Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gag Rule

My parents raised me without an ounce of superstition. My Irish father and Spanish mother, who themselves were raised with all kinds of old world hocus pocus and Catholic idolatry, brooked none of that nonsense in our house. We didn't even bother with horoscopes or astrological signs. Instead, they raised us to know all of that stuff was crap. As a result, I've never avoided walking under a ladder or thrown salt over my shoulder or worried that a salamander was going to spit on my head and make me go bald. Ask my mom about that one.

(I will say that I was scared to death of Banshees when I was a kid, but that was more about watching a movie that featured the scariest.Banshee.ever. than my dad relating lunatic stories to me. Even now a clouded over, full moon can give me the heebiest of jeebies)

I fear all that sensible upbringing was for naught because here I sit at 31 years old, superstitious as all get out.

I can't even make my mouth form the words "I'm pregnant". When I do have to say it, to doctors or nurses or friends who try to give me beer, it feels strange and untrue. I feel sheepish, as if I'm telling the biggest lie of my life. Like if I say it out loud, something terrible will happen and it'll stop being true.

I gave my parents one of the pictures from my first ultrasound and my dad asked if they could put it on their fridge. My answer of course was hell no! Then somebody might ask who that is and then people would know. My dad's response was, "Of course they will. That's the point of putting the picture up there". No way Dad, it's way too early. You can't tell yet. My mom totally backed me up.

What is this bizarre superstition - chiefly among women I would say, since Frank has been telling everyone on Earth and my dad's new favorite expression is "Hope's pregnant!"- about waiting until the first trimester passes before we admit to being pregnant? I know the belief is we wait until after the first trimester is over "in case something happens". But why do we want to keep any of it a secret?

Why do we insulate ourselves from the support of everyone we know at a time when we need it the most? My experience so far is specific to me of course, but all I can think about all day long is holy crap I'm pregnant. From the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep (which is a relatively short span of time these days), my thoughts are consumed with the person I'm growing inside me. Why is it logical to not talk about the only thing I feel like talking about? Is there some kind of shame in miscarriage? Some have argued that if you tell everyone and the baby is lost, then you have to tell everyone you miscarried and wouldn't that be terrible. I would think that if I were to miscarry - I can't believe I can even type those words considering the terror they cause me - I would want and need the support of everyone I know to help me get through it. If I don't tell anyone and that does happen, then I'm alone in my grief, which can only make it worse.

For these reasons and probably better ones that escape me, I'm calling bullshit on this theory and on myself for espousing it. I've found so far that it's kind of a lonely and scary thing to be pregnant. No matter how many of your friends have been there already, or how many websites/books you read, or how many bloggers you stalk until you become internet friends; no matter how understanding and supportive your partner is, it still feels like you're the only person in the world having this experience. I feel this way and I live in the same town as my parents, in-laws, and extended family. I can't even begin to imagine the loneliness my sister felt all the way over in London with no family around.

So Mom, Dad, put that ultrasound picture on your fridge. Call the Aunts and let them know. Tell anyone and everyone. I'll be doing the same.

The only person I'm not telling is my boss. That's about me being a chicken and I'll explain it later.


DNA said...

Good for you! Most of my friends believe they should keep it quiet the first trimester and you know what? Despite the fact that they kept it a secret some of them still miscarried. And if I were to be one of those people, I surely would want my friends to know why I was curled up in a ball in my bed. So official congratulations to you! Telling will make it more real!

Jori said...

I blabbed about it and then miscarried 3 weeks earlier. It's good to have the support. Then when I got pregnant again 7 months later, I blabbed about it right away again. The support is fantastic and you should embrace any that you can get.

Rinny said...

I concur. The support is wonderful. Having people so excited for you is wonderful. And I also agree that it is like you are the only pregnant lady around that is going through your stuff. And to some extent it's true.

Just do what you want, whatever makes you comfy, etc.