pregnancy loss, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

on privacy and openness

Good morning, Day 27!

In general, I’m an extremely open person. If I have a complicated personal situation or TMI storyline going on that is troubling me or exciting me or puzzling me, chances are good that all you have to say is, “How are you?” and I will launch in. It’s how I connect. People usually respond by softening and opening up themselves, given that I so easily lay my heart on the table, and then we’re mutually sharing, and we have things in common, and suddenly we don’t feel like such alien freaks.

Of course, there is such a thing called “boundaries,” as I have learned in many years of therapy. There is an element of the process above that includes an aversion to withholding whatever is going on with me, as if I have judged this person unfit to handle the real back story, which can send me into an internal spiral that this person now realizes I’m lying to him/her by saying, “Fine, how are you?” It’s also tempting to want approval in everything I do, from everyone around me, all the time. But I’m pretty sure that’s everyone.

So, all of the above present an interesting dilemma in the process of trying to conceive as a single mom, which is notoriously cloaked in our culture, often kept secret until the end of the first trimester. I’ve always known that, partnered or not, this clandestine approach would be hard for me to the point of being impossible. I understand being cautious and the heartbreak of having to send a sad press release to the masses. However, in my case, especially un-partnered, it is those same masses that will pull me through. (I acknowledge that I may feel wildly different about this later on and do a 180 and that’s fine too.)

From the beginning, when I was in the thinking/planning/researching phase, I checked in with myself every time a friend said, “So, what have you been up to?” Just checked with my heart and it usually said, “Go for it.” I’ve been building up my support system the way a mama bird builds a nest.

Of course, this opens me up for comments, opinions, recommendations, and zingers. I’ve already gotten tips on what to definitely do or definitely not do when it comes to giving birth and parenting (“You’re not going to do cry it out, are you?”) and questions that sound more like an indictment (“You do a lot of activities. You know you’ll have to give them all up, right?”) Overall, though, if that’s the worst my people can dish up, concern turned up a little too high and pushed through their own filter of experience, then bring it on. I’m getting better (god willing) at letting things roll off my back. If it really gets to me, I come home and listen to Pema Chodron recordings.

A few times, I have hit an edge. After I chose my donor (a great story for another day), I had friends ask if I would email his photos. That felt instantly wrong. I decided that I will show them only in person, and only if I feel like it. Later, when a TV production company approached the founder of Single Mothers by Choice about doing a documentary, I expressed my interest in participating as a way of raising awareness. After talking to the producer, I was turned off–it sounded more like reality TV. This journey is uncharted–none of us know where we’re headed. Broadcasting on national TV seemed like way too far over the line. I pulled out.

Which brings me to the blog. This  feels so good to write, and I’m so gratified that so many friends are checking in. My number of views is much bigger than expected and: we’ve gone international! I did take the step of keeping it anonymous, although the majority of followers are people I know very well. I may over-share sooner or later and end up with a vulnerability hangover… But, so far so good.

I hope you share it with friends who are considering single motherhood or maybe would just enjoy reading this, but I do ask that you not forward it to anyone I work with. That is the last frontier! Speaking of which, I’m off to a meeting.


6 thoughts on “on privacy and openness”

  1. Just wanted to chime in quickly about privacy and the practice of not disclosing pregnancy until 12 weeks. I miscarried between Margot and Cameron, at 9 weeks. We had just started telling people (our families and some close friends), and then I had to send the dreaded mass email. But you know what? The support of those friends meant everything to me! Having people come over with a meal for my freezer, or a big hug out of the blue, or painful stories about their own miscarriages (stories I would not otherwise have known, since miscarriage is such a taboo conversation topic) carried me through a hard time and made me feel like part of a community of women for whom these emotional and physical experiences is just part of the journey. A hard part of the journey, to be sure, but not something that needs to feel isolating. It’s surprising how many women you know who have miscarried — but knowing how normal it is helps make it not as scary, not as daunting, not as much of a hurdle to the next healthy pregnancy.

    So follow your gut: share what’s on your heart when you feel like you want to And if you need to share bad news in the future, those same friends (if they’re worth their salt) will carry you through whatever the future holds.

  2. I was going to say the same thing as Julianna about a potential sad mass email, although not so eloquently.
    I am so grateful that I had been upfront on my whole journey last year, that the miscarriage at 8 weeks was much more tolerable for the simple reason that everyone already knew. At least we had gotten to celebrate together for a month!
    It was shocking, though, how many people admitted to having had miscarriages. I wonder why it is so taboo.
    The part that was most difficult for me was accepting that I was now part of “that club,” too. I felt that I had found myself in so many other exclusive clubs that I didn’t need to be part of that one as well!
    I guess all these times now, I’ve lived by: it’s more fun to have been able to say, “I am,” than, “I was.”

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences…both of you are inspirations to me and now I feel more confident about sharing early. I’m even sharing early without real news yet which is REALLY early. I’m glad to have your two examples where the early sharing did result in needed love and support when it was most needed and throughout the healing process. Hugs to both of you xo

  4. Oh honey… the world of pregnancy / babies somehow includes a huge universal sign on your back that reads, “give me all the advice you’ve got!”. People will come out of the woodwork with it. Some of it will resonate, most of it won’t. And even if you have an idea right now of how you’ll handle something, once you’re there, you might change your mind anyways… no one lives YOUR experience or has YOUR pregnancy or YOUR birth or YOUR baby! hugs!

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