Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You Never Know.

My path to parenthood was long, at times heartbreaking and one of my biggest life lessons. The husband and I blithely announced that for my thirtieth birthday he was going to 'knock me up' (I didn't say the path was tasteful.) I didn't announce this quietly and hopefully to my closest friends - I boldly asserted it at a large gathering. I had no reason to think that discretion was needed. Women in my family had been pushing out babies for generations - usually in high numbers.

When I still wasn't pregnant by July we were surprised but not concerned. We were finally greeted with the double blue lines in early October. My cultural tradition is to say nothing until 12 weeks and I wanted to stick to it but it was incredibly hard. We were just so excited. I wanted to yell from mountain tops. I wanted it on a t-shirt. I wanted to start painting the baby's room and shopping for teeny tiny things. I didn't. I chewed my tongue.

I disguised my nausea and pretended to drink wine at social gatherings. I stayed away from the mall and tried to talk about anything else but babies. At 10 weeks we had a scan and saw the magical flutter of the tiny butterfly heart. Statistically, miscarriage after seeing a heartbeat is low so although we were shy of the magical 12 weeks - we celebrated and made plans to announce our big news. Christmas was a few weeks away and we decided to roll out our coming baby as a present.
On Christmas morning we told the Grandparents (all in another country) and they were delighted. We had been married ten years by this point and they had been waiting. For The Husbands parents this was to be their first grandchild. It was big news.
After the phone calls I couldn't help nut feel sad. It just wasn't the same to announce by phone. We couldn't show off our little grainy, black and white bean scan picture. I wanted hugs and to sit with family trying to see something resembling a child on that little 4x4 square of photo paper.

We distracted ourself by getting on with our day. We were invited to friends for Christmas dinner. They too are transplants from our homeland and their extended family would be there. I cheered myself up thinking of the reaction they would give me. Not quite my own family but a family and Scottish, it would be close enough. I felt gleeful excitement as we waited for our chosen moment to announce. The Husband and I giving each other knowing glances.
We had Christmas crackers to pull, in the British tradition, inside is a paper hat, a trinket and a joke or proverb. When it came time to read mine I said,

"Someone at this table is pregnant!"

My grin was bigger than the room. I waited. There was an awkward silence.

"It's me! I'm pregnant!" I was positively yelling by now.

A pause was followed by very low key congratulations. Nobody jumped up to hug me. No toast was raised. No one asked to see my scan picture. I could have cried. The subject was changed and I sat at the table feeling confused and hurt. Why weren't they happy for me?

Three weeks later I miscarried that pregnancy at 15 weeks. I had told everyone. I had to 'untell' everyone - without question the cruelest part of the whole experience. I began to see the wisdom of not telling. When I called our Christmas Day hosts before I could tell - she announced her pregnancy to me.

"I knew at Christmas but we weren't telling because I was only nine weeks."

She explained that we had shocked them when we said what we did at the Christmas table because, she further explained, she had a miscarriage before, so they really didn't want to say anything until they were sure this time and of course they thought I meant them and was blowing their secret. It should have been a relieving explanation but in yet another blow to the gut moment, I then had to tell my news. She felt awful. I felt heartbroken at all the lost possibilities of being pregnant together.

When all the dust had settled and I had time to reflect on the whole experience I was reminded of something I knew but had forgotten. You never know what's in the room. When you say something and it lands in a way you didn't expect. When someone doesn't react the way you hoped. When your joy is unshared or your complaint rebuffed - it's most likely because of something you didn't know. A story untold or even hiding. The truth will eventually emerge and your understanding will come.
Patience and trust - now that's something I should have on a t-shirt.


  1. Oh, how heartbreaking. I can well imagine that that would be awful. But you're right. We never know what other people are feeling...it pays to give them a little credit sometimes.

  2. Lump in throat/tear in eye. I had a very similar first pregnancy experience. Followed by way more untelling than I had originally even told.

    I keep re-learning patience and trust.

    Thank you.

  3. It always astonishes me how many stories we can share as mothers. I too announced my first pregnancy early and with glee and had to "untell" many, many people. And I always get it now when someone announces a pregnancy and there's a woman in the room who looks like she's fighting tears.

    She is. xoxoxo.

  4. I think sometimes we can be a bit blase about the whole pregnancy thing, especially when trying for your first. I was amongst a group of friends and we were all in the similar boat of 'trying'. Suddenly the bright idea was bandied about of having a pregnancy race. Everyone thought this was pretty funny - and ashamedly myself included. There was lots of ribald comments and you can probably imagine what ensued. When we were driving home my husband admonished me and said that we were making light of something that was serious. And what a stupid idea it was etc etc.

    Years later I think about that afternoon after having two children and three pregnancies. My middle pregnancy turned out to be ectopic. And I have now seen firsthand some of my female friends (and their husbands and partners) go through the sorrow of no baby.

    So I fully understand holding back the telling and even with the telling being very diplomatic.


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