Dominique McMullan is due her first child in April 2019. Since week 10 she has been keeping a diary. Here, at week 15, she starts the process of letting people know
It’s been two weeks since we started ‘telling’ people. At family wedding last week, it was the first time that large groups of people knew all at once. It felt scary, but we were relieved not to have to hide anymore.
I am not an anxious person, nor a person who naturally keeps things to myself. When we first found out we were pregnant, joy spread so quickly. We couldn’t contain our happiness. It was what we wanted. It happened faster than we planned, but that only made it more exciting.
After only a few hours, we had a conversation that I had not expected. Who should we tell? I wanted to tell everyone. My kind and gentle husband explained the chances of my remaining pregnant were not huge at this stage and perhaps we should wait a while. I knew this of course, while also not knowing it. And then with a thud I came back down to earth.
Related: ‘I’m pregnant and suffering from pregnancy imposter syndrome’
“You should only tell someone if you would be happy to tell them that you lost the baby”, a friend told me. Lost a baby. Like you left it on the bus.
Over the next few weeks, our minds filled with ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’. Everything could go so wrong. In a blink, joy turned to percentages. It all felt so uncontrollable and huge. By chance I heard a woman far wiser than I speak about the silence that so many women endure at this time. “You should only tell someone if you would be happy to tell them that you lost the baby”, a friend told me. Lost a baby. Like you left it on the bus.
This silence felt unnatural for me, uncomfortable and tinged with some kind of shame.
I ask myself, would it be more difficult if I told people, but if the pregnancy was not in the end viable? For some women I imagine the answer would be yes, but not for all. Some women may indeed find relief in sharing their story, in sharing their grief. This should be a personal choice, but for now, silence remains the societal norm so despite my reservations, for weeks I stayed silent. This silence felt unnatural for me, uncomfortable and tinged with some kind of shame.
No gin in my tonic
Over the coming weeks, a combination of hormones, Google searches and one or two stupid comments brought me to some dark corners of my mind. Please, please let it stick. It is a bitter feeling to be given something so wonderful and then realize that it could be taken away so easily.
I was a glass half empty, pregnant with non-alcoholic hope.
I attend a friend’s wedding in Spain. The percentages were very low, or very high, depending on how you looked at them. I was a glass half empty, pregnant with non-alcoholic hope. I was so happy for my friend. This holiday had been planned for months. The prospect of five days relaxing in sun with my best friends should be a dream scenario, but it turned my stomach. Even worse was the prospect of someone postulating as to why there was no gin in my tonic.
No one could find out. My secret became urgent, I became so worried that I almost didn’t go. This is not something I was expecting from the first three months of pregnancy, because it was not something I saw represented anywhere. I was vulnerable, frightened and isolated. But I am lucky. I remain pregnant and I am reassured that everything is going exactly to plan.
I am past the stage of excessive worry, however this is only my experience. Perhaps we would all benefit from moving towards a place where many, many more experiences are also heard.