The Twelve Week Secret



When we recently found out that I was pregnant, I was really unsure about when I should make our news public. My parents and in-laws were notified immediately, followed closely afterwards with a small handful of close family and friends. And gradually over the coming weeks, I told various friends and family as I happened to see them. I figured that “If they are close enough to me that I would want them to know if I miscarried, I’ll tell them now.” But once I started telling people, I cared less about who I told and would let the cat out of the bag to any friend or acquaintance I happened to be talking to (total strangers at the shops not included).

But I continued to muse – why do we have this socially imposed seal of secrecy until the magical 12 week mark? Do we do our unborn children some kind of injustice by not publicly acknowledging their existence until they’re considered “safe”? Are we neglecting the opportunity to provide a powerful pro-life witness to our secular and so often pro-death society, by neglecting to celebrate our new child at a stage of development where some will still try to maintain that they are “just a clump of cells”? Do we indirectly contribute to the idea that a baby of such gestation is of no significance?

Perhaps the issue is not so complex and philosophical; perhaps it is more about how we would feel, in the event that we miscarried, about having to then publicly share the news of our loss, to which everyone will naturally have different preferences. Some may want to keep something so personal to themselves, whereas others may want to be able to talk to friends and family about it for support at such a time.

In the midst of my pregnant ponderings, I ended up in conversation with a friend of a friend at an event we attended. The news of my pregnancy came up, along with the topic of my indecision as to whether I should be telling people. She thought it perfectly fine to be telling people, and had spread the word about each of her six children as soon as she and her husband had found out they were pregnant. “If you miscarried,” she said “and hadn’t told anyone, no one would know why you were grieving.”

As it turned out, a couple of weeks later, at about 9 weeks gestation, I started bleeding and then proceeded to miscarry. Apart from the grief of losing our little one who we had wanted so much, there came the headache of how to manage the physical and medical side of things, which in my case was not exactly straightforward. So I messaged every Christian friend I had told for whom I had phone numbers, and emailed some more, asking for prayer. In those moments, I felt that was really all anyone could do, but that it would be vital.

This was not my first miscarriage. I had also miscarried shortly before conceiving our second (live born) child. That time, we had told close friends and family, but not nearly so wide a circle as we did this time around. And when I reflect back on both experiences and the effect of who we had told, the biggest difference I can see is that the amount of prayer we had over us would have been much more this time, because we had more people who knew to pray for us.

I also noticed that as I updated people on our pregnancy and miscarriage, quite a number of mums I spoke to shared that they had also had one or more miscarriages or that someone close to them had. The statistic, I had heard, was that one in four or five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, so this was not surprising in a way. But what did strike me was that it is such a silent issue and that I was only now hearing these women’s stories for the first time, even some who I had known for a while. It seems strange in a way, that so many women should have children in heaven that we don’t know about, because they left this life so soon after entering it. Hearing these fellow mums share their own experiences of miscarriage has made me feel like, because of my own miscarriages, I had unknowingly become part of some kind of secret sisterhood.

So I don’t regret casting my news so wide. Sure there have been some awkward moments, when I’ve been talking to someone I haven’t seen in a little while and had to catch them up on the news that I had miscarried. The dear person has often seemed more shocked and upset than I when I’ve been telling them, but then I suppose I had had more time to deal with it by that point and I’m not the sort to get too emotional in front of people anyway. Those moments do tend to drag out the experience a bit when you find them happening weeks after you’ve miscarried. But in all aspects of your recovery, I can see little that is more important than prayer support. In such moments of grief, anxiety and possible medical complication, God is really the only one who is going to make a real impact. So the divine intercession is worth the awkwardness.


Filed Under: FeaturedJust For MumPersonal GrowthPregnancy

About the Author: In yesteryear, I studied and taught music and was involved in youth ministry. Now I am a wife and a home educating mum, with kids aged 7, 4 and 2. In between attending to children, I sing chant and polyphony and make GAPS/WAPF foods. Through it all, I am striving to battle the busyness to come closer to the Lord. For anything of value I write here, to God be the glory.

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  1. Sarah says:

    Samantha, thank you for the article. My husband and I have often wondered why the 12 weeks mark to announce a pregnancy. We often think that another reason why alot of people don’t think it’s a baby until 12 weeks. But we all know it is! It must be a hidden thing within our society and everyone just goes along with the 12 weeks announcement. Thanks for your article, it really helps understand what it’s like to miscarriage before 12 weeks after announcing to everyone and the benefits of prayer. Thankyou again.

  2. Alice says:

    I’ve long wondered about this too and thanks for posting about it. As your friend I can’t pray for you and share your grief if I don’t know. It might prolong the pain but at least you’re not carrying it by yourself.

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