When I first saw those two pink lines appear on a pregnancy test, I couldn’t have been more excited after a few months of trying with no success. I immediately ran to our spare room (and future nursery) to show my husband the test.
“Wow!” he said, grabbing me and squeezing me hard. “I’m excited and nervous!”
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I was elated. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. I immediately called my doctor’s office (well, after they opened) and calculated my due date. The baby would be here a few days before Christmas, which felt like the most magical thing to me — especially because we had recently found a “baby’s first Christmas” sweater in storage that had belonged to my husband as a child. It felt like a sign.
But two weeks later, just days away from our 3rd anniversary, I started spotting. After a traumatic visit to my OBGYN, where an ultrasound revealed an empty uterus and my doctor ordered bloodwork to confirm if my HCG levels were falling as she suspected, I miscarried on the drive to our anniversary getaway spot.
Three months later, when I repeated the early morning pregnancy test and it came up positive, I was filled with more excitement — but also a growing sense of dread. I rushed to show my husband and his face broke into a huge smile. “Here we go again!” he said.
Although he didn’t mean his words to hurt me because he was nothing if not excited, I couldn’t help but think about how my last pregnancy ended. While he meant to convey his excitement over being pregnant again, all I could hear in my head was, I hope this pregnancy doesn’t end the same way.
Those words rang in my head for the next week while I waited to see if my period would come. When it didn’t, I finally called my doctor and she sent me for bloodwork immediately — something not done last time — to see if this pregnancy (and the subsequent HCG levels) were progressing normally. After a few days of anxiously waiting for news, I found out that everything seemed to be going well. My HCG levels had tripled in 48 hours (they only had to double to confirm a pregnancy) so my doctor scheduled me for my first appointment, which would be…one month later.
As any first-time pregnant person knows, waiting for that first doctor’s appointment can be pure torture. Since my pregnancy was planned, I was hyper-aware of everything from the timing to the early symptoms. As the days ticked on, I tried to notice if anything was different. I tried to figure out if this was a viable pregnancy. Most of all, I tried to calm my anxiety, which seemed to be reminding me every minute of my blood-soaked panties from last time.
I knew that one in five known pregnancies ends in miscarriage — so what had happened to me the first time wasn’t exactly unusual. I tried to take comfort in the fact that many women experience miscarriage and go on to have perfectly normal, healthy babies (Beyoncé immediately came to mind, so I spent most of my early pregnancy listening to her Homecoming album). And I tried to remind myself, with the help of my therapist, that recurring miscarriages are much rarer — but the fear was still there, and it was all-consuming.
Finally, I decided to do something about it.
When I was pregnant the first time, I had only let a couple of close friends and my parents know that we were expecting before the miscarriage at six weeks. This time, at five weeks, I decided to tell the world.
Back when I miscarried, it was really painful and extremely difficult. It was especially difficult because, although I had always been someone who processed her thoughts and feelings out loud, almost nobody knew my once-happy news. Knowing that I couldn’t get through my pain alone, I opted to tell people about the miscarriage by sharing the news on social media — yes, even though I hadn’t opened up about the pregnancy in the first place.
Although I know plenty of people who would be horrified at the thought of being so private in such a public space, I’ve always found the support of others to be extremely healing. Almost four years before my miscarriage, I had shared online my struggles with a substance use disorder and my need to enter rehab for alcohol abuse. While in rehab, I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and I continued to share my mental health journey online.
So when I thought about how best to help my new pregnancy anxiety, the answer seemed clear: Announce my pregnancy early. Like, really early.
I was only five weeks pregnant when I posted a photo of a onesie and a positive pregnancy test on my Instagram account.
I was terrified as I did it and terrified of the comments I’d receive, but I knew that I couldn’t hold out for the traditional 12 weeks of waiting. Waiting that long to share my happy news just felt wrong. I wanted to be able to talk to my loved ones (which included plenty of friends who don’t live in my town and for whom online communication is our primary form of connecting) about the joys and difficulties of pregnancy. But most of all, it felt wrong to keep this news to myself — especially because I was so terrified of another miscarriage.
When I looked into the 12-week wait, it seemed that the main reason women were told to keep the news to themselves is precisely in case a miscarriage happened. But when I shared my news before, I only received an outpouring of love and support. I knew, deep down, if the worst happened again, I’d need even more love and support around me.
And so, I shared my pregnancy news at five weeks.
I hoped that things would end well this time. But I also dreaded if they didn’t. Being open about my hopes and fears online, though, gave me a very special sense of unity that I hadn’t expected. Plenty of other women came to tell me their own pregnancy loss and pregnancy anxiety stories. Many shared words of encouragement but, most of all, words of solidarity. It’s precisely that solidarity that can make social media an actually beautiful place to spend (some of) your time.
Although I still sought plenty of emotional support from my husband and therapist, it was also nice to know that I wasn’t alone in my fears of another miscarriage.
After sharing my news, I spent the next few weeks excitedly and fearfully counting down to my first ultrasound. Then, to my second. Then, until the first trimester ended. And each time I shared something that frightened me or anxieties that kept me up at night or worries I had that were plaguing my mind, another woman reached out and told me that she’s been through it too. And even though it was all online, it still felt like an incredibly warm hug.
Now that I am just weeks away from my due date, I’m sharing more about my excitement than my fears — but some of that anxiety is still there. And you know what? Knowing I’m not alone is still the best remedy to calm me down.
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