Why I'm Glad I Took Pregnancy Announcement Photos Even After Miscarriage
“What if something happens?” I remember thinking the day of the photo shoot. I turned that thought over and over in my head as I watched my husband and two children playing in the grass in front of our vehicle while we waited for the photographer. “Please don’t let them get dirty,” I called. Spouse nodded and waved at me in response. I chewed on the inside of my cheek, my heart racing as I walked around to the back of the Jeep to get our stuff ready. I glanced up at my husband; he was busy monitoring the kids. I pulled the digital pregnancy test out of my purse and peeked at it. I felt butterflies in my stomach every time I saw that word: “pregnant.” It sat there in dark, bold letters on the oval screen. I smiled to myself; I was going to surprise him with the news during our photo shoot.
After deciding to add a third child to our family, we had begun calling our potential third child “Pancake.” This was after a hysterical conversation between the characters Glenn and Abraham from “The Walking Dead” regarding Glenn and his wife Maggie’s pregnancy: “When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you trying to make pancakes?” We talked a lot about Pancake — what it would be like to have three, how our oldest would react and how our youngest would handle not being the youngest anymore. We were excited and hopeful, patiently awaiting our Pancake.
I got a positive pregnancy test on May 22. I took probably 10 more just to make sure and was only convinced when the digital test gave me a clear “pregnant” reading. I called my OB-GYN, and they did serial blood work to see that my human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) level was climbing like it should. Everything looked great. I kept the little secret for about a week while I prepared the special announcement. I was going to surprise my husband during our family pictures; I wanted to capture his reaction to the news about Pancake. After all, this was going to be our last baby. I wanted it to be special. The photographer arrived and smiled at me conspiratorially. She was as excited as I was. I carried a container of Bisquick and the pregnancy test hidden away in my purse. Spouse toted the chalk boards to the center of the park where we planned to snap the photos. We distracted the kids with a video on the phone and stood back-to-back. We were to write something sweet to one another on our chalkboards. Of course, I already knew what mine would say: “Pancake, due January 2017.”
We faced the camera and then one another. I saw his eyes slide across the words once, and then again. I saw them widen with realization, and then a giant smile lit up his face. That ear-to-ear grin of an excited dad-to-be. The camera clicked furiously, capturing those first moments. Each snap ensured these memories would last forever. He wrapped me up in a big hug and asked how long I had known and a handful of other pertinent, expectant father questions. I showed him the test and handed him the container of Bisquick; we laughed together at our inside joke and held each other tight.
Today, I would have been at 24 weeks. I would have been over halfway through my pregnancy. The kids and their dad would have been able to feel the baby moving inside my swollen belly. I would have outgrown my jeans and moved into maternity clothes. We would have been trying out names, pulling out bags of clothes that had been saved from brother and sister. We would have been so near a family of five. But something did happen. We lost Pancake at eight weeks. It was by far one of the hardest moments in our lives.
My answer on the day of the photo shoot to the question “What if something happens?” had been, “Then I will have wanted to celebrate while we could. I would have wanted to cherish this baby while we could. I would have wanted memories and treasures. I would have wanted everyone to know how happy we were and how much we wanted our Pancake. I would have wanted Pancake to know how much he or she was loved. I would have wanted something tangible, so in the moments when I feel that joy has left me, I would be able to hold tight and see what a gift I had to be able to have those special moments with my husband and children, all three of them.”
Miscarriage is not uncommon; 15 to 20 percent of pregnant women experience miscarriage. It’s emotionally and physically painful. It’s something many women worry about when they first find out they are pregnant. It is a fear that can rob women of the joy of celebrating their pregnancies from the earliest possible moment. And it’s not fair. It’s just not fair that the fear of loss should prevent us from sharing the wonderful news that we are expecting. That it should stop us from telling those we’re close to that we are carrying something amazing within us. It’s not fair that the fear should prevent us from celebrating and savoring those moments that for far too many end way too soon. It’s unfair that in the midst of a loss, that fear prevented us from sharing with those who could support us the most through it.
I say, don’t let it. Don’t let the fear of loss or society’s recommendation of cautious optimism stop you from celebrating, from sharing, from cheering and shouting your joy. Own it. Savor it. Cherish the moments from the earliest possible second you are able! Had I considered that “what if” question and chosen to act on the side of caution, I believe I would have missed out. The fear would have stolen the blessed memories I do have of our Pancake. You may have days, weeks, months or years, but don’t let the fear of “what if” stop you from enjoying the moments you do have. I’m so very glad I didn’t.
A version of this post originally appeared on Hand Me Downs.