Going Public

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!)

Playdough Alien, or Living Proof?


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?


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Sean Palmer

Congratulations Again! I’m so glad to know that your children are blessed with parents who love God and God’s people. It will be awesome witness for both of them as they mature and grow!!!!
God’s Love,
Palmer (Your Eternal Intern!)

Peggy Ridley

Oh please oh please oh please, give someone the whiskey comment! And let me know before you do it so I can witness the awesomeness!!!!

That said, congrats. 🙂 And the Jessica (Box) LaGrone I know will do JUST fine with two.

Kristen H

Following our gig announcement a couple of years ago I had someone ask how long we had been trying. After sharing a very quick version of a very long story, she responded with “oh that’s not long at all…” and made sure to share that her road to motherhood HAD to have been much more difficult. I think we forget that you rarely know someone’s full story. I think in a church you end up with a heavier load of questions that you just wish they would actually attempt to run through an oft-forgotten brain/word filter!

Kristen H

or perhaps our “big” announcement… sheesh, it’s like I’m married to a musician or something. 😛


Imagine being 7,8,9 months pregnant, teaching Life Science and coaching 7th grade basketball. All while wearing the lovely polyester pregnancy pants with the huge elastic panel insert in the front. Oh and disecting frogs, earthworms, and calf brains. Then you get the kids who touch you and say “It’s hard” my response “I’m not Santa and this is not a bowl full of jelly”. Or the smarties who ask you in Life Science “Did you get that way on purpose?” Or the male coaches who die laughing at you running up and down the gym floor with huge belly and huge mammary glands. Oh and everyone wants to touch and no one seems to think there is a need to ask first. Second pregnancy got asked “Was this an accident or did you mean to get pregnant again”? Or “How did this happen again so quickly” (girls are 16 months apart. I always wanted to say “I didn’t know how it happened the first time so how would I know this time?”
Really am thrilled for you and Jim and big brother Drew. It will be crazy for awhile but now I don’t really remember it being that difficult. Maybe I was just young and didn’t know any different.

Debbie P

Most frequent responses I received after announcing my 6 pregnancies:Are you Catholic? Are you Mormon? My response-No, I am just Methodist and fertile. The other frequent response -Do you know where babies come from? That was from my father-in law!
Looking forward to “sharing” your pregnancy through your blog and I promise not to belly rub you at church!


Oh, there isn’t time enough for me to type what I could say about being asked for details as to why your life doesn’t fit the stereotypical norm persons expect # but suffice it to say, single women manage to get questions about men, marriage and motherhood that can seem awfully personal as well as suggestions to rectify the situation that are more than pushy. I’ve come to realize that it is norm we’ve bought into as a culture/society and try to discern if this is my chance to help persons think about those of us who are outliers or is it better to smile, make some witty comment and move on with my day.
Regardless, I am thrilled for you, Jim and Drew – looking forward to giving you a hug in person in a few weeks and hope I can manage doing so without accidentally groping your belly!

Jenn Nusbaum

We got asked the “were you trying” also question and it is a bit odd to answer… I’m not sure people really want the details that question could elicit if I was a more open person. I just figure people ask questions that maybe they were asked or have heard asked without even thinking of the ramifications or how it sounds.
I am so happy for y’all. I didn’t know your struggles so that makes it even more epic news- and a good reason for keeping such an exciting secret!
Sadly, I’m sure you’ll get even more inappropriate questions since the pool of people you’re around is much larger than most. 🙂 But just know the message behind those ill-thought-out questions is their excitement to see a wonderful family growing. And as for the belly groping…my guess is it’ll be worse this time around. 🙁 Sorry!!!


Absolutely-we would be asked constantly why we didn’t have kids and we began to just tell people we were infertile to stop the questioning but also to help save them the uncomfortable response to their question. And ohhhhhh the comments-I just knew they would come. “oh just stop trying and it will happen.”. “you’re trying too hard.”. Etc

I had to come to a place where I knew it was best to ‘beat people to the punch’and just let them know our situation and then just brace myself for the comments, suggestions and well meaning advice. I realized they just care and have absolutely no idea what it is like to be where we are. It also gave me much to share in terms of horror stories:). I just hope that they got it all out on me and maybe are a bit more sensitive to the next person. I think of us as guinea pigs-say it to us so you DON’T say it to someone else!

Carly Smith

I will just laugh, agree with you, and we can share stories later! Love you and we are so excited for y’all!

Stephanie Johnson

It is almost like you are a celebrity and people can’t wait to know all about it so that they feel important. I was just talking about this the other day and how people obsess over celebrities and want to know everything about their lives.
As a church pastor there are so many people who look up to you and have heard about how wonderful you are! It is a strange feeling, one I have recently started to experience, when you have done wonderful things and people want to be in your space and know everything they can about you! It is crazy. Or when you walk into a room and everyone knows you and is so excited to meet you.
I love to touch baby bellies but I only touch them when I know they are full of baby and I am really good friends with the Mom (like me rubbing Kate’s Monday).
I am so excited for you, Jim, and Drew! Can’t wait to find out if it will be a baby brother or a baby sister! You will be an awesome mommy of 2!

Angela Haislip

Just wait until you find out the sex! If it’s another boy, people will ask you if you will try again for a girl. Or they will expect you to be dissapointed. If it is a girl, you will get all kinds of comments about having a “set”. Having two is hard, but you will be great at it 🙂

guy m williams

Regarding “trying” and planning the length of time between children, you know we’re not the poster children. All I’m saying is birth control is 99% effective. I am the 1%.

Teri Rojas

They do expect the whiskey answer!! I love reading your stories – you somehow manage to get all of your emotions into what you have to say – that’s hard to do but you seem to do it effortlessly. I am so happy for you and Jim – and Drew! Congratulations!


I prefer to think that the grandiose or expressly sarcastic and creative answer is the best. And be sure to tell everyone something different. Alien abduction of you and Jim and you had to flip a coin to see which one would carry the bug-eyed love child. Slipped on some soap. Tequila. Joel Green said to go forth and have sects… wait, wrong word. DRAT!

As someone who will probably die of shock if I ever post the news on FB (“I’m gonna be a daddy!”) and I do mean die… of…. shock, I am so proud of you and Jim, excited that God still works miracles, and hopeful that blessings will abound.

Lynda Willis

Dear Jessica, The last couple of times that I saw you, I noticed you were incredibly beautiful and glowing, but I thought it was just your reaction to the Christmas season! Please add my congratulations to the other 9000 you’ve received. How will you ever handle two? Your life will be twice as crazy, twice as busy and twice as blessed. Thanks for sharing your wonderful news. Love you, my sweet friend!

Nate Robb

This is I’m guessing the best explanation of the entire pregnancy process, I think you have done a great job of putting it out there. Some people are only as smart as the last thing they were told. I think you should be more selective on giving out those communion wafers, rub some bellies, then ask their intentions, and if it was planed. Good luck, and congrats.

Bryce S.

I don’t think people realize how intrusive their comments or questions really are as they say them. This is especially true when their words are regarding something very personal or difficult to the person to which they are speaking. I got the, “were you trying question?” when we were pregnant with number #3.” All I’ll say now is UGH! Stop asking me that! (But what I really wanted to say was, “It’s none of anybody’s business so please stop asking me! A simple congratulations will do.”

I constantly have to deal with people sharing their perception of what is wrong with Grace. I get a lot of comments about Grace when I am out with her. In fact, I can’t think of one time in her entire life that I have taken her out in public that someone hasn’t commented on how tired they think that she is. People always feel inclined to comment about how sleepy they think she looks. I even got a look from the GAP lady as I was trying to fit her for a winter coat but due to her low muscle tone was struggling to get the coat on. The saleswoman kept staring at me with a what-kind-of-mother-are-you look as she assumed that I was forcing my child to continue shopping during her sleepiness. Then, she apologized profusely as I explained my child has developmental delay and low muscle tone so trying on clothes was difficult for us. She proceeded to offer her help to me and Grace but at that time was no longer necessary (because I was leaving the store.) I think the thing that gets me through the annoyance, shock, and at times irritation is by reminding myself that the onlookers and their words are with good intention.

Liza Bryant

Congratulations Jessica!!! We are so happy for you and Jim!! Drew will be a wonderful big brother! Hope you are feeling good ! You are so blessed! Have a wonderful Christmas if we dont see you all!

Colly Enochs

I’m so happy for you Jessica and yes, i’ve had way too much information shared and asked of me in the past. Luckily, I’ve lost too many brain cells to the children I have created, that I do not recall what they were! God is good! lol! And I can NOT wait for the belly groping stories later! I prefered an 18 inch bubble around my belly that no one could breech but my mother, sister, husband, doctor and children. lol. 🙂


I am sure that at some time out of shock, I have said…Were you trying? We all say stupid stuff not thinking. But my friends who have struggled to conceive and others who accidently got pregnant at inconvenant moments have taught me to wait and listen… then respond.

I am thrilled there is a new little LaGrone on the way. Tears are filling up in eyes now…so much love dear friend. Much love.


I have 4 children and have endured that question more times than I can remember.

My first children were twins, and in addition to asking if we were trying, total strangers would ask if they were “natural”, or if we “used fertility”. There was no medical assistance in my pregnancy, but I still thought it was a very rude question, knowing the pain that many friends have endured, “trying” .

Next, after they were born (boy/girl), those same total strangers that asked if they were “natural” would then ask if they were “Identical” # Depending on if they asked the question about “natural” or not, I would tailor my answer to be less direct, but I would usually respond that with identical twins, EVERYTHING must be identical, therefore, they would have to be the same sex. I knew nothing about twins until I was blessed with the gift of parenting them, so I don’t hold it against anyone for not knowing, but if you are bold enough to ask me about my fertility, I can then make you feel a little stupid for asking if a girl and boy are identical.

My 2nd pregnancy (3rd child) involved more of the normal questions and a lot of tummy groping. My body naturally went to the same size it was with twins, and a few people even had the nerve to ask me if I was having TWINS … again. I would just laugh… okay, I even cried a few times.

With Prego #4 (Baby #3), again some asked if I was having twins, and one stranger in Walmart even said to me “Twins or Triplets?”. But… the thing that got me was the number of total strangers that would say “don’t you know what is causing this”, like it was a disease that I didn’t know how to cure. I will admit that number 4 was not planned, but we hadn’t decided not to have a #4 either. We looked at it, a bit overwhelmed, as God making our decision for us. He was still a gift, even though our plate was already full. We wouldn’t trade the family we have for anything.

I agree that it is baffling the things that people will say. Most are innocent mistakes, but it is interesting to observe it all.

Congratulations on your miracle! You will be a great mom of 2 # and it all comes to you as you navigate through it…


Oh people are unbelievable. I’m sure there’s no end to the comments and questions that can be posed! Bottom line#you are having another sweet baby!!! Bask in it! It is the only time you allow yourself to eat things that are cooked in BACON GREASE, have inorganic ingredients, and are otherwise unhealthy. Enjoy!! Embrace the pregnancy glow. It is a real glow, and it is not facial grease from overactive pores. 🙂


God’s timing is always perfect. I was looking at the list of staff for your church(which is very long!) and was drawn to your name because my husband leads worship at our church. Then I clicked on your blog. Today…this morning….we found out we are pregnant, after a miscarriage a few months ago. I could really relate to your story;) God is good, and we trust in His promises always.

Michelle Hanes

A late reply: yes people say stupid things…probably because they do not seem stupid coming from their orientation at that moment. We read our own lives into others…and want the pieces of the puzzle to fit. And then there is the shock and awe factor. With twins….I often received comments like: “wow u must be due any day”…..no ma’am I’m 30 weeks.” Wow…is it twins? Why yes it is………(long pause) followed by stare of disbelief and often the question…were they natural?
But then again if only I had a dollar for every time I put my foot in my mouth. You may find the most direct answer to be the best…..subtlety sometimes prolongs the agony. They even make T-shirts that answer these questions.
You will do great w two…like most things…anything worthwhile is difficult at first….but before long it will be hard to imagine life any different. You aren’t outnumbered yet…so that is a plus 🙂 best wishes…..Michelle