Why I’ve been hiding my pregnancy
I didn’t announce my pregnancy at work until I was nearly halfway through, looking like this.
I’m not going to pretend that people didn’t already know. I’m not a huge woman, so when a growth the size of a beach ball suddenly appeared under my shirt, people must have noticed. Luckily for me, Scottish people are very polite and awkward, so they kindly avoided pointing out my ballooning stomach. They were either too afraid to ask if I was pregnant in case I was just getting a bit fat (one of the worst mistakes you can make), or they assumed – correctly – that I didn’t want to talk about it.
Up until now, I haven’t talked about my pregnancy on my blog or social media either. There are people who post up photos of their positive pregnancy test before the urine has even dried, and I marvel at those people. How can they be so confident? So sure? So…excited?
When you’ve had two miscarriages in quick succession like I have, a positive pregnancy test is no longer a source of excitement. All you can imagine is months of uncertainty, where every trip to the toilet to pee is terrifying. The weeks stretch out in front of you, and you know you will spend them questioning every twinge and every symptom. You will wonder if you should be more nauseous, if your belly should be bigger, if you’re feeling any different from the last time. You won’t do any cute Facebook announcements or blog posts with teasing titles (“I have some big news to share…”). You will remain quietly, uncomfortably pregnant for as long as possible.
I had an additional reason for wanting to keep my pregnancy a bit hush-hush – a new job. I was excited about this new role, and I knew I could be good at it. I wanted time to prove that before interrupting a team meeting to say, “Hey guys! So thrilled to be part of the team! Also, I’m going to be leaving you for the better part of a year after Christmas. You’re still glad to have me, right?”
Over 54,000 UK women lose their jobs every year due to pregnancy discrimination, and I wasn’t afraid that I was going to be one of them. I’m lucky to work for an employer that isn’t going to chuck me out on the street after 11 years because I happen to be growing a small person in my uterus. That didn’t stop me from worrying that I was going to let people down, like people who supported me when I applied for this job, the manager who hired me and my new team members. For a classic Type-A overachiever like me, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re a disappointment.
This isn’t to say that I’m not happy to be pregnant, because I am. But I’m never going to be one of those women who claims to love being pregnant and urges other women to savour every moment. Pregnancy is full of lots of scary, gross and uncomfortable moments, and it’s okay not to enjoy them. The social media world, which is littered with blurry scan photos and cutesy gender reveal videos, can make those of us who find pregnancy overwhelming feel like we’re doing it all wrong.
That’s what finally got me to write this post. Part of me thought I might go through this pregnancy without ever mentioning it publicly until I’d actually had the baby, at which point I’d say, “Oh yeah, did I forget to mention this little thing that I’ve been working on for the past 9 months?” But I wanted to speak to all of the other pregnant women out there who are just trying to endure pregnancy rather than reveling it it. Whether you’ve experienced losses, suffer from anxiety or just don’t think what’s happening in your uterus is the world’s business, it’s okay – normal, actually – to have mixed feelings about your pregnancy. You don’t love your unborn child any less because carrying them around inside you for nine months is kind of freaking you out.
Just take a deep breath, mama, eat some cake and remember that you’re not alone.