Monday, 24 September 2012

Telling Agony

It is only fair to warn you lovely ladies that this is a pregnancy-related question. Read on if you want but if you cannot understand how anyone who is pregnant can have a reason for not farting rainbows and skipping with Bambi for nine solid months then maybe skip this one.

Dear Aunty Lizzie, 

I am pregnant. At 8 weeks one twin's heart stopped beating. Last scan at 14 weeks other was still surviving. Now 18 weeks, my partner has started telling people, also at work. He works in a different department, but same company and is now pressuring me to tell my team before they hear through the grapevine. 

 Is it rude not to tell my team? 

My boss knows (basically since the IVF) but is keeping it confidential, as I asked him. I'm already training someone to replace me, so my leave shouldn't affect the team. 

I feel it is private and don't want other people's ill-educated opinions in my workplace. (Especially not the 'keep thinking positive'. It implies the other twin didn't make it because I was scared he wouldn't).

Scared but still pregnant

Dear Scared Pregnant,

First of all, I am sorry to hear about the twin, but it is a very encouraging sign that the other one is going strong. You are doing brilliantly.

The thing about pregnancy is, whether you like it or not, at 19 weeks if people haven't heard on the grapevine yet they are going to find out pretty damn soon on account of your stomach entering any room about 30 seconds before the rest of you.

A girl at work who is pregnant decided against an all-staff email approach and told a select few people in the office at 12 weeks knowing full well that the news would get around. When she was about five months pregnant I overheard the following conversation between her and the bloke who sits next to me.

Him, "So ... how are you?"
Her, "Good thanks"
Him, with studied nonchalence, "Got ... um .. got any plans for the summer?"
Her, "Not really, just trying to sort things out before the baby arrives."
Him, visibly relaxing, "Oh, yeah, I thought you might be pregnant because you were looking bigger, I just didn't know how to ask."

I suppose we should just be thankful she wasn't adopting and had just been told about her weight gain.

So when I got the above question I was a bit confused. How to tell, I could understand, possible when to tell, but whether to tell? Surely that is a redundant question - it is going to be pretty obvious pretty quickly.

So I asked for clarification ,was her chap telling people at work about the lost twin and was that what she was wondering whether she should tell her colleagues, was this what she said:

My partner doesn't tell people about the lost twin, he is a good news only person. I'm not sure about telling about either. And I hadn't even considered sharing the good news without the sad news. As if I would be lying or something....

And that, I think, is the answer. No one needs to know how you got pregnant or what has happened on the way. And frankly I would be amazed if anyone considers even for a moment that the baby you now carry was one of a twins originally.

If you don't tell people at work they are unlikely to consider that you didn't tell people because you were scared but will interpret it as you being aloof, or uncaring.

Tell a few people you work with and just say that you are a bit superstitious so if they start with the intrusive questions or telling you that they just "knew that you were trying" divert conversation. Usually telling the persistent questioner that you really like their hair cut and is that necklace new, will take the heat off you.

Very best of luck for the remainder of your pregnancy,



Now, it is with a heavy heart that I bring you an update from a person I tried to help a few weeks ago. Remember 'Desk Grump'?  She sent me an email, with photographic evidence, to say that she had been on holiday for a fortnight and returned to find the biggest hole punch in the world has joined the biggest stapler.

Naturally I was appalled to discover that the minutes I had spent on trying to resolve her problems had been for nought.  Did you tell your office mates not to leave stuff on your desk? Have you binned the offending items? I wailed (through email).


Remember kids, admitting your problem is just half the solution.  You have to do what I say if you want a proper resolution.

Honestly, I don't know why I bother sometimes, I really don't.


  1. I was amazed at how blind co-workers, especially older men, could be (I'm in academia; I don't know if that makes a difference). Most of them simply didn't notice until I was about 7.5/8 months -- or if they did, they gave absolutely no outward appearance of it. The ones who noticed and asked were generally the young female postdocs, my peers and those a few years older than me, two of whom had kids of their own (hurrah for inheriting slings, parenting books, and toys). I think it also helped that I was away from roughly week 17 to week 23, so I went away "not pregnant" and came back "pregnant", so there wasn't really much need for questions -- though the people I was visiting in Vienna had to be clued in as to why I wasn't joining them in the beer drinking at lunch.

    Regarding the follow-up: If I ever got my grubby little hands on a heavy-duty stapler like that, I would never let it go! I'm sick of having these piddly little ones that only take ~20 sheets or so.

  2. I also had a twin pregnancy, lost baby b at 11 weeks. I have not shared the lost twin news with anybody (save my closest friends and my boss as I went MIA for a few days). Now I am 35 weeks pregnant, baby A is just fine and perfect, and nobody knows about baby B.....I felt telling of the twin would invite fear (for me) and questions regarding how we came to have twins - so I did not share.

  3. Dear Auntie Lizzy,
    thanks so much! I will try and do exactly as you say. It's mostly guys in my IT world, I'm sure I'll sidetrack them with my comments about hair cuts and jewellery!
    I'll enjoy pretending I'm a normal superstitious person, (and will let you know how that goes ;-)

    My thanks also for aryanhwy and millionbabysteps.

    hugs and kisses,
    Scared Pregnant

  4. I had a miscarriage early in a pregnancy in December. I didn't like holding that information in. To me - just to me - it felt like that meant denying it happened. And I wanted people to understand, when I got pregnant the very next cycle, that I was scared out of my mind.

    My son was born on Sept 4th. Healthy and beautiful. But I literally did not relax until he was in my arms. I was sitting up, trying to look at him as he was half out, balling and asking, "is he okay? is he okay?"

    I don't like telling people I'm pregnant. I don't like telling them the gender or the name or anything. It feels like a jinx. People think I'm being stingy or that I don't think they are important enough to share, but it's not about them at all. It's about this desire to keep the pregnancy so close that nothing bad happens to it. And really there is no way to prevent anything. :(

    And they get mad at me for being so mopey / sad / worried! Sometimes I feel like the only pregnant person that is aware of all the risks and how HARD it is to get pregnant in the first place!

  5. I lost my first baby at 11 weeks...the weekend after my husband announced it to everyone at work (we used to work together). I didn't tell anyone about the next pregnancy which also ended badly. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I didn't want to say anything until after the 20 week appointment, where you have a pretty good idea of how things least in terms of genetic abnormalities and such. So, I got to endure all the rumblings of "We know she's pregnant. Who does she think she's fooling?" behind my back. You'd think they'd have been more understanding. But no one would ask me anything. Office politics, man.

    Meanwhile, my neighbor was the only person to ask if I was pregnant. I laughed really hard when he did - he was looking at me like I was crazy, but with all the behind my back rumors, it was a delightful change.


I've resisted word verification for ages but I'm getting so many spam comments at the moment that I think it is time. Sorry!