By Brianna Dawe as told to Vanessa MilneApr 23, 2018
Photo: Courtesy of Brianna Dawe
I knew after finding out I was pregnant that I would want to tell friends and family right away. Though I know many women wait until the 12-week mark, when the risk of miscarriage drops and it’s “safe” to share, for me, the idea that I had to be quiet in the early stages of this very exciting, much-wished-for life event felt really antiquated.
But before I could figure out exactly how to disclose this new information, my body did it for me. I’m a middle school drama and art teacher, and just a few days after finding out I was pregnant, when I was seven weeks along, I had to stop my lesson and run out of the classroom to throw up. I’m sure my colleagues could hear me puking down the hall. I could have explained that away once, but it happened multiple times—so often that I felt like it was becoming a giveaway. Some of my students even noticed and approached me, saying they were worried about me.
So when I was eight weeks pregnant, I told my boss, my colleagues, my family, and many of my 12- to 14-year-old students and their parents: “No, I’m not sick. I’m pregnant.”
Every single person was nothing but excited for me, and it was so nice to have support right when I needed it. I found the early days of pregnancy are very challenging—I was crying over nothing, and even the smell of boiling water made me nauseous—but I was really happy that I could talk to other women who knew what I was going through. And because they knew I was pregnant, my school was really good about accommodating me. Parents and coworkers would check in on me. I even had students making me pregnancy snacks.
Then, at 12 weeks, the unthinkable happened: I was running a rehearsal for a play after school with 35 students and two parents when I started bleeding heavily and experiencing cramps. I felt really scared at that moment and vulnerable. A parent noticed how upset I was and pulled me aside. I burst into tears and told her I was having a miscarriage. She and the other mother there immediately took over. One of them started running the rehearsal, the other ordered dinner for everyone, and I went straight to the hospital. They took care of everything, so that I could take care of myself.
When I had told people I was pregnant, I never really thought about what would happen if I had a miscarriage. But it ended up saving me from going through one of the greatest losses I’ve ever experienced alone. My friends, my family members and my coworkers stepped up for me. They covered my classes, they bought me flowers, they wrote me letters and they told me about their own miscarriages. Family members shared stories about pregnancy loss that I had never heard. I needed those women so badly, and if I hadn’t shared information about my pregnancy so early on, they wouldn’t have been there.
About six weeks after that miscarriage, I became pregnant with my son. That time, I was a lot more nervous about sharing that I was pregnant. I didn’t want to celebrate that pregnancy, because I was scared it wouldn’t stick. I didn’t even really want to tell my husband, I was so uncertain.
But I got so nauseous again that we ended up telling everyone. The second pregnancy was a completely different experience—I was still grieving my miscarriage, and I couldn’t feel happy yet. But the people around me helped me, buoying me through that experience, until I got to the point where I got more comfortable and confident in the pregnancy.
I’m happy I was so open about my pregnancies with everyone in my life. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been able to reach out to my support network during those happy and heartbreaking times. After learning about all the women who went through very traumatic and difficult experiences privately during their pregnancies, I’m so glad I didn’t have to go through any of this alone.