Putting the Cart (Way) Before the Horse

As pessimistic as I usually am about my chances of getting pregnant, I sometimes find myself thinking about the things I will or will not do when I finally do get pregnant again. I’m not talking about things like cutting out alcohol and caffeine (you’ll have to pry my morning coffee from my cold, dead hands). I’m talking about things I may or may not say or do. Let me explain.

One of the first decisions a couple must make after getting a positive pregnancy test is who to share the news with and when. Many people caution against announcing a pregnancy before 12 weeks, because the chances of miscarriage taper off at that point. The most horrible reason for waiting I’ve heard given is to “not jinx the pregnancy.” What an awful idea, that sharing happy news too early could cause something bad to happen! Good thing jinxes aren’t real.

With our first pregnancy, my husband and I shared our news with close family and friends right away (and by right away, I mean two days after our positive test). We were excited and wanted to celebrate our good news. We had no reason to think anything bad might happen. We had planned to wait until after we heard the heartbeat to tell the rest of our family and friends (to “go public”), but the week before my first prenatal appointment, we were gathered with my extended family to celebrate Easter, so we decided to announce then.

When I miscarried, it was difficult telling everyone. My mom and sisters helped spread the word to the rest of the family. But I never regretted telling them about the pregnancy in the first place. In fact, I’m glad we got the chance to celebrate, if only for a short time. Plus, I didn’t have to hide my grief from them.

I don’t begrudge anyone’s choice when it comes to announcing a pregnancy. You have to do what’s right for you. When the time comes, we will likely do what we did before. I see no point in hiding out until some arbitrary time has passed. The truth is, there’s no “in the clear” when it comes to pregnancy. Something bad could happen at any moment from the first positive test to delivery day.

Then there’s Facebook. Part of “going public” with a pregnancy involves what to say on Facebook and how to say it. We never got far enough with the first pregnancy to plan for a Facebook announcement. I am relieved that we never announced on Facebook, but not because I didn’t want to “untell” everyone. I’m relieved, because I know the pain of seeing pregnancy announcements. It’s a blow to the gut every time. Infertility has taught me to be more sensitive to what others may be going through. If we say anything at all about our next pregnancy on Facebook, it will be far into the pregnancy, framed carefully, and with ample warning to those we know are going through infertility. And it will be only once. I will not be one of those women who constantly posts about her cravings, morning sickness, or growing belly. I won’t prattle on about how hard it is to pick out furniture for the nursery or to choose a name. Nope. I’ll save that for my support group and message boards.

Another thing I won’t do? Rub my baby bump in public. Maybe it’s just the bitter infertile talking, but nothing annoys me more than a pregnant woman who (consciously or unconsciously) rubs her belly while waiting in line at the bank, waiting in the doctors office, picking up her prescription for hemorrhoid cream… whenever. I’m sure it won’t be easy, and I’m sure I’ll violate my own rule once or twice, but I am resolving here and now to never rub my bump in public. Because, sometimes, just seeing a baby bump is enough to cause another woman pain. This is what upsets me the most, even though I’m not pregnant yet. I hate to think that some day I’ll be the one another infertile looks at with anger, sadness, and jealousy. I won’t be able to tell her that I know her pain, that my bump was a struggle, that I lost my first baby. Maybe that wouldn’t even matter to her.

I will continue to support my friends who struggle with infertility. Many of the women in my online support group back off or leave when they get pregnant. Perhaps it’s out of sensitivity for the rest of us, perhaps it’s guilt, perhaps it’s lack of time or energy…. Whatever the reason, here’s what it feels like to those who are left behind: “I’m knocked up, bitches! See-ya-wouldn’t-wanna-be-ya! Phew! Glad I’m not one of you anymore.” That’s unfair, I know. I know they aren’t really thinking that, but that’s how it feels. I don’t want to make anyone feel that way.

I’m definitely going to request an early ultrasound, like around 7 or 8 weeks. I don’t care that there’s a chance it might be too early to see anything. I’m willing to take that chance, because there’s also a chance that we will see a heartbeat. While I know that wouldn’t put us “in the clear” by any means, it would ease my mind greatly.

These are just some of the things I think about. I guess this shows I haven’t given up hope completely, that I can still see myself having a baby. Or, maybe it’s denial of reality. At this point, I’m not interested in figuring out which it is.

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