CHOOSING TO BE VULNERABLE

WARNING:  There is a graphic picture in the middle of this blog post. Some might find it disturbing….you have been warned!!!!  It is a picture of a pregnancy lost at 10 weeks – baby at 8 weeks gestation.  :WARNING

I have seen a lot of people who, when they get pregnant, choose to wait until after the first trimester to tell anybody that they are pregnant. When they are asked why, a common response is, “Because what if something happens and we lose the baby/pregnancy?”

The working theory for them is that if nobody knows that they are pregnant, then if they lose the baby they don’t have to tell people, deal with the sympathy and such. I guess that makes sense…but let me tell you MY philosophy – and why I feel the way I do.

I made phone calls from the bathroom with the pregnancy stick still in my hand. I had only wiped and pulled my pants up because there is a 3-5 minute wait between the time you pee on it until you see if there are one or two lines…which gave me time to pull up my pants and flush and wash my hands. As soon as I saw that second line, however, I was on the phone!!

To me, pregnancy is a joy…a celebration! I literally enjoy each and every MOMENT of my pregnancy – from finding out I’m pregnant, to sharing the news, to feeling my belly swell, to baby kicks and squirms, to Braxton-hicks contractions that would make me giggle out loud with glee as I got near term, to the first signs that today would be the baby’s birthday, to gathering my team of friends and family as I birth that baby (and my joy with my children continues to grow…heck, I still adore my 15 year old! Go figure!) Yes, when I was in labor with my 5th and final child and found out that I was 9cm dilated and getting ready to birth, I gave a pouty face and said, “Awww…I’m not going to be pregnant anymore!” Yes…I love being pregnant!!

I can hear the murmurs from the back of the room…you who have chosen to wait to tell people until the end of the first trimester enjoy being pregnant, too! You don’t wait because you aren’t happy yet – you wait because there’s a chance you could miscarry.

I have had 3 miscarriages.

Yes…I have had 3 miscarriages, and I still tell immediately. And yes, that means that my friends and family know that I have lost 3 babies. Why did I still share the pregnancy news immediately? Here’s the way I look at it…nothing in life is a guarantee except where you are RIGHT NOW. You never know what the future is going to hold. Yes, it’s true you could miscarry – but the risk of bad things happening don’t end at 12 weeks. You could lose a baby at 20 weeks….34 weeks…at 6 weeks old due to SIDS, 2 years old due to a car accident, 5 years old due to an undiagnosed disease…..CRAP CAN HAPPEN! At every turn of life, crap can happen!

But right now….right here and right now…we have a choice.

When I see two lines I know that right then I have a choice – I can spend the entire pregnancy (or even the first 12 weeks) worried about something bad happening, biting my nails….only to have those bad things NOT happen and know that I wasted a beautiful time in my life being worried for no reason. I can look back and wonder why I wasted my energy like that since worrying didn’t change anything, didn’t protect my baby from harm, didn’t make a difference in the outcome…except to me. I ruined what could have been a celebratory time by worrying about things that didn’t happen.

OR…I could accept that while the future is unpredictable, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW I am pregnant. Right here and right now my baby is healthy and growing in my womb. If a bad thing happens, I have the rest of my life to deal with that bad thing….but even then, I had X number of weeks of joy that this baby gave me and I thank them for that.

MY BABY: born at 10 weeks gestation, but stopped growing at 8 weeks. This is the amniotic sac, if you look really closely inside you can see the baby floating. The red behind the tiny baby and against my hand is the placenta.

So I chose to accept the gift of TODAY that God and this baby gave to me when the test gets two lines on it. I lost a baby at 10 weeks of pregnancy…I held that baby in my hand and I cried as I saw it floating in the amniotic sac before placing it in the wooden box and burying it. As we buried the baby, even in the sorrow that I felt then, I was thinking, “Thank you, Baby….thank you for giving me 10 weeks of blissful joy. Thank you.”

When the next test turned positive, I made the phone calls immediately. I CHOOSE to accept the joy of today BECAUSE I’m aware that tomorrow is uncertain. I have experienced loss – my best friend, a friend’s 5 year old son dying just two weeks after finding out that his cold was actually undiagnosed primary pulmonary hypertension, getting the call that one of the babies that I had helped come into this world 2 years prior was found hanging from the blinds cords in her bedroom, a 23 week gestation baby born too soon, a 32 week baby girl born still from unknown causes, a full term baby boy born still from unknown causes, a curly haired baby girl born at home before we learned that she had Trisomy 13 and lived for only 6 weeks….

All of these losses have touched my heart and made my heart feel like it might burst open into my chest. But all of these losses have taught me another lesson….enjoy today because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. If you are given a gift, you can second guess the motivation behind the gift….or you can just enjoy it to the fullest extend possible. I believe that opening your heart like a child’s and making yourself vulnerable is the only way you can truly experience the depth of happiness these gifts can offer you! Why do children experience such unabashed bliss? Because there is not skepticism…no questioning of what might happen tomorrow. They simply know TODAY and enjoy this wonderful moment….and we as adults often watch them and envy their ability to do so.

For me…it was a choice…and one I’m glad that I made the choice that I did. Are there nagging thoughts? Always…but I just respond by telling those thoughts, “I will deal with you if I need to, but right now I’m busy enjoying this moment…” I have never regretted telling people early – in fact, was grateful for the outpouring of support when I’ve experienced my losses.

It’s hard to allow yourself to remain vulnerable by keeping your heart available like that – but it’s the only way you can be open to all the good that life has to offer as well. Protecting yourself puts up a barrier that dulls everything, including good things, in order to dull the bad if it happens. I’d rather deal with bad things as they come….and get the full unfiltered good filling in my heart for as long as possible.

I am done with pregnancy tests, my family is complete….but I do pray that when my children get their positive pregnancy tests that I get a phone call from a bathroom.

33 Comments

  1. Sheridan wrote:

    Beautiful post, thanks for sharing. I too announce right away, but never really thought through why. I love your reasoning.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  2. Heather B wrote:

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. I tell the people who are interested and/or care right away. This time I ended up losing my baby over the weekend at 8 weeks. I love your reasoning on why to be joyful and appreciate what you’re given since you never know what the future brings. I don’t regret sharing my joy at all. And as an added benefit, my amazing friends and family have been wonderful support as I go through this.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  3. Amy Drorbaugh wrote:

    Thank you for sharing. This is a hard lesson to learn. It was very hard for me to open my heart to being pregnant again after my daughter was stillborn at 18 weeks, but I’m so glad I did. I’m also thankful for the 18 weeks we did have together. Beautiful post.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  4. Diana J. wrote:

    Beautiful post, Stephanie! Exactly my thoughts. With my first, whom we lost in a miscarriage, we decided not to tell anyone for a few months – not because we feared miscarriage, but just because we thought that that was what you were “supposed to do.” So a majority of people found out that we were pregnant when we told them of our loss. With our two subsequent babies, we told everyone immediately – we wanted them to share our joy, and also our grief if anything happened to them. Keeping a miscarriage private doesn’t mean that there’s no grief – it just means that one grieves alone. Wonderful post!!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  5. Tangie wrote:

    You always no just what to say to make me cry. Thank you for sharing and for being so inspiring!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  6. Kathy wrote:

    I had a miscarriage several months ago, and blogged about it here (including pictures). I saw and felt no structure (about 8w gestation), and wonder if it was a blighted ovum, or if the baby just stopped developing so much previously.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  7. Katie B. wrote:

    I lost 4 pregnancies last year. With the first, I didn’t know for sure I was pregnant until I was already miscarrying; the next two were “chemical” losses at 3 1/2 weeks; and the last I never stopped spotting, but loved every minute of that 6 1/2 weeks. (The birth I doula’d the day after I passed what had to have been the embryo was difficult, but a joyous reminder as well.) I am pregnant again, 11 weeks today, and have enjoyed every minute so far. I announced this pregnancy the instant I knew, because I wanted everyone to share my joy, and because I knew I’d need the support if something happened. It’s wonderful to have my communities rallied around me, cheering this baby on, and I know I will be surrounded by love no matter how this pregnancy ends. I do not regret sharing the news so early for an instant!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Permalink
  8. Michelle wrote:

    Thanks for this post. I miscarried in April, and trying again! I have been debating about whether or not to tell right away with the next one. I think I’ve made up my mind now! 🙂

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  9. Cristina wrote:

    Thanks for your honest post and our conversation a couple of weeks ago.
    I do find myself agreeing with this thought more and more. With my first loss, we had only told a few people, less with the second. But with the third I wanted to celebrate every moment. Sadly, it didn’t last but some day I know it will and we’ll get to be parents.
    While not everyone could be supportive, I was glad we shared because some people could support us and show us some love and patience.
    Thanks Stephanie! Hope to meet you in person soon.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Thank you for this perspective. May I offer a third perspective that’s not based on fear or worry either? I love being pregnant, and I open my heart to that baby before I even know I’m pregnant. I’m also a very private person. I think babies and pregnant mamas deserve emotional and spiritual protection, and for me that included keeping my pregnancy to myself and my husband for a while, not finding out the sex until my baby was born, and so forth. It was actually easier to enjoy my pregnancy fully and unquestioningly before in-laws, out-laws, “well-meaning friends,” and colleagues were allowed into that emotional space. I agree that I am refusing to be vulnerable in some ways, but it is easier for me to be vulnerable to the person who matters most–my baby–when others aren’t trying to shoulder their way into that relationship. Keeping a pregnancy quiet can be a way to focus on the baby and leave the interference of bystanders for later, just like waiting to have visitors until after baby’s first hour or after baby and mama have slept. It isn’t about fear; it’s about protecting the bubble. 🙂

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:21 am | Permalink
  11. Great post and a great reminder to live for and enjoy the moment!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  12. Sara wrote:

    I love this post but I tend to agree more with ThoughtfulBirth’s comment, probably just because of my INFJ personality 🙂 I tend to be more of a private person (which is probably why my baby was trying to be born at home even though we planned a hospital birth!), so I think if we get pregnant again I will wait a little while to tell people again. When you tell everyone that you’re pregnant they are always waiting for news, and they look at you differently- I kind of like having a secret, I think. A secret between me, my husband, and my baby. There’s lots of time afterward for people to be happy with me.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  13. rosie_kate wrote:

    I completely agree! I love telling people right away (well, I usually tell my husband first… then savor the secret for, oh, a couple hours, and then get on the phone!) and when I miscarried, I was glad to be able to share that, too. It helped a lot for people to know what I was going through and to hear their stories as well.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  14. Cherise wrote:

    You are Beautiful, Stephanie! Your ability and (even more rare) decision to live and love in the moment is one of the major things -I would guess- that people love most about you.

    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 12:26 am | Permalink
  15. Mandy wrote:

    i love your outlook. i lost my baby girl at birth, and she is still one of the best things that ever happened to me. she is still the baby girl i prayed my whole life for. when i got pregnant this time, i told my closest friends the day i got my positive pregnancy test. if anything should go wrong again, i need their support. but i have faith that everything will go right this time.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  16. Diane wrote:

    Thanks for sharing . My second baby was born into heaven at 10 weeks also. She was still born at home no longer in the sack. She was beautiful. I feel the same way. We told everyone right way when we became pregnant. For me, regardless of age, my baby is my baby and if my baby died when she was 2 I wouldn’t hide the fact. When people ask me how many children I have I say 3, 2 living in 1 in heaven ( I am currently expecting in May).

    We were also able to have our little one cremated and buried. A blessing to have a marker to remember her. Although, the sweetest day is when i will meet her face to face in heaven 🙂

    Blessings to you.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  17. I lost a baby in July. We had not told anyone yet because we were surprising them with cards after we had out first ultrasound. The baby never made it that far. We found out the heart stopped beating when the baby was nine weeks, I should have been 12. It was a horrible situation, instead of getting to tell my mom the joyous news that she was having another grandbaby, I got to sob into her arms and tell her I lost a baby. I got pregnant again about 12 wks later, I told everyone right away, that way even if something happened to this baby, at least we got to celebrate that baby for awhile. Luckily I am now 21 wks, having a girl and things are going great. I will always tell people, please tell people right away. That way they can celebrate with you and if something happens grieve with you.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink
  18. Amie wrote:

    I completely get what you are getting at here however I think that assuming that people wait to tell just because of miscarriage is missing something. I don’t tell until later on in pregnancy but it has NOTHING to do with miscarriage. I like that it is something that I get to enjoy for a bit by myself, this doesn’t make me ungrateful for the pregnancy but rather adds to my special bonding time. Also, some people also have other factors like career to consider when making the big announcement.
    Thank you for this post, it make a good discussion.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  19. Dawnielle Westerman wrote:

    I am a photographer and Wanted to ask if it was ok to do some editing on the photo you provided in this blog….for only you of coarse. I to lost a child at 5 weeks and never thought to photograph the baby…now I wish I had. thank you so much for being so transparent and sharing this with the world

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 6:50 am | Permalink
  20. Tracey wrote:

    Thank you so much for this post! I was thinking about loss this morning and how it has made me different in many ways. I too lost a son to accidental strangulation and his life and death have taught me many lessons. The biggest one is to live right here right now. Your post is exactly what I needed to day, thank you ever so much!

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  21. Erin wrote:

    What a beautiful poast. 2 hours ago we found we lost our baby at 8 weeks Gestation. Thank you for your view point, thank you God, that we had baby for 8 weeks!
    This was our 3rd miscarage.

    Friday, March 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  22. Jenny wrote:

    It’s so important to make sure that we as mothers are able to have others that understand our joy, pain, anxiety and hope. Having women to go to, sit with…pray with. It’s so important, but can only be done if we allow ourselves certain vulnerabilities

    Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink
  23. Liz wrote:

    Thank you! Seriously, my heart has been so heavy after my second miscarriage. I haven’t know what to do or think or feel. My first 3 pregnancy’s I told everyone the instant I knew I was pregnant. With the third pregnancy ending after only 12 weeks I was shocked, so with the fourth pregnancy I was scared to tell people, scared of what if, scared of hurting again, scared of feeling heart ache – the kind that makes you physically sore. I pretended I just wanted to keep it a secret and when the miscarriage happened I felt like I had never given this baby joy and I had not let this baby bring me joy because I was too scared to be sad. You are right we only have this moment and we get to choose how we live in it. I feel like these words are from Heaven for me, I can let the healing complete it’s process, now that I can see where my heart was at. Thank you!

    Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink
  24. BriAnn wrote:

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I have been struggling with this. I recently had my 3rd miscarriage 2 days before Christmas. I didn’t tell my parents at that point because there was a gift wrapped to announce we were finally pregnant. It was devastating when I started bleeding an hour before we left to drive home for Christmas. I wish I would have been able to share with my parents before we lost the baby because it would have been so joyful. I am scared I will guard my heart with the next pregnancy. After this 3rd miscarriage I sometimes feel my heart cannot take another loss. However, your post has given me courage and I thank you for that!

    Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Permalink
  25. BriAnn wrote:

    I wrote a blog post about this post and have gotten some sweet comments about it. Thank you again for writing this. It was an answer to prayers. brihoopes.blogspot.com

    Monday, March 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink
  26. Wendy wrote:

    I just want to say thank you to you for sharing your insight. I just had a d&c today after miscarrying my very first baby that I planned for and wanted so much. I have already been fretting about that fear I know I will have when I do get pregnant again, afraid I won’t be able to enjoy it the same way. I know it won’t be the same, but you are right. Enjoy the happiness while you have it instead of dreading the pain that may never happen. Might be easier said than done, but that is what I will strive to do.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  27. Jacinda wrote:

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon your site but I cried all the way through. It felt like I had written it. I’ve only had one tubal pregnancy on my first pregnancy but it was the worst day for me. I told myself next time I’m keeping it a secret. I’m not telling anyone next time. But when I recently about 8 weeks ago took a randome pregnancy test and came out positive that all faded away. I told everyone and now at 10 weeks everyone knows. I just can’t imagine keeping something soooo wonderful a secret. So yes I know I could lose the baby even now because I’m high risk but I’d rather lose it knowing I was proud of my baby and what I have than to lose it knowing I was ashamed.. So thank you for putting so much of my feelings into words.

    Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  28. Kathy wrote:

    Thank you for this post. I had a miscarriage in November (11/22/11) and I didn’t know I was pregnant but because I have four kids, I didn’t tell many people because the few I did tell consoled me by saying, “It wasn’t a good time anyway” and “You didn’t really need another baby anyway”.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  29. I have had 10 pregnancies…7 live births and 3 miscarriages. We quit telling people (family mostly) not because we were excited, etc, but because of the negative comments. Sometimes the telling is not a joyous occasion even though YOU may be excited about it. My mother doesn’t even know about my 3 miscarriages. She hasn’t been thrilled about any of my pregnancies.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Permalink
  30. Kresta Graham wrote:

    I told for my first 2 pregnancies and my first 2 miscarriages. I then stopped because of all the negative comments. I lost my babies, and people said things like ” your still trying after that” or aren’t you happy with the 2 you have. I had a third miscarriage and then became pregnant with my third child. I didn’t tell anyone until they noticed y belly around 19 weeks. I am glad for those of you that had better support from your family and friends.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink
  31. Amanda wrote:

    I have had 2 miscarriages. I always have chosen to tell right away when i was pregnant for many reasons. The biggest though, is because if I were to have a miscarriage, I wanted my friends to know what was going on with me. How to pray for me. I’m not a secretive person, but I can not imagine suffering in silence and secrecy and those around me not knowing what I was going through.

    Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink
  32. Toni wrote:

    I feel so bad for you but you have given me another side of looking at my own miscarriage. I had my tubes tied 14 years ago and two months ago I had something that look just like this floating in the toilet. I was at work and did not know what it was and I flushed it down the toilet. It would have been my husbands and I’s first baby and I had to miscarry it. But atleast I got to have it for 8 weeks and I need to be thankful for that.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink
  33. Kristine wrote:

    absolutely beautiful. when I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was at my doctors, and as soon as I left, I shared the news. I am now pregnant with my 2nd son and God really took it into his hands to let me know. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for MONTHS with no luck. and we were planning on having a few drinks that night after work. whilst at work, my shift which is usually in the market area, was in the pharmacy area, propped right up against a bin full of pregnancy tests that were $.88. with a price that cheap, I saw it as a sign and bought a test (it was a few days before my period was due) and it came back positive. so I bought another and it was positive again. so I “forgot” the beer on the way home and I went in to the bathroom grabbed the EPT test from under the sink and sure enough it was positive. so I told my husband, who didn’t believe me because of so many lost hopes before. but I told him we never had a positive result before. went to the doctors the next day to confirm and called him and told him it was positive and before I even made it home he told his mother, sister, grandmother, made a facebook post and was patiently waiting for me to get home so we could tell our 5 year old together. we were only 3 weeks and 2 days along when we found out but it was the best news! and our mothers cannot wait until the little one arrives! 8 more weeks to go!

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

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