At 37 years old, it is not surprising that I have heard the phrase ‘I’m pregnant!’ uttered hundreds of times by many people I love and care about.
While I will always be happy for a friend with good news, I’m not the one to come to for screaming bouts of elation. I need time and space to digest the news and I’ll tell you why.
I have one son of five and after having a normal pregnancy with him; I suffered three miscarriages in a row.
Where as pregnancy is a wonderful life event to share with the world, miscarriage is a sad and lonely affair that no one really wants to talk about. At worst miscarriage is messy, painful and heartbreaking. At best it is inconvenient and frustrating.
So when a friend or associate joyfully announces a pregnancy at seven weeks gestation, I hope I can be forgiven for not being immediately excited. For me and for many other women, pregnancy doesn’t always result in a beautifully healthy baby swaddled in muslin, it results in blood, tears and lost hopes for a little one that will never come to be.
I understand that it is hard to wait for those first 12 weeks to pass before announcing a pregnancy, believe me I know because I have been there.
The morning sickness, the swelling boobs, the avoidance of alcohol – all massive indicators that you are indeed up the duff and sometimes it is just easier to tell the truth and head off the nosey inquisitors.
When I was pregnant with my son I was naïve and also extremely excited and couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen.
Luckily for my husband and I, my pregnancy with Toby went well and he was born healthy and noisy in September 2010. When I became pregnant for the second time a couple of years later, it didn’t seem necessary to wait or hide. While I didn’t (thankfully) announce it on Facebook, I was chatting about it to friends, the hairdresser and the babysitter.
When I had the scan at 12 weeks and I was told that the foetus had no heartbeat I was shocked, upset and embarrassed. I had to retract my happy news and simply move on. It was a case of ‘better luck next time!’ except that it wasn’t lucky then or the time after that. Blood tests and scans proved that I should be able to carry a pregnancy to full term but that sometimes miscarriage happens for all manner of unknown reasons.
I cried and raged and wailed ‘why me?’ but then as time passed and I witnessed friends suffer their own crappy news, I thought well, why not me?
I spoke with friends and family honestly about my experiences, I wrote about how I felt and I also saw a counsellor. All of this helped me cope with my bad luck and handle the good news of others simultaneously.
This doesn’t mean I don’t still feel emotional or jealous or sad. I am human and because pregnancy for me is such a complex and emotional thing, sometimes I just have to be a good actor and put on a happy face because I know the situation requires me too. I might just need a little private cry but I have discovered that this is okay too.
Whether or not I have another pregnancy announcement of my own to make, I have learnt a few good lessons along the way.
The first is that having one child is actually kind of cool. I love him and I am now an advocate for the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes for many reasons, and whether a family is big or small, there are benefits and downsides to both.
This week, as part of Never Forgotten: Mamamia's Pregnancy Loss Awareness Week we're remembering the babies we've lost. Post continues below.
The second is that I feel privileged to be the go-to woman for my wider circle of friends and associates when they suffer a miscarriage or fertility issues. I appreciate this very personal role and I’m grateful to be able to offer advice or just empathy and a big hug.
The third and final lesson is that if I ever do have a successful pregnancy to announce to the world, there are definitely things I would and wouldn’t do.
There would be no ‘surprise I’m preggers!’ scan photos on Facebook or obsessive bump update pictures. I would tell the people that need to know with sensitivity and without fanfare and most likely one on one. I wouldn’t wait 12 weeks to tell my closest family and friends; after all I would need those people to support me if something went wrong.
But whether or not that time comes, I will continue to remind myself to be grateful for what I have and that despite sometimes feeling like a fertility failure, I will be congratulating the many pregnancy announcements that are still yet to come, however they are delivered.
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