Recently, Jill Duggar-now-Dillard and her new husband announced they are expecting their first child. It is disappointing to see and hear such negativity surrounding what should be a very happy moment in these two young people’s lives.
It has become the norm in our culture to wait to announce a pregnancy until at least the 2nd trimester. Most people say it is because they don’t want to have to tell everyone if they end up miscarrying. Understandable, but I think it has more to do with the idea that a baby isn’t a baby until a certain point in a pregnancy. It sounds silly to announce you are carrying an embryo. But by the time that embryo becomes a fetus, his/her heart is already beating, brain waves can be measured and all major organs are starting to function. This is often weeks before a woman or couple announces their pregnancy.
When my husband and I first found out we were expecting, we discussed whether we wanted to wait or tell people immediately. We talked about waiting until closer to 8 weeks to tell our family and close friends, and then telling work and our social media worlds once we reached the second trimester. But as we sat on our bed letting the idea of a new little life already growing within me sink in, it felt beyond wrong to not tell our family right away. So we told both of our parents that same day. We told my sisters a few weeks later, mostly because we wanted to do it in-person. Our closest friends we told around the same time.
We decided this because we were instantly in love with our child. For a long time, I wondered if we were actually in love with baby or just the idea of baby and I’m sure it was a bit of both. But we immediately made life changes – eating habits, spending habits, long-term goals. We didn’t wait to make sure we made it through the first trimester or until the baby was actually here to let this little one change us. Whether baby was born at 7 weeks or 37 weeks, this was still our child and we loved him/her. So we were open to telling people.
Anyway, so back to the Duggars. Jill and her husband announced their pregnancy pretty soon after they found out. Recently, Jill made a statement in defense of that decision (emphasis mine):
“Most people, the reason why they wouldn’t share pregnancy news early, [they] are afraid of miscarriage risks. We prayed about it, and the film crew asked us if we wanted to wait. But we knew we would share if we did miscarry. We believe that life is precious no matter how young and you would still want to remember that baby.“
The part I bolded above is what is bringing out the haters. Because she is openly discussing her beliefs about when life begins, pro-abortion advocates everywhere are freaking out. I originally saw the news via an article on lifesitenews.com. Then I decided to read some of the comments on the article posted on People.com. They seemed to fall into one of three categories: attacking their age, attacking the family because of their size and/or religion, or attacking them for being open about their pro-life stance. Here’s an example.
How exactly is being married a month and not even holding hands before marriage “ready” for parenthood? The girls in that family are deprived of any chance to ever get to know who they are as people because their one and only job is to marry as young as is legally allowed and pop out one useless future homophobe after another for the next thirty years. Yeah, sound like fabulous people to me.
First, Jill is the second eldest daughter, fourth eldest child of 19, so I would say she has had more than her fair share of experience caring for a child. Also, last I checked 23 isn’t “as young as is legally allowed” to get married (and her older sister is still single). I don’t really have a response to the rest of this comment since it is pretty sad that anyone would pass such harsh judgement on not only adults they don’t know, but on children and future children.
As a young mother myself, it is extremely disheartening to see so much hatred aimed at a young wife just trying to start her family the way she sees fit, and live her life as she and her husband wish. I know I was definitely nervous about telling my co-workers/boss about my pregnancy, expecting judgement and whispers because of my age (even though I was married, financially stable and had gotten my B.A. almost 3 years prior). We live in a culture where it seems we have to justify our decision to have a child, or to keep a child if we find ourselves in an unplanned pregnancy.
And it’s extremely unfortunate that most of the people who are commenting with such hatred are other women. Whether you believe life begins when the baby is physically detached from the mother or at conception, whether you want kids, can’t have kids or never want to even think about having kids, women need to stop criticizing each other.
Also, miscarriage is still far more taboo than it should be. Not only is it fairly common, but it can be devastating to a woman, couple and family. Pushing the norm to require these women to stay silent about their suffering and mourning alone is a massive disservice to women everywhere. We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of early pregnancy. We shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of miscarriage (or of mourning our loss).
So I say announce your pregnancy when you feel good and ready to, whether that be 4 weeks, 14 weeks or 34 weeks.