How we’re handling our surprise pregnancy

Guest post by KS Toros

When I took the pregnancy test on Columbus Day, I was positive that it would come out negative. I stood in the bathroom, faithfully waiting for that one little line. As the unexpected plus sign appeared, I started shouting for my husband. We were totally taken by surprise with this pregnancy. Although we didn’t always use protection, we used it when I was ovulating, and, sometime in September I miscalculated.

We were in what many people would consider a “dream” situation for a first child. My husband and I had been married for over two years, we own the place where we live and we both have reasonably stable jobs. Despite all of this, I was devastated to find myself pregnant. I felt totally unprepared for this major life change — like I had been cheated out of the second half of my twenties, like I hadn’t gotten enough time alone with my husband. I was numb for about 36 hours after we found out.

Then one night, I started crying hysterically. Up until the positive test, I felt like my life had been on a planned, relatively controlled course. Sure, a few things were a surprise, such as the loss of a close family member and buying a house right before the market crashed. But this felt completely out of control! I was overwhelmed by the changes coming for my body, relationship, physical space, and I continued to feel that way for about the next six weeks. And, knowing so many people who had a hard time getting pregnant or went through miscarriage, I felt guilty for being so upset. I didn’t know if I would ever feel happy about the baby, and so I was afraid I would be a bad mom.

The good news is: it got better. My husband was excited about the pregnancy from the start, which helped. As we began to share our news with our families, friends and co-workers, seeing their excitement made me more positive, especially when people said, “You will be a great parent” (I had never considered this as a potential compliment I would receive). When my body started to change and grow and I could feel the baby moving, I started to love him. At 25 weeks pregnant, I am happy about the baby, and I look forward to his arrival.

Of course, things still aren’t perfect. I am terrified of what it will be like to work full-time with a baby, and am dreading the process of looking at daycare options. I periodically have a mini-meltdown about our amount of living space and storage. My husband does his best to deal with my hormone-driven emotions, and I make an effort to stay reasonable about what I am feeling. Mostly, I give myself permission to “feel my feelings” without judging myself too harshly. Remember, pregnancy is a time of enormous change, even if you were planning on it!

I wanted to write about my experience for the Offbeat community because when I was first looking for resources to deal with my feelings, I couldn’t find many. Everyone online seemed so happy and excited about their pregnancy, and seeing that always made me feel guiltier. If you find yourself in a similar situation, know this: it might take a while, and you might not ever feel totally ecstatic — and that is ok. Let yourself feel your feelings, accept them if you can, and try to move forward. You will probably find yourself feeling better before your baby arrives. As for after the baby comes, I will let you know!

Comments on How we’re handling our surprise pregnancy

  1. While many commenters have expressed similar feelings with unplanned pregnancies, I’d like to chime in just long enough to say that even with a planned pregnancy that you’d been trying for for 7 months, these feelings can still come up. They definitely did for me, and I had *major* guilt about them considering that this was a decision I had made pre-conception. I really didn’t talk about it with anyone, beyond expressing the feeling of surrealism. It’s definitely gotten easier as the pregnancy has progressed, though I still have minor panic attacks of “what if I’m going to be a bad mom?” (and I’m at 37 weeks!) I just keep telling myself that my husband and I will figure it out together, and it’ll all work out in the end. Sometimes, you gotta just have faith.

  2. I went through this and to some extent still go through this. My boyfriend and I were together for five months and had just moved in together when we found out we were 12 weeks pregnant. We had had the conversation already.. neither of us wanted children and I had been told by a doctor that it would be near impossible for me to get pregnant and even then it would be with IVF etc etc. (how wrong one person could be). The difference between my partner and I is that while we are both pro choice I know I couldn’t have an abortion. I misscarried when I was a teenager and it took a long time to come to terms with (wondering what the baby would be like etc). So I kept the baby. We stayed together but he acted for a large part like i had killed his puppy. He wanted to spend his twenties travelling and partying and he hadn’t gotten to do this.. I however had done the backpacking around Asia and Europe and I partied enough for two people when I was younger.
    It took until I was 8 months in for me to feel clucky or maternal though and I delt with it the best that I could.
    It went downhill when a couple months after the baby was born (very dramatic, long, intense birth that led to me never wanting anything to go near my vagina ever again – in OR out.. especcially out) when my partner and I had sex for the first time after baby.. I got pregnant again. When you think you know what you are in for and think that what you are in for is horrible then it is hard to destress. I spent my second pregnancy beyond terrified. I did feel like my partner and I had lost our chance to really get to know each other before we had children, if we had of chosen to have children.. it probably would have been mid thirties not mid twenties. We both had a lot of unfinished business – for ourselves and for the relationship.
    The second birth was the opposite to my first and was done so much more smoothly that I realised the first birth was not how birth was meant to be and that I had wasted a lot of time freaking out. I love both my children, I had trouble bonding with my second but that only lasted a few weeks.
    The biggest difference I feel with having unplanned pregnancies is that a lot of the time that you feel overwhelmed afterwards you feel unprepared compared to someone that was trying but I think I’ve realised more and more that nobody is really prepared for everything and that all children are different.
    I like the idea that children choose their parents 🙂

  3. you should read the pregnancy memoir “It Sucked and Then I Cried: How I Had a Baby, a Breakdown, and a Much-Needed Margarita” by Heather Armstrong. I don’t have any children, but my fiance and I have been talking about it, since we have always held a firm “no kids” stance but have been wavering on that over the past few years, so I have been reading a lot of pregnancy literature that seems to feature more realistic and less idealized portrayals. This was one of those books….although the author absolutely LOVES her child, she is very realistic about the ups and downs of pregnancy and I found myself thinking, “yeah, that’s gonna be me…” for the first time since the fiance and I began this conversation. Good luck to you and the fam!

  4. Im currently pregnant with my first baby. I found out THE DAY before I was to go to the courthouse and marry my fiancee of about 4 years. For two weeks I kept telling him that my body felt off. I wanted hamburger helper for breakfast one morning, I had cramps but no period (I never have cramps ever), my clothes felt like they had all shrunk in the wash, even the coat I had bought a month ago was too tight.

    One morning I felt cramps and decided enough, sat down at the computer and looked up pregnancy symptoms. I had at least 3 of them so he went and got me a pregnancy test. Both were positive.

    At this point I was panicing, oh that day I was freaking out to the point it made me throw up 5 times in a 2 hour period. I was still in school with a long while to go. My soon to be husband was working parttime and having a hard time finding full time work. I didn’t even have insurance that covered prenatal care.

    I told my mom first thing and was shocked when she congratulated me! I was expecting her to yell at me for being so stupid. Not being financially secure and getting pregnant. All of my family and his were excited when we told them. That made me calm down. To know so many people were on our side.

  5. I’m a little late finding this post, but I just wanted to say thank you for it! I’m so glad to hear of other women- some of whom actually WANTED to get pregnant like we did- but were then bombarded with all of these emotions all over the place. My husband and I tried for nearly 2 years and now that we’re rounding out the first trimester, I’ve felt so guilty that I sometimes find myself wallowing in every bad thought I can think of- the changes it will bring to our marriage, our life, my body, my time…Yet at other times, I’m overjoyed at the upcoming adventure…It’s just nice to know that there are others like me. And I really hope that I get to that place where I, too, can write that I’m genuinely 100% happy about the idea. Thanks again.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. My partner and I have been together 9 years and had just started talking about marriage after many challenges in our relationship. We were thinking at least 2 more years for a baby. I am 17+ weeks and my now-fiancee was out of town when I did the pregnancy test. I initially felt incredibly happy and in awe. It felt surreal for a few days. Then all of the other emotions poured in. I haven’t hysterically cried in a few weeks (since I stopped feeling constant nausea) and I feel relatively balanced emotionally (most of the time). But I feel some guilt about not feeling “connected enough” to the baby. And I can’t yet make myself write “my baby” or “our baby.” I think I’m still experiencing some denial about the reality of having a child. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long, and yet I still can’t completely wrap my head around it.

  7. Oh my goodness. This. haha I was a military girlfriend, who had gotten engaged for 4 months before we found out. We prolly would have gotten married sooner, but his parents convinced him that we needed to plan a big wedding now, instead of getting the civil ceremony out of the way and planning a big one later. (They have a terrible grasp on what military life is like. Thankfully my parents do. They were egging us on haha) So we waited instead of getting married on his leave like we had planned.
    I started planning the wedding I didn’t really want with his mother, and then a few weeks later, I started feeling sick. I have a soy intolerance, which is really affected when I eat some sort of tofu. I had accidentally ate tofu the other week, and the symptoms were the same as my signs to the pregnancy.
    My coworkers were all women and you tell them that you feel sick they joke that you were preggo. I got mad and bought a pregnancy test to prove them wrong. I took it, and then proceeded to freak the fuck out when it turned positive. I called my friend Beverly, and cried for a good hour on the phone with her. Told my husband the next morning after I took the second test, and we just had a moment of well, shit. We talked about it, and he wanted to keep it. I’m glad we did, although I’m terrified of being a terrible mother, or getting a mental disease that my mom had, or passing on huntingtons, or any of the normal things parents think about. (my first thoughts were along the lines of needing to baby proof where we’re living, what if it drinks something that will kill them, etc..)
    And one of his family members told me that even though we did things out of order for his family, they can all see that we’re in it for the long haul, and they’re really excited about everything for us. I’m still not as excited as he is, but I’m getting there. So glad to know that other people were as freaked out as we are haha.

  8. I scoured site after site hoping to find someone who felt the same way. I just found out the other day that I’m pregnant, and although we’d talked about it and half-assedly planned, it’s still quite unexpected. For the last couple of days I’ve had nothing but dread, but my husband is through the roof ecstatic (he’s usually a very reserved guy. He just told me that he hasn’t felt this good in a while.) So imagine my remorse for feeling quite the opposite.

    I didn’t finish my BFA because of financial difficulties, and when I had skin cancer surgery, my school let me delay my last remaining classes because I was over my time limit. Now I’m pregnant and if my calculations are correct, due the week before the end of the fall semester. So do I just give up?
    I feel intense guilt because I’m supposed to be excited, and now I’m just feeling morose.

  9. Thanks for this.. We’re slowly moving towards a time where we will be in a good position to have kids – but I can’t help feeling that’s just when my excuses will have run out! I do hope we have kids, but they’ve always been in the ‘one day’ part of my life planning. My husband is super-excited to have kids, though I think he does understand my nervousness.
    I haven’t read all the comments yet but I definitely will be – this is the first time Ive heard a pregnancy story I can really relate to!

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