Keeping Mum

So I’m now just under 11 weeks pregnant, and finally getting round to telling my nearest and dearest.

In some respects, I completely understand why you would want to keep your pregnancy a secret in the beginning. A lot can go wrong, and having watched a close friend go through the loss of her baby following a diagnosis of a serious chromosomal disorder, we have every right to be concerned about how the little creature in our tummies is developing. However, speaking to my closest friends and family about my current situation has lifted a massive weight off my mind, and no matter what happens over the next few weeks and months, I know I have the full support of those I have around me.

When I found out I was pregnant, it was something of a shock. It’s not like we hadn’t planned it. The OH even had a spreadsheet (!), detailing the optimum times to try both financially and situationally, something which can’t hurt in the uncertain world of the military wife. But it literally took one go. One go. I did feel a little sorry for my OH, who was probably expecting months of guaranteed sex on tap, now replaced with a somewhat bloated and grumpy wife who can no longer even be placated by wine. In any case, the positive reading was unexpected. We had a bottle of Moët in the fridge ready to celebrate the completion on our first house which could no longer be shared. And I’m not entirely sure I initially took the news well. Sat in the pub, enjoying the first of many lime and sodas, we discussed our next steps, and how to broach the subject with our families over Christmas, which inevitably had to happen considering I am normally a wine guzzling Brie addict. My thoughts went as follows:

  • What if it’s not ok?
  • Will it stay put? (I come from a family with a long history of reproductive misery)
  • What if I’m a bad mum? I don’t even like children – why have I decided to make my own?
  • How can I possibly tell my parents?

This last one might sound a bit odd. I’m sure lots of women are super close to their mum and dad and share everything with them. I chat to my parents every day, but discussing our parenting plans was never on the agenda. From a young age I’d expressed a desire to be a ‘career girl’ and had never shown more than a passing interest in children, even my niece, who I love but am actually terrified of. Mum and Dad fully expected to write off their grandparenting with the one child my sister created. What was my overwhelming feeling when planning how to tell my mum and dad? That they’d be disappointed. That’s right. That their 27 year old, married daughter, with a wonderful, dependable OH and financially stable home life, had done something shameful and irreversibly stupid. How could I possibly tell them?

My OH, as always, was extremely patient and understanding about my little wibble (I had to leave the pub because I started crying. Really.) And in the past few weeks, he’s shared in some of the anxiety and embarrassment I’ve felt about being ever so slightly pregnant. The chatty woman who put our pregnancy test through the till at Waitrose, where we also bought avocados and free range eggs, who immediately stopped talking to us. The feeling of fradulently visiting Mamas and Papas, casually sizing up the cost of prams and wondering whether mortgages extend to first babies, when I’m not really showing yet. Booking a blood test over the phone with the hospital, and explaining that your midwife asked you to contact them, because uttering the words ‘I’m pregnant’ seems like too big an admission, and it’s early days, so I’m not really pregnant, just a little bit.

It wasn’t until I started telling people that these feelings alleviated a little. I started with a couple of work colleagues. Some of them knew about ‘the plan’, and I needed them on side for the big cover up at my upcoming work Christmas party. Then I accidentally told a couple more. And then I told my boss. I gathered if he was buying the drinks, I couldn’t legitimately spend the night pouring every glass of prosecco away or surreptitiously passing it to one of the ‘chosen few’. I would also need his support in the next few weeks and coming months in case the going got tough. And he was really understanding, if a little taken aback (I think he thought I had his back for life. Sorry boss). At the Christmas party, I was so worried about my remaining team members noticing my soberness that I told the whole lot, at the socially unacceptable stage of six and a half weeks. And I instantly felt SO MUCH BETTER. The anxiety of committing the big cover up instantly lifted, and I felt able to relax. God forbid that anything terrible should happen in the coming weeks or months, but if it does, I now know that I have their full support, and, as importantly, their complete understanding.

That just left the parents. Having had a few practice goes at telling people at work, it came a lot easier than I was expecting. The response was gobsmacked silence, followed by ‘we thought you were going to tell us you were getting another cat!’. But they were not, for one moment, disappointed. After a day or two to digest the news, they were super excited. The fear was all in my head. I will always be their little girl, but they’ve come to accept I’m a grown up, with a family of my own. And so now I find myself sending them photos of the ‘Hipster Baby Names’ book which arrived from Amazon yesterday, and joking together about the possibility of calling my first child ‘Agrippina’ (Mum’s suggestion. Apparently a long lost German aunt and a suitably obscure baby name). I’m starting to relax a little. The more people that know, the less I feel like a fraud, and the more pregnant I feel. The more pregnant I feel, the more accepting I am of my upcoming change in circumstances. Which can only be a good thing, right?

So the moral of the story is this, folks. Do whatever the hell makes you feel comfortable. And if keeping schtum is the answer for you, good on you. Personally, if I’d waited the usual 12 weeks to tell anyone, I’d have spent the last six weeks having an internal meltdown. There is no shame in sharing early. Because if your friend was suffering in relative silence, as mine is following her devastating diagnosis this week, you’d want them to know that you care, you’re there for them, and that this pregnancy happened. There was a baby, and it lived. Whatever happens over the next few months, I know that my nearest and dearest will know this happened to me.

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