Prev Next

Hiding a Pregnancy Until You’re Ready to Tell

By Amalah

pregnancy calendarDear Amalah,

Since having my first child, I’ve had two miscarriages. With the first one, we had told a lot of family. After going through the discomfort of having to talk to so many people about the loss, we decided to wait until the end of the first trimester for any future pregnancies. At the time of the second pregnancy, I told a couple close friends who could give me the right sort of support and I’ve since told a few other friends.

As I am writing this, I am 4 weeks and 4 days pregnant. I feel optimistic about this one, but still plan on waiting until at least week 13 to say anything. I’m starting to realize that this will be harder than before because we now live close to my in-laws. In fact, we usually spend part of the weekend at their house, giving our son plenty of grandparent time.

Our time there almost always includes two meals, which may require tactful avoidance of certain foods. Luckily the feta cheese they like to serve is pasteurized, but I’ll have to turn down cold-cut lunches. And then there’s the nausea, which is stronger than previous pregnancies and which grows stronger right about dinnertime.

I won’t even go into detail about the gas, dizzy spells, and general exhaustion. Or that my pants are already tight from the bloating and I figure I’ll be in maternity wear sooner than later, given that this is my fourth pregnancy.

Any hints for how I can work around the pregnancy symptoms and keep my secret until the end of July without simply avoiding my in-laws? Is it completely obvious only to me and my partner, but something others will overlook? Has my mother-in-law already figured it out and we’ll all just be pretending for the next two months?

Here’s hoping I can avoid puking on the breakfast table for that long.
M.A.

This is one of those “you do the best you can” situations, and then hope that the other people involved (i.e. your in-laws) have a modicum of sense and sensitivity in case your best isn’t good enough.

Translation: you admit nothing, you spend the next nine weeks with a Mona Lisa smile plastered all over your face while you turn down cold cuts (“I’m trying to cut back on my sodium!”) and wine (“I’m detoxing/training for a marathon/celebrating Lent at a non-traditional time of year!”) and re-emerge from the bathroom after puking (“Must have been some bad sushi!), and you hope that your in-laws are polite enough to let you announce the news, even if they have indeed figured it out. You probably have about a 50-50 shot. People tend to be more oblivious than we assume they are, but there may come a point where it just IS obvious, and unless you take to your chambers like an olde timey Victorian lady, there’s not much you can do about it. Baggy tops and acting skills will only get you so far.

Given your history of miscarriages, you would THINK that they’d understand. Of course, they might also think, “but we’re FAMILY! we’re DIFFERENT! we have a RIGHT TO KNOW!” They might also be the type who might simply blurt it out the second it dawns on them at the dinner table. If this happens, I generally believe there’s no sense in continuing on with a charade (unless it’s at work or another situation where you have a definite right to your privacy). For family, I’d just own up to it, while gently letting them know that it is REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU that they tell NO ONE until you’re ready to announce it at week 13. NO ONE. No hairdressers, no distant cousins, no local media outlets. NO ONE.
Depending on when your miscarriages occurred, you might want to set your sights on six weeks for now, since you sound a little stressed out by the thought of trying to keep the secret for over two more months. Once you see the heartbeat, maybe. Even if you still don’t want to announce it to the world at large, you can relax a little bit on the need for TOP SECRET DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR all the time around the in-laws. If they figure it out, well, you’ve got a decent shot at not having to crush their excitement later. Then aim for 10 or 11 weeks, once you can hear the heartbeat via a doppler or get the nuchal fold transparency ultrasound. Before you know it, you’re in the second trimester and can start liberally spreading the news.

I really do think the onus is on OTHER PEOPLE to have a lick of decency when they’ve figured out a pregnancy. You just shouldn’t assume or say anything. Ever! Common sense, really. If someone mistook a case of the stomach flu for a pregnancy back when I was struggling to conceive and said something to me, I would have run away and spent the rest of the day crying. I mean, it’s no different than later on: I don’t care if a woman looks like she has a beach ball under her shirt, I am NOT saying anything unless she explicitly tells me or is leaking amniotic fluid all over my shoes. (Even then! You never know! She could have bladder control issues! DON’T ASK IF SHE’S PREGNANT UNTIL THE BABY IS CROWNING.)

A coworker “figured it out” before I was ready to announce my first pregnancy — I’d told maybe two or three close friends at work, since I was puking and falling asleep and bloated and GAH. I did not choose to tell him, however, even though we were friends. He just…wasn’t one of the people I felt like dealing with in case something happened. He figured it out and decided that it was perfectly appropriate to walk into my office and ask if I was “knocked up” and when I was going to star “acting all crazy and stuff.”

RIGHT NOW, I should have responded, since the next morning I was meeting with HR to have a little chat about how a certain male coworker needed a refresher course on “boundaries” and “leaving Amy the eff alone for the next eight months, because really, she might kill him.”

I know that’s not an exact parallel to your situation or anything, but still. That’s my opinion of premature pregnancy assumers. By the time I did go public at work, almost everybody had figured it out, or at least strongly suspected. (The way I dressed ended up being the biggest giveaway, since I was SO OBVIOUSLY wearing baggier clothes and thought this was somehow less obvious than a tiny little pooch that was really only noticeable to me.) But they waited until I said something. Because they were smart people who knew not to mess with a nauseated and hormonal pregnant girl.
I wish you nothing but tons and tons of luck, with both keeping the secret AND the pregnancy.

 

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jessica
Guest
Jessica

I had two miscarriages before I had my first child ( a boy born on December 27th). With the the first pregnancy we told EVERYONE right away. And then had a lot of untelling to do. With the second we told family and a few close friends but it was still too many people to have deal with. So when the third time happened we didn’t tell anyone at first. We barely spoke about it to each other for the first six weeks. We told family and the same close friends at about nine weeks but made them swear not… Read more »

ryley
Guest
ryley

The beggining is SOOO hard. With my first (now 5 months old) I really wanted to wait. I had a rough couple of first weeks, severe cramping and lots of bleeding. I thought for sure I would miscarry. 900 doctor appointment later I found out I had a subchronic hemmorage and placenta previa. My little peanut was fine. At the time my husbands sister was just about to give birth and that made us want to wait to tell everyone even more. We didnt want to over shadow her baby. Those first few weeks KILLED me.. I felt like anyone… Read more »

Gina
Guest

It won’t be easy, but you can do it! I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd the day I agreed to take on a promotion & be involved in pitching a new client. Given it was my 2nd, I was in larger-sized clothes around 6 weeks & my co-workers figured things out pretty quickly thereafter. But we didn’t want to tell the potential client that their account person would be out the first 12 weeks of our contract. Finding the right clothes was the key. I also became really good at the social events. At parties, I’d either… Read more »

AJU5's Mom
Guest

I miscarried at the beginning of the year and am now 15 weeks pregnant again. We told everyone at 13 weeks 1 day (Mother’s Day). A few people had been on to us because I get SEVERE morning sickness (worst in the evening like M.A.), but they kept their suspicions to themselves (until we announced it). One thing I did do was bear baggy clothes that I already had an occasionally wore. I didn’t have to go into the “maternity” box until week 13 though luckily. As for what to do – maybe ask for a “hot” sandwich if they… Read more »

Molly
Guest
Molly

We had two miscarriages between our son in 2005 and the girl who’s due later this month. I found out I was pregnant the week I started a new job. It was a total nightmare trying to keep it quiet for three months, especially those three months, the throwing up, bloated, exhausted, whacked-out, stressed-out three months until you know everything’s okay. Hopefully they won’t ask. You might volunteer to do some of the cooking and shopping, so that you get some say-so into what you eat. In lieu of a cold-cut sandwich, volunteer for grilled-cheese duty or tuna melt duty… Read more »

Annemie
Guest
Annemie

I was in the exact same situation – great first pregnancy, second and third were miscarriages (at 6 and 11 weeks, respectively), and am now 18 weeks along with what looks to be a perfectly normal pregnancy. My miscarriages were last fall, and a fair number of people knew about both. This pregnancy, my husband and I kept it very hush-hush – my parents and a couple of friends ONLY. Then I fainted dead away at work at 11 weeks… Given that I’m a labor and delivery nurse, my co-workers absolutely positively knew what was up after that, but they… Read more »

Sheila
Guest
Sheila

My favorite answer to prying questions about when we’d be having a baby was, “No news yet!” Which was true because while I was pregnant, I wasn’t sharing that info, so I genuinely did not have news for them. Yet.

lolismum
Guest
lolismum

I don’t understand what the big deal is, personally. I have two children, and I also had 2 miscarriages. If people noticed and asked, I replied whichever way I deemed appropriate at the time . Mostly with ” Yes I am pregnant, but it’s very early.” After I miscarried, some people asked me about my due date and I said I had miscarried. I was sad and upset, but not at them, at the miscarriage itself. People usually just said they were sorry and it ended the conversation. People ask/say inappropriate things all the time, and as much as I… Read more »

Jess
Guest

As one of the people that tends to blurt out “are you knocked up” i have to say that I think people are being a little hypersensitive to that question. I agree with lolismum that the intentions are good and I think it’s silly to consider it “good sense” to not say anything especially to a very close family member. Maybe not at work just because someone’s looking a little bloated, but to your darn daughter in law??? It’s not out of line to ask….

liber
Guest
liber

I am sorry, I think it is out of line to ask because if they haven’t told you, there is a reason. I know the intentions are good, but after a miscarriage and even without one, a pregnancy is something of the couple and it is polite to wait until they want to share the news and not add stress them making them think of extra excuses or making them tell you when they are not ready to.

gizella
Guest
gizella

due to some medical constraints because of a medication I was on, believe or not I told almost no one but our parents about my pregnancy until 5 months along. It was awful. I didn’t know if I could enjoy this time, or if I would have to terminate due to some unthinkable defect due to my medicine. It was awful. My boss, when I told her, said “That explains all your bitchy behavior”. There will always be one person. You can do it, and do it your way. Protect yourself and your family, a parenting golden rule you are… Read more »

Brenda
Guest

Ouch. I’m definitely one of the people who spots pregnancies early. I figured out my coworker was pregnant when she was five weeks. (Not from how she looked, but from a shift in language about her family.) My favorite technique has been to say, “So anything new happening in your life?” and then being quiet until they break and ‘fess up. Where do you think that falls in the rude/not rude category?

amalah
Guest

I dunno. Some people are going to be sensitive. They’re still stinging from having to re-tell people that they lost a pregnancy, from years of thinking it would never happen, worried about repercussions at work, and I still don’t think that’s unreasonable. It’s not the same for everybody and every pregnancy and every loss and blah blah blah. But if someone hasn’t told you that they’re pregnant, they probably haven’t told you for a reason. I’d prefer (personally) if my friends and family respected that reason, even if they disagreed with it or didn’t see the point. It’s big, exciting… Read more »

professormama
Guest
professormama

I think it depends on how hard it will be for you to talk about another miscarriage. I had an easy first pregnancy and healthy baby and then a miscarriage at 8 weeks with my second pregnancy. We had told family and a few close friends, and while it was very disappointing, my miscarriage was natural and didn’t require a D&C- so the experience of it made me feel ok, it didn’t really feel like losing a baby. It was weird to tell people about it, mostly because they seemed to feel so bad, I was very glad not to… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

I think people are generally just excited and don’t realize that the question might not be welcome. However, in a situation where someone has suffered previous miscarriages, I would think a little more sensitivity would be expected. I’ve found that if you really don’t want to tell, you need to be prepared to lie. Since I don’t think it’s anyone’s business, I’m ok with lying. But you have to be ready for it, because generally, when confronted with a direct question, we at least pause slightly before lying, which will totally give you away. So have your line ready AND… Read more »

Della
Guest

To Lolismum and others who genuinely care and are excited and want to join in- that is understandable and also sweet. At the same time, realize that especially with someone who has had miscarriage(s), or anyone that has a reason to be nervous about their outcome, your knowing and being excited can make their lives harder. Not only are their own hopes up, hanging out there precariously, but they can feel as if they are letting YOU down, too, if the worst happens. Plus, if they were to lose their baby, you would be aware of their grief, and maybe… Read more »

MA
Guest
MA

Original poster here. My partner and I discussed this issue and have come to the consensus that my mother-in-law will probably not say anything since she knows how hard the first miscarriage was for us. (We never told her about the second because at such times she feels a real need to take care of people and we both need some space, so we decided to protect ourselves.) I actually quit remarking on possible pregnancies or even questioning a person’s intent before my own problems. I had a good friend who has had even more problems and probably will not… Read more »

Eileen
Guest
Eileen

Maybe it’s because I’m from another culture (I’m Irish) but I would never expect to be told of a pregnancy until the second trimester. Even my own sisters didn’t tell me before this point and I never questioned it. I’ll admit to placing bets with my boyfriend regarding whether they were pregnant or not, but voicing such theories to anyone else would be unthinkable. Announcements, when they came, were met with a simple, “Congratulations, that’s great!” My mother was horrified when my Japanese sister-in-law announced her pregnancy at a very early date – about 6 weeks I think. She barely… Read more »

TT
Guest
TT

The medical line of 13 weeks before you tell anyone is quite arbitrary. I don’t think it matters either way when people are told. If miscarriage is a concern, then so should everything else until at least 20 weeks. At that time, you will have gone through enough testing and hopefully everything is alright. Unfortunately, you don’t know enough at 13 weeks to make that determination. So to me, the 13 week mark is quite arbitrary. I also don’t think it’s required to ever tell people (except work for maternity leave) until the baby is actually born! My sister would… Read more »

Ann
Guest
Ann

super! thanks so much! much needed rant about how what’s going on in your body is nobody’s fu***** business until you decide to tell.