Trial and error

Bee when I was 6.5 weeks pregnant

Figuring out when to tell people you’re pregnant is a tricky issue. When I was pregnant for the first time I followed the advice I’d heard, which was to wait until the window of higher miscarriage potential had passed (10-14 weeks). Those first few weeks are so emotional — and physical! — that it was difficult to keep quiet. The news slipped out to a couple of friends for various reasons, but we didn’t tell our immediate families or most friends.

I subconsciously thought that following the rules — being cautious and not telling people too early — would help ensure that things would work out.

They didn’t. After a couple of appointments I finally learned at 10 weeks that the fetus had died around 6.5 weeks.

About three months later I got pregnant again and the same thing happened (only I found out earlier this time).

After I recovered from my second miscarriage I delved into research and testing, some of which made me feel better (DNA karyotype and 20 lab tests excluding the major causes of miscarriage), and some of which made me feel more anxious (HSG test showing a “blocked” tube I’ve conceived off of twice). One study I read stayed with me:

A study in Norway looked at women who had three or more miscarriages and screened them to eliminate people for whom they could a find medical explanation for their miscarriages. Of the remaining women, half got the same routine care they’d had with their other pregnancies, and of them, 33% had successful pregnancies. The second half received increased medical and psychological support, including weekly exams, counseling, and two weeks bed rest during the time when they had lost their previous pregnancy. Of them, 86% went on to have successful pregnancies. A New Zealand study later replicated the results. (From Avoiding miscarriage: Everything you need to know to feel more confident during pregnancy by Susan Rousselot.)

With nothing to lose, I adopted this strategy for my third pregnancy as much as possible. Armed with a new responsive doctor (with an ultrasound machine down the hall instead of a building and an appointment away), I had all of the early monitoring that I could get — such as blood tests to monitor my progesterone and HCG levels and early ultrasounds. And I told my parents and loved ones nearly immediately. I knew I’d tell them if something went wrong, and I found it much easier to tell someone I’d miscarried a pregnancy they knew about then to have to tell them that I’d been pregnant in the first place. (For example, the former can be accomplished with a text to a close friend, if need be. The latter I couldn’t accomplish in person without bawling.)

So although it’s really hard for me to tell people when I am all of four weeks pregnant, I do it. (Four weeks is what you are when you first get a positive pregnancy test, so four weeks is kind of the minimum you can be and know about it.) I don’t tell EVERYONE by any means, but I tell my immediate family, close friends, and close coworkers, all of whom know my history. My friends and family know not to get “too excited,” and having their support and prayers helps buoy me through those tough weeks. And it’s nice to not have to hide extra tiredness or lack or alcohol or caffeine consumption. Once I get to 13 or 14 weeks I share the news more widely — first with friends and extended family, then work a month or so later, and then finally Facebook around 20 weeks.

I don’t believe this new approach was a magic bullet by any means, but it was helpful to have something positive I could do. When you’ve had a miscarriage you want desperately to do something — anything — to help, even though it’s really beyond your control. Having something proactive to do helped steady my nerves and make it easier to face whatever was coming my way.

So if you find yourself with a positive pregnancy test in hand and wondering who to tell in the coming weeks, I would do whatever makes you feel the most happy, relaxed, and supported. Maybe that’s telling no one besides your spouse; maybe that’s telling everyone. Trusting your instincts and prioritizing your peace of mind will help you navigate that exciting and emotional time.

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Comments

  1. This story is so familiar. I have miscarried twice this year and once last year. Last weekend I took a test, suspecting that I was pregnant…it was positive again. I am extremely excited by the news, yet tempered by anxiety from my past experience. Nonetheless, I tell who I want to tell…and know that their support is what will carry me through this pregnancy – no matter the outcome.

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