When you’re pregnant, the question of who to tell when is both strangely political and blithely practical. You find yourself in a strange middle world where close friends are kept in the dark, but total strangers get to hear all about it. ‘What strangers would you tell?’ you may well wonder. Heck, you’d be surprised.
So far, in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy – the time when you’re “not meant to tell anyone” because the risk of miscarriage is still relatively high – a motley crew of relatives, friends and absolutely strangers have been brought into the fold.
• My hairdresser, for one. Sitting on the chair getting my new 20s wedge bob, one of her colleagues offered me a coffee-and-Baileys, which under normal circumstances would earn a “Holy crap, yes!’. But I demurred, and when my stylist – thinking I hadn’t heard – asked again, I looked up and just said “Nah, it’s okay. I can’t.” Queue quizzical look. “I’m having babies,” I quietly say with a big smile. That earned a big hugs and an instant reprieve from questions about whether I want to colour the encroaching grey in my hair. Win.
• The woman at the paint store. I kept asking about no-VOC paint for our living room, and she kept steering me towards other options that – bless her – work just as well but aren’t as pricey. So when I asked for the Eco-paint I felt I should explain myself a little. So I told her, and the colleague next to her, with whom I proceeded to have a lovely chat about baby room colour schemes.
• An entire B&B-full of people in Ellicottville, in upstate New York. (When you’re not drinking, and have to go to bed at 9:30 p.m., you’re either disturbingly boring or pregnant. I really wanted to make sure they knew it wasn’t the former! The reactions were lovely, too. So much happiness from strangers!)
• Other women waiting in IVF and OB clinics. NOTE: This is always a delicate situation, and mentioning your success can drive a stake into the heart of struggling couples. Only reveal if asked directly.
• The cheerful lady who makes us coffee during our regular Saturday visits to the Farmer’s Market. How else to explain my sudden fixation with decaf-free tea?
• My co-chair on a volunteer community board, given a heads-up that I’ll have to step down in the new year.
• My beautiful aunt in Australia, who has terminal cancer and was comparing needle routines with me throughout the IVF cycle.
You get the idea. Really close friends and family have been kept in the loop since the IVF treatment started – my folks, sister, and Aussie besties. We figured that, if it didn’t work, we’d want their support anyhow, so there’s no risk in sharing the info. Also, the Husband’s niece is my age and had twins a few years ago through IVF, so we looped her in before the transfer to get insider info. Since then, it’s been a bit of a minefield. Family? Check. Good friends? Slowly but surely, while making sure we avoided cross-pollination by repeating ‘It’s still early days, so we’re not telling many people….’.
We’re now adopting a double-pronged approach: Phone good friends who haven’t yet been informed (but who totally know what’s up, thanks to the fact that I have not been drinking alcomohol), and write the good news in Christmas cards to far-flung friends whom we want to tell in person, but have trouble matching time zones for phone calls. It’s working well so far, except for a couple of Facebook alarms with people posting on my wall. Thanks for your message, but *DELETE!* And yes, despite my aversion to sharing really personal stuff on the FB-Empire, we’ll probably post something there around Christmas or New Year’s.
The big take-away? Here’s some tips I’ve received and a realized:
– Don’t be scared to tell people before 12-weeks, if they are the people you’ll likely turn to for support if something does go wrong.
– Do keep repeating ‘It’s early days, so we’re not telling many people….’ That makes friends feel special, and subtly tells them not to share the news.
– Don’t trust your Mum to keep it to herself. She won’t. Even if you make it really clear that she must. Oh well.
– Do come up with a good cover story for all of the changes that are going on. Not drinking? You’re on a cleanse. Feeling tired? Too much time at work/the gym/whatevs. Feeling queasy and are about to faint? (Don’t laugh – it happened to me.) Grab some food and laugh at how you’ve been too busy to eat all day (thus backing up excuse #2).
– And finally, don’t rush the big reveal. Telling people is great, but having something to tell is pretty special too. Enjoy the secretiveness of it all.