I am 15 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Given the abundance of pregnant bellies I’ve crossed paths with on my walks through Plaza Midwood recently, I know I’m not the only person in Charlotte who is pregnant. And, because women like to chat, I also know I’m not the only first-time pregnant person in Charlotte.
For these reasons, I thought it might be helpful to open up a dialog about exactly what’s been going on during my pregnancy so those who are also pregnant, those may soon be pregnant, or those may be pregnant in the years to come, could know they’re not alone. Perhaps others can learn from my experiences, just as I’m learning from my already-mom friends.
To begin, I figured I’d cover a lesser-discussed topic: “To tell, or not to tell.”
The all-important question of whether or not you, as a pregnant woman (or her partner), will disclose this exciting news to the rest of the world prior to the 12-week appointment.
Most people will probably tell you they did not tell. “Why?” You ask. Because doctors will tell you that if a woman is to lose a pregnancy to miscarriage, she is most likely to do so in these first 12 weeks, known as the first trimester.
As someone who is 30, I am quickly becoming more and more aware of just how prevalent miscarriages are. In fact, I, myself, have had one. I won’t go into the details here, except to say that in the spring of 2014 I had a miscarriage, which my doctors discovered at my 12-week appointment. If you’re keeping track, that means I’ve had the privilege of going through this “to tell or not to tell” debate TWICE in the past year.
So, back to whether or not to tell your wonderful news in the first 12 weeks. Like anything, there are pros and cons. Here are some of mine, based on my own experience and those of close friends.
The Pros of Not Telling:
- Pregnancy is personal.
- From what I’ve learned so far, pregnancy is a deeply personal experience, and being able to keep this experience a secret, even if only for a little while, can be amazing. As you and your partner begin making plans and dealing with the struggles of the first trimester (the nausea, the tears, the fears, and the questions), it can be important to do so as a team without the influences of the outside world.
- Pregnancy does not always go according to plan.
- Let’s be real: miscarriages can be heartbreaking and tragic. For many, it may be easiest to deal with this loss just you and your partner, and, if you so choose, to keep it to yourselves.
The Cons of Not Telling:
- Being social isn’t easy. 12 weeks is a long time to keep a secret as big as pregnancy.
- Weekend afternoons with friends at local hotspots like Kennedy’s aren’t nearly as relaxing when you have to plan ahead how to hide your pregnancy. One of my pregnancy-savvy friends did so by arriving 30 minutes early, ordering a virgin Bloody Mary from the bar, and then pretending it was a real one. Genius. (Ordering at the bar, by the way, prevents the awkwardness that was a more recent Saturday when a friend attempted to secretly order a virgin Bloody Mary only to have her cover blown when our server left early and the new one blurted out, “Does anyone know who ordered the virgin Bloody?” Yikes.)
- Another option is, of course, non-alcoholic beer. At a 30th birthday party at Carpe Diem in March, I arrived early, told our oh-so-kind server my secret, and requested that she bring me a non-alcoholic beer STAT. She was amazing, and it worked like a charm. (Caution: if you go this route, I will warn you that while your secret may be safe, non-alcoholic beer is no Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale; it’s just not.)
- Ordering water is, of course, one more option. At times I went this route, and just to be safe made up excuses for why I wasn’t in the mood to booze that day. (FYI, if you do this, be warned that some of your closest friends will know your secret IMMEDIATELY. However, if they’re sweet they’ll play along until you’re ready to tell.)
- Finally, you can choose to spend 8 weeks or so hibernating, catching up on the latest Netflix series, and reading any issues of Axios Charlotte you missed (the shame!). No one will fault you, but you may get bored.
- Being nauseous 24/7 (a.k.a. “morning sickness”) is worse when lived alone. As a teacher, I spent many moments alone in the teacher workroom, debating whether or not I should: a) go back and teach, or b) just quit while I was ahead, fall asleep on the couch nearby, and send for reinforcements. These were very bad days.
The Pros of Telling:
- Good news is better when shared. If you have solid circle of secret-keeping family and friends, telling a few people, or heck, everyone you know, may allow you to relish this exciting time while also helping you survive the physical struggles as well.
- Per my note above, if your co-workers, (or in my case students) might be suspicious or angry at your suddenly spending an exorbitant amount of time in the bathroom or with your head on your desk, having a few people in “in the know” may help you get by. Commiserate with your already-mom friends about your nausea and get advice on how to curb it. It’s a win-win.
- Support systems are good. In the case of pregnancy, they can be particularly comforting should you receive bad news.
- When I learned I had miscarried last year, I was “fortunate” (if that’s even close to the right word) to have others in my circle to who had also been through this, help me through it. Their advice, (i.e., some people won’t know what to say to you or how to talk about this, and so they may say nothing), was more helpful than I could’ve imagined, and the kind words, notes, and flowers from everyone else who knew made the difficult days easier.
- Socializing can be fun.
- When I found out I was expecting in early February, I had recently been invited to the opening of RockSalt in Myers Park. If you have ever been pregnant, or know someone who has, you know that raw oysters and alcohol are not recommended during pregnancy. Rather than go alone to this event, or miss out entirely, I made the conscious decision to tell those friends who would be joining me the news. It made sense for me at the time, and we had a blast.
- Contrary to popular belief, there are a few fun places in town where you and your friends can enjoy some time together. Lenny Boy Brewery offers beer drinkers and array of solid, local brews to choose from and, bonus, you can enjoy a delicious Kombucha*. The change from good ol’ H2O will be a treat, and the health benefits may surprise you!
*Before drinking Kombucha, be sure to do your research. While most people agree it is safe to drink during pregnancy, there are risks to consider.
The Cons of Telling:
- Good news travels fast. If your friends are super gossipy, this will likely not go as you hoped…
- Pretty self-explanatory here, but depending on how many people you’re comfortable telling, choose those you tell wisely.
- Being the bearer of bad news sucks. If the bad things happen, you will have to deliver bad news.
- A year ago, with a handful of family members and co-workers aware that my husband and I were headed to our 12-week appointment, the realization that we’d have to let them know our bad news in many ways made it harder. As kind and compassionate as they were, (and believe me, they were), I cringed at the idea of having to ruin their day.
- “Too many cooks in the kitchen…” Telling too many people about your pregnancy can lead to an abundance of “advice” from the community at large. This can quickly become overwhelming.
- At the Carpe Diem dinner mentioned above, a good friend who was well into her 2nd trimester (but who didn’t know yet that I was expecting) mentioned she was having trouble adjusting to sleeping on her left side. I panicked. Huh? What? I’m supposed to sleep on my left side? But I haven’t gotten to that page in any of the dozen or so pregnancy books I’ve been reading! Over the next 30 minutes, and week, I was a nervous wreck. Had I done some kind of terrible damage to my unborn child? When I asked my doctor, she assured me all was well and that until I was around 28 weeks I really had nothing to worry about. Lesson? Do your research, and don’t let your friends overwhelm you.
The truth of the matter is that pregnancy isn’t easy, but you don’t have to endure it alone. The community of women who have been through it, are going through it now, or will go through it right here in Charlotte is ever-growing, and for the most part supportive. Weigh the options of the decisions you make, and choose according to what feels right.