For decades, it has become an unwritten rule that you should wait until after 12 weeks before announcing a pregnancy. There is a cliche to “keep it quiet incase something goes wrong”. Apparently you are in the ‘safe zone’ after 12 weeks, as your chance of miscarriage lowers.
Current statistics tell us that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. A miscarriage is the death of a baby before 24 weeks gestation. Around 10 babies everyday in the UK are stillborn. Stillbirth is the death of a baby after 24 weeks gestation.
Ok, so looking at the bigger picture, I suppose if theres over 2,000 born everyday I am just one person in 2,000. It’s easy to think that it won’t happen to me right? Wrong. I have been that 1 in 4… twice! I miscarried my first pregnancy at 8 weeks, and my second pregnancy ended in a stillbirth at 25 weeks. So, wheres the safe zone?
To announce or not to announce?
When we first got pregnant, we were ecstatic. We giggled so much in disbelief at the positive test, because this was it, no going back. We were up the duff, having a baby, we were going to be parents.
It was great that our booking appointment fell earlier than the 12 weeks because we couldn’t wait to tell our families. We made a big deal of it by announcing the news over dinners. It was very exciting. Only a handful of close friends and colleagues knew our news, and we were waiting just a few weeks longer before making our BIG announcement to the world (aka, Facebook). As you know, this day never came. Just a couple of weeks after telling our families, we miscarried. Not only were our dreams shattered, we had to burst the happy bubble for everyone else too.
The silence of miscarriage
We couldn’t understand how this had happened to us. Being told by the doctor that miscarriage was common and that it happens to 1 in 4 pregnancies. Why didn’t we know this before? Nobody says anything.
We did actually know a couple of people who had miscarried, but no-one really speaks of it. It felt awkward telling people who didn’t know I was pregnant why I had been off work, or that something significant had happened in our lives. It felt pointless telling someone we had miscarried when they didn’t know we were pregnant to begin with. And those we did tell, their responses were very different from the people who knew about the pregnancy. Dry, not as shocked or saddened. It’s strange.
The exception was those who had experienced it themselves, who opened up to me and shared their experience. You really learn that there is someone close to you in all your social circles who have either experienced pregnancy loss themselves or know someone who has.
When we got pregnant the second time, we were so anxious, we barley spoke about it between ourselves. We literally kept the news under wraps until we had seen a live baby at the 12 week scan. And what a relief that was after a pain staking 2 month wait! Again we went to see our families, shared our happy news and were greeted by just as much excitement as the first time.
Obviously, if we had of miscarried again, we would have told our families and got their love and support, but we couldn’t bare to share the happy news early on and burst the bubble again. It’s too heartbreaking.
From 12-20 weeks, we were excited again. Back in the ‘no going back now, we’re having a baby’ zone. From 20 weeks it all started to go downhill, with finding out that Guy was measuring too small and being referred to St Mary’s Placenta Clinic in Manchester. Then at 23 weeks, getting the bad news that our baby was going to die, and at 25 weeks, giving birth to our stillborn son.
So, that safe zone… we were meant to be in it. We were at the half way point in the pregnancy.
Sod “Sod’s Law”
Since losing Guy I have come to loath this ’12 week rule’. Its bloody stupid. I think maybe because I have had 2 very different experiences of pregnancy loss, I am much more aware that something can go wrong at any point during those 40 weeks. I have met many other women who have lost babies at full term, after healthy, low risk pregnancies. I just don’t believe that there is ever a safe zone. A heartbeat at a scan doesn’t mean everything is ok, there could be so many other complications.
A few months ago I made a pledge, that should we get pregnant again I wasn’t waiting until 12 weeks to announce the news. What’s the point? If something is going to go wrong in your pregnancy it will. It won’t be ‘sod’s law’ that because you announced too soon, you’ve miscarried.
Miscarriage is a lonely experience and I think it is made more so by this ’12 week rule’. Women don’t feel they can talk about the miscarriage because they hadn’t told anyone they were pregnant, so the support isn’t there when it happens.
I was overwhelmed with support after losing Guy. Obviously my family and friends supported us after the miscarriage, but with Guy we were much further into the pregnancy. It was clear to see that I was pregnant. More people knew and more support was available.
Personally I’d like to have that support network in place from early doors, just in case the worst happens again. It’s hard enough going through it once, but a third time… god only knows how hard that will be.
Breaking the silence
Last weekend after our first appointment and early scan at St Mary’s, I decided to keep to my word and I posted our Rainbow Baby announcement on my Instagram page.
The response has been so heart warming, with so many lovely messages.
It does feel a little strange though, telling people a third time in 18 months that we are expecting. Like the boy who cried wolf. It also surprises me how happy and excited everyone is when we tell them. They are as happy for us as they were the first time around.
To me it feels over-rated, like it doesn’t warrant the same level of excitement because we’ve announced it twice before. Maybe it’s because to us it’s not that exciting. Telling friends and family isn’t a big deal anymore, we just texted and phoned people.
The way I describe it to people is by comparing it to Miranda Hobbs from Sex and the City. When she finds out she’s having a boy and everyones reaction is over the top happy and giddy, and all she can do is pull a sarcastic, fake smile. Thats me when I tell people I’m pregnant. Forcing a fake happy face.
However, I do love how excited everyone is for us. I know its because they are aware how rough this road has been and they are all routing for us and keeping everything crossed that this is our happy ending. After all, if we can’t allow ourselves to feel the excitement just yet, we’ve got our team of cheerleaders on the sidelines.
So my advice to anyone without being too negative or morbid is this;
Don’t wait until 12 weeks to tell everyone about your pregnancy. Embrace the moment, share it with family and friends and enjoy it together. You never know if your going to be that unlucky 1 in 4, and if you are, hopefully your experience will be full of love and support and not lonely and isolated.