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Can You Keep a Secret?

Melanie at

Shh! I’m pregnant.

It’s a secret my husband knew—or at least suspected—before I did. We weren’t exactly trying yet, but it turns out that lazily not-trying is sometimes as good as trying (and yes, I’m thankful for our luck). I was tracking my cycle with the help of an app, but after years of the Pill, two kids, lots of breastfeeding, and an IUD that I had removed earlier this year, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from my body. And now I'm due with our third child on January 2, 2013.

Anyway, here we are now, at just 8 weeks into this thing (we’ve known since before I was even 4 weeks along), and I’m going public. Well, public as in here public—not public as in posting on my Facebook wall public, which feels way more public for some reason. I’ve been weighing the decision to start blogging during the first trimester for several weeks now. Some of you out there might think I’m crazy for going public with this pregnancy so early on. And, yes, maybe I am. But I’m writing both for me and for, I hope, others out there, who struggle with the uncertainty of the first few months, with the strangeness of keeping mum about something so big, with the fear of miscarriage…

My first son was born in 2007. We conceived very quickly, had an uneventful pregnancy, a crazy tough first year with him, and then finally, at that one-year mark, I stopped feeling like throwing up when I thought about having another baby. I got pregnant quickly again… and then miscarried at 6 weeks, just a few days before my 30th birthday. I hadn’t told many people I was pregnant—just my parents and a couple of close friends, largely because I was following the guidance most pregnant women get about keeping secrets during the first trimester. And while I was spared more painful phone calls or emails, revealing our sad news just weeks after sharing our delight at a second baby, I also felt really alone in my grief. I don’t claim to have the answers for anyone else, but for me, mourning that loss mostly by myself felt particularly hard. And yes, I knew then and continue to know now that miscarriages happen for a reason, that that baby couldn’t have survived… but I think it was the loss of the promise of that second child that felt more devastating than the physical pain of the miscarriage. Luckily, we got pregnant again the following month and welcomed our second son in 2009.

While it felt terribly sad and terribly lonely at the time, I know now just how not-alone I could have been. Should I mention the miscarriage in conversation with another woman, I’m no longer surprised to learn that she may have miscarried as well. And that makes me sad again—sad for her loss, and sad that there are so many women who had experienced pregnancy loss and felt so alone at the time, for no good reason that I can discern. Yes, sometimes grief needs to be experienced privately. But for so many of us, support—especially from other women—is key to making it through to the other side of that loss. And so I’m putting myself out here to share the nervousness and anxiety of this time, and also to let others know that they’re not alone if they’re feeling the same worries or ultimately experience a loss.

It should go without saying that I’m hopeful that this pregnancy sticks. My husband reminds me that if it doesn’t, we can always try again—and while true, I think that men and women experience these losses differently, especially because women’s bodies are the ones that are doing all the work to keep a pregnancy going or to rid a body of a failed pregnancy. About 5.5 weeks into this pregnancy, I woke up just feeling no longer pregnant. I didn’t feel any nausea, my boobs weren’t as sore… I just felt different. And of course I panicked. I’m with a homebirth midwifery practice this time around (my second son was born at home, my first, in a hospital), and they don’t see patients until 12 weeks. But, my midwife listened to my concerns and understood my anxiety about miscarriage and gave me a referral for a dating/viability scan (done via transvaginal ultrasound). It didn’t help when I started spotting about an hour before my appointment. And when I went in for the procedure, I told the technician that I thought I was miscarrying. She tried and tried to find a heartbeat, but all she could pull up was a black spot and silence. After informing me I have a retroverted uterus (apparently it points toward my back, unlike the majority of uteruses), which makes early ultrasounds particularly challenging, a doctor came in and manually tilted my uterus the other way (actually not as painful as one might think), at which point, the ultrasound tech was able to find a heartbeat. As soon as she left my husband and me alone in the room, I burst into tears.

At this point, I definitely feel better after having seen the heartbeat, but I’ll still admit to feeling anxious. I’m trying to take comfort in all of my symptoms—the (totally manageable) morning sickness, super sore boobs, exhaustion, and pregnancy-induced insomnia and middle-of-the-night hunger.

When did you reveal news of your pregnancy? Have you miscarried before? Do you worry about miscarriage, or are you able to relax and just enjoy being pregnant?