At 13 weeks pregnant, I took a nervous breath as my therapist told me it was time for me to start pushing myself to acknowledge that this pregnancy is real. “Living in avoidance will only cause more problems later on,” she explained. We brainstormed big and small ways I can do this: calling the baby by his name, visiting baby stores in-person and allowing myself to make purchases, and even announcing my pregnancy at work.
As a high school teacher, I hid my pregnancy from most of my coworkers, administrators, and students during my first trimester. I had been far more open with my co-workers about IVF than I was with pregnancy. In retrospect, it probably seemed like I had dropped off the face of the earth since the beginning of November–I avoided socializing without a mask on, and the smells of the faculty lunchroom were too triggering for my nausea.
As I approached the end of my first trimester and prepared to return to work after Winter Break, it felt like the “right” time to announce my pregnancy at work.
I had already announced to my friends, my family, and on my private social media profiles. Fear held me back, though–not just the big fears that many loss parents have (What if something goes wrong and I have to tell everyone I work with?), but smaller fears, too. How would it feel to have to talk to everyone about my pregnancy, my body, my hard journey to get here? How would I answer questions I was not ready to answer yet? How intrusive would they be?
My therapist reminded me that when people get excited or ask questions about pregnancies, they are usually thinking about the baby–not about me, my body, or how I conceived.
With that reassurance, I took a deep breath and sent the email to our small school staff the Friday before we returned to work:
Hi [School Name] family,
I am so happy to officially share the news that I am pregnant! Baby Boy Baker is due July 2023.
Thank you so much to every single person who offered help and support to me during Quarter 2—whether you knew it or not, you were all tremendous resources to me during a very difficult first trimester.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday!
I walked into work on Monday with a heavy feeling of dread, but to my relief the only comments I received were many “Congratulations!” and one question about the baby’s name (I’m shocked how many people have asked me this so early in my pregnancy!). I also shared the news in-person with my twelfth-grade students; most seemed disinterested or mildly curious at best. No intrusive questions whatsoever!
Having my pregnancy openly acknowledged by those around me at work really is helping me believe in the reality of this pregnancy and this baby.
Today a student asked, “Mrs. Baker, will you still be pregnant in the summer?” I immediately imagined Future-Me in June, on summer break with an almost full-term baby bump, getting ready to really bring this baby home. It’s a moment I had not let myself imagine until this student asked, and it’s an image I want to hold onto for the months ahead.