I've been thinking about this post a lot. At this point you can't miss my pregnancy if you see me in person, but there were days where people asked me about it when it was too soon to tell, and that made me, with my recent history of loss, really uncomfortable.
First of all, being pregnant after a loss is incredibly hard. You don't have the innocence that everything will go okay. You are up many nights, trying not to google every single symptom you have. You are constantly on alert. The triggers are many, because the symptoms of preterm labor can be so subtle. And it's not like anything else. It's not like worrying you'll miss your plane, or that you won't get promoted at work. It's like waiting to see if your loved one will come home from the hospital alive, but instead of waiting for the phone, you're waiting for a kick, a flutter, a sign from deep inside yourself.
And there's the doubt. Maybe it was my fault? Maybe it was something I did, even if I didn't know it. You can't let the doubt in at all, or it's constant, never-ending tension and tears.
You are terrified, all the time. Did you eat lunchmeat? Did you lift something too heavy? Is that just the back/pelvic/pubic pain of normal pregnancy, or is it impending preterm labor? Will your cerclage hold? Will the baby be okay after that car accident? Can you make it full-term?
It gets easier as the weeks go by and you get closer and closer to your due date, but it never really goes away. The kicks, hiccups, somersaults, punches -- they are bliss. Everything else feels like climbing both in and out and through the abyss, day after day, because it's just you in there, really. No one else can totally understand the minute-by-minute experience of being in your body.
Reminder: a woman's very personal news about her very personal body is hers to share when she feels like it. Even saying anything about it at all has been a mental and emotional effort for me. I felt like at any moment I could jinx it. Also, I took pictures and posted them to social media during my first pregnancy and thanks to Facebook's shitty memories feature, they're now coming back up a year later, another visceral reminder of the baby I lost.
Please don't be hurt that you didn't know I was pregnant sooner. The news got out in a slow ripple, which felt appropriate and safe for me. Please don't be sad that I haven't been sharing the documentation of this pregnancy on social media. It's too public for me, and it makes me feel like a spectacle, when the last thing I need is more speculation on my body.
I recognize that as someone who blogs about bodies and body image, this seems a little counterintuitive, but I've always taken the tack that we get to decide what we want to share and when we want to share it. That's how consent works. Just because I may share some of my life on the internet, that should not create the expectation that I will share all of it, especially not something this sacred, precious, and private. No one is entitled to news about the contents of my uterus.
I recognize too, that a lot of this is really about a wonderfully well-intentioned delight for me and my pregnancy, and a desire to share in this journey. Thank you. I do truly appreciate it. And I want everyone to be delighted and feel included in the magic that is a new life.
At the same time, I really wish folks with the tendency to make my pregnancy about them and their feelings would check their privilege. My pregnancy is not about you. Have your feelings (all feelings are valid!), but have them somewhere else please. I've got a high-risk pregnancy to deal with and labor and delivery just around the corner.
I hope, if you care about me and other women with this news, that you can respect the space, care, and intentionality with which we are approaching our pregnancies and our lives. Confronting privilege and social faux pas is really hard. No one likes to feel like they've inadvertently stepped in it, and I feel you there. But I feel like I had to step up and say something for mamas like me who maybe can't tell you how much the scrutiny and comments and Feelings being catapulted in their direction upset and drain them.
So mamas, this is for you: your pregnancy is your business. Protect it. I'm rootin' for you.