This first trimester has hit me hard. Really hard. I am exhausted all of the time and the (very short) list of foods that don’t make me sick changes every 24 hours. When you pair that with an upper respiratory infection in an asthmatic body, you end up with a very miserable Rachel on your hands. I was barely able to leave the bed for almost a week, which at least meant a lot of cuddles with the pups. Andrew has been an absolute saint this entire time. Whether it is eating his especially aromatic dinner downstairs away from me, making a grocery store trip the day after the Atlanta Snowpocalypse, or running the bath at 3am because I can’t sleep, he’s all too willing to do whatever it takes to make me feel the slightest bit better. He says that since it is my responsibility to carry our baby, his responsibility is to care for me. God bless that guy, for real. We have our 8 week appointment in a couple of days and we are both SO excited.
Since announcing the pregnancy two and a half weeks ago, I’ve been asked many times why we made it public as early as five weeks. Those are the words they say but those aren’t the words they mean. I am being asked about the possibility of miscarriage, but much like a jinx no one wants to say the word. If you don’t mind, I’m going to say the word. As the great Hermione Granger/J.K. Rowling once said, “Fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.”
Am I afraid of the possibility of miscarrying our child? Of course I am. Do I think waiting to tell my world what’s going on until the magical 12 week period will decide whether or not I have a miscarriage? No. The fact is there is no safe period when it comes to pregnancy. Or parenthood for that matter. There is no time when you can safely put away your worries because you’ve crossed into an anti-risk barrier. The chance of losing your baby becomes smaller as you pass into each week of pregnancy, but it never goes away. I could miscarry tomorrow. I could miscarry two weeks from now. I could have a healthy pregnancy that ends in a stillbirth. My baby could be rushed off to NICU and not survive the night. We could bring home our child and have them for three weeks before they leave this earth. Or maybe nothing goes wrong during the pregnancy or birth and I get to say goodbye to my children at the end of my life instead of theirs.
All of these things have happened to mothers and it had nothing to do with when they announced their pregnancies. And furthermore, there was nothing they could do to prepare for that horrifying moment.
The why’s and the how’s that go into deciding when to spread the word are different for every parent. And what works for me might not work for somebody else (this applies to every single parenting decision ever, by the way). For me, it came down to wanting to celebrate our baby’s life, no matter how long or short of a life God has in store for them. This little one has a presence on this earth right now, not just at 12 weeks, and certainly not just after they are born. They exist right now. They are alive right now. And that is a wonderful and scary and exciting thing that I wanted to be known and cherished.
Some people are fairly private and would want to face a miscarriage in the intimacy of their own home rather than out in the world. In my journey of trying to live my life more wholeheartedly rather than dull the extremes of happy and sad for a more “manageable” lukewarm medium, I knew I did not want to experience that pain inside of my heart only. This baby is already so loved by so many and I knew I would need their grief alongside my own. I also hope that I am able to take the challenges presented to me and use my experience to speak out for others, whatever those experiences may be. I think mothers are expected to keep quiet about miscarriage, although I’m not entirely certain why. Is it an uncomfortable inconvenience to know about another’s pain? Is it seen as a failure on the mother’s part? Either way, I decided I did not want to keep quiet. And I’m also not going to spend the days I have with our baby worrying more than I need to.
Whether it is before or after their birth, if we lose our baby it will be the hardest and worst moment of my life thus far. But, it will not be a secret. And I will not be alone.