Only epic Facebook news could produce 314 “likes” and 195 comments.*
And epic news is what we have. Jim and I were blown away by the congratulatory responses to our announcement on Facebook last week that we are expecting a baby in June of 2012. Who knew so many people wanted us to continue to procreate? We are awed and grateful at everyone who wished our growing little family well.
*(Cumulatively between my status announcement timed precisely with Jim’s status announcement. Can’t have one parent scooping the other on the internet!)
Going public with news that has been a family secret for a few months has been fun – and a little overwhelming. Public for us means MUCHO public, like 1400-Facebook-friends and 9000-church-members-public. Jim was keeping count of how many people he had never met before came up to congratulate him at church Sunday. He has it easy – I got “belly-groped” the very first day I started telling people at church. As in – “I’m only 13 weeks pregnant and that’s just my chubby abdomen you’re rubbing, lady.” I’m sure I’ll have enough material for a full post about belly-groping soon, so I’ll save it now.
When I told people that I was pregnant with Drew, I was amazed at how excited relative strangers were for us, and how personal people immediately got with me. How eager they were to share very, very specific details of their own pregnancies, deliveries and (yes, Virginia) breast-feeding experiences without prompting.
If you and I are on a first name basis, I’m not talking about you here. I was so new and green to the whole mommy-hood experience that I was seeking advice from all familiar quarters. But it’s a little disconcerting to have someone whose name you don’t actually know share the inner secrets of their lady-parts, their ability to squirt milk across a room, or the fact that they breastfed their children until they were seven years old. (None of these stories are exaggerated, I assure you.)
The personal nature of conversations with strangers wasn’t limited to their experiences. People had questions. Lots of questions. If people shared personal things during my first pregnancy, they were even more adamant in their personal questions. They wanted me to reciprocate with information about my pregnancy and delivery and parenting plans. This week that trend has begun again, including a question that I don’t remember being asked the first time around:
“Were you trying?”
A gentleman in his 60’s first asked the question the day we went public with our info, and I just stared at him for a moment, dumbfounded. My answer to personal questions, as always, is just not to answer at all. So he just kept talking: “I didn’t know you were trying.” My response: “It’s not something you generally post in the church newsletter.” Not taking the hint he responded: “Well, maybe that’s something you just share with your girlfriends, I just didn’t know you were going for it again!” I wasn’t aware that he expected an update!
Several more questions about “trying” (though slightly more delicately worded) have been posed this week. I’m sure many people aren’t shy about sharing that they had a plan for family planning, or that they intentionally planned their children a certain number of years apart. (Although what’s the alternative response to this question? “No, it was a total accident! Things got out of hand after a couple of shots of whiskey one night and we just threw caution to the wind…” Is that a response they’re prepared for?)
For many people I’m sure that answering questions about the intentions behind their pregnancies is just a normal part of a normal childbearing experience. But it feels like a very, very personal question when you haven’t had any “normal” in your childbearing experience at all. When your experience involves infertility and miscarriage, doctors offices and tests, surgeries and treatments, when grief is as much a part of your efforts to build a family as hope, “trying” is a very trying process indeed. One that we’ve not shared with many people outside of our inner circle.
When a baby is the result of years of a private cycle of ardent hope and shattered dreams, when a plus sign on a stick doesn’t always have a happy ending, going public feels a little like wearing your heart on the outside of your clothes. The first few months of keeping the news to ourselves feels like we have a delicious secret, one that we’d love to share with people, but also one that we’re not quite ready to fully admit to ourselves. The moment of telling, of taking the personal and putting it in the public domain, is a bittersweet one. My voice catches a little in my throat when I say the words “I’m pregnant!” to people. Because I’m not just telling them. I’m really telling myself over and over: This is for real. It’s happening. It’s time to stop being scared and be happy. And then be scared again.
Because, Oh My Gosh, how on earth will I ever handle two???
Commenters: Have people ever shared or asked you for too much information?