Warning: This essay includes specific information about one woman's fertility journey including the topic of miscarriage.
During my first pregnancy, I was so paranoid something bad would happen that I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant until I was well into my second trimester. My husband and I would talk about our secret alone at night, wondering which of us our child would take after, and which of our personality traits he would share. It was our secret for 126 days and we kept it to ourselves until we were reasonably sure I’d be giving birth to a healthy baby boy.
Which is what “they” recommend, right?
There are so many variables, so many factors that can contribute to a miscarriage during the first trimester—it’s better to just wait to tell people that you’re pregnant. That’s the rule.
And I understand this advice. It makes sense. Why would you want to put yourself in the tough position of informing friends and family that there is no baby anymore? That you’re sad, devastated even, and their sympathy does little to nothing to make you feel better?
I understand this advice, but I threw it out the window with my second pregnancy.
I had been there, done that and I felt my body knew what it was doing this time around. I didn’t feel the same uneasiness, and I had no misgivings about sharing this news that I was so excited about.
It’s not like I posted an announcement on social media or anything, but if anyone looked at me sideways when I ordered water instead of beer or if anyone commented about me eating a baked roll instead of the AYCE sushi I usually demolished, I was all too happy to spill the beans.
I was so sure everything would be fine.
Then 12 weeks into my pregnancy, exactly three days after my grandmother died—the cramping started. No big deal, I thought. Perfectly normal. But then the cramps turned into contractions, and before I could even process what was happening I had lost the baby. Just like that.
The pain of a miscarriage cannot be described. Yes, the physical pain can be similar to that of giving birth. But with each wrenching contraction of labor there is the joy of knowing you’re one hurdle closer to the indescribable bliss of holding your baby in your arms.
The contractions I felt that day sparked sensations of pure panic. Will the bleeding stop? Should I go the hospital? Has the bleeding slowed down? Maybe everything’s fine? No, I am definitely losing this baby.
The miscarriage happened naturally, without any complications. But there were still the necessary follow-ups with my OBGYN, and even though my husband was present and supportive, he wasn’t experiencing the same pain I was.
At first, I immediately regretted that I hadn’t kept my second pregnancy under wraps.
It felt like I was living the plot to one of the melodramatic movies my mom loves to watch.
It felt impossible to face anyone, let alone the people who knew about the pregnancy.
It felt even more impossible to say the words I needed to say.
I was in what could only be described as a precarious mental state. Every time I spoke about the miscarriage I cried. Actually, every time I THOUGHT about the miscarriage I cried (and pretty much still do). But eventually, I said the words.
I told my friends, I told my family, and I cried and cried and cried—and it was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to mourn, and it would have been impossible to do that if I had kept the pregnancy secret in the first place.
It would have seemed strange to me to bring up the miscarriage with people who didn’t know I was even pregnant to begin with. Having to share my sad news with those who knew my once happy news made me feel like it was okay to tell everyone what I was going through. It wasn’t a deep, dark secret. It was an important event in my life, and one that I would need as much support as possible to get through.
If I had kept the secret of that pregnancy I would’ve kept the secret of the miscarriage too, and that would have been an unbearable burden. It would’ve meant acting like everything was fine when absolutely nothing was.
I’m so grateful that I decided to ignore the first-trimester secrecy “rule.”
It’s a rule I think I’ll break again, not because of the possibility of another miscarriage, but because it’s hard to get the support you need when you keep such a momentous secret to yourself.
Talking about the miscarriage allowed me to share the weight of what I experienced with the people that I love. Somehow sharing that experience made it easier to let go of the guilt and remorse that I would have otherwise hung onto for I don’t know how long. Good or bad, my friends and family were right there with me and that’s exactly where I want them for my future pregnancies.