Getting pregnant and having children is sacred. Although it may appear easy for some, there are many that endure great lengths to make this miracle of life possible. To have the opportunity to rear and nurture a child into adulthood is one of the greatest gifts a parent can experience. When an unimaginable tragedy like the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre occurs and a parent is stripped of that lifelong opportunity, there is no greater pain.
If a woman is lucky enough to make it full term and deliver a healthy baby, she feels like she has won the lottery. Getting to that point, however, may be fraught with unforeseen hurdles and inconceivable challenges.
Very few women get through their pregnancy unscathed; they may be battling an extreme case of nausea, as was the case with the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who revealed her pregnancy sooner than expected due a severe bout with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a debilitating form of morning sickness. Or, in much less fortunate cases, they may be faced with the painful decision to terminate a pregnancy due to a weakened heartbeat, irregular test result, or spontaneous loss, all of which are equally devastating.
Most women, regardless of their age or stage of pregnancy, will need to learn how to sweat the small stuff. Everything from making the big announcement to family, friends and co-workers, to dealing with image issues and increased body weight, to the probing questions from strangers who want to touch your belly or guess the baby's sex, all factor into the exhilarating, yet emotional roller coaster that goes hand-in-hand with being pregnant.
None of these issues are to be taken lightly, so it is with caution and sensitivity that we should address expectant mothers. Here are a few tips to ensure we always do our best to say and do the right thing, as well as a few words of advice to those with growing bellies.
When to Tell. I always advise waiting as close to the twelve week mark as possible. The risks of losing a baby are higher in the first trimester so it is better to keep things under wrap, literally, until the expectant parents feel they are out-of-the woods. The only ones who fall prey to revealing the news sooner are celebrities or other pubic figures who have to deal with the press hounding their every move.
How to Share the Big News. Go old-school style and pick up the phone. Facebook and Twitter are not the ideal places to blast a mass communication or post photos of your baby's ultrasound a la Shakira's boyfriend who did so recently. You may be excited and want to shout the news from the rooftops, but better to use the phone or arrange to meet over a meal in person to share the good news. If something were to go awry, you might not want the world to receive the update in public form.
Nosy vs. Nice Questions. Inquiring minds may want to know everything from whether the pregnancy was planned, to the name of the sperm donor, to if there was a surrogate involved or how many times the happy couple had to endure In Vitro. Frankly these answers, in the immortal words of Rihanna and Chris Brown, ain't nobody's business! The pregnant mother should never feel compelled to divulge every last detail. Her experience should not push the limits of privacy. The entire process of how the happy couple conceived is a personal matter and should remain that way if they so choose.
Everyone Has An Opinion. You will encounter more than a handful of those who think they know everything about impending motherhood. They will offer unsolicited advice on the breast or bottle feeding debate, whether or not to vaccinate, and how to juggle career vs. baby. This is enough to make any new mother crazy. Try and remember that those close to you only wish you the best and want to help. Simply smile and strive to take it all with a generous grain of salt. Your sharpened motherly instincts will guide you in the right direction.
When Sad Things Happen to Good People. Some parents are blessed with a pregnancy, only to have it taken away from them. It is absolutely heartbreaking and we are often at a loss for words. This is not the time to post blind Facebook messages or send any other forms of electronic communication. This time requires a human voice with emotion so pick up the phone and call. Don't push to visit in person as the parents may prefer to grieve and heal alone. Sending flowers with a meaningful note or preparing a home-cooked meal is always an appreciated gesture during particularly delicate times.