The First Trimester is the Worst Trimester (and other reasons I’m telling you I’m pregnant)

My left eye won’t stop twitching.

I sleep nine hours a night, take hours long naps, and I’m still exhausted.

I feel like if I grit my teeth really hard, I might not retch, but then again, I might, and I have a splitting headache from all this teeth gritting, or possibly from not drinking enough water because it makes my stomach all wobbly or also possibly from the aforementioned eye twitching.

And I’m growing a baby!

I mean, it’s not a baby yet. It’s a fetus, about the size of an olive, and it had a tail until a few days ago.  The sentence structure up there sort of implies I’m actively doing something here, which I’m not— mostly just the teeth gritting and the deep breathing and the toddler parenting and the prayers of “whoa, thanks for this!” followed by prayers of “are you nuts?!”.

Most people wait until 12 weeks, or even more, to start telling people about a pregnancy.  There are a million and one reasons for doing so, and people who want to wait to talk about it should absolutely be respected for doing so.  But then there are those of us who do like to talk about it earlier than that, and not just out of sheer inability to delay gratification.  (Fun fact: as a kid I was OBSESSED with the Stanford marshmallow experiment [I have literally no idea how I knew this was a thing], and so I would constantly try delay my own gratification, by meting out Halloween candy across months, drinking my Hi-C realllllly slowllllly, or [gag] eating all of the gross Lucky Charms cereal pieces before the vastly superior marshmallow pieces.  I have since changed my ways.)  

It’s no secret that I miscarried with my first pregnancy.  Mike and I found out we were pregnant at the end of February, told everyone we knew in March, honeymooned in April, and found out that I miscarried in May.  It was without symptom, without warning.  We knew it could happen, but that didn’t change the outcome.

With Winnie, I worried for nine months, because that was all I could do.  We still told everyone early on, because our openness borne out of naiveté in the first pregnancy was a blessing— we were surrounded by a support system, and we had been able to inform our loved ones (and even just our well-liked ones!) of our pregnancy with joy in our voices instead of tears in our eyes.

We met with some resistance, for sure.  People would raise an eyebrow when I answered how far along I was with a “six weeks” or “eight weeks”.  Someone told me that while she didn’t consider it so, didn’t I know it was considered rude to tell people before twelve weeks?

But beyond the logistics of I-can’t-stay-awake-or-keep-down-my-lunch, and beyond the building up a supportive nest on which to fall should healthy pregnancies go awry, there are other reasons that we choose to tell people earlier rather than later that we’re expecting.

We tell others because we want to share our joy. By no small miracle, joy is joy is joy is joy is joy.  There’s little better.  And hiding that under a bushel 1) doesn’t work and 2) doesn’t change a darned thing.  I don’t expect everyone to find as much joy in my bringing life into the world as I do, of course, but I’m not going to cloak happiness in secrecy under the auspices of protecting myself or others.

On the other side of that coin— fear is fear is fear, and it’s not ever going away, not out of logic, anyway. The first time I rode the subway without Winnie, I felt the intensity of separation more strongly than I thought possible.  I recalled how many train rides we had taken with her strapped snugly to my chest, and how many (many many) rides before that we had taken together with her nestled inside of me, with all of ME to protect her.  The very act of having a child is, as a friend put it to me, like tying your heart to the outside of your body.  Or like leaving a vital organ at daycare, I guess.  The possibilities are enough to keep anyone awake at night, even if the truly scary bits never happen to most people.  But that trust is an act of joy in and of itself— every moment that your babe grows into her own, above and beyond your input, is like a one-two in the solar plexus, sure, but in the moments you can move around and through the scary stuff, it’s glee.  It’s glee when she walks, when she says your name, when she has a friend.  It’s glee, so much glee, when she learns— and it’s fear every time she inches outside of those carefully set parameters.  Even though it is statistically more likely for a pregnancy to end in the first trimester than it is in the second or third, and certainly more likely than something happening after your child is born— we can’t build a life around that fear.  I can’t even build a few measly weeks around it!

So that’s why I’m here, in this space, telling you that I’m pregnant, and that Mike and I are expecting a babe sometime around Winnie’s second birthday.  Because I want you to share in our delight, if you’d like, and I want you there if we stumble.

PS: Other voices in the same vein:

“I’m Pregnant. So Why Can’t I Tell You?”| Abigail Rasminsky | Medium.com (This one is so, so good.  Read it.)

Why We’ve Never Waited Twelve Weeks to Tell People We’re Pregnant” | Kris Buse | Offbeat Families

+ Duchess of Cambridge, x2

+ Every online pregnancy discussion board, x1,000,000

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