A week or two ago I made plans to have dinner with a co-worker. As we were heading out she mentioned something about the amazing cocktails the restaurant was famous for, in reply I said, “I know, when I was pregnant the bartender made a special virgin cocktail that was delicious.” That’s when the awkward silence kicked in. It was as if I made this taboo statement that made her uncomfortable and unsure how to respond.
Truthfully, the statement sort of slipped out. I spent 12 long weeks protectively hiding my pregnancy from friends, co-workers, and even close family members. When the pregnancy unexpectedly ended, I couldn’t get on the phone with those same friends and family members fast enough. I was in pain and needed a shoulder (multiple shoulders) to cry on.
In the weeks that followed my pregnancy, I spent a long time questioning how to move on. Do I pretend this pregnancy never existed? Do I forget how sick I was trying to find a Chick Fil A after work because it was the only thing I knew would make me feel better? Do I pretend I never had to playfully argue with a bartender when he questioned why I wanted a virgin cocktail? (I mean, it was happy hour after all) Do I ignore the fact I had pregnancy brain and let more than one thing completely slip from my mind?
…Or do I celebrate the pregnancy and the life that resulted from it – no matter how short that life was?
My one and only “bump” photo taken at 11 weeks.
It took a while to make pregnancy related statements without succumbing to tears, but eventually it happened. I didn’t want to forget the pregnancy or make believe it never happened. So I began openly talking more about the pregnancy, not just that it ended, but how I felt while pregnant.
I think I threw my co-worker off when I referenced being pregnant when I no longer was. Once a pregnancy ends, the topic of that pregnancy becomes taboo, but I wanted to let her know that wasn’t the case. It’s okay to talk about the symptoms, the joy, and even the pain. I want to talk about it and acknowledge the pregnancy did in fact happen and wasn’t just a dream. I don’t want her to feel sad every time I mention it, it’s just another part of my history – just like any other life event.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wife’s baby shower. Of course, baby showers – especially ones where the majority of those in attendance are already moms – usually turn into an afternoon of reminiscing and storytelling. The topic of pregnancy related cravings/ avoidances came up at one point and one cousin told a story of how she couldn’t stand the smell of food cooking while pregnant and how one particular incident involving her husband trying to do something nice by cooking dinner, led to an evening attached to the toilet while the house aired out. Everyone laughed and I was tempted to tell my own antidote of how my husband and I basically survived on take-out while I was pregnant because the only thing I wanted was chicken tenders, French fries, and burgers (which is really, really unusual for me). However, I stopped myself before moving forward. While I was okay telling the story, I didn’t want it to become awkward, just as the conversation had turned with my co-worker. I didn’t want the room to become sad or lose the celebrating atmosphere. So I held my tongue and just smiled and nodded while everyone shared.
Those stories are every mom’s badge of honor and I suddenly felt like an outsider who lost her access to the mom club. There are still tricky situations, as there always will be in life, and I’m learning to take them one step at a time.
Sometimes I write posts just to get my thoughts out there and I have no idea how to end them or if I even have a point. Perhaps I just want to let others out there know “it’s okay.” It’s okay to talk about it, it’s okay to acknowledge it, and it’s okay to remember.