Years ago I read an article about annoying things that shouldn’t be posted on Facebook. After criticisms of week-long teenage romances and vague status updates, it mentioned 1st trimester pregnancy announcements. The article went on to say that no one wants to deal with the uncomfortable awkwardness of a friend later posting they had miscarried because they had announced “too early.”
That really bugged me. I am all for a lack of silly drama on Facebook, but a couple losing one of their children isn’t petty or trivial. To me it smacked of selfishness that the author would rather not know (and thereby not have to deal with the hard emotions of) one of their friends going through such sorrow because it made them feel uncomfortable.
I want to be clear that I think everyone should announce their pregnancies when it’s best for them. I don’t think it is wrong to wait until the second trimester or beyond. I am a really open person; most people are more private than I am, and that’s fine. This is not about a right or wrong way, but the reasons we have for not waiting.
When we publicly announced that we were pregnant with Philomena, we had known for about a week, and had told our family and close friends in person or on the phone. I think people thought it was just us being over-eager first time parents, but we had decided before we even got married that if we got pregnant one day we didn’t want to wait.
We want to share the joy of the new life the Lord has so graciously given to us without hesitation, whether we meet our miracle or not. From the moment of conception that is our baby, created with a soul that will live forever. They would be our precious child whether they live for 7 weeks gestation, 7 weeks outside the womb, or 70 years.
I also know that while most miscarriages do indeed happen in the first trimester, there are still no guarantees.
My earliest memory as a child was sitting in the basement of a church at three years old holding a bouquet of roses. Everyone around me was so sad. It was the funeral for my little sister, Nicolette, whom my mom lost at the start of the 3rd trimester due to issues with her umilibical cord.
Perhaps the reality of pregnancy loss beyond the first trimester from such a young age is why this idea of waiting has never mattered to me.
When we found out we were expecting Zelie, we waited as long as it took for this sign to be made until we announced to everyone. But, five weeks after this photo, something scary happened.
When I was in my 10th week with Zelie, I came home from a Mass at Ethan’s school, put Philomena down for her nap, and sat down with a meal, only to feel the most terrifying sensation of my life.
I was bleeding. A lot.
Bleeding was always a sign of miscarriage for my mother. In fact, I had never heard of anyone experience this who wasn’t losing their baby.
My heart sunk, my head raced with a million thoughts, and I truly believed I would never get to meet this baby.
As it turns out, I was not miscarrying; I had a subchronic hematoma. It is a hemorrhage that bleeds under strain. The doctor said it was very common, and to rest and not lift too much until it was fully healed. After a couple of months I was able to resume completely normal activity, including lugging around my toddler and doing our housework. Thanks be to God, Zelie was fine.
But what if she hadn’t have been fine?
What if I had lost her that day?
In the time I thought I had miscarried, did I regret that we had announced her pregnancy several weeks before?
Not for a moment.
Zelie is this amazing little light in our lives. She brings us such joy, and she has since the moment I saw that positive pregnancy test. If her special little unique, one-of-a-kind self had not a single breath outside of my womb, then I would be glad that others could have felt the joy she gives, even if just for a short while of life inside.
I would have been so grateful to have had our friends and family there to support me if I had needed them in such a dark hour. Their love, prayers, and kindness would, I believe, be a very important part of my healing process.
When I called my mom, thinking I had lost my little one, I told her I felt like I had done something wrong to cause it. She reassured me that it was normal to feel that way, but that I hadn’t, and had no shame to feel. She is right.
There is no shame in miscarriage. Is this part of why it is culturally taboo to announce before the second trimester? Women should not feel guilty or that they need to hide miscarriage as if they have failed or done something wrong.
If you have lost a child through miscarriage and don’t tell anyone because that’s whats best for you, please know I respect the privacy you need. It is important for you to grieve in the way that is best for you and your family. You don’t owe anyone information on your pregnancies or miscarriages.
But if you have experienced this loss and are suffering from the silence but don’t speak out because you feel shame, are worried you may make someone uncomfortable, or feel it should be a secret because of cultural expectations, please reach out to others if that would help you.
We hope to welcome many more children into our home and hearts, knowing that each pregnancy has risks, and that a healthy, full-term pregnancy is never guaranteed.
If we are blessed again with another baby, we will share the joy with you soon after we find out, grateful for privilege of carrying that life, no matter how long it is ours to cherish.
Enjoy this post? You may also enjoy “Just wait until…” – On Negative Catholics and Sufficient Grace and When You Love Someone Too Much to Lie to Them