Why we've never waited twelve weeks to tell people we're pregnant

September 26 | Guest post by Kris Buse
By: Nina MatthewsCC BY 2.0

My partner and I just can not keep a secret. The excitement for new things is just too much to hold in and inevitably leads to early Christmas gifts and disclosing information possibly too prematurely. We have never waited to tell our friends and family we are expecting. Our children know within days of a positive pregnancy test and share in our excitement and wonderment the entire pregnancy. It was no different when we found out that we were expecting our fifth child on my birthday in 2011. Our family celebrated welcoming a brother or sister while I blew out my candles.

The next month just a couple days shy of Thanksgiving and just shy of eleven weeks pregnant we were given devastating news. Our baby had stopped growing at the six-and-a-half week mark and wouldn't make it. Dealing with the emotional news of losing a baby was briefly dwarfed by helping our children through the loss of their brother or sister as well.

Our oldest was in Kindergarten, the twins were barely three and the youngest was one and a half. We comforted them and let them know that there were other plans for our baby and that he/she was in good hands even if they wouldn't be joining our family. They shed tears thinking of the things they wanted to do with our baby. I took a couple days off work and my mother and sister came in to town to help while I started to grieve the loss of losing our baby and dashing the hopes of what could have been.

Just days later, on the evening before Thanksgiving Day, I was rushed to the hospital to undergo surgery due to complications. After getting out of the hospital late in the evening and going home to rest and recover I wasn't up for joining everyone on Thanksgiving Day. My spouse however felt it would be good for me to surround myself with family for support and our Thanksgiving dinner was filled with tears and emotions but helped me take a step towards recovering. Over the next weeks our children saw us deal with the grief and express our emotions openly with each other and with them. They saw our extended family and community come together and offer support to us.

A month into the New Year and we once again found that we were expecting. After a lengthy what-if style conversation we decided to tell our children the news without waiting, even though the possibility of having another miscarriage was present. We were excited about adding another baby to the family. We didn't discuss the potential grief that may occur. Instead we relished in the joy and encouraged them to get excited too. Our Kindergartner asked us, "What if there are other plans for this baby too?" and we assured him that if that were the case then we would just be thankful that we got the joy of knowing a baby was growing and we would see them again some day.

Their baby brother was born on my birthday in 2012. The kids were ecstatic to visit him in the hospital and shower him with kisses and loves. Every now and then our oldest asks us if we miss the baby that had other plans and I tell him the truth and say that I do but then add that without that baby having other plans we would never have our baby brother.

After the heartache and grief that our family went through we would still choose to tell our children if we were ever expecting again because though there is a possibility of loss and sadness we would want to share the excitement, joy and wonderment of another life with them.

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  1. I have struggled with when to tell family news of a new baby.

    As a Veterinary Technician as soon as I get a positive result I tell my work so I can avoid some of my duties, like x-rays and anesthetics. With our first son it was strange to have my whole work know our news right away. We decided not to tell anyone else until our first ultrasound results.

    Now with baby number two, I told work right away and we have told close friends, our parents, my sister and our 2.5 yr old son. If we are faced with devastating news at some point I think it will be nice to have the extra support. Also I am totally having major "all day nausea" and it helps that others know I am expecting and have extra support for that too.

    Kris I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

    Your bio is great by the way!

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  2. SO many of my friends have wanted with the first one, but not the subsequent ones. We waited too, but I think maybe it's the newness that makes us wait? We were still dealing with the news and really had no idea how to process it, so waiting until 12 weeks initially was a relief. (And then became a fun secret and then OH GOD, I NEED TO TELL PEOPLE.)
    I probably won't wait with my second, partially because I'm just too old to deal with the "pretending morning sickness is a very long stomach bug." Nope, no way. I want you to know I've got morning sickness and I want you to get your coffee OUT OF MY FACE RIGHT NOW before I boot all over your shoes.

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  3. Spirituality seemed to play a large role in helping your children grieve. We're starting to consider a second, and it makes me wonder what we would tell our daughter if we got pregnant (regardless of the outcome). My husband is an atheist, and I consider myself None of the Above (basically, I don't think it matters if there's a God, so I don't bother thinking about it), and we're not raising our daughter as anything. There isn't a lot of language out there around loss that doesn't refer to "a better place".

    I don't think that's an argument for not telling people, although personally we avoided announcing our pregnancy for as long as possible.

    1 agrees
    • My husband and I aren't particularly spiritual or religious, but we told people we were pregnant within a week of finding out. Honestly, it never occurred to us to NOT tell people. This was in 2008 and I was 23, so that might have played into it… but even now, if I got pregnant again (which is not on the table), we would probably tell people pretty quickly. For me personally, I know that I would subsequently put my grief out there publicly and tell people if a pregnancy ended too early, the same way I would alternatively celebrate a pregnancy that resulted in a baby.

      In short: I agree with you that religion is a powerful coping mechanism, but I don't think it's the only one you can use. I would definitely be interested in hearing from more non-religious families in the comments about how they've approached the topic of loss, miscarriage, and subsequent pregnancies.

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      • I'm an atheist and my first baby died at 39w gestation. I have a sprightly 2 year old now and we don't hide the fact that he has an older brother or that I'm 33w pregnant with Baby A, his little sister.

        God and religion have nothing to do with my outlook on death and losing a baby. We haven't fully needed to explain death to my living child, but if we were to experience a stillbirth again, we would find a way to explain it to our son without going to into religious overtones of heaven / other places / etc. I think understanding that life is a precious, delicate thing to never be taken for granted is the best thing to come out of my first baby's death. Losing our first has helped us realize that getting old is a privilege. I wouldn't want to confuse that with messaging I don't believe in (religion) and to lose the truth of the scenario (sometimes bad things happen, sometimes loved ones (pets, people) die sooner than we expect) .

        There are occasions when I'll have something trigger me and I'll cry openly and my son will ask if I'm ok. I explain that I miss his brother and that I'm sad but ok. This is life, and death and grieving (as much as we wish it weren't) is just a normal part of it – all I can do is model healthy grief because some day he'll have to go through it himself in one way or another.

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        • I totally agree with this. My husband and I are atheists who enjoy the UU (Universalist Unitarian) community. He likes the idea of reincarnation, but I don't think that he truely believes it. I'm generally of the opinion that when you die, you lose consciousness and that's pretty much it (although I have no proof :-). For many people that would sound unbelievably cold and depressing. In my opinion, the fact that life is finite is part of what adds to it's infinite beauty. I try to keep in mind that life is short, and I should spend my time trying to enjoy it and to make other peoples lives more enjoyable. I try not to sweat the small stuff or get too bogged down by unfortunate events or irritating aspects of daily life.

          Granted, we are kind of waiting. We are 11 weeks into our first pregnancy (here's to hoping that it goes well!), and we are telling our families tonight! My husband was really worried about miscarriage and figured that if we had one, we wouldn't tell anyone. I somewhat disagree, because I know that if we had (or do) lose this pregnancy at any stage, I would need to plug into a larger support network. There would be some friends or family that I would want to share our grief with.

          1 agrees
      • My husband and I are both ex-Mormon Atheists, so this is something we've both had to grapple with, as neither of us has ever had any experience or seen examples of how to cope with loss without defaulting to "you'll see them again one day."

        We go with simply including discussion about how everything dies eventually; the flowers die, the bees die, Nana's guinea pig died, Daddy's very old uncle died… and Aunty Mim's baby died. And that's sad. It's really, really sad, and it's okay to be sad about it.
        But that's also why it's so important to love everyone as much as you can, and love them hard. Even the baby you never got to play with, you still loved them, and that's wonderful.

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        • I love this! I am more or less spiritual, but I really don't like the idea of "you'll see them again" – my beliefs in life-after-death are much more about how it's completely different than our current living consciousness, so it doesn't resonate with me to think that our intact personalities will travel with us to any sort of afterlife or reincarnation.

          So I especially love the message of focusing on the here-and-now – whatever our beliefs about afterlives might be, I think it resonates a lot more plainly (especially to children) that it's more of a message of handling our current emotions and being grateful for our current state of living and loving.

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    • I agree with you on the atheist thing, but I told people pretty quick, including our (then) 5-year-old daughter. Things turned out so it was ok, but I also wonder how would I have handled telling her I'd had a miscarraige?

      I would love to see an article on how to cope with greif and loss when you are non-religious. Anyone out there want to write it? I would SO read it!!

      4 agree
    • Wanted to point out that this isn't strictly a problem for atheists — I'm deeply religious, but I don't believe in an afterlife (at least not the sort of afterlife where I'd be me in any recognizable sense), and nor do folks in a LOT of other religions.

      That said, I, too, would be interested in reading articles about how to discuss death without talking about "a better place." You're right — soooooo much of the common discourse revolves around that.

      1 agrees
    • One of the things that helps me (probably because I'm a nerd) is knowing that they're energy is somewhere out there in the universe. And those electrons and protons are somewhere out there in the universe. Maybe they're not doing the most interesting of things, but the world and the universe are incredibly connected, and even if someone has died, their energy is still out there.

      Granted, this is mostly taking science to a spirituality level, but it's somewhat of a comfort for me.

      1 agrees
  4. We did all the textbook waiting until we passed that mythical 12 week danger mark, and we lost our son at 22 weeks. There's no right time. I say embrace the joy while it's yours to embrace, you know? The silence after loss is worse than talking about grief anyway.

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    • This is why I can't wait to tell. I would rather have people go along with me on the journey rather than having to explain everything at once. "We were pregnant for X weeks and the baby is no more." The people have to go through the initial excitement of hearing about pregnancy to feeling sadness of a loss in a matter of seconds. I can't console them as well as myself, so if people know I'm pregnant then hear about the loss, they can focus on one emotion rather than a gamut of them.

      5 agree
  5. I do want to say that their can be drawbacks with sharing. Found out that our baby girl had fatal anomalies at our 20 week scan in 2010. No one knew how to act afterward, I just wanted to have some normalcy and to be alone with my thoughts it was impossible because I would get the pity look, whisperings, and the overly saccharine hugs. It isn't how I grieve and it made it so much worse. Four months later I had an 8 week miscarriage. We hadn't told anyone and it was SO much better for us. We didn't have to "take care of anyone" but ourselves. When I go pregnant with my son (now 20 months) we told no one until 20 weeks and then only immediate family, we told Facebook level friends at 28 weeks. I am currently 6 weeks pregnant and if we get that far, we will tell no one until 20 weeks. I just want to point out that you don't know your friends and families response and what you want until it happens and sometimes it's very well intentioned, but not what you need.

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  6. We lost our first son at 32 weeks and our second at 24 weeks (hydrocephalus both). Untelling people was awful. If we could tell no one until the day after a live, safe birth, that's what we would do.

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    • We didn't tell any of my husband's coworkers, very few of his family, and did not mention it on Facebook, except on a private invite-only group page. The various birth announcements were the first time many people knew.

      Obviously, people we see regularly knew. But even then, we waited until it was almost embarrassingly obvious.

      Only a handful of our closest friends and family knew before the 12-week mark, and only another small handful knew before 20 weeks (and unfortunately my coworkers who saw through my excuses of migraines and other illnesses much too quickly for my liking).

      We did it this way for several reasons. First of all, we are both fairly private, introverted people. We don't like a fuss being made about us. Second, since we'd had some trouble conceiving, and this was our first pregnancy, there were some fears that it wouldn't work out, and we personally, would prefer to walk through something like that with only our closest friends and family, rather than everyone we know.

      The last reason is that my husband's coworkers and some of his family are very bitter, negative people. When we got engaged, the first reaction of many of them was to tell him how much freedom he was going to lose, how his "good life" was ruined, and they weren't trying to be funny. Some of them continued to call it his "starter marriage" for years. All that negativity led us to decide not to share our happy news with them. He didn't need months and months of our happy preparation time spent hearing why kids are the worst thing ever and how he was digging himself a deeper pit or whatever.

      It was a little sad for me to not be able to share my growing belly on the internet, except in very closed, private circles. But on the other hand, it was kind of nice having a beautiful secret. And all the surprise after he was born!

      We also kept our baby's sex a secret until after our baby shower. The reveal was actually done at the end of the shower.

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      • this is how I feel too. I cherish my privacy so we told no one (except a few immediate family members) before the 20 week mark or so. Close friends noticed we stopped talking about fertility treatments, so the clever ones guessed but were awesome enough to respect our privacy and not to ask.

        It took us 18 months and IVF to conceive this little guy. Answering even the best intentioned questions on fertility treatments got tiring. I know some couples deal with infertility for far longer but I was already losing hope quickly. I had a miscarriage at 7 weeks during that period and told no one, except my husband and mom. I just didn`t want the sorry looks and awkwardness from friends.

        My first son was born at 27 weeks and was given 25% odds of survival. It was really tough dealing with coworkers, friends and even close family. They just didn`t know how to react. Having a very sick baby in the nicu is hell enough without having to deal with that. We disapeared off the map for a few weeks. I would give my mom news ONCE a day and everyone knew to call HER for any news. People were very respectful and did so, which was a godsend. My appreciation for my close friends and family grew immensely from that.

        Sooo in case this second pregnancy didn`t go well I didn't want to relive that. In fact I'm 28 weeks along now and people at work STILL don`t know (besides my boss obviously). I'm sure they wonder why I`ve gotten so chubby but so far, no one has dared ask!

        It all depends how you deal with loss, either privately or prefer sharing.

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  7. The only reason I was hesitant to tell anyone was because I didn't want to tell EVERYONE. Both my husband and I come from big families (I have 5 siblings and he has 7!) I would have been fine sharing the news with a few people, but if a single member of my husband's family found out, then the entire family would know by the end of the week… and they can be a bit overwhelming to deal with. I told my best friend, and we did tell my parents because they could keep things to themselves until we were ready to let the whole family know. Marrying into a family that is all up in eachother's business has been hard for me (my family tends to try and give everyone their space) and I hate being the center of attention. I am crazy sick when I'm pregnant – I really didn't want to deal with everyone else while I was puking non-stop, I just wanted to be left alone.

    1 agrees
  8. I think whether you tell early depends on the support network you have available. It's lovely that the original poster had a supportive family that wouldn't throw blame or phrases like "deity had a better plan" or "just have another" around. I was terrified of announcing it as I knew how badly everyone would react if we had to untell everyone. Whilst we had an ultimately successful pregnancy with each new complication I regretted ever telling anyone at all. Every scare was my fault and any pain or illness I suffered was well deserved. I wish we'd waited til 20 weeks at least

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  9. I'm also horrible at keeping secrets. I told just about all my friends and family that Husby and I were trying for a baby. We were a little more cautious about sharing the actual pregnancy — only parents, siblings, and my two best friends were "in on it" before 12 weeks. I reasoned this way: "Who would I want to be able to talk to if I lost this pregnancy?" Once we hit the 2nd trimester, had heard the heart beat, and were told this was a very low-risk pregnancy, I told the whole world.

    Now I'm 40 weeks (+1 day…) pregnant and worrying AGAIN about "telling people" after the birth if something were to go not-according-to-plan. Because I've been working with a homebirth midwife, I haven't undergone the same level of testing as most other women, so things like Down's Syndrome or a birth defect would be completely unbeknownst to me until our baby is born (I know she has all her limbs and a brain though, so that's really nice). I know the odds are small, but somehow sharing news of a baby with a disability is more intimidating to me than sharing news of a miscarriage.

    1 agrees
  10. I guess it depends if you constantly want to re-live the bad news with every person you have to break that news to. So I am very glad the first time I was pregnant I only told my parents, my in-laws, and my one sister. Few weeks later my pregnancy was no longer "viable" and that was the worst possible news to tell everyone. "Hey everybody- remember how we all got so excited that there would be another baby in the family and our hopes were all very high? Well, never mind." Of course it doesn't come out like that. I made my husband call the 5 people we told because I couldn't bring myself to do so. None of my other family members know- nor my friends, which I'm thankful for. I don't know how I could keep on repeating that news over and over- each time pouring salt into the wound.

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  11. I'm definitely an early teller. We're 6 weeks with our first, and almost everyone knows. Firstly, I was so excited that I could burst. I HAD to tell some people and that turned into them passing it along with a "no one's supposed to know, but…" I don't mind though, because I know my family's enthusiasm comes from the same love that would support us if anything did go wrong. Plus, I am always expecting the best.

    I was just stressing about having told too soon, so this came at the perfect time for me! Thanks!!

    1 agrees
  12. What an interesting topic! I love the idea behind this post – Sharing the joy and grief with the whole family, modeling positive grief and all that. I have been considering who to share our news with once we become pregnant (trying now!) – I see major advantages to keeping it under wraps, and major advantages to sharing! What I think I will end up doing is sharing the news as soon as we know with our siblings but only with the condition that there is NO TELLING OF THE PARENTS. Then, our extended families at that 10-12 week mark, and I'd really just like to fill in others as we see them after that – no Facebook announcement or anything. That news seems like something I'd like to share face to face. SO EXCITING.

    1 agrees
  13. I gave birth to my daughter 3 weeks ago today at 28w6d gestation; she lived six days. I think if I ever have another baby, I won't wait to tell people; the innocence of the safe period is gone. Or maybe I'll keep it until it's just so obvious they can't help asking. I don't know.

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  14. I just think so much of this particular subject has to do simply with personality type and whether or not you have intimate relationships with people other than your spouse/partner. For instance, if I wanted to keep a pregnancy hidden for more than a few weeks after finding out, it would be extremely difficult. I only have a small network of close friends but those friends are family to me and I'm certain they would absolutely know that something was very 'up' with me right away. I am a very 'open book' type of person, not to mention being a very emotional, sensitive, and affectionate [cancer lol go figure] friend who prefers total honesty and intimacy in ALL my friendly human endeavors, so it would be kind of implausible for me to hide something so big and important. My closest and oldest friend, on the other hand, is very shy and deals with some serious social anxiety issues. She is a homebody and both she and her husband are private, stay-at-home and keep-to-ourselves sort of people, so I can see why she would prefer [we've discussed it before] to be quiet about a pregnancy for quite a while.
    I did have a terrible experience about a year ago when I found out I was pregnant [about 7 weeks] and my husband sort of accidentally told an acquaintance who then told a bunch of people we mutually knew and didn't particularly like or have great history with. Unfortunately, a little while later, I ended up needing to have a D&E after the baby stopped growing. The cruel rumors that made their way back to my ears after I 'mysteriously' stopped being pregnant were pretty devastating. It sounds like a silly high school sort of situation, but the reality is that in a town where everyone knows everyone else, people think they have as much right to judge a woman who loses a baby as a woman who gets pregnant at all. It's ridiculous and it was very difficult for me. In that case though, I don't think the problem had anything to do with when we told anyone, you just need to make sure you don't tell the wrong people. If you're trying to keep the situation somewhat private until you're certain of viability, NEVER tell someone you aren't close with.

    1 agrees

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