Towards the end of my pregnancy, people kept saying, “girl, it seems like you’ve been pregnant forever!” In reality I was pregnant the usual amount of time, but it might have seemed longer to other people because they knew about it earlier than they were accustomed to learning about pregnancies. Of course, there’s plenty of variation in the way that people handle breaking the news, but it’s fairly typical to wait until the first trimester has passed before totally going public, even if you told close friends and family a little sooner. I’m not knocking anyone who wait to spill the beans — you do you! — but for me, waiting that long was simply not an option. Instead, my wife and I called our immediate families about an hour after seeing the positive pregnancy test result, and told everybody else that I was pregnant as soon as we could the following morning. This might seem weirdly early to some, but it was exactly what I needed to do, and there’s just one reason why.
In fact, my reason for telling everyone right away is the same reason that so many people wait. For many people, the idea of announcing “I’m pregnant” just to have to turn around and announce “actually, I’m not pregnant” is daunting and heartbreaking. And to some extent, I can understand that. Who wants to be congratulated on a pregnancy that’s already ended? And during those early weeks, pregnancy can be tenuous and unpredictable. There’s always a chance that a pregnancy won’t work out, but the odds are much greater earlier in the game. But I was terrified that I'd have a miscarriage, and if that happened, I couldn’t bear the thought of keeping my grief a secret. So I told everyone I could as soon as I could.
Trying to get pregnant can be an emotional rollercoaster for many people, but it’s a particular kind of intense for queer families like mine. Because neither my wife or I make sperm, we had to jump through some hoops to get pregnant, hoops that your average straight family don't even have to think about. Just like every other family that actively tries to get pregnant, we had no idea how many months it would take us to make a baby. But unlike so many other families, each month we tried required some rather extensive logistics. And we were lucky, we were able to inseminate at home using very limited tech. But each try, and the planning that surrounded it, was still emotionally fraught for myself and my partner. We felt excited, nervous, awkward, and everything in between. What if it worked? What if it didn’t? And, looming in the back of my mind, what if it worked and then we lost the baby?
Keeping secrets brings back the feeling of being a teenager, and knowing that some things about myself were not OK to share, were shameful, and perhaps dangerous. That is not a pleasant feeling.
I am a person who knows herself. I know how I emotionally process grief and heartache, and I know that while I can be a bit of a loner sometimes, I cope better when I’m open with others about my feelings and what I’m going through. To put it another way, I detest secrets. While some people may feel more safe and secure when they are able to keep some information private, keeping things under wraps always makes me feel like I’m hiding something, and like I have something to hide. Frankly, it reminds me of being in the closet. Keeping secrets brings back the feeling of being a teenager, and knowing that some things about myself were not OK to share, were shameful, and perhaps dangerous. That is not a pleasant feeling, and once I was able to be an adult living on my own terms, I immediately committed to living an honest life with everything out in the open.
Though the vast majority of friends and family members left it at that, a few went so far as to flat-out ask: “Do you really think it’s a good idea to announce it this soon? What if it doesn’t work out?”
And while miscarriage may be uncomfortable for many people to talk about, there is absolutely nothing shameful or wrong about having a miscarriage. I couldn’t think of any good reason that kind of grief and pain should be kept under wraps, unless of course that was what the grieving parents themselves needed.
On our second month of trying to get pregnant, my period was three days late and I felt weirdly tired. I almost fell asleep riding my bike home from work, so I decided to take one of the pregnancy tests we were keeping in the bathroom. Superstitiously, I left the room while I waited for the result, certain on some level that watching it was bad luck. Three minutes later, heart thumping, I tried to approach it casually and just glance at it out of the corner of my eye. The result was clear. My wife and I were giddy. We laughed, we cried, and then we realized we had some phone calls to make. We wanted to make sure that some of the closest people to us heard it straight from us, but after that, all bets were off.
Truth be told, we didn’t really realize how unusual our decision was until after we shared the news on Facebook. Like so many other things in my life (from college to my wedding), I learned what the “normal” way to do things was by doing it a very different way. Because along with all of the congratulations messages, we got a lot of people asking me, “how far along are you?” And when we gleefully answered that I was, in fact, just barely pregnant and still riding high on discovering the good news ourselves, people were more than a little surprised. Though the vast majority of friends and family members left it at that, a few went so far as to flat-out ask: “Do you really think it’s a good idea to announce it this soon? What if it doesn’t work out?”
If it hadn’t worked out, I would have been heartbroken. Of course I would've been! I would have been crushed. I would have been completely devastated. And honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to keep all that pain to myself. Had I been faced with grieving the loss of a pregnancy, I would've wanted and needed to lean on my community, to share that grief with others and acknowledge it out in the open. I’m not saying that being open about pregnancy loss makes it easy, of course it doesn’t. What I am saying though, is that for myself, pretending to be fine when I was definitely not fine would have been a thousand times harder.
And so, I did the thing that made the most sense for me. I made everything public as soon as I possibly could, that way I could share my joy, or my sadness, with my community no matter what. And while I ended up getting lucky, even though my pregnancy was difficult and exhausting, it resulted in a beautiful and healthy child. No matter what happened, I knew that the best thing for me was to be open and honest from the get go. And to this day, I’m still glad that I followed my heart.