This week, a pair of popular YouTube vloggers announced their pregnancy in a video that went viral. In it, the husband surreptitiously tested his wife’s urine and told her she was pregnant. Days later, the couple sadly had to announce they had experienced a miscarriage.
Cue leagues of internet trolls engaging in ill-willed schadenfreude (AKA, pleasure derived from other people’s pain). “That’s what you get for announcing a pregnancy too soon,” was the general consensus on message boards and news site comments.
To them I say, screw you. Every pregnant woman gets to decide who she tells, and when. And if the pregnancy ends, that woman should not be punished for sharing too early, nor is she impinging upon the feelings of the world by having to reveal a loss.
Nearly seven years ago, I found myself happily pregnant while working at a grocery store. I needed to tell my managers the news fairly early so I could be shifted to lighter duties. When I stopped slinging boxes and hoisting milk crates over my head, word got out quickly that I was in a family way.
Since my coworkers knew, it seemed only right to share the news with my friends and family. Despite the fact the pee on the stick was barely dry, I was an out and proud pregnant lady.
I imagine you can see where this is going.
On a foggy September morning I headed to the midwife for a routine check-up. She furrowed her brow as the doppler failed to pick up the fluttering heartbeat of my small passenger. She moved to the ultrasound and discovered that the pregnancy had ended several weeks previously. There would be no June baby for me. All the hopes and expectations I had instilled in the small bundle of cells in my womb were for nought. I was no longer pregnant.
So began the process of “untelling.” I had to tell my parents and in-laws, friends, and near-strangers that my pregnancy was no more. It was sad; these weren’t the most pleasant conversations I’ve had in my life. But I don’t regret the decision a bit.
For every person who looked aghast or said something thoughtless, another person shared their story of loss. In miscarrying, I felt closer to the women in my life than I expected. I’d become part of a sisterhood of loss. Not a club anyone wants to join, but a loving place to land nevertheless.
It’s understandable when women don’t want to announce an early pregnancy or share the unfortunate news of a miscarriage. Many people are private, or process loss in different ways.
But we need to allow women to announce pregnancy in their own time. Sometime that means being uncomfortable when someone then has to explain something has gone astray. Other times, happily, it means sharing joy with them for an even longer period.
What’s essential to remember is that our feelings are completely irrelevant when it comes to another woman’s pregnancy. Even if someone chooses an action we wouldn’t, or has to explain negative news, it’s ultimately only her decision. As an outsider, our only job is to show love and compassion, no matter what.