For those trying to get pregnant, the process of conceiving can invoke many feelings of failure and a fear of those feelings. When these feelings happened to me, I felt a stark contrast to how I feel in many other aspects of my life, which is generally successful and in control of my destiny (note I said "feel" because I am well aware we are generally NOT in control of how our life goes, but I do tend to feel that way). When I was faced with the inability to actually control whether or not I got pregnant (and the emotions surrounding that), I felt incredibly uncomfortable. Worse, I felt like I was failing. And each month that passed, I felt more and more like a failure. Big picture: I felt like I was failing at being a woman.
These feelings continued to linger over me for quite sometime. Until of course, I passed the test. The pregnancy test. But with that, a new sense of fear has settled in. What if I couldn’t maintain this pregnancy? Statistics floated around my head about my age and chance of miscarriages and then, when I succeeded at not worrying about that, I worried about birth abnormalities and all the complications that can arise.
I was hesitant to even tell my partner Mike about this early pregnancy. I prefaced it with “don’t get too excited. There is a good chance it will fail.” Then I told my naturopathic doctor and doula that I was “not getting my hopes up.” I began qualifying all conversations about it with “we are cautiously optimistic”. Everyone we told was instructed to not get attached because it may not last.
At 4 weeks pregnant, I was cautiously optimistic. I had 2 midwife appointments booked to start to shop around for who I wanted to help care for me and my baby and I had blood work with my family doctor confirm my home pregnancy test. It was real… I was pregnant.
And I wondered, when do I tell people? The old-school convention is to wait until the second trimester, a practice done because no one wants to go around having to say they miscarried… or rather, that they “failed”, as it would feel to me. But I’m not that conventional. I think I would be ok with that burden. But will other people be ok? Clearly, I didn’t think they would be, which is why I kept warning people to not get too excited. Or was I just warning myself?
In theory, this practice of protecting other people by isolating ourselves from experiences doesn’t really make sense to me. It perpetuates aloneness and an unhealthy form of individuality. It also skews the reality of being human. We are imperfect. Why pretend we aren’t by not disclosing our truths?
A friend of mine miscarried really early, at 6 weeks but hadn’t really told anyone. Her partner knew but that may have been all who did. She is someone who isn’t really educated in the biology of reproduction and unfortunately ended up with a negative experience within the medical system because of her nativeness. That proved to be very difficult, so she said, and was isolating for her. I wished she had told me. I wish she felt able.
I wrote all this when I was 4 weeks pregnant and wanted so desperately to share it immediately. In fact, originally, this post was suppose to be part of a failure blog I was starting less than a month beforehand to honour my appreciation of failures and an expose of them. Except that the blog failed because after 2 posts, I found myself not able to post this very real and vulnerable post. What’s interesting to me now, reflecting back on how I felt when at this time, is that this fear of failure never really went away. It continues to manifest in so many aspects of what is now known to me as “motherhood”.