24 November 2016

Why We Shared

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for what I got to experience over this past year. I got to experience a tremendous amount of love, support, and patience (including from myself!) and for that I am grateful.

It's been my experience that many women, and their partners if they have one, choose not to share the news of their pregnancy until they are at least out of the first trimester. The thinking is that you wait until you are in the "safe zone."

But...there really is no 100% safe zone. People experience losses at all stages of pregnancy, and there is one common thread through it all -- we all need support.

Keeping a pregnancy secret is really, really hard. Especially when you find out right at the start of the holiday season...there are a lot of parties, and a lot of people watching every thing you put into your mouth. I was very tired, as well, so trying to stay up late enough to even go to a party was difficult (my apologies to everyone whose party I flaked on). Even without that, you are excited and scared and need to shout it from the roof tops.

J & I discussed quite a bit whether or not we should tell everyone. We knew our families would be together on Christmas, and, after all, the doctor had told us we could. If we shared early, we figured, the worst that could happen was we'd have to go back and tell people it didn't work out.

So we shared.

And it didn't work out.

We were so glad we shared. I will never forget the smile on my mom's face when we told her. I will never forget her tearing up when my nephew walked out in front of the family with a "Big Brother" shirt on Christmas Eve (yup, my brother & sister-in-law were also pregnant, due two weeks or so before we would have been)...and I will really never forget the whoops and tears, so loud my ears were ringing, when we lifted my nephew's shirt to reveal a sign that said "and big cousin." It's now made even more special because I'd not seen a smile that big on my Uncle B's face in a while; he is no longer of this earth, and I carry that smile with me. I will never forget J's mom needing to hand the phone off because she was so happy, the texts we got from his family, and his little sister being so excited when we called her. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.

But we are mostly glad because when all was said and done, we needed their support. Some people were uncomfortable, some didn't know what to say, but because we'd shared, they were in our corner, they were there to hold us up as we wobbled down this road. And we didn't have to hide or be secretive when we had our bad days. No one questioned when I had to beg out of a party because of a slight emotional breakdown on the way. We could talk about it -- both me with my friends and, equally as important, J with his friends. And many people let us know that they, too, had been through this (but hadn't told anyone).

There is a sense of shame that many of us carry -- especially with women -- when a pregnancy becomes non-viable. Because we don't talk about it, the shame is compounded because we feel abnormal. We need to talk about it, because we are not abnormal, we did nothing wrong, and we are not alone...it is estimated 20-30% of pregnancies become non-viable, that is one out of every three people.

I am not suggesting we introduce ourselves to strangers by leading with, "Hi, I'm Annie, and I have had a non-viable pregnancy." But I am hopeful that we stop hiding. That we stop waiting until another friend experiences the same and then we tell them. And that we stop being uncomfortable when a person talks about their own experience.

It is not an easy thing, but it is not a rare thing. And support can truly make a huge amount of difference.

Ok, let's eat.

No comments: