked if I would drink some of the sangria she was planning to make, and when I said no, she immediately knew something was up!) I don’t regret telling people, even though it has been hard to un-tell people. I’ve had to send texts and messages to people saying “Never mind, there won’t be a baby in July.” But the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from those same people has made it all worth it. Next time I will definitely be a bit more guarded with my emotions surrounding pregnancy and I have no doubt I will be on pins and needles until we have a healthy ultrasound and see a heartbeat but I don’t think I will hesitate to share our exciting news because even if it ends with sadness, it’s still exciting at the time, and if anything were to happen again, I know I will need the support of friends and family.
The one regret I have is that we told Julia, too. People warned us not to tell her but I think because my first pregnancy went so well I expected this one to be uneventful, too, and I didn’t want to wait. She’s sometimes a rough-and-tumble kind of kid and she was being a bit too rough with me, wanting to sit on my belly to “ride the horsey.” So we told her by explaining that she needed to be gentle with me because there was a tiny little baby inside of my belly. We told her it was teeny tiny and that it was going to grow and grow and grow and eventually come out and she would be a big sister.
On Friday after my appointment, when we found out that the pregnancy was not viable, we had to tell her that we were wrong and that there wouldn’t be a baby. Her reaction surprised me–she started bawling. She was devastated and kept saying, “I want a baby brother! I want to be a big sister!” She still brings it up even a week and a half later. Whenever we are sad, she asks, “Are you sad because there’s no baby?” And every time she asks it breaks my heart. Next time we will NOT tell Julia until much later in the pregnancy. I can’t bear to break her heart again like we did this time.
Why I’m still very blessed
I have one beautiful healthy 3-year old. I know I can get pregnant (and fairly quickly at that). With Julia I got pregnant the first month we tried. This time, I stopped my birth control (and weaned) in July. I got pregnant our 5th month trying but my guess is that the first few months my hormones were leveling back to normal after birth control and breastfeeding.
I know that the number one predictor for having a healthy pregnancy is a prior healthy pregnancy, and when I came home after my D&C, Julia was there waiting for me, giving me hugs and promising to take care of me. She reminded me why this is all worth it.
Many many women don’t have that when they lose a pregnancy and that would be so much harder to handle (in my opinion). At least I know that I’m only 30 and that my body seems to know how to do this. Unlike so many friends of ours, we do not seem to struggle with infertility because I can get pregnant, it’s just a question of getting pregnant with a healthy embryo and staying pregnant.
My heart goes out to families struggling with getting pregnant in the first place because that is a very difficult road to walk. We are lucky to live in an age with lots of technology but it’s not easy to need testing, to take hormones or shots, to make your body ovulate if it’s not doing it on its own, to create embryos using eggs and sperm removed from the body. That’s a much more expensive and treacherous road to walk and I feel grateful we have not had to do that.
Pregnancy loss sucks, no matter when it happens, and no matter how. And everyone experiences that loss in their own personal and unique way. I don’t think there’s ever a need to compare one person’s loss to another. I do think the timing and type of loss we experienced may be slightly easier to handle than it would have been if I had been farther along, or if we had seen a heartbeat one week and then went back to see no heartbeat the following week. But pregnancy loss is not something to compare or compete on. It sucks and each person experiences it in their own way. A loss at 7 weeks is just as sad and tragic a loss as one at 13 weeks. It’s a personal experience and sad no matter when it happens.
The “M” word
After I posted yesterday’s blog post, I got about 12-15 messages from people saying “I read your post. Thank you for sharing your experience. I had a miscarriage too and never felt comfortable talking about it.” There is this horrible silence that surrounds miscarriage. It’s as though the word is a bad word.
I really think that needs to change. Because people don’t talk about it, when it happens, you feel so alone until people start sharing their experiences and then you realize you are in good company. The statistic I’ve heard is that one in 5 known pregnancies ends in miscarriage. On top of that, there are miscarriages people experience when they never even knew they were pregnant. They assume their period is just late and heavier than usual but it turns out they were pregnant and just never knew it. One high estimate is that 1/3 of pregnancies ends in miscarriage. And yet there’s still this silence around it such that people feel so alone and isolated when it happens.
I don’t know how to change the culture around Miscarriage but I’m going to do my part by talking about it, sharing my experience and encouraging others to share their experiences.
Miscarriages suck. I wouldn’t wish one on my worst enemy. But it’s not a bad word. It helps to talk about it and to know that you’re not alone when it happens.