What you are about to read was written by someone scared 24/7. Every moment of my life in 2016 (and 2017) was filled with self-doubt, anxiety, and pain.
This article was originally posted in 2016 on my former blog. I have since moved on from that website, starting a new one here after launching my books. When the blog disappeared, so did my initial (albeit, filtered) thoughts at that time.
I kept thinking about my first (and possibly only) pregnancy experience and how different things are now in my personal life. I have an archive of the original post below, but given how different life is now, an introduction is needed.
I was underpaid, in debt (still am actually), and fearful of everything I did in 2016. I had yet to shed my people-pleasing tendencies, so I was overworked in my personal life as well as work life.
Post-2016, I've learned not to be ashamed of who I am, where my internalized misogyny was showing, how to love myself, gained confidence, and so much more. My husband and I have grown our relationship stronger and we're raising a wonderful boy. He is almost 5!
Why did I hide my pregnancy to being with? Honestly, I didn't think I'd be hired if people knew I was pregnant. I was below the poverty line and hadn't found a job after nearly six months looking before I even got pregnant. I couldn't face this worse-case scenario. Other than trying to stay healthy, I ignored my pregnancy because I couldn't face anything going wrong while my world felt like it was upside down.
I'm grateful for my past, what it taught me, and so excited for my future now. Since this original blog article, I've changed jobs to one where my growth was fostered and I was more supported. I've grown my income by more than double. I've even followed my dream of publishing books!
It hasn't been easy, but everything came together in the only way it could have to protect my family for what was to come. A year after my son was born, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and the events that this original post started brought us where we needed to be. This story is covered in my nonfiction book, Stronger Now: How to Thrive in Any Circumstance and Become Unstoppable.
And it's going to get better and better from here. It already has.
If you are reading this post and you too feel a lot of fear, like my 2016 counterpart, know that there is a brighter future waiting for you. The person that wrote these original words was scared, more scared than I could admit for a long time. I hid those fears in the happy parts of bringing a baby into the world, but that doesn't mean they weren't there.
You are going to be okay.
Remember, you are unstoppable.
Original 4/11/2016 post:
Surprise! Chris and I are expecting a bundle of joy this September.
I am currently 19 weeks and 4 days pregnant, just 3 days shy of being 5 months along.
Here is a happy video sharing the news and going into my symptoms for up to week 16:
It was not my intention to keep this secret for so long. I had initially only planned on waiting until the first trimester passed (three months) but some other factors came into play that made me and my husband want to keep things under wraps a little longer.
It all started in December 2015 when I began feeling symptoms very shortly after conception. At the time, I thought I was insane for wondering if I was pregnant because I was taking birth control pills. As it turns out, there are so many factors at play with hormonal birth control that any mishap can mess up the whole system. That little misstep led Chris and I to a little miracle, baby EJ.
We've been calling our bundle baby EJ because we aren't going to be able to find out the sex until April 15 and Chris and I have had our baby names picked out for years. EJ is short for Emma Aurora and Jack Douglas, we'll know for sure who is joining our family later this week.
When we first found out, the day after Christmas last year, there was a few weeks of panic. I had been working freelance all of 2015, with varying successes. I was (and still am) really proud of the amount of work I was able to get, but with a third mouth on the way we knew freelance was no longer an option for us.
So we both started looking for more work. I started getting a few hopeful bites and interview requests quickly, and around three months I was up for a job in the marketing department at a local accounting firm. After one month of interviewing, it ended up not working out.
So, the secrets started building. At this point several of our family members were aware that we were having financial concerns and because of that, we didn't want to add in the extra worry that we knew they would feel once they found out we were expecting.
My Mom found out about the baby shortly past the three-month mark, mostly because she was noticing differences in me before anyone else did, so it was nice to vent with her, but I also felt guilty over how much concern she had for us. It just solidified our decision to keep everyone in the dark until a new job was imminent.
It was another month of hiding until I started getting traction with my resume again and two companies in advertising seemed very interested in me, so after a second round of interviews (at about four months pregnant) we started telling our family and close friends. At this time it was becoming a lot harder to keep my weight gain a secret and emotionally it was taking too much of a toll to constantly judge my appearance, so we decided that at least the people we saw the most frequently should be brought into the loop so I would only have to worry about my weight during interviews.
There were a lot of shocked faces (and about three people that surprised us by saying they had noticed a few clues), but overall the responses were so positive that our hearts felt warm again and we were able to celebrate with our family in private.
Two days later, I got a job at an advertising agency. It was such a joy, but also another level of fear. How can I keep my pregnancy a secret at work?
A week and a half after starting my new job, I knew I needed to fess up. It was the responsible thing to do, since I knew the earlier my job could prepare for my leave the better, and the reveal was also needed to keep me happy emotionally, as focusing on my looks so much was only alienating me from what should be a happy time.
So, I got to work early one day and started speaking with my supervisors. To my immense relief, I was met with happiness. While, of course, practical questions came up (as they should), I had found myself with a wonderful and supportive team. I couldn't be happier to be with the agency. I know now that I am exactly where I need to be.
For the few months I kept my pregnancy a secret from friends and family, as well as through the interview process and at work, these are the steps I followed to keep my baby bump hidden.
How I kept my pregnancy a secret:
Establish that you rarely drink caffeinated beverages (and other pregnancy no-nos) from the get-go. During my onboarding, I was given pizza and soda to celebrate (which was so fun) but I made sure to mention how I rarely have soda since caffeine makes me jittery "so this really feels like a treat." My office loves coffee, so this gave me an excuse to always say no.
Establish a love for hydration. Since I was going to the bathroom very frequently at this point in the pregnancy, I made sure I always had a large water bottle at my desk so that I'd have a reason to get up often. Finding other reasons, like talking to someone on the other side of the office, also made it easier to feel comfortable taking more bathroom breaks.
Wear baggy clothing and layers. Since my office was business casual, I had a lot more leeway in the outfit department. I went on a shopping trip right before starting so that I could buy some high quality larger clothing that I could grow into. The baggy clothes kept my bump hidden, with the addition of jackets, cardigans, and sparkly jewelry that brought more attention to my upper body than my lower. See some of my outfits here and here.
Wear flared skirts and skater skirts. My favorite outfit for when I was bloated included my white flared pleated skirt from Plato's Closet. The purposeful shape made it easier for my belly to expand comfortably without being obvious.
Buy maternity Spanx. There are safe versions of Spanx for pregnant women so that they can smooth the lines of their body while also minimizing thighs and butts without putting pressure on your baby. Since I was feeling bigger in those areas, this became a dress staple for me. It wasn't comfortable, not by a long shot, but it made me feel more confident in my outfits. Belly bands are also really helpful to expand your wardrobe.
While I don't recommend people to keep their pregnancies a secret for so long, these tips helped me keep it under wraps while I figured out my next move.
And today, at 19 weeks and 4 days, I'm now sharing my happy news with my extended friends and blog followers. No more hiding. It's time to celebrate.
First Image: Close Up Honey Bee