Saturday, March 19, 2011

The One Trimester

I don't particularly enjoy being pregnant. Overall, the experience is a phenomenal one studded with countless awesome moments, but on a daily basis it's a drag. Clumsiness becomes a real threat. Clothing is particularly ill-fitting, uncomfortable, hard to find, and expensive. The ability to multitask might as well be a superpower. Less energy. No whiskey. Moodiness. Unpredictable appetite. No whiskey.

The first trimester is especially rough in its own special ways. I'm not fond of morning sickness, but even worse than relentless nausea is the encouraged fear of early miscarriage and resulting pressure to remain tentative and secretive about one's pregnancy for the first thirteen weeks. Besides being contrary to all joyous instincts, this strategy requires months of white lies and the avoidance of potential support during a particularly physically and emotionally vulnerable time.

I am a tall, skinny person and my body did nothing to conceal my second pregnancy beyond the first eight weeks. People regularly guessed I was four or five months along when I was only two, so I went ahead with an announcement as soon as my doctor confirmed a fetal heartbeat at ten weeks.

When I miscarried a few days into my second trimester, I decided to report the sad news in one big, awful bandage rip of an email rather than suffer the same traumatic conversation over and over again. Also important was my impulse to curate this disclosure instead of abandoning such personal news to gossip and scattershot word of mouth. The correspondences that resulted, like the miscarriage itself, triggered in me wave after wave of sorrow but also delivered an unexpected catharsis and swell of new strength.

It's true that early miscarriage is surprisingly common. It's also true that acting on the initial desire to celebrate a wanted pregnancy can undermine the eventual wish to mourn a lost pregnancy in private. If I'd been able to wipe news of my pregnancy from everyone's memory, thus sparing myself any obligation to disclose and discuss my miscarriage, I imagine I would've gone that route in a second. Still, in the same way that I suffer those first trimester white lies, I'm relieved to have shed what would have been a heavy secret and lonesome sadness in favor of the stories and support I've been offered by so many wise, kindhearted people.