- Women's Health
When Your Pregnancy News Get Out Before You're Ready
One of the first decisions you make as an expectant mother is when and how to share your news with the world. And as wonderful as it is to have a spontaneous, live-in-the-moment approach to life, there are times when thinking ahead makes more sense.
For example, if something was to go wrong early on in the pregnancy (which is not that unusual), would I be OK with it being public, or would I rather deal with it privately? For that reason many women wait until the second trimester to make their announcement.
But what if, regardless of your wishes, your little secret is a secret no more?
I Didn't Want to Tell People Right Away
When I found out I was pregnant, my first impulse was to shout it from the rooftops. But the more cautious part of me said: "It's only been a few weeks, anything can happen." As a woman in her mid-30s with a history of miscarriage, I wanted to make sure everything was OK before I let everyone in on it.
I had my first ultrasound at 8 weeks, which showed a healthy embryo with a heartbeat. The medical consensus now seems to be that the risk of miscarriage dramatically drops to less than 2% when you can hear the baby's heartbeat at your first prenatal appointment.
But I wasn't feeling out of the woods yet. I was determined to wait at least 14 weeks, or possibly longer.
But things didn't quite pan out as I planned.
The Worst Case Scenario: a Cautionary Tale
Where did it all go wrong, you ask? I told my in-laws.
Of course, I also asked them to keep this under wraps until after we make an official announcement. Oh, how naive I was...How unaware of the power of the family grapevine...
My mother-in-law told one person, that person told another person, and so on... Before I knew it, the news spread like wild fire, and I've had absolutely no control over the situation.
I felt disappointed and betrayed. And I particularly resented the fact that our only grandparent heard the news from someone else and wondered why we didn't want to tell her ourselves.
And that's really the worst part about losing control over your pregnancy news: it inevitably creates awkwardness and hurt feelings.
If you're lucky, people will keep their months shut and just wait for you to tell them, although secretly they may still wonder why you left them out of the loop. That's at least respectful.
But if your relatives are nosy and invasive, they will ask indelicate probing questions to force you to spill the beans. They will insinuate that they already know. And once you reluctantly confirm, they will tell you things you generally don't want to hear:
- "I know how long you've been trying,"
- "At your age it's like a miracle,"
- "You're thin so you'll probably have stretch marks," and my favorite:
- "Once you have a kid, your life's over so enjoy it while you still can."
When the Cat's Out of the Bag Regardless of Your Wishes
Maybe it happened to you the same way it happened to me - you couldn't help telling just one friend or relative, and that person told someone else, and that someone else told everyone else. Or maybe someone noticed changes in your appearance or lifestyle and started a rumor that you might be pregnant. Or maybe you told your boss who "outed" you to your colleagues before you were ready.
Yes, s**t happens. What's next?
First, deep breath.
It's not as bad as it seems. Assuming you have a healthy pregnancy, the most you'll have to endure is a few awkward social moments, followed by an invaluable life experience. The next time around, you'll know exactly what NOT to do (hint: don't tell ANYONE, and if asked by an impatient nosey parker, DENY DENY DENY).
But what if something does go wrong?
Then having your pregnancy status get out against your wishes can be particularly devastating. I've read some horror stories of women who made their pregnancy announcements early, and then had to retract the news after they had a miscarriage. Imagine the worst thing that ever happened to you, magnified by the constant rehashing of it to everyone you know. Imagine having to make calls, send emails and make social media announcements about it. Imagine re-living it over and over again in the most public way.
Pregnancy Announcement Poll
If you were pregnant, would you
It's OK to Tell Early If You're Comfortable With That
Of course, some people would argue that should the worst happen, they would prefer to have the support of friends and family rather than to grieve in solitude, so there's no reason to keep secrets.
And I get that - there's no shame in having a miscarriage. But close friends and family is one thing, a thousand random people on Facebook is quite another.
On the other hand, in our day and age of social media over-sharing things that used to be considered private are put on display with an almost maniacal exhibitionism. I can recall countless cringe-worthy moments scrolling through Facebook feed - moms sharing their baby's potty-training triumphs ("He's a big boy now!"), young girls posting a millionth "duck face" selfie, people instagraming their every meal, a newly-enamored couple capturing every smooch, every PDA to make it truly public...I am yet to see a pee stick, but I'm sure it's not unheard of.
So if you don't feel like holding back on your big news because you share everything else that's going on in your life, by all means feel free to do so.
It's Your Choice
At the end of the day, it's a personal choice.
For me, having people know earlier than I wanted added a distinct level of stress to my pregnancy, the one that wasn't there before. It gave me something akin to performance anxiety. I dreaded something going wrong more than before and I wished that I could just go to sleep and wake up in my second trimester. I also felt isolated because I felt like everyone knew, but I wasn't ready to talk about my pregnancy yet, so I avoided social gatherings.
If it was up to me, as it should have been, I would have waited until the end of the first trimester. It's a protective thing - I want to shield my baby not only from physical harm but also from prying eyes, indelicate questions, possible jealousy and other dark energies that people might discharge unintentionally.
But the current trend seems to be to share immediately, and if something goes wrong, to be open about that, too. It's seen as a point of empowerment for a woman, and also reflects the considerable difficulty of keeping pregnancy a secret - there are so many tells! So maybe the best way to prevent your pregnancy news leakage is to get ahead of the game and announce it as soon as you find out...Something to consider for the second pregnancy.
September 2016 update: the author is 38 weeks pregnant, and expecting a baby girl any day now. She's at peace with how her pregnancy news got out, and just hopes for a safe and peaceful delivery, and a healthy baby,
© 2016 Lana Adler