So here is the scoop. I am ten weeks pregnant. When I found out, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops… I’M PREGNANT!!!!!!!! But I can’t. I’m pregnant but I can’t tell you.
I was told by relatives not to tell people until the 12-week mark. Why? Because at the 12-week point the pregnancy is “viable”, i.e. there’s not as much likelihood of a miscarriage.
But here is my question. By not telling people, who am I protecting? Me, or everybody else? You see, here’s the thing. In the first trimester, I need my friends and loved ones around like I have never needed them before. I feel fragile, nauseous, exhausted, emotional, and did I mention nauseous? So, so nauseous. The kind of debilitating nausea that makes you feel like you woke up with food poisoning on top of the norovirus on top of the worst hangover you will ever have. For months. You think I am exaggerating? 50-80% of women experience some sort of sickness in their first trimester. And when you’re in the throes of it, it’s not pleasant!
I promise you, women need their loved ones around at this point. And equally, as important, they need everyone else to understand what they are going through. Why they are so tired, so slow, so emotional. Women in the first trimester may need more support than the rest of the pregnancy. So why oh why can we not tell anybody? Are we as a society that scared of having to tell people we miscarried? Or more importantly are we that scared of hearing it from somebody else?
So let’s look at some scenarios to try and figure this out.
Is it you? (ie the friend or family member)
This is the worst case scenario – your friend told you that she was six weeks pregnant. You were both so happy, making plans, suggesting names. Then you saw her a month later and she told you that she had lost her baby. How do you feel? Would you just want to give her a cuddle? Or would you feel awkward and change the topic? What would you do? Chances are that you would give her a huge hug, maybe join together in a cup of tea and a teary conversation. That’s the best thing that you can do for your friend, if she was indeed a friend. You shared in her happiness, and now you will choose to share in her grief. I hope that’s not going to be too much for you. (I hear you saying “good grief of course not, she’s my friend!”)
Is it mum-to-be?
I was speaking to a friend the other day and she told me that she had miscarried twice over the last few years. She had chosen not to tell anybody except her husband that they were expecting. When she miscarried (once at 7 weeks and once at 9 weeks) she dealt with it herself, with her husband, privately. Because in her life and in her opinion getting others involved and grieving about her loss would simply cause her more pain and headache and she didn’t need that.
But you know, that was her decision. It wasn’t based on anybody telling her not to tell, that it was bad luck, to wait until the scan to get the all clear. And it was absolutely the best thing she could have done for herself at that time.
But there are many that want to tell. Who need to share this info, who need that support. They may be single parents or have less than supportive partners. And telling them that they need to keep it to themselves and deal with their sickness alone is just cruel.
So hows this? Take your cue from the person actually carrying the baby. If they tell you that they are 6 weeks pregnant, be happy! Say “Congratulations!” Don’t sit there thinking ooooh telling people before 12 weeks? That’s not a good idea! Please don’t say “Congratulations but you really shouldn’t be telling anybody just yet” – because maybe they need you to know. Maybe they need you to be their support network, share in one of the most exciting things ever to happen to them, and possible tragedy too. (Maybe you just realised that they’re massive over-sharers but its ok because it just shows what sort of beautiful and open person they are). Or maybe your just pissing on their parade.
The next time you find yourself thinking “Ooh she shouldn’t be telling people just yet” I invite you to ask yourself where this attitude has come from – are you so uncomfortable with the thought of your friend miscarrying that you would rather not know about it than support her through it? Or is it an old cultural concept that has been ingrained into you and actually now that you think about it makes no sense?
So I will tell people, bad wishes or not, risk of miscarriage or not. I want people to share in my excitement, and should the worst happen, I trust that these same people will be the support I need.
So no, I don’t have a scan picture to announce with. I don’t even know if the baby will be healthy. But if it’s not, I am counting on you all for support.
Written by Shabs Kwofie