You’re Pregnant! Congratulations!

“Congratulations” is basically the norm when someone announces they are pregnant. Growing up, that’s what I learned to say, followed by visible excitement. With time, I learned that, although the prospect of a baby is can be seemingly happy, there are a lot more subtleties to it.

When I was 18, one of my close friends got pregnant. Her mom had passed when she was 9, there was no partner in the scene, and she was struggling at a retail job. Nonetheless, she broke the news to me with a big smile on her face. I said “Congratulations!” as a reflex, but then I realized how complicated this could be for her, and I immediately followed it with “How are you feeling?” – and she started crying. She had always wanted to have a child, but the circumstances were … less than ideal. 

A few years went by, and a cousin tells me that she was pregnant midway through her second trimester. I was so happy for her, I only had joyful and positive things to say to her. Or was it at her? I didn’t ask any questions. I just celebrated. A few weeks later she miscarried. Later, I found out she had miscarried before this pregnancy also. To this day I regret not having a real conversation with her. I regret not asking her how she was feeling. I regret not being there for her. I regret not providing more than just a minute of fragile celebration.

Now it is my turn, I’m on the other side. The second person I told about my pregnancy was a random nurse who picked up the call at the hospital I go to in town. I started with “I took several pregnancy tests, and they are all positive.” As I still had my mouth open to ask a gazillion questions, she emphatically said “CONGRATULATIONS!” As I tried to understand how to navigate this new world, and what appointments I needed, she would answer it vaguely followed by “again, congratulations.” This interaction ended up being so overwhelming to me, that I had to process everything for a few days before calling again to finally schedule my first appointment. 

Language evolves over time. I don’t know if there’s a better word than congratulations, or even if I have a real qualm with it. It is nice when your pregnancy is celebrated, and I am certainly thankful to all who have shared joy over my announcement. What I do know is that for anyone who tells me they are pregnant, I’ll welcome them with “how are you feeling?” – and then go from there.

Ana is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Out of passion for learning, she started traveling to all sorts of different places. Fifteen countries later, she has now settled in Baton Rouge and works for a local architecture firm. Graduate school at LSU presented her not only with tools to advance in architecture but also with a deeper understanding of the culture and geography of Louisiana. It is a fascinating state, and Baton Rouge, as its capital, does not disappoint. Ana is currently starting her journey to a country she has never been to before: motherhood (except if you count a dog, a cat, and a fish). You can find her coming up with a myriad of house projects, trying new restaurants in town, park-hopping with her beagle, or enjoying a good movie with her husband.


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