Some of you will be aware that I’m now working part time for Emily’s Voice, an Australian media campaign that shares stories of real women and families in an effort to uphold the cause of the unborn – in a loving, compassionate and heartfelt way. It’s true that my writing for Emily’s Voice has given me less time and focus for my blog. So I thought I’d share with you one of the many stories I’ve been writing for this wonderful organisation. I encourage you to head over to the Emily’s Voice website too and check it out, see how you can be involved and make a big difference in little lives.
I NOTICED that glamorous mummy blogger Sophie Cachia announced her pregnancy early to friends, family and 121,000 Instagram followers recently. She penned some poignant thoughts in an article for popular media website Mamamia.
“Societal norms prevent us from freely announcing pregnancy until after the 12-week mark,” she shared as she also revealed the fact she was 9 weeks pregnant.
“I didn’t make the decision to tell the world I’m pregnant out of stupidity. I have had a child before. I am well aware of the risks, and I know it’s simply not the norm. But who gets to decide the norm for me? I looked at this idea with the most realistic approach possible. I thought, if something was to go wrong, if I was to experience a miscarriage with this pregnancy – whether it be in the next three weeks or even after – then I would share it anyway.”
What’s with the unspoken 12-week rule of announcing one’s pregnancy?
As Sophie points out, miscarriage is one reason. The first trimester is known to be the most fragile term of the pregnancy, and one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Waiting until that risk period has passed is a way of protecting against unnecessary scrutiny, were things to go wrong.
The done thing.
When something’s been done a certain way for a very long time, we forget to question why. I’ve caught myself commenting on the way someone announced at six weeks, or waited until 14 weeks. The latter must’ve had miscarriages in the past, and the former is enthusiastic, if naive. Aren’t I the judgmental one! The relief of passing this milestone, of reaching ‘tell-the-world’ point, is palpable. It’s like the baby became a REAL baby, one that everyone will believe in, at 12 weeks. Even though your body’s been making it abundantly clear from conception.
Prenatal ultrasounds have become entrenched in the pregnancy journey to the point where it is no longer a question of if or when, but how many. The technology helps predict the due date, gives parents a thrilling view of their baby as it develops in the womb, and the information of gender.
But ultrasound is also used to pick up abnormalities. Pregnant women are offered a 12 week nuchal translucency ultrasound which can detect if a baby has increased risk of certain physical or intellectual conditions. And, if an abnormality is detected, what then? Abortion is usually the first option on offer, which gives further meaning to the tradition of announcing pregnancy at 12 weeks. We can check first if the baby is normal, and then celebrate. Or book an appointment at the abortion clinic without Aunty Sal and your roommate patting your belly and saying, “not long now”. Alone.
For all the hurrahs of individualism and autonomy; being pregnant, having a miscarriage or going through with an abortion are all things that shouldn’t be done alone. They’re all challenging situations that benefit from being travelled with others.
Which brings me to my conclusion: that the whole “thou shalt only announce thy pregnancy at 12 weeks” thing is a myth at best, and a sinister attack on sisterhood at worst. When we band together and share the burden, it’s easier to see that what seems like a mess right now, can be crafted into a masterpiece down the track. When we share, we avail ourselves of the experience of others. We learn from their triumphs and trip-ups.
So, you’re pregnant? Celebrate with us!
So, you’ve had a miscarriage? Let us grieve with you.
So, you think abortion is your only option? Tell us your story so we can tell you ours.
So, you think you’re alone? You’re not.
PS – for the record, no, I’m not pregnant! Thought that might need saying!