I am eleven weeks pregnant. Pregnant enough to know that I’m having a boy (yes, we did the blood test). Pregnant enough to see that little boy creature skimmy away from the pressure of the sonogram wand. Pregnant enough that buttoning my skinny jeans now causes more than moderate discomfort. Pregnant enough that in my weaker of moments I am overcome with panic that I will not be ready with a name or a crib or anything even remotely resembling a plan. Because, for all intents and purposes, I’m not actually pregnant yet in my day to day life. Because, if you believe all those pregnancy website talking points, eleven weeks pregnant is actually not pregnant enough to be pregnant in public.
I’ve never understood why this is the case. The vast majority of pregnancies lead to healthy, full-term babies, so why is pregnancy not something we announce with joy at the first peed-on plus-signed stick? There is a far greater chance that each new marriage will end in divorce, but this doesn’t keep us from plastering our friends, family and Facebook with pictures of our engagement ring the minute it hits our fingers. Is it shame of miscarriage? Refusal to share our fear or grief or weird early pregnancy weight gain publicly? Or just one more way in which our culture frowns upon the true physicality of being female?
This reticence around the first trimester makes an already difficult experience even more uncomfortable. It heightens the fear that miscarriage is always looming and limits our support system in the case that miscarriage does occur. Increases the isolation of unanswered questions. Further complicates what will already be a complicated work situation. Why can’t we just come out with it?
I am obviously inclined to share early, as evidenced by my proclivity toward over-sharing (aka: why I have a blog), but my sometimes less than warm and fuzzy work environment gave me pause. Will my political adversaries take potshots at me and my pregnancy brain (what? office politics in higher ed? no…)? Will my colleagues and staff second guess my ability to maintain my usual over the top pace? Will I myself second guess my ability to maintain my over the top pace?
Initially, it was this fear that kept me quiet. And ultimately it was this fear that made me come out with it.
I’m slowing down. This first trimester has not been easy. Fitting into high heels and slim fit work fashion has not been comfortable. Sticking it out through meetings when I need to pee or retch or even just unbutton those unforgiving pants has been quite near torture. I’ve been waking later, leaving earlier, waiting several hours to respond to weekend emails because napping just seems so much more important.
In my world (or at least in my head), slowing down is stressful, scary even, especially with the fall semester just around the corner. Right at the moment when I need everyone around me to speed up, I’ve been watching myself – and watching others watch me – inexplicably moving like molasses through the day. I needed to explain that inexplicable.
I fear I may have broken some sort of secret maternal code, to stay silent in pregnant meditation until society deems it appropriate, the way some cultures isolate women through the dirty days of menstruation. But appropriate or not, this week I went to work in a dress belted above my belly, unabashedly drank milk (no coffee) at my desk in the morning, and left the same meeting twice for bathroom breaks. And while I still have hints of regret, of what if worries and of political paranoias, I have to say my molasses has been moving just a little bit faster without the weight of my big secret stressors to hold me back.