“Don’t tell anyone until 12 weeks.”
So common, right? It’s what many people do. Sometimes “not telling” just means not making the big social media splash or telling your boss. But sometimes it means keeping the big surprise from friends and family too.
There’s something magical about keeping such an exciting secret for a while, just you and your partner. There’s also something that feels kind in it—not wanting to let people down if something goes wrong. Keeping the hurt to yourself if the pregnancy doesn’t stick. Not wanting to burden your friends with your sadness.
The first time I got pregnant, we’d been trying for more than six months. I was only 25 or 26, so I (like so many) just thought it was going to be easy. You spend so much effort not getting pregnant—hearing about all these people getting pregnant from a one night stand. I’d love to know how those people are.
The time trying to get pregnant is the slowest ever. Nothing compares to it. Living your life in two weeks increments. Waiting to try. Waiting to test. Waiting to try. Waiting to test. And the reality is, I’ve had friends who have waited years. Actual YEARS of their life trying for a baby or praying for a baby to adopt.
And yet, at 25, I didn’t know this was a thing. I knew about miscarriage, but I had no idea it was so common. When I got the positive stick, I was already picturing my Christmas baby. December 26th due date.
I bought the grandparents some baby bibs and brought out some baby peas to show them the size of the baby. But I hadn’t been to my 8 week appointment yet.
In the ultrasound room for the first time, Jeff and I stared at that little blob on the screen, mesmerized. I reminded the tech to take some photos for me.
“Are you sure about the date of your last period?” she asked. “The baby is only measuring five and half weeks. There’s no heartbeat yet.”
I didn’t give that conversation a second thought. We were just a bit early for the appointment, I guess. After the ‘fun’ part of our appointment was done and we’d seen the baby on the screen, I sent Jeff on his way so he could get to work, and I said I’d be fine waiting for the doctor on my own since the rest was going to be pretty standard stuff.
Well, obviously it wasn’t. In all of our excitement and naivety, I didn’t connect the dots that something was wrong. I was devastated when the nurse practitioner explained it to me. There was no heartbeat because there’d been no fetal growth. The baby should have been measuring closer to seven or eight weeks, and the doctor told me that if I didn’t miscarry on my own in the next few days, I would need to schedule surgery to remove everything.
I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I was so shocked and didn’t know what to do. I called Jeff and told him, and he met me back at home. I called my mom and she left work and came over. I felt so numb.
Honestly, I don’t think I was really “okay” until I got pregnant again nine months later. After the miscarriage, I was able to get back to my normal life, got on some anti-depressants for the first time, and for the most part, the pain just sat with me. That waiting all over again was the worst. And then not feeling like I could even breathe when I got the positive stick.
I’ve had two people recently go through pregnancy challenges. For one, it was her first pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. Similar to my situation. Now, she waits again.
The other, which feels like the ultimate cruelty, had a stillbirth. At some point after her water broke, the baby fell into distress and did not survive delivery. I could picture a nursery and a baby in my arms, but she had the nursery, had the carseat installed, the baby shower, etc. That was several years ago, and she’s gone on to have three more children, all healthy and perfect.
I was talking to her recently before she delivered her last baby this year, and we’d been home for several COVID months at this point. She told me how nice this pregnancy has been for her since she could hide it more. Even though she had 2 healthy babies, she was never able to enjoy her pregnancies because she knew the risks. She knew that until that baby was breathing in her arms, she couldn’t get excited. So not being with co-workers asking her pregnancy questions was a gift for her. She doesn’t get to enjoy pregnancy or get too excited because she’s been through hell. That changes every experience you have going forward.
Becoming a mother is such a personal choice, and for many women, it’s the ultimate dream. Even for career women. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and dreaming of being a mother and CEO is still a very real thing. The patience and trust and faith in your journey to become a mom is a ruthless one.
Today, I say an extra prayer for every woman.
To the woman working late nights and wondering if her long hours are keeping her body from cycling properly and if her career aspirations are keeping her from her family aspirations.
To the woman who desperately wants a baby but doesn’t want to do it on her own, to the one who is still looking for the right man to earn that privilege.
To the woman who has no problem getting pregnant but lots of problems staying pregnant.
To the woman buying the 100 pack of test strips on Amazon, wondering when she’ll ever see two pink lines.
To the woman who doesn’t want to be a mom and faces criticism from her family every holiday.
To the woman who had an abortion a long time ago and now can’t get pregnant.
To the woman who is angry at women having abortions when she wants one so badly.
To the woman who is putting on a brave smile and watching her sister, best friend, or co-worker go through pregnancy.
And to every other situation that emphasizes just how complex it can feel to be a woman, to be a mom, to want to be a mom. Keep chasing your dreams.