In recent years, it has become the unspoken rule to keep pregnancy secret in the first trimester. Expectant mothers must conceal fatigue, nausea, body changes and yo-yoing hormones from friends, colleagues and loved ones with a series of well-crafted excuses and loose-fitting clothes. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we duck to the toilet every 15 minutes, place our heads between our legs and wish away the days until we can finally make our big announcement.
When I discovered I was pregnant for the second time, a full wheel of emotions ran through me: disbelief, relief (we'd been trying for a while), excitement, fear, and wonderment over the fact that a new life was forming inside of me. As with my first pregnancy, I fought the urge to pick up the phone and tell the world. Because I couldn't. Why? Because it's not what you do. As with my first pregnancy, I would keep a lid on this baby for the next few months.
That same day, my partner and I bumped into a pregnant friend on the beach. Still reeling with excitement, it took everything inside me to keep my news from her, especially when she mentioned she planned to start prenatal yoga classes. Without thinking, I said "Me too!" quickly followed by "I mean, when I fall pregnant". Cheeks burning, I stared down at the sand and changed the subject.
That evening, my partner and I attended a friend's 40th. There I was, sitting at the pub table sipping a soda water, when out of nowhere, the conversation turned to the whole 12-week wait. The consensus of the group, it transpired, was that a woman should share her news when she felt ready. Cheeks burning for the second time that day, I refrained from commenting. That night, exhausted, I put my head to my pillow and thought, "Do I really have to go through this again? Do I really have to keep the world's worst-kept secret a secret?"
The next day, I sat down with my partner and asked what he thought about telling close friends and family about the early stages of our pregnancy. His initial response was, "Absolutely not". Late last year, his sister had miscarried only a few days short of the 12-week mark. She hadn't shared her pregnancy news prior to the miscarriage. He said that this had been easier for everyone, which I agreed with to a certain degree, however I pointed out that regardless of whether we knew she was pregnant, the news was still devastating.
For an expectant mother, the risk of miscarriage is a scary reality. In Australia, up to one in four confirmed pregnancies end in miscarriage before the 20-week mark. It is thought that by 12 weeks, that risk drops significantly. Which is why it's understandable that so many expectant mums wait to share their news until they hit the safe mark.
There are other good reasons for keeping a pregnancy secret in the first trimester. While pregnant with my son, that initial quiet period allowed me to truly connect with the tiny baby growing inside of me. It also gave me and my partner the time we needed to come to terms with becoming parents for the first time. On top of this, keeping it quiet means you don't attract all those unwanted comments and opinions that you're bound to attract in the second and third trimesters (and well beyond into parenthood!)
Despite all this, keeping pregnancy a secret can be really isolating. During my first pregnancy, I feigned a back injury to explain why I stopped practising heated yoga, which disconnected me from my beloved yoga community. I used the same excuse to explain why I stopped drinking at, and eventually going to, social functions. There were times that I felt so exhausted and sick that I could barely get out of bed, yet I couldn't explain why to anyone other than my husband. And on the days that my hormones raged and my husband became my worst enemy, I longed to pick up the phone and confide in a best friend.
Eventually, instead of basking in the joy of my pregnancy, I began wishing the time away. I literally crossed the days off my calendar 'til I could tell, rather than enjoying this new chapter in my life. Eventually, when we did get to share our precious news with friends, many admitted they had already guessed, while others said they were relieved because they'd been concerned about my health.
With all this in mind, this time around, my husband and I have decided to share the news with a very small handful of our closest friends and family. We have absolutely no intention of broadcasting our pregnancy to the world. I won't post my seven-week scan on Facebook, or tell the barista at my local café why I've switched up my usual coffee for a chai. I'm just mindfully and discretely sharing the news with those who matter most to me, with a small disclaimer that it's still early days.
Should anything go wrong, I'd like to think we'd inform the same people. I don't think we'd be letting anyone down in doing so, and I take solace in knowing I have such a strong support group around me. And out of sensitivity, we won't share the news with my sister-in-law until we reach the 12-week mark.
This decision has already lifted a huge amount of pressure from me. It means I don't need to craft up an excuse when declining a girl's night out, and my friends and family are already being mindful about the activities we do together. It's really comforting to know there's someone at the end of a phone call should I need to have an honest conversation about what I'm going through.
It's not the right decision for everyone, but right now, it's the right one for me. There is one thing that my partner and are keeping under wraps, though. Once we reach 12 weeks, we'll announce the due date, because it's nice to look forward to something.