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 like 12 year olds listing their “its complicated” relationship statuses.
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. This is not about a right or wrong way because I believe the right way is whatever a couple prefers. This is strictly about why we have chosen not to wait.
Not Just Over-eager
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 umbilical 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. No one faulted my parents for announcing her “too early” because she didn’t live outside of the womb.
I Have Miscarried
This blog post used to tell a story about how 10 weeks into Zelie’s pregnancy I started bleeding. It turned out I had a subchronic hematoma which eventually healed, however I truly did believe I had miscarried her at first.
I told how I didn’t regret telling people when I thought I had miscarried because I was so glad everyone shared that joy she brought to us, even if it would have only been for a short time, and that –
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. I know this was definitely the case for my own mother and sister who have lost three children between them.
Then I actually did miscarry. At 7 weeks along I lost my third baby. You can read a whole post about him and a conversation on miscarriage here.
Now that I had actually experienced loss, was my opinion changed? Did I wish I hadn’t have told anyone before the second trimester?
The reasons I didn’t wait all proved true.
When I miscarried Andrew I was blessed by the love of those around me.
His chosen godparents sent us flowers.
Relatives and friends sent us meals.
So very many prayers were offered up for us.
Local friends came with coffee and hugs and spent time helping me catch up house work that had been neglected during morning sickness.
Friends and even some of you dear readers sent cards and little mementos for his memory box.
I’ve been able to speak openly about the pain, the missing of my little one, and just how much I love him!
I’ve been able to heal so much better not carrying the weight of this cross in secret, but being supported by the love of others while bearing it.
My baby was known! My sweet Andrew was known and loved by me for every moment of his life, and by so many others for those weeks he was here!
Sure, there may have been some awkwardness on the part of other people when I told them, but that’s okay. I knew the people who really loved and cared about us would rather go through not knowing what to say for a moment than wishing they had never supported us in a time of grief to be spared that awkwardness.
When I called my mom both thinking I had miscarried Zelie, and then again when I had actually lost Andrew, 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