When should I tell my children that we're having a baby? We have two daughters, ages 2 and 4, and my husband and I are anxious to share the news with them. At the same time, we have reasons for being concerned about the possibility of another miscarriage (I had one about six months ago). When is the best time to bring it up? And what should we say if a miscarriage occurs?
Allow us to be among the first to congratulate you on your pregnancy. That's wonderful news! Under normal circumstances we'd say that sharing the news about your pregnancy with your daughters ought to be a joyous experience. Unfortunately, it sounds like there are some mitigating factors in your case. Apparently the risk of miscarriage is weighing heavy on your mind.
As you may know, something like twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first trimester. That's about one in five. The risk is greater if you've had multiple miscarriages in the past. For that reason, you may want to wait until you're safely past the twelfth week of pregnancy before telling your kids that you're expecting again. Then share the good news that God has blessed your family with a new baby, a precious little life that is already growing inside your tummy. Some parents wait to tell until the pregnancy is "showing" just below the navel which is about sixteen to twenty weeks pregnant. Often then the baby's movements can be felt by simply laying a hand on the abdomen. As your pregnancy advances, have your girls feel your stomach and listen for the baby inside as it starts to move. If your doctor will allow it, you might even take them with you to your ultrasound appointment. If not, ask for a video or photos of the ultrasound to share with them afterwards.
You might find it helpful to take a look at a great book that you can read together with your daughters when you share the news with them. It's called The Story of Me by Stan and Brenna Jones.
If you do suffer a miscarriage, we'd encourage you to be honest with your children. Tell them that this baby was very sick and wasn't able to live, but now she is in heaven and you'll get to see her someday. Grieve the loss together, but if you find yourself overwhelmed by intense feelings of sadness, share those feelings with your husband and a trusted friend, your pastor, or a counselor, but not with your girls. A 2- and 4-year-old aren't mature enough to understand or process a parent's intense grief.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to discuss your concerns at greater length, feel free to call Focus on the Family's Counseling department.
The Story of Me
Life After Miscarriage