Apparently, this blog is destined to be about Daddy bloopers. (Or Hubby bloopers, for the moment). In a sense, you’re reading one of them.
It’s really impossible to fathom – until you’ve successfully knocked somebody up – just how much time and energy you are going to put into NOT sharing this happy news with your loved ones. While there’s a certain twisted logic behind this, it’s snowballed culturally to a ridiculous degree. Talk about something you want to shout from the rooftops! But no can do – society has decided that instead of allowing others to partake in our happiness, we are now to focus on the SCARY shit.
There is a straightforward rationale behind all of this: the odds of miscarrying decrease dramatically after the first couple of months of pregnancy – 80% of miscarriages occur in the first trimester. So generally, in the United States at least, people wait until their Week 12 ultrasound to get the medical “all clear” before they send the witty announcement to their friends. After all, it’s one thing to scream happy news at the top of your lungs, and quite another to publicize sadness. (Even for those of us who are by nature “sharers.”)
What irks me, though – aside from the challenge of keeping my mouth shut for another month or so – are the larger ramifications of this mentality. After all, this goes way beyond the glass being half full or half empty; only 15% of (recognized) pregnancies result in miscarriage. Just to clarify: this means that the other 85% result in babies.
So, is “cautious optimism” really being responsible? Or is it just like dressing your pessimism up in a really nice three-piece suit? When you consider that a baby’s healthy development is also effected by its mother’s emotional well-being, things get even more complicated.
For the most part my wife and I are all about “better safe than sorry,” so we are allowing ourselves to be guided by the presiding cultural norms – you will have noticed that this blog is (so far) anonymous. But that doesn’t mean we have to be thrilled about it. So last week, when I found our growing seed distracting me from my usual responsibilities, I decided to start writing about it all.
However, I’ve never been very good at journaling. Call me what you will, but I’ve always preferred writing when there’s an audience of some sort (or at least I can pretend that there is an audience of some sort – which the internet is great for). I got approval from the Mrs. to take the blog live – without our names on it – which makes this less of a rooftop to shout from and more of a virtual confession booth, but nonetheless allows me to feel slightly more productive. What I forgot is that sometimes the web has a mind of its own.
(I’ll spare you the technical details here – let’s just say that Daddy fucked up).
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to receive at least one congratulatory email the following morning, and luckily the one I that I did get came from somebody who would have been among our first post-ultrasound phone calls. I’m thrilled – and relieved – to be able to talk to her about this now. So why does it feel like I betrayed some terrible dark secret, instead of letting slip the happiest news of my life?
Yesterday, I asked a friend in Italy how and when this is typically divulged to friends in his culture. He didn’t quite understand the question –
“What do you mean? It’s such wonderful news! We tell our friends and family! Ma come no? Why wouldn’t you?”
When I followed up with a question about miscarriage, his response was much the same:
“Well, then we share that with our friends and family, too. What are true friends for if they can’t share both joy and sorrow?”
Now how’s that for food for thought?