I’m not sure it would have occurred to me to tell people we were trying for a baby under any circumstances, but the awareness of a number of friends and family members with fertility issues had made us mindful that wanting and succeeding were not the same thing.
Even before babymaking was on our agenda it already irritated me the amount of people that would ask the beard and I when we would have a child, without any consideration of the fact that this could be a delicate issue. Maybe we didn’t want children, maybe we couldn’t have them. Whatever our family status was or wasn’t I was surprised by how many people just assumed it was fair game for genial conversation. When our situation changed and we made that decision to start trying we didn’t want to advertise this and potentially open ourselves up to all sorts of future painful conversations.
When it comes to secrets I tend to be an all or nothing person, either I tell no-one or I tell everyone, so we had decided that for this issue we wouldn’t tell anyone even though clearly many people in our lives would have been able to handle the issue with the sensitivity required.
I’m not great at sharing emotions, certainly not in person anyway – blogging is a whole different form of therapy – so I was very reluctant to share our pregnancy news with anyone in the early stages. When we were still trying to process how we felt about the whole thing, not to mention the fears of miscarriage or some other mishap, the thought of having to communicate this to anyone other than each other was just too overwhelming.
I still didn’t know how I felt, let alone know how to explain this and I wanted to avoid putting myself in the position I automatically opt for whenever I’m unsure about anything: where I expend buckets of energy trying to reassure everyone that everything is okay so as to mask my own uncertainties. We didn’t want to share the news with anyone until we’d hit the 12 week mark (when chances of miscarriage dramatically reduce).
However, the terrifying reality of trying to deal with whatever the hell was going on, with a man as bewildered as I was, and an internet that we knew could be an abyss of over-information and terror stories waiting to suck us in, caused me to crack in my resolve. I had a chum from my London days who was the first friend I knew to have a child and incidentally she’d had her little boy as an expat in a foreign country so seemed a good person to turn to. I spoke with her even before I’d had the first gynaecologist appointment and it was a huge relief to be able to share my thoughts and fears with someone who’d already been there.
We wouldn’t have told anyone else before the second trimester if it weren’t for the fact that we’d be home with immediate family around the eight week mark and felt disingenuous hiding the news from them, not to mention the difficulty of concealing the pregnancy during the festive season. We concluded if we were going to tell some family then we could also tell a handful of friends.
There was one friend I wanted to tell more than anyone but was also really reluctant to do so. This friend had been unsuccessfully trying for a child for some time and had just started the IVF process. I knew she loved me enough that she’d be pleased for me but I also thought news of my pregnancy might be hard for her to accept. I wasn’t sure how or when to tell her but I thought about the friend I knew, so like me in many ways, and thought what I’d want if our situations were reversed. I wouldn’t want someone I loved deliberately keep something from me because they were afraid of my reaction but I’d also want time to process the information in my own way without being forced into a situation where some sort of immediate response would be required.
I decided that if the news at our second doctor’s appointment confirmed that the pregnancy was progressing as it was supposed to I’d let my friend know immediately, but via text so she could respond whenever and however she wanted. Within a few hours she responded that she was happy for us and I knew that she was, but I felt guilty for not having warned her we were trying and I felt guilty for not feeling as overjoyed about the pregnancy as I imagined that she would have been had it been hers (and as I imagined all ‘normal’ pregnant people were generally supposed to feel).
Prior to Christmas, the bearded one met up with his best man and one of his groomsmen and shared the news with them. When he passed on their congratulations to me when we met up again later that evening, I found myself feeling kind of peeved. I wanted to be in control of the message (yes, I’m a control freak) and also it felt strange to have people congratulating us, surely it was still too soon for all that and was responsibility for a tiny new person really something to be congratulated about?
As I faux-sipped at my Bucks Fizz, we told the man’s family on Christmas morning. Not good at saying things out loud (there’s a power to voicing things that clearly scares me more than writing stuff down) we announced the news by giving his parents a Christmas card with a baby sock inside and signing it from the three of us.
As the penny dropped and we were warmly congratulated by parents and then the sisters and brother in law also present, I tried my best to behave how I guessed a typical pregnant person (still suffering under the delusions such a person existed) was supposed to under such circumstances. I accepted the congratulations with a forced smile, ‘joked’ that I was ‘excited/terrified’ and only responded with truly genuine emotion to quickly rush to prevent mother in law from immediately sharing the news with nan-in-law, aunties, uncles and co as we explained that it was still early days and we didn’t want anyone else to know yet.
Next came my family, and a handful of other people we felt wouldn’t be so traumatic if we had to ‘untell’ anyone if something bad happened down the line. With each individual or group we told I tried to conjur up a bit more excitement but something inside me refused to get on board the enthusiasm train just yet.