The 12-week pregnant rule. Sort of like the “Wait 30 minutes after eating before swimming” rule. It’s really rarely said aloud but almost everyone thinks it. You may or may not suggest it. You may or may not encourage it. But guaranteed, you always think it. The moment you hear “You’re pregnant” the first thought is “I have to wait until 12 weeks to announce it.” Ok, maybe not your first thought; other thoughts might be “Oh crap!” “Again!?” or “Finally!”. But shortly after, you likely remind your spouse and the few close people around you who knew the moment you tinkled on that pregnancy test – “DO NOT TELL ANYONE FOR ANOTHER 7 WEEKS!”. And, should you be the recipient of such exciting news shared by a friend – don’t you always ask “Are you passed your first trimester, yet?” without hesitation? It’s not anything to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about. As women, we know. We know this unspoken rule. We live it. We breathe it. We hear it. Our doctors suggest it. We suffer through it.
Suffering with silence for 12 weeks with some of the best news you could ever share – seems rather ironic, doesn’t it? Not only is it ironic, it is selfish. It is isolating. It is difficult. It is painful. It is frustrating. And honestly, it is rather barbaric.
I understand that perhaps it was suggested advice for the “just in case” and the “What if’s” a long time ago when perhaps it was shameful or embarrassing to discuss losing a baby. It’s as though it was being suggested so that if something happens you could get through it like nothing happened and wouldn’t need to tell people of your loss. Maybe there’s a slight bit of thoughtfulness behind it. Maybe. But also, maybe not.
Some people might find it easier to keep the news to themselves for the “just in case”; but in a time where women supporting women, talking through trauma, and overcoming hard-times with the support of those around you is so prevalent and encouraged, speaking up and speaking out could be so helpful. It could be cathartic. It could be selfless. It could be the exact thing that someone else needs to hear.
What’s so sad is that losing a baby – for whatever reason – is far more common than people think. And why don’t they know these stats? Because no one talks about it. So many miscarriages go unspoken, un-shared. It’s sad. Truly, truly sad. Having suffered through 2 miscarriages in the last year, I can tell you that without the support of my friends and family- it would have been even more difficult than it already was. This last pregnancy I told friends early on; not everyone, but a handful of my closest. It was major news; baby #4! Wow. Unexpected, unplanned. So very welcomed. Since I had suffered a miscarriage a year prior I definitely was anxious. I was constantly nervous how the pregnancy would turn out – if it turned out. I knew that my anxiety and nervousness would be evident around friends. I also knew that not enjoying a glass of champagne around my friends would speak volumes, too… Regardless the reasons, I shared the news early on. Many people said “Oh, how far along are you?” or “Are you out of your first trimester?” and even “Wow, you’re telling people?”. It really got me thinking. When our reactions to such news should be nothing but excited and supportive, why are they clouded with shame and guilt? Of course everyone was excited for my husband and I and supported me no matter what, but that underlying tone of “Why is she telling people?” was there. Sadly, when I lost the baby and made it public information, so many wonderful women I call friends came forward showing their support by informing me of the losses that they suffered. Losses I knew nothing about. And that, that made me sad. I understand wanting to keep things private, not feeling strong enough to share, or maybe even feeling guilty since as women we have a tendency to blame ourselves for far too much. I, also, understand that as a friend, as a mom, as a woman, I want to support everyone around me. I want to tell them that I know what it feels like. I want to give them advice or make suggestions. More importantly, I want to listen. I want to be there for my friends; my fellow moms and moms-to-be. I know what it’s like to need that and I don’t want anyone else to suffer in silence.
This is me, captured by my 6-year-old (not knowing what was going on), at my doctor’s office finding out the final prognosis after waiting 1 week hoping for the best: At this moment I was not thinking “I wish I hadn’t told so-and-so”. Truthfully, I don’t think I was thinking about anything at all. As thoughts slowly starting coming to my mind I was certainly thankful that I had told the people who I had because after this moment, I would need those people – my people – more than ever.
Really, I want nothing more than for every woman to feel comfortable sharing her exciting news. I want everyone to make that announcement to whomever whenever they feel ready. I want every woman to be able to be supported, feel supported, and give support. I don’t want women to suffer through difficult pregnancies alone. I don’t want women to suffer through a miscarriage alone just because they’re afraid of the guilt they might feel telling the pregnancy news early on. This 12-week rule is the only thing that should be shamed!