Less than a year after I moved away from home for college, I found out I was pregnant.
I was terrified. I was living with my fiance at the time, he was already working two jobs, and we were in a horrible apartment (which at $420/month was the nicest thing we could find in a major city that wouldn’t bankrupt us). I knew that was exactly what people thought would happen when we moved in together: I’d wind up pregnant, we’d “screw our lives up” forever, etc. When I told one friend I thought I might be pregnant, they freaked out, and I realized just how angry and upset other people would be when I told them.
So I did a stupid thing.
I kept my pregnancy a secret.
I told three friends, my fiance’s co-workers knew (because they kind of saw me all the time), and he told his own family. But I couldn’t bring myself to tell my family or our friends. I was completely paralyzed with fear over their reactions. I’ve always been sensitive, and the thought of people screaming at me because I was ruining my life was too much to handle.
At the time I was living several states away from all of my family, so keeping them from physically noticing was fairly easy. The one time my parents visited, I wore baggy clothes to hide my (still fairly small) belly after I failed to gather the courage to tell them in person. When my grandfather was passing through town and wanted to meet for dinner, I told him I was unfortunately backed up with classwork. We didn’t do a lot of functions where I was risked being tagged in photos online, so I kept all uploads to social media of my face-only photos.
So I said nothing until the night my son was born. I wound up going into labor a month early, and I still said nothing until after I knew he was here, healthy and alive. I texted several people a picture of him, explained everything, and dealt with a storm of angry, hurt, baffled people.
My friends, while shocked, were mostly excited, and glad we were okay. My mother was incredibly angry, and scolded me for quite a bit over the phone before she packed up the car and drove to see us. Cousins called me in the hospital, in shock, but making sure we were okay and didn’t need anything. One of my sisters avoided speaking to me for weeks, while my other sister was surprised but excited. Some relatives were not as kind, and I wound up letting a friend take over my Facebook account while I was healing in the hospital so she could delete hurtful comments and calm down people who were freaking out.
I realized afterwards how terrible of a decision hiding my pregnancy was. After the initial shock, the outpouring of love and support was as overwhelming as the shock and anger. If I hadn’t let the anxiety take over me during my pregnancy, I could have enjoyed it so much more, and been much more prepared when he did come.
I was immensely lucky that overall, my relationships with my friends and family were not destroyed. My son is spoiled by his family, and loved deeply by both his relatives and many of our friends. While for the most part everyone has had a “let bygones be bygones” approach about it, I know the sting remains. I have been reminded (multiple times, over the last four years) that if I ever become pregnant again, I have to let everyone know. I think the only way to truly repent for that would be to make a national announcement the day I take a pregnancy test for everyone to see.
So if you’re like me, and in a horrible position of fear and guilt over a pregnancy, let me tell you what I wish someone had told me when I was pregnant: it’s not worth it.
It’s not worth the hiding, the lying, the constant fear that you’ll be found out. There might be some negative reactions at first, but I promise you, that will blow over quicker than you think, and you’ll be so glad you have a support system later. I’m sure the yelling I would have dealt with had I admitted the truth sooner would have been far less than it was when I surprised everyone I knew with a brand new baby.
And you might not be as lucky as I was. My helped us as much as possible, and welcomed the new baby into their lives. My son has never wanted for anything, thanks to the forgiveness of my friends and family.
I spent my entire pregnancy miserable, with no cute belly bump pictures shared on social media, no little updates on his first kicks, no announcement when we found out what we were having, no ultrasound pictures of his long legs and little face. I had a small support system, and it was my own fault. No one to text in the middle of the night if I was worried, few people to complain to about my weird cravings and discomfort with my changing body.
Hiding a pregnancy is so much work, and it’s just not worth it. You’re already stressed and dealing with so much, adding a heavy dose of guilt, shame, and fear to it is asking for a miserable time. Focus on preparing for your new baby. You’ll be so much more prepared if you’re thinking about what you need to be ready for them than if you looked pregnant in that picture that was just posted online.
What’s important is a happy, healthy baby, not whether or not people might be mad at you for a day.
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