why do we keep our pregnancies a secret?

For a hopeful mom, there’s nothing quite like the moment you get that positive pregnancy test.

Me? I read about 100 articles online during the dreaded “two-week wait,” searching for one that would tell me the earliest possible time I could take the test without being a complete lunatic.

I even remember the date. November 1, 2013. I woke up in the dark so I could pee on that stick first thing in the morning before I left for work (okay, I was a commuting teacher so I actually always woke up in the dark…but this time felt different). I left Pat in the…”all-purpose room” that was our studio and with shaking hands and bated breath I did my duty. I then tried, unsuccessfully, to distract myself for the longest two minutes of my life. Uncertainty stained my thoughts, while remembering how devastated I had been the previous month when I had thought I was pregnant and wasn’t, and wondering how many months my impatient self could wait.

Finally, about 80 years later, I glanced at the test, and BAM, there it was. “Positive.”

My heart jumped. I did a double take. I opened the door. With disbelief coupled with the feeling that I had known all along, I told my husband. We hugged and were unbearably giddy and couldn’t wait to tell the world.

But we couldn’t. Because as everyone knows, you don’t tell anyone about your pregnancies for 12 weeks. Just in case.

But lately, I’ve been thinking. In case of what, exactly?

In case you lose the baby and people find out you’re in pain? In case it will be awkward when they ask you how you’re feeling and you’ll have to tell them what happened? Why is it that even though we know that we ALL experience pain and heartache, that we convince ourselves ours is somehow shameful or embarrassing?

We all know the statistics. Approximately one in four to five pregnancies will end in miscarriage. I don’t mention these numbers to trivialize it, but to point out how common it is. How many have experienced this loss. And yet so many who have gone through it feel that they have to shoulder the burden alone. That they are somehow unqualified to grieve over a child who had yet to take its first breath.

This could not be more wrong.

Bee Rowlatt says it beautifully when she writes,

“Something has died, but it had yet to live. You miss it. It’s a strange loss because how can you mourn something that never made it into existence? The plans, daydreams and feelings of love come to nothing.”

While I have known several people who have, I have not experienced a miscarriage myself, and I won’t pretend to truly understand the heartbreak it causes and how difficult it would be to relive it to others. I have however, heard doctors tell me that a baby I had been growing for 17 weeks had a one in four chance of inheriting a devastating, if not fatal, genetic disease. While we waited over a month for the results of whether my dreams for the child I felt growing and kicking inside me would ever come to pass, I kept my secret from many people when what I really needed was their support. I respect both positions, and I understand that there are complicated reasons for keeping pregnancy a secret, particularly if you have experienced a miscarriage before. But I believe that this is a decision that should be made with thoughtful reasoning attached. “Just in case something happens” is at best a weak defense.

If something happens, we may not need the 798 people we “know” on Facebook. But we need those close to us. We need them to rally alongside us. To share with us that they have gone through it too and that we aren’t the only ones. To let us cry on their shoulders and bring us a hot cup of tea. To give us a break when we’re having a particularly rough time with it all.

We shouldn’t have to do it alone.

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