For the last few months the media has gone crazy with the speculation that Cheryl Cole is pregnant with her partner, Liam Payne; photographs first appearing of a slightly more rounded stomach, her Mum papped in Mothercare, Liam’s cryptic social media updates, and the usual “sources” tipping off newspapers. And the question on everyone’s lips is, “Why doesn’t she just announce it?”.
I’ve read countless articles claiming that she and Liam are simply “courting the media”, labelled “attention seeking” and “hypocritical”, the view that when they have shared so much of their lives previously, it is unfair to keep silent on such a huge life event. Last month when Cheryl posed for photographs in a tight fitting dress, her pregnancy was clear for all to see, and although there is still no official announcement, actions speak louder than words. And, in her case, the bump speaks volumes.
In a world where every move is played out on line, it is unusual to keep anything private these days, and yet we forget that these are real people, with real feelings, just like you and I, and we should respect that they may have their own reasons for wanting to keep this private, something which I can completely relate to.
Over the years I have announced countless pregnancies, in person, by text and across social media. With our first baby we shouted it from the rooftops when I was barely even pregnant, telling all of our friends and family, never imagining that we would have to retract that announcement when we lost the baby at thirteen weeks. With Lewis, we waited until our twelve week scan before sharing our happy announcement, and the same again with Joseph, so confident that having passed the first trimester we would be taking home a healthy baby.
When I fell pregnant with Eva, our first rainbow baby, not only after Joseph but the many losses in between, we waited until sixteen weeks to make an announcement, a scan photo tentatively posted on Facebook and the news that, all being well, we would be welcoming a daughter in the new year. And the reaction from others completely blew us away – the lovely words of support, excitement and congratulations, and, over the remaining few months, I had nothing but love and support to keep us going through a really difficult pregnancy.
Six months later, falling pregnant with Megan, we were that little bit braver, waiting until just thirteen weeks to share our news, a Christmas day announcement of the most wonderful gift we could hope for. And although many offered their congratulations, we were also met with some rather shocked reactions, wishing us “Good Luck!”, a general sense of amusement from friends who thought, and quite clearly stated, that we must be crazy!
And so when Megan was just three months old and I fell pregnant with Harry, we instantly knew that it wasn’t something we would be sharing any time soon. Infact, it took both Gaz and I a very long time to get our heads around the fact that there would be a fifth baby, something which, in all honesty, was never a part of our plans. And other than telling a couple of our best friends, whose reactions were far too expletive to share, we decided to keep it to ourselves until the news had finally sunk in. After our twelve week scan, where many would announce their pregnancy, it was silently agreed that we would refrain from announcing our news, worried how others would react to yet another baby, even more so with such a small age gap, and unwilling to take on any more stress than was absolutely necessary.
At our sixteen week scan, when we found out that Harry was a boy, we were over the moon, Gaz especially, and yet for me that feeling was mixed with absolute fear. Although it had been incredibly difficult to stay positive throughout my pregnancies with the girls, I had reasoned with myself that perhaps it would be different, the irrational thought that perhaps I had simply been unable to carry another boy, that Eva and Megan had arrived safe and well simply for the fact that they were girls. And for that reason, carrying my third son, I wasn’t ready to announce it then either.
At twenty weeks we finally plucked up the courage to tell our parents and Lewis the news, whose reaction was one of absolute shock, “You’re pregnant??” he had asked, “AGAIN?!”. But, once the shock had worn off, our families were over the moon that we would have a baby boy to welcome in the Spring, the little brother that Lewis had been longing for all those years and the final piece of our jigsaw. And over the next few weeks, we had every intention of announcing our news and yet, as the weeks flew by in a flurry of hospital appointments and scans, by twenty eight weeks when the consultant began to raise concerns about the baby’s growth, in just the same way as had happened with Joseph, I realised that I still wasn’t quite ready to tempt fate and announce my pregnancy.
At thirty weeks pregnant when I fell down the stairs holding Megan, unable to break my fall, I was rushed to hospital with a broken coccyx and I knew then that I wasn’t ready to announce my pregnancy – at all!! The fear that I had damaged my unborn child in the fall was immense and, although I was reassured that he was fine, I was an absolute wreck. I was sent home to spend the last few weeks of my pregnancy lay on the couch in absolute agony, hobbling around after an eleven month old and a just turned two year old, trying my hardest to stay sane for a ten year old Lewis, whilst trying to push away the terrifying thoughts in my head that, just like Joseph, this baby would not be coming home.
You’re probably reading this and thinking, surely at thirty weeks pregnant somebody must have noticed? And yet the truth is, even at nine months pregnant nobody had noticed, because, rather bizarrely, I don’t get a bump when pregnant. I mean to me, and to those who know me well, I had a bump of sorts, I definitely looked bigger and my boobs were ginormous, but to others, you would never really know. And I wasn’t trying to hide it, I didn’t walk around in loose clothing or a giant handbag covering my stomach like they do in the soaps, I just told myself that if I saw someone and they noticed, I would tell them, but making a big announcement was just too over whelming for me to face. I don’t have many photos of myself during my final trimester with Harry, but here I am just a week before Eva was born, and as you can see it would be hard for anyone to notice that I was heavily pregnant at all!
In the May, when I was rushed into hospital to be induced, I can distinctly remember sitting on my hospital bed with Gaz at my side, voicing my concerns that we had left it too long to announce the pregnancy, that our announcement would actually be a birth announcement, and the panic set in that we had taken it too far. And sat there, waiting for my labour to start, I felt the over whelming urge to text everyone that we knew to tell them I was pregnant, worried that we would upset so many people for not having shared it sooner. And yet my labour kicked in and, before I knew it, it was too late. He was here in our arms, and I knew that we had no other option but to simply announce his birth.
And so we did. And I cant even begin to tell you how shocked people were that just four days after Megan’s first birthday I had given birth all over again, even more surprising that I, the blabber mouth that I am, had managed to keep it to myself for all of that time. Many of our friends were confused as to why we had chosen not to share our news, even more so given the fact we had announced our previous pregnancies, and some were very put out that they hadn’t been “in on the secret”, with no real understanding that it had never been a secret, more a case of self preservation.
And even now, two years and ten months later, I know that there are still people who don’t understand why we didn’t share our pregnancy with them, why we seemingly shut them out of such a huge event in our lives, and I understand that, I really do. But for me, I would do it all over again if it meant that I would survive it in the same way. If keeping it to ourselves allowed me to keep my head down, cling onto my sanity, and just get through it one day at a time, focusing solely on keeping my baby safe, even now, knowing that it had hurt the feelings of others? I’d do it all over again.
And I hope when Cheryl and Liam finally announce the birth of their baby, or even if they choose never to announce it at all, that the media and the public respects that. For none of us could ever really know why a person makes the choices they do, and sometimes it’s all about survival.