The faded second line was difficult to misinterpret: I was pregnant. I looked at my husband, who had the happiest, most sincere smile on his face… and I burst into tears. For most women, tears of joy are nothing out of the ordinary. But these tears were most definitely NOT happy. Here are some of the thoughts that instantly ran through my head:
I’m not ready to share my husband.
I’m not ready to lose my precious sleep.
I’m not ready to give up my long, relaxing showers. Moms only get rushed, possibly cold showers where they can’t even shave because a baby is screaming in the background.
We can’t afford a baby.
I’ll only be 22 when this baby is born! I haven’t even lived yet!
Honestly, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I had stopped taking birth control because we suspected it was triggering my extreme migraines. Condoms are the worst, so we left our birth control up to the “pull-and-pray” method. That obviously didn’t work. We always knew pregnancy was a possibility, so we had talked about what would happen if I did get knocked up, but that didn’t mean I was ready to be. “Let’s hope we don’t get pregnant, but if we do, it’s not the end of the world.” This is NOT the right mindset for starting your family because that’s not an acceptance, or a decision. It’s a justification to live in the moment and not think of the future until the pleasure is over.
Luckily for me, I eventually acknowledged and accepted my condition, and in time, became very excited for this next stage of life, even if I still felt too young for it. But what changed? How did I become excited for a baby, even though I still had all the same fears and selfish worries?
If you have found yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things that might help you adjust to your unplanned pregnancy:
Take time to mourn your old life: There’s nothing wrong with this. Having a baby, even just getting pregnant, is a HUGE, new step so it’s normal to need time to process what it means. It’s okay to feel selfish at first and to acknowledge the things you will miss most about your childless marriage (like spontaneous dates, having money, and sleeping in on the weekends). Take your time adjusting, but then be open to acknowledging all the great that this unplanned baby will bring to your life.
Talk about it, often: Make this situation your new normal. For the first week after getting that positive pregnancy test, I wouldn’t let my husband talk about it. I wanted to relish a few more days of normalcy before the morning sickness began, reminding me of this major life event. My husband was confused and frustrated that he couldn’t express how excited he really was, but he was incredibly patient with me. Once I allowed myself time for the shock to wear off, I found that talking about the baby, how I was feeling, and the fun parts of being pregnant (healthier hair, baby showers, excuses to not be on my feet so much) helped me accept and connect.
Go to the early doctor appointments, listen to the heartbeat: The biggest turning point in finally connecting to my baby was hearing her heartbeat for the first time. For me, this was at my 12 week OB/GYN doctor appointment, but if you can’t/don’t want to make it to that appointment, you can purchase your own Fetal Doppler, like this one. There’s just something incredibly amazing that happens when you hear your own steady heartbeat and then your baby’s tiny, flickering heartbeat behind it.
Do your research and prepare: If this was a surprise baby, your first question might be, “Will I keep it?” I’m not naïve to the fact that many women in this situation could end up as a single mother, raising the baby on her own with little support. That would be a hard life to choose, so of course it’s scary. When faced with the unplanned pregnancy, ask yourself how you really feel about it (once the shock wears off), talk it over with your partner, and do your research. Whether you know instantly if you’ll keep the baby or if you’ll consider giving him or her up for adoption, doing research on options will help.
Address each worry one at a time: It’s all very overwhelming when you look at the big picture so take a step back and address each worry, one by one. For example: if you’re like me and worry about changes like never getting naps or long showers, talk with your partner and make a plan for when he can take over so you can still get those moments equally.
What are some other tips you have in accepting an unplanned pregnancy? Please share!