A few months ago, I went to a live taping of the podcast 2 Dope Queens in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. It was amazing! Cohosts Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson were hilarious, and midway through the show they brought out a mind-blowing special guest: Gabrielle Union, who is wiser and funnier and more charming and gorgeous than any human should be allowed to be.
After the show, I posted a photo I’d taken on Instagram and tagged the hosts, and — much to my delight — Phoebe herself liked the post. Because she is the No. 1 celebrity I’d like to be friends with IRL, and because I have no chill, I immediately tagged her in a comment: something to the effect of, “@dopequeenpheebs What a great show! It was so fun that my five-months-pregnant, plantar-fasciitis-having butt did not even mind standing up for five hours. Worth it!”
Within minutes, my phone was blowing up with notifications — as it turned out, though there were a couple of other comments on the photo, Instagram displayed my note to Phoebe so prominently that it basically looked like part of the caption, and several of my friends and followers were, endearingly, overjoyed to see my “news.”
Except I didn’t mean to share that news at all. Look, I’m not dumb: I know my Instagram comments are public. But I didn’t think my response would be displayed front and center, or that so many people would notice it. And it turns out, this is one of the many things (okay, probably the only thing) greatest athlete of all time Serena Williams and I have in common: Yesterday, Williams told Gayle King that her earth-shattering Snapchat pregnancy announcement last week was an accident. "I was on vacation just taking some time for myself, and I have this thing where I’ve been checking my status and taking pictures every week to see how far along I’m going,” she said. “I didn’t tell a lot of people to be quite honest and I’d been saving it… On social media, you press the wrong button and… 30 minutes later I missed four calls and I’m like, ‘That’s weird.’”
Unlike Williams, I didn’t have every news outlet in the world cover my accidental announcement within an hour, so I was able to delete my comment before too many more people saw it. But also unlike Williams — who noted to King that she was only planning to wait a few more days before making an (intentional) announcement anyway — I wasn’t anywhere near ready to tell the world I was pregnant.
Why? I’m still not entirely sure. I was 19 weeks along at the time, basically past the window of greatest risk for miscarriage (though still not completely in the clear, of course). I was really, really happy to be pregnant. And I’d gotten nothing but lovely, joyful, supportive reactions from the handful of friends and colleagues I’d told so far.
It’s also odd when you consider that I overshared throughout the entire year that I was trying to get pregnant — telling Refinery29’s audience of literal millions about how hard the process was and describing in extreme detail every step of the miscarriage I had last June. Maybe not so odd, though: In a way, I feel more authentic, less self-conscious, opening up about challenges and sorrows than sharing my joy.
Of course, having been through that difficult year is probably a major reason I’ve felt cagey about sharing this news. I know what it’s like to be trying and failing to conceive, and encountering pregnancy announcements on social media every damn week. When the announcement is from someone you know has been struggling, it’s beautiful and encouraging — but when it’s pretty much anyone else, it’s disheartening at best.
It almost felt like any announcement I made would need a long disclaimer. I’d need to say:
"I am expecting a baby in July.
1) It took us a year and a miscarriage to get pregnant.
2) Many people have it much, much harder than we did, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to deal with multiple miscarriages, fertility treatments, or the adoption process, or to be unable to even try because of a health or relationship situation.
3) We’re also incredibly lucky that, as a cisgender, heterosexual couple, we had near-unlimited and free gamete access.
4) Thank you for your support, and if you’d like to lend me any maternity clothing, please note that I only wear black and gray."
I mean, that’s a lot. Obviously, the only person putting this kind of pressure on me was me — but I just couldn’t bear to think that my good news could be someone else’s dark cloud.
Over time, I chilled out a little. At 22 weeks, my husband and I took a trip to Hawaii, and I posted a photo or two on Instagram stories. A week later, I posted an actual Instagram #tbt photo of myself where, if you looked closely, you could detect my bump. Late last month, I wrote a long-ish Twitter thread about my pregnancy, partly in protest of the GOP’s disastrous healthcare bill (which was pulled just hours later, you’re all very welcome).
Now, I’m basically “out.” The pregnancy is not something I can even pretend to hide if you see me in person, and I’ve been open about it on all forms of social media except for Facebook, because Facebook is the weirdest.
Look: Like all other things that have to do with pregnancy and parenthood, there’s basically no right or wrong way to announce that you’re expecting. And even when I did so accidentally, the reaction was incredibly sweet — other than the fact that one person who saw that unintentionally-prominent comment was someone I would have preferred to tell one-on-one, I basically had no regrets.
It seems that Williams didn’t, either: “It was a good moment,” she said.
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