By Shannon Haney
Pregnancy just kinda sucks.
At least it always has for me, and I don’t mind saying it. Some women love it and I wish I was one of them, but for me it’s being brutally sick for the first three months, followed by being highly uncomfortable and tired — both mentally and physically — the following six months. And I don’t look anything like magazine-cover-celebrity pregnancy. I do look like a public service ad for obesity. Or diabetic edema. Or the ‘before’ picture for epi-pens. Or maybe goiter.
That’s why I think any additional unnecessary layers of difficulty we lay on pregnancy need to go. (It’s NOT reasonable to have your body back three weeks after giving birth, there’s no IDEAL amount of weight to gain, you WON’T ruin your baby’s IQ and all future chances of health and happiness if you eat pizza instead of broccoli every now and then, etc.) Everybody calm down.
Enter the big ole secret-keeping rouse of the first trimester… Granted, there’s a lot that can go wrong in the first three months of pregnancy. It’s considered a delicate time, most susceptible to miscarriage. Some of the baby’s most key developments can go wrong at this time. And for those reasons, and probably a lot of others, we observe this peculiar and unspoken custom in our culture where the parents go on guard of their news like they’re the gatemen for Fort Knox. And yes, it’s big news, but we act like we’ve been handed the recipe for Coca Cola instead of a blurry black and white ultrasound photo.
Some of the books and well-meaning advisers reason that if, God forbid, you lose the baby and no one knew in the first place, you’ve successfully kept the whole thing a very private matter and you don’t have to deal with the… the… what, exactly? Questions and scrutiny? I suppose that’s the implication, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that that’s the expected response to a miscarriage. Sure, in the depths of a loss a person very well may not want to talk about it, and rightfully so. But to not want anyone to even know about the fact that you had a new member of the family, and then… didn’t? That could be the preference for some people, and if it is, absolutely fine. Totally your call. But to me, that kind of isolation would feel like a second tragedy on top of the first.
It feels like a lot of other things, too. For me it feels like a fear-based approach. And it feels like postponing joy, or tiptoeing towards a blessing with skepticism. And maybe most unsettling, it feels like a decision to walk through any possible loss or pain in secret, without the support of friends and family.
And just like pregnancy itself, it may not feel like that to everyone. Maybe keeping things under wraps is truly the best decision for some families. But I’m not interested in keeping up this whole first trimester silence, or avoiding the early announcement taboo. I’m already too exhausted.
So here it is: I am nine weeks pregnant.
All of you people who are ‘my people’ are now officially in this with me, for better or worse, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to observe a pregnancy custom I will be keeping: eating questionable/nasty stuff from Taco Bell. My pregnancy, my way.