It’s been almost 10 years since my last miscarriage. Since then, countless friends and family members have gotten pregnant and had babies. Since then, I, too, have given birth to a healthy baby. But that successful pregnancy–that healthy baby–does not take away the trauma I experienced with my last pregnancy loss. And I finally realize I’m doing very little good by keeping silent.
Now I have to ask you to move your metaphorical feet because I’m afraid I’m going to step on some toes. What I have to say may come as a shock to some of you, so much so that I think it may hurt. I know how you feel. I’m familiar with that feeling of being punched in the stomach and having the wind knocked out of you.
Because that’s how I feel when you tell me you’re pregnant.
I don’t speak for everyone who has experienced pregnancy loss and/or infertility. And, as confusing as this is, I’m not even really addressing this to everyone. You, who waited 20 years to find your beloved and walk down the aisle. You, who have carried countless babies to their bris, not yet to have planned one of your own. You who have seen six “plus” signs, six double lines, six positive pregnancy tests in a row and have yet to give birth to a healthy baby: I see you. And chances are, I will be happy for you when you share your exciting pregnancy news with me. I certainly will want to be happy for you; I want to be happy for all of you and, thankfully, sometimes I can be.
But so often, too often, when women tell me they’re expecting, I begin to feel sick. First I feel my stomach tighten. Then my fingertips–sometimes also my lips–begin to tingle. I experience shortness of breath. I feel nauseated. I begin to panic seemingly inexplicably. But it is explicable.
Because almost ten years ago I experienced a traumatic pregnancy loss. And sometimes, when I hear you’re pregnant, I’m plunged back into the darkness and suffocation of that time.
Here comes my ask: When you are pregnant and the time has come for you to finally share your exciting news with me, please, please give me time. Give me space. I’ve heard requests to text (Oh my gosh, please don’t do that. Texting me is for emergencies!) or email those of us who have suffered a loss or are experiencing infertility to tell us you’re expecting.
Personally, I really would like you to be able to give me your news in person or over the phone if that’s what you’re doing with everyone else. It’s just that I have to be able to trust you. If I’m important enough for you to tell me you are expecting a baby, then please let me be important enough to you to hold space for me when you share your news. Don’t expect me to be sad—you don’t have to act sorry for me. I want to be happy for you. I love babies! I just need you to know that your news may come as a shock to me. It may trigger PTSD. I’m hoping by sharing this with you, I will protect myself a little bit. And maybe be a voice for those who have yet to speak up. Because I never felt alone or shamed in the face of my losses. But I have felt very alone and shamed in the face of the resulting trauma.
So, please share your news with me. Just know that you may not get the immediate reaction you were hoping for. I’m working on that. I don’t know if I will ever want to hear from women who haven’t yet entered their second trimester. (Ingrained social mores are strong!) And I sadly might never want to see your ultrasound photos. But eventually, I will want to know. I just want you to know this about me, as well.