I stink at announcing pregnancies to my husband.
Both times, I have come out of the bathroom, stick in hand, shocked look on my face, and burst into tears. The first time, I cried because we’d been married a grand total of five weeks and now we were already parents. The second time, it was because, just nine months before, I felt the life I’d been carrying slip away from me before my baby even had a name.
Both times, my husband hugged me, assured he was happy to be a daddy, and shepherded me through all of the emotions that come from early motherhood. The second time, though, was littered with the emotional minefields of early motherhood after a loss. And one of the biggest questions on my mind in these formative days has been, When should we tell people?
Now, before the reader decries me as a self-absorbed Millennial whose only thought is how I appear on social media, let me explain: With our last pregnancy, we shouted it from the rooftops at a whopping five weeks. Our dating was off, and we thought we were seven weeks, but however you spin it, we spat it out earlier than the norm. Our logic was that we wanted to give honor to the life growing inside of me as soon as possible. Even though we knew the risk of miscarriage, we wanted to proclaim, through any potential pain, that a beautiful work had begun (Psalm 139:1).
We ended up having to put our money where our mouth was two weeks later when the ultrasound tech awkwardly fumbled with the wand and muttered towards the fuzzy screen more than to us: “There should be a heartbeat by now — but I’m not getting anything.”
We experienced what so many describe as the nightmare of having to un-tell our exciting news.
The Second Time Around
And here we are again. Our baby had a heartbeat, a solid due date, and sprouting into a little baby bump this time. And yet, Facebook remained radio silent on this fact.
We told our family, our friends, and — after morning sickness started to be written all over my face — my coworkers so they wouldn’t think I was subjecting the middle- and high-school students that I teach to a nefarious flu. And yet, Instagram was empty.
My husband took a big step back from social media earlier this summer. He took a hiatus from Twitter and made his Facebook account more exclusive, and has since been wrestling with the line between public proclamations and private life. I made no such promise, but my Twitter profile grew quieter, too, and so did my Facebook, with the onset of a challenging school year.
And yet, still, our baby grows.
The decision about when to announce a pregnancy has become more and more varied. Where custom used to dictate waiting until well into the second trimester, the awareness of miscarriage and the damage of silence has grown. A mere Google search will amass countless articles from mothers who were not ashamed to feel the joy of pregnancy and the grief of miscarriage out loud. And I was one of them.
Although some women felt shame over their early announcements after a miscarriage, I felt glad that we had shared the news of our first baby while it was still happy. Had we waited the allotted twelve, fourteen, sixteen, or twenty weeks that some deem necessary, we would’ve had to make somber tidings, or I would have been suffering in silence.
My first child made me a mom, and I’m so glad I have happy pictures of me holding that very first ultrasound pic with a grin big enough to break my face. But the longer I waited to announce my second pregnancy, the more people assumed that I’d learned my lesson from the first one, and would not be making the same early announcement mistake again. “I know it must be so hard to tell me,” a dear friend told me when I shared the news.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Who Cares What People Think?
I am the oldest of nine black American homeschoolers. I was not raised to care what people think. But I was raised to give honor to life. For me, announcing a pregnancy early is not about the attention or the fanfare or the potential heartache. For me, it’s about telling our future daughters, “Pregnancy is wonderful. If you want to announce it the minute you see a positive sign, that’s fine, because there’s a life in there. And there is no shame in experiencing a loss.”
For me, the more I realized that, even to those closest to me, the lack of an announcement was reading as, “I jumped the gun too soon last time, folks,” I felt moved to announce, yet again. Because although my Christian walk demands that I turn my back on what the world thinks, it also requires that I proclaim the sanctity of a little life growing.
When to Announce
So, when should a pregnancy be announced?
I’ve come up with my own answer to that question, as all mothers do. And I don’t feel that that answer applies to every single person. But I want to make it clear that, for me and whatever little lives are growing inside of me, whether that announcement is a positive pregnancy test, baby’s first ultrasound, mama’s first bump photo, or baby’s big gender reveal — there is no shame in loss. Just as there is no shame in a mother’s love.
I’m pregnant again. We named our first baby Hosea, and we loved that little child dearly. The second one, we just call “jellybean” for now. And as I clear the hump of my first trimester, I’m glad to tell you that, whatever happens next, I am honored to be mama to them both.
I’ve been in Atlanta all week with my husband. We’re here half for ministry (for me), part for work (for him), and part for some quality time with just us two. We left on the heels of hosting my family all the way from Zambia. In fact, seven of my siblings, my mom, and my dad are back in our eighteen hundred square foot home with our sons. I should be laying in a hotel bed binging Parks and Rec with my husband. And I will be soon. But I have something to say about motherhood and mom guilt.
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Legacy about friendship. In it, I tried to be as honest as possible about the struggle of being a transplant in Mississippi’s foreign culture, and my own hang-ups with making new friends. I hit send. Weeks passed. A couple of months. Then the article went live. And I had more than one friend reach out to me and ask me if we were okay. “I thought we were friends!” Undercover Trust Issues I’m not a journaler, and I try not to use my articles as thinly veiled diary entries. However, there…