Thursday, March 21, 2013
When To Announce You Are Pregnant
Since I can't take a vacation from being pregnant, I at least took one from writing about it. But I am back now!
A week ago I read Amber Dusick's post called "My Reaction to Pregnancy Announcements (Now That I Have Kids)". You may be more familiar with her as the author of "Parenting, Illustrated With Crappy Pictures" blog. I am sure you have seen some of her posts before. She is hilarious and she found an excellent way to share the daily parenting moments in a fun form that people can enjoy and relate to. In the blog post I am referring to, she mentions: "I’ll also be skipping my reaction to when someone announces to the entire world that they peed on a stick ten seconds ago and they are pregnant and what does everyone think of ‘such and such’ for a baby name. All I do is worry about miscarriage. But that is my own personal baggage and it is heavy so I’ll leave it on the curb."
If you have been following my blog, you know that I announced the peeing on a stick business to the entire world before it could even dry. Reading the paragraph above made me think about the changes in my attitude since my first pregnancy.
When I got pregnant with Kai, I did not share the news with anyone but my parents and my sister. I would have preferred to keep it a secret even from them for a certain period of time, but my husband told his parents. I felt that my family would be at an unfair disadvantage if I didn't tell them as well and I already feel like they are at an unfair disadvantage most of the time with me living on the other side of the world. So they were told. I did not tell anybody else until I was in the second trimester. Not even my very best friends. I made a big deal about keeping it quiet. It truly mattered to me. I knew that the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester was high. It always is, it's just not always well known. My sister miscarried her first one. She stopped sharing the news after that experience. We only learned about her other kids when she was around 5 months along.
I also felt like it was nobody's business. There is plenty of time to celebrate together once things are a little bit safer. I have never miscarried myself, but I was on the "Keep Quiet" team before and I completely understand why people choose not to tell. So what happened that made me change my mind? How did I go from "let's not tell anybody for at least 12 weeks" to "let me start blogging about this while we are still only trying to get pregnant?"
What happened was that I went through a miserable pregnancy with Kai and then struggled with motherhood more than I could ever imagine for (at least) the first 3 months of his life. I was shaken to the core. And all along I kept thinking: "I had no idea. I had no fucking clue this could be so hard." I thought I was supposed to love this. I thought even those painful moments of sickness, no sleep, screaming baby, etc, were supposed to be shrug off with the power of motherly love.
I was mad. I was upset that women don't stick together and warn each other, because they'd rather look good on the outside than admit what is going on on the inside. Now - I am not saying the last statement is true, nor am I saying all women struggle. I am just explaining how I felt at the time. Then I decided to write a blog post in which I told the truth about my feelings - When Motherhood Doesn't Come Naturally. Many of you read it. It was picked up by BlogHer and it was read by thousands of women. And they responded. They told me how glad they were to find it. They told me how much I had helped them by speaking up. They shared some very scary stories with me that I'd rather not know about. But that's the whole point - it is useless to put your head in the sand. It doesn't help you and it doesn't help anybody else. It doesn't help your baby.
After my experience with the first pregnancy and with becoming a mother I was terrified to do it again. I knew what I was getting into this time. Yes - just because the first time was rough, it didn't mean it had to be the same again. But if you have followed this blog, you know as far as the pregnancy is concerned, it turned out worse yet. Physically, it was much worse. But emotionally, I feel stronger. And I think a part of it is because thanks to this blog I know I am not alone. I know that people who knew nothing about hyperemesis gravidarum, or the distasteful changes your body goes through, or the challenges of motherhood, now understand just a little bit better. And maybe, hopefully, pay attention a little bit more and don't jump to judgement as quickly as before, saying: "I have been through it and did just fine, so please stop whining."
I know that social media changed many rules of the game. Time has changed many things, too. It was not ladylike to speak before, unless asked, and then it was only advised to talk about weather. A sunny one, of course. Or pleasant, enjoyable rainy one, perhaps. I know people feel very differently about what is appropriate to share with public and what should be kept personal. And I am quite happy to say that I enjoy saying out loud what I think, whether it's controversial or not. I know exactly when I am crossing a (imaginary) border. I always take a moment to decide if I should. I don't want to be pushing any boundaries just for the sake of sensationalism. At the same time, I don't want to keep quiet just because it is polite. I intend to keep pushing.