How I Coped With an Unexpected Pregnancy

On a warm June morning, I typed at my laptop, sipped my iced latte, and paused. The realization came unbidden: I couldn’t remember the last time I had my period.

Weird.

I kept working, but on my lunch break I moved as though on autopilot to the drugstore, where I bought a two-pack of pregnancy tests at the speed of light and prayed I wouldn’t run into a co-worker in the checkout line. I came back to the office and peed on the little stick in a stall of the first floor bathroom, the one that was nearly always empty. I waited a few minutes, idly scrolled through Instagram and thought about what to make for dinner that evening.

Then I stared at the faint pink plus sign, and sat down on the toilet.

Damn.

I didn’t really want a baby right then, nor did I experience undulated waves of joy about being a mother in the near future. But I didn’t not want a baby, either.

I spent the rest of the day feeling slightly numb, like I had just heard life-changing news about somebody else—except, it was me. I couldn’t connect the two dots. Me, pregnant? With a real, live baby?

I played around with the idea of not telling anyone, not even my husband, for a couple of days. Tests could be wrong, I told myself as I drove home. In a daze, I stopped at yet another drugstore, where I bought a Father’s Day card. I didn’t know how to tell my husband the news—the news I couldn’t process, the news that wasn’t real to me—but part of me understood I would have to retell this part, this moment when we found out we would be parents. I wanted us to at least have a good story.

“Come home from work,” I texted. I took another test. Still pink. Still happening.

30 minutes later he walked through the door. I handed him the card and he raised his eyebrows. “Uh, did I forget an anniversary or something?” He asked.

“No,” I replied, and waited. I stood at the kitchen counter with my arms crossed. I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

He opened the card, and his eyes lingered on the handwritten “to be! (not kidding)” on the inside page. “No way…” His voice trailed off in a soft, shocked tone.

I handed him the two pregnancy tests, both positive.

“Yeah,” I said.

 

HOW WOMEN ARE “SUPPOSED” TO FEEL ABOUT PREGNANCY

Here’s the thing: As an almost-married, heterosexual, middle-class woman at the ripe old age of almost thirty, I was supposed to be stoked to be pregnant.

Except I wasn’t.

I didn’t really want a baby right then, nor did I experience undulated waves of joy about being a mother in the near future. But I didn’t not want a baby, either.

I felt ambivalent, and I quickly learned that showing even the smallest sliver of uncertainty about the baby now on board in my uterus led to a double-edged societal sword—because for women, there’s a strong, set narrative around female attitude and behavior when it comes to pregnancy and parenting.

And ladies, like everything else, we are offered two extremes on a silver platter.

One: The baby is now your main objective, your highest priority, your be-all and end-all, your source of passion and focus and interest. Your entire existence now lives to serve that bustling bundle of joy; you must be on cloud nine 24/7, fully consumed with the idea of a child making your life “complete,” ready to quit your day job and leave your hobbies behind to helicopter parent. You become the type of person who smugly tells non-parents that they don’t yet understand what “real” love truly is.

Two: You feel resentment, frustration, fear, sadness or anxiety—basically, anything less than electrified to grow a baby, you know, inside of you—which means that something must be wrong. With you. Like, maybe you’re not very in touch with your femininity? Maybe you received poor parenting as a kid; maybe your mom was never really around. Maybe your biological makeup is straight up faulty, or your relationship is falling apart behind the scenes. Maybe you’re choosing to be selfish (insert shudder, the horror!)

Take your pick.

I loved to travel and drink whiskey and sip strong espresso and practice hot yoga and run 10ks and curse. Motherhood registered as a foreign event, something that happened to other, more grown-up, women: women who owned houses, who had zero student loan debt, who talked about baby fever. The concept of a child simply wasn’t on my radar.

This black-and-white framework focused on value and identity seems laughable, intense and awfully unfair—but it’s also true. What’s deemed “normal” is the notion that any woman worth her salt should be honored to carry a life; I mean, it is our major duty and purpose in life, right? (Reader, no.) Women who aren’t amped up about the possibility or reality of motherhood aren’t quite worthy enough for the privilege of parenting. And so women are left to wallow in a place where they aren’t allowed to be ambivalent when it comes to motherhood and parenting; society makes little space for mixed feelings during pregnancy.

I viewed parenthood as something that would happen eventually, but not anytime soon. I loved to travel and drink whiskey and sip strong espresso and practice hot yoga and run 10ks and curse (I still do!). Motherhood registered as a foreign event, something that happened to other, more grown-up, women: women who owned houses, who had zero student loan debt, who talked about baby fever. The concept of a child simply wasn’t on my radar.

Part of me wanted to play the role of the dutiful pregnant woman. (What can I say? I’m a people pleaser at heart). I tried to remain open to unsolicited advice, eager to trade opinions about epidurals versus natural births, thrilled to discuss diaper brands. I understood that the topic of pregnancy was considered low-hanging conversational fruit for women, just as the subjects of wedding planning and engagement tend to be, and I realized that most people meant well and brought it up as a show of interest and support.

Truthfully, I just didn’t give a shit about any of that stuff. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole, either. I wanted the baby to be healthy, I tried to practice self-care whenever possible, and I hoped for the best. But my lack of interest in dissecting the details led to growing shame and guilt. Was I going to be a bad mom? Would something happen to my kid as punishment from the universe for not being grateful enough for this experience? Why did I get pregnant, when so many other women I knew desperately wanted to be in my shoes right now? Shouldn’t I feel more, well, lucky? Shouldn’t I be happier?

 

YOUR LIFE IS NOW OVER VERSES YOUR LIFE IS NOW BEGINNING

I mostly felt like I had borrowed Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility, minus the eternal protection, and kept bumping into the hard edges and corners of conversations solely tied to the baby and the experience of being pregnant.

“How’s the baby?” My parents crooned as they patted my stomach.

“Mommy brain, huh,” my male colleague joked after I forgot a set of papers on my desk for a meeting.

“But what about the baby?” asked my husband’s grandfather’s when I mentioned returning to work after maternity leave.

“Isn’t that a little soon?” questioned my best friend upon learning of my plans to participate in a half-marathon six months after my due date.

“How are you feeeeeeling?” quizzed acquaintances on a regular basis with a sympathetic head tilt at the yoga studio where I taught.

“Did you mean Pellegrino?” suggested the waiter when I ordered a half glass of pinot noir to sip on at dinner.

The pattern went like this, on and on—eyes straight to the belly for a quick evaluation (“How is she putting on the pounds?”), followed by some sort of comment or question involving my choices or feelings surrounding a child that didn’t exist yet. It didn’t help that for the most part, my husband got off scot-free; he typically heard a quick “Congrats!” rather than a flood of: Are you house hunting? How long will you stay home after the baby comes? Do you think you’ll get an epidural? Have you had any cravings? You’re not working out these days, right? Should you be drinking coffee? How much weight have you gained? How’s your morning sickness? Did you pick a daycare yet?

Basically, the pendulum swung from YOUR LIFE IS NOW OVER to YOUR LIFE IS NOW BEGINNING. Gain weight, but not too much. Blame it on the hormones, but don’t be crazy. Get some rest, but put in 150% at the office. Take time off to bond with your baby, but do it unpaid. Focus on your new kid, but remember to stay sexy for your partner. Save money for college, but register for all-organic everything. Pick a unique name, but not a strange name. Eat healthy, but here, have a donut—wink, wink, you’re eating for two now! Show off that pregnant belly, but for heaven’s sake, put those breastfeeding boobies away. And most of all, remember that it’s all about the THE BABY. Not you.

It was exhausting, and overwhelming. Other pregnant women I knew didn’t seem to mind the constant flood of commentary, but I did. I experienced a deep hole widening within me, next to the space where the baby kicked and hiccupped, and I grieved the impending loss of my life being my life, my self being my whole self, alone. I wasn’t naive, I knew that when the baby arrived things would be different on all sorts of levels, that of course there would be pros and cons, that such a life-altering change would be both wonderful and challenging but I wasn’t prepared to experience such a strong sense of isolation, fear, and detachment before the baby got here.

 

MIXED FEELINGS ARE ALLOWED

Near the end of my second trimester, I visited a midwife who asked how things were going. I responded with the liar’s club answer all women are taught to use as an emotional barrier from a young age: “Fine,” I said. I feared that if I opened up, she would judge me petty. Or ridiculous. Or unappreciative. Or overly hormonal. Worn down by anxiety and panic, I teared up as soon as I reached the parking lot and fumbled for my phone to call my mother.

“I hate being pregnant but I love the baby but I’m scared I’ll suck at this and then I saw all the moms in the waiting room and everybody seems to know what they’re doing except me and what if I’m terrible at it and I don’t know if I want to breastfeed and I just want my body back and I miss wine and I’m sick of people asking me how I feel every fucking second…” I rambled on.

I wasn’t ready, and then we got pregnant, and then I had to figure out how to accept this new turn, the one for which I wasn’t prepared.

“Whoa, honey,” she replied.

I cried big, heavy sobs that took my breath away.

“You know,” she said carefully. “It’s OK if you weren’t ready for all this.”

And that’s the thing: I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready, and then we got pregnant, and then I had to figure out how to accept this new turn, the one for which I wasn’t prepared. People often say that you’re never really ready to have kids, and I agree to some extent. But I was newly married, working toward a promotion, going about my regular life with goals and dreams and visions of my future me. Then boom: A baby blew up all the carefully constructed plans I had for myself.

No wonder I felt hesitant and scared about this unexpected change of events. And no wonder those emotions became even more pronounced as the pressure and expectations of how to be pregnant came bearing down at every turn.

 

LET GO OF ALL THE RULES

I’d love to say that some magical moment occurred during my pregnancy where I welcomed the concept of having a child, let go of all my vacillation about motherhood and instead looked forward to my due date with pure confidence and excitement. But that would be a lie. Instead, I had to do what I always do when it comes to change: Try to make peace with the journey.

First, I gave myself a giant permission slip to feel everything. Instead of forcing down unwanted emotions, I let them all rush in on any given day: the sadness, gratitude, frustration, awe, confusion, excitement, grief, happiness, and longing. I invited each feeling to rise up to the surface of myself like a bubble blown from a wand, and then expand for as long as need be until each eventually popped and dissolved.

Second, I released the external expectations: the expensive maternity clothes, the glowing demeanor, the stylish nursery, the chock-full registry, the “how to” books and articles, the right toys, and the heady rules about good and bad, right and wrong. I sought out role models, mamas with children who spoke openly about the difficulty of identity post-baby, who didn’t seem to experience mass guilt and shame and anxiety about not being enraptured by pregnancy or motherhood, who refused to label themselves selfish for having a full sense of self and life in addition to their children.

Finally, when people asked how I felt, I told the truth instead of hiding behind the doors of Should and Must and Always and Never. To my great surprise, many women and mothers responded by sharing their own authentic, vulnerable stories about struggling with these same issues. I wasn’t alone. (I also killed the buzz during a lot of small talk efforts, but hey, connection comes at a cost.)

I cut myself some slack. I gave myself grace. And I felt immensely better almost immediately.

 

IT’S OK TO BE AMBIVALENT. REALLY.

Getting pregnant, having a baby, being a mom—these things weren’t on my to-do list a year ago, and this next chapter of my life looks nothing how I anticipated. But that’s OK. If anything, pregnancy taught me to better value and articulate the challenges of any significant life shift. Too often, we’re quick to dismiss other people’s pain or discomfort during personal transitions; we want to point ahead to the shiny parts where everybody is in control and everyone says the right thing and everything looks good from the outside. I fall prey to that same inclination, but I’ve learned that it’s more important to make space for, and to honor, the pain that can go hand-in-hand with big change.

So here’s what I want to tell women, regardless of where they fall on the “Do I Want a Baby?” spectrum: It’s OK if you don’t know. It’s OK if you are pregnant and you’re not excited about it yet, or ever. It’s OK if you hated being pregnant, but you love the end result—your child. And it’s OK if you loved being pregnant and sometimes you dislike your kid. You’re allowed to experience a wide spectrum of emotions when it comes to the profound prospect of bringing another human being into the world, whatever that may look like for you. And when it comes to motherhood, you have permission to speak freely about your highs and lows, your joys and sorrows, your losses and lessons without fear of judgment that you’re doing it wrong or should be doing it differently.

I can’t wait to meet my baby and, in the same breath, I grieve the life I had before his or her arrival. Both truths will remain close to my heart as I let go of how I think my life should be, and instead embrace how it actually is.

  • Payton Heilman

    Thank you for this.

    • Julia

      Thank you for reading.

  • This is really powerful and beautifully written. I feel like I heard my own voice reading this. I’m at the stage where everyone is wanting to get pregnant desperately and, as you said too, I’m still thoroughly enjoying doing anything I want, whenever I want, and learning about me. Best of luck in everything life brings you! Sometimes our plans switch around the order.

    • Julia

      Thank you! All my best laid plans typically veer a different direction — and usually, down the road, for the better 🙂 That’s wonderful that you feel good about the stage in life you’re at right now. Having a baby is not something you must check off a to-do- list, despite what others say. Good luck!

  • Laurel Cyr

    Fantastic article. You are so right; it’s okay to feel what we feel. My younger son was a surprise baby. A big surprise as my birth control failed. While I knew I wanted a second child, I wasn’t quite ready for him when I fell pregnant. And it took a while to wrap my head around the new reality for our family. We had a lot of carefully laid plans (we’d just made an international move 6 months prior and my husband was/is in graduate school) and suddenly every decision we’d made came undone. I was totally freaked out when I found out and honestly questioned how we would handle it. It was absolutely the worst timing!

    Now that he is here, I can’t imagine him not being here. Children are like that; their arrival forces a new normal pretty quickly and I’m surprised at how natural that change feels. And the thing is (at least for me), the timing turned out to be pretty darn good but not something I could’ve seen at the time. I chose to spend my time pregnant at home with my older son and we really strengthened our bond. And I’m now working part time and feilding all those comments of “you’re back to work already?” Yes, I am back to work. We have to eat. And I like the division of labour. My husband and I have solo days caring for the boys, work/school and about three days home as a family. It’s great because it really works for us and our situation. Every family is different.

    Massive congratulations on your pregnancy and upcoming motherhood. I am excited for you and am inspired by how you’ve found your own personal way to navigate this new chapter of your life. I wish you a positive labour and delivery, however it plays out.

    • Julia

      Thank you for sharing your story, and for such a thoughtful comment. I couldn’t agree more about the timing — now that my son is here, motherhood feels more natural than I anticipated. Your routine with your husband sounds like a great fit for you, too! Thanks again for all the kind words.

  • Nicci Alain

    Been thinking of lot of the thoughts in this article recently. So glad to have read this.

    • Julia

      I’m glad it struck a chord with you. Thanks for reading.

  • Julia Kent

    I can’t tell you how much I related to and loved this piece! I’m due in April and echo a lot of your sentiments. Thank you!

    • Julia

      You’re welcome! Sending you good vibes. Nice name, by the way 😉

  • Alicia

    This is a wonderful article. Thank you for posting this and being so honest. A lot of what you said made me think you’re reading my thoughts. I’m in the i don’t know phase. I don’t know if I want to have kids biologically but everyone around seems to want them. Thank you for posting this – it’s just what I needed to read

    • Julia

      You are very welcome. It’s more than okay to not know. One article that really helped me in a lot of ways is this one: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/ — you may want to check it out.

  • Emma P

    Thanks for this post. Although we planned our pregnancy, I can still relate to your thoughts and feelings. I have connected with other moms who feel the same way, who do not let motherhood define them entirely and still have other life goals and ambitions. I find this has helped me.

    Thanks for sharing so candidly.

    • Julia

      You are welcome. Thanks for reading. And the women who find motherhood wholly identity-shaping, more power to them; that path is just as valuable.

  • This is such a great piece- so well written!!! I don’t have kids, and I don’t want kids, so this is probably how I would feel too! Good luck on your journey Julia!

    • Julia

      Thank you!

  • Emma

    Thank you. Right now my biggest fear (apart from never getting a real job) is getting pregnant. It seems like half the people I know are having babies, and it’s just so far away from what I want at this point in life. It’s really nice to know that I’m not alone.

    • Julia

      You’re not alone, and it’s okay to not want babies now or ever. Do what’s best for you.

  • MPC

    You realized you had a choice of not going through with the pregnancy, right? If you’re on the fence and this upsets you, it doesn’t bode well for your child either for the next 18 years if your feelings don’t change.

    I know quite a few people who have unexpected pregnancies, and for the most part, are terrible parents because they didn’t want children but kept the baby due to social pressure.

    • Emma P

      An abortion is not an easy decision, and being unprepared for a unplanned pregnancy is minor in comparison to the trauma that comes with terminating a pregnancy. It’s unfortunate to hear that you know “quite a few people” that are terrible parents because they were not prepared for parenthood; I am in the complete opposite camp – all those I know who had unplanned pregnancies are great parents. This article is about accepting the feelings that come with pregnancy when they do not assimilate to how women are “supposed” to be feeling. There is nothing wrong with this and it by no means pre-determines what type of parent someone will be.

      • MPC

        It’s not just the “unwanted” aspect, but lack of education and upbringing for several family members. (I live in the Bible Belt.) They didn’t realize their options and what they could’ve done.

      • Rodie

        Not everyone goes through “trauma” when terminating a pregnancy, many women feel huge relief because an unplanned pregnancy would have massive implications for their financial situation, career, and/or lifestyle, and for reasons the author of this post has touched on. In the same way that we should accept all the feelings that come with pregnancy (regardless of how others expect someone should be feeling), we should also accept the spectrum of feelings that come with choosing the other option and not just assume that it will be traumatic or regretted. At the end of the day, people need to be aware of all of their options so that they can make a decision that they can live with.

        • Emma P

          Oh I absolutely agree with you! Sometimes terminating a pregnancy is the better option for a person. That wasn’t my point, only that I don’t believe it to be an easy decision, regardless of it being the better one. This is only an assumption of course, I can’t speak for everyone.

          My point is that, although a person feels ambivalent or uncertain about being a parent, it does not mean this person will be a terrible parent 🙂

        • Julia

          Preach.

      • Julia

        “This article is about accepting the feelings that come with pregnancy when they do not assimilate to how women are ‘supposed’ to be feeling.” — Yes. Thank you.

    • Julia

      Of course. Not going through with a pregnancy is a choice I hope all women nowadays are empowered to make; for me, it wasn’t a path I wanted to pursue. The key point of my story echoes what Emma P said below — accepting the vast range of feelings that occur despite how you’re “supposed” to feel about pregnancy as a woman. There’s a lot of pressure to feel one way or other other, and that’s both unfair and harmful.

      I agree that having and raising a child when you don’t want to parent is not good for anyone, and my heart goes out to those who find themselves in that situation.

      Thanks for reading.

  • Beautiful

  • Rochelle

    I am pregnant, with a baby we planned and very much wanted. But I really connected with this article. Especially where you talk about questions and comments you get vs. your Husband. Although my husband has been 100% involved in every decision we have made, I am the one who has to answer for it. It has definitely been interesting. I wish I had more support and encouragement from friends and family, rather then grilled with every interaction. If anything I have learned what not to do.

    • Julia

      Oh MAN, that particular gender divide drives me insane. I tried to remember that people weren’t intentionally trying to grill me 🙂 Most people just assume that the woman has all the answers and wants to talk about all the details — which isn’t true. (Obviously speaking about this from a heterosexual perspective, since that’s my experience.) Best of luck.

  • Bridget

    I LOVE this article! I feel like you just told my story. I found out I was pregnant one month after our wedding, and it was not planned. My husband and I both wanted kids, but didn’t think we were ready for them yet. I have friends who struggled immensely with getting pregnant, and others who set out to make me feel bad for not wanting it when it came so easily to me. I actually hate being pregnant, but I can’t wait to meet my baby. I don’t think anyone should feel bad about having all of these feelings. AND I miss wine too! A lot! Thank you for writing this.

    • Julia

      Thank you for reading, and for the nice feedback! I didn’t mind being pregnant — in fact, it came more easily to me on a physical sense than I would have predicted — but meeting our actual child was definitely the best part of the entire experience. Wishing you well for the rest of your journey!

  • Nicole Petrone

    Awesome post. Thank you for being real.

    • Julia

      Thanks so much, Nicole.

  • Joanna

    Wow, amazing. Our pregnancy was planned, but I felt many of the same feelings you describe. This perfectly sums up so much of the struggle I faced and felt ashamed to be facing. Thank you for putting so eloquently and accessibly what I have been unable to voice.

    • Julia

      You are welcome – I’m glad my story connected with yours. No shame in the struggle!

  • Autumn

    THIS. This is great. I’m so glad a place like the ‘everygirl’ is talking about this issue — this is the stuff every girl deals with, and I appreciate that a full spectrum of reactions and emotions is encouraged. Process it your way!

    Love it.

    • Julia

      Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

  • Juliette

    I have a feeling this article will stay with me. Thank you for sharing your true feelings on your unexpected pregnancy. I am 31 and am not ready and have little interest in being a mother right now. I DO want to be a mother in my lifetime, but I am enjoying my lifestyle right now and the newlywed time with my husband. (We’ve been married less than two years) I do get the “you aren’t getting any younger” speeches and looks often, but I’m just not there yet!

    • Julia

      That’s okay! Having a baby changes your whole life in some fundamental ways, so if you’re not ready, you’re not ready. People love to give speeches about when other people should procreate — but it’s your body, your life. Enjoy the present moments and welcome the parental experience when and if it should happen for you and your husband. Thanks for reading!

  • Erin

    Thank you for writing this. It’s such an important thing to talk freely about, but no one ever does. My pregnancy was not planned. My husband and I were completely ambivalent about whether to have kids, so when I got pregnant, it took both of us a good while to come to terms with it. Now we have a smart, funny, healthy, happy one year old boy that I love to pieces. I also regularly grieve my old pre-baby life. It took me a long time to let myself feel that grief without also feeling shame and guilt, for all of the reasons you mentioned here. But once I did, I started to feel better. And now that my son is getting older, I’m able to start to reclaim those pieces of my life and myself that I’d lost during his first year. Becoming a mother is, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s a good kind of hard. Good luck and keep giving yourself grace as you enter motherhood.

    • Julia

      “It’s such an important thing to talk freely about, but no one ever does.” — YES. I wish more people would. I’m grateful that you shared some of your story here, and will keep your thoughts and advice in mind as I move through the first year of parenting our little boy. Take care, and thanks for reading!

  • Amie Melnychuk

    I hated being pregnant. I loathed it. My body wasn’t my own. It was up to everyone around to dictate what I could or couldn’t do instead of assuming that as a well-educated and highly opinionated woman I have done the research and consulted with my midwives on my choices.

    I was nauseous all the way through, i couldn’t function. I had two months of normalcy before the love in my life doubled and a wonderful little human came into my world.

    My labour and delivery on the other hand, were amazing. I hypnobirthed and had her out in no time with little anaesthesia. I will take labour and delivery any day over being pregnant.

    I had some postpartum depression that I struggled with, and I came out the other side with better tools to pull myself out of pits should they happen again when I have my next child.

    I am always willing to share the good and the bad with any of my pregnant friends. But I always ask them what they are thinking and feeling about them as a person first.

    • Julia

      That’s a very courteous and thoughtful approach, asking someone how they feel about the topic before diving in with your own experience. So sorry that you were sick throughout much of your pregnancy, and I can totally relate to the frustration and anger of losing control over your body and being subject to so many opinions from others. Very glad that you had a good labor and delivery, and were able to move past PPD successfully. Thanks for reading!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this Julia. I’m currently pregnant with my third child and still feel like this. My first was unexpected and this last one as well but even when I got pregnant with my second child, I had the same feelings. It’s hard to be everything, do everything and feel everything according to what people expect. At the end of the day, it’s your journey and more importantly, YOUR BABY. I love each of my children more than words can express but I loathe pregnancy and the pressures involved with it. But I still love to grab cocktails with friends, love working out, eating out, going on trips, working and generally having a life outside of just being a mom. With my first, I also felt totally unprepared but then I realized, everyone is. Cheers to you to letting go of the pressure – it really is a much more fun and enjoyable part of life that way.

    • Julia

      “It’s hard to be everything, do everything and feel everything according to what people expect.” — I would edit this to say it’s IMPOSSIBLE, not just hard 😉 I love that your babies bring you so much joy, and that you prioritize yourself when possible in addition to being a mama. Thanks for commenting and reading.

  • Such an interesting and well-written perspective. I’m sure it speaks to SO many women. Thanks for writing it.

    • Julia

      Thank you for reading it!

  • Madeleine Wallace Drake

    Julia, I REALLY connected with your article. I’m not pregnant, and don’t plan to be soon but how you feel is how I imagine myself feeling. It’s the exact thing that makes me fear getting pregnant. I really appreciate your point of view and reading your story gives me more hope and reassurance that it will all be OK. Thank you.

    • Julia

      It WILL be okay, no matter what path you choose or find yourself on. Thanks for reading.

  • Christine Mozena

    Perfect illustration of the power of good writing. Spoke to me at gut-level. Thank you so much for this

    • Julia

      Grateful that it impacted you. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Kathy @ Lifereallyblog.com

    I loved this. I was excited to be pregnant but once my first daughter was born, I really struggled with my identity and mourning the loss of my old life. Surrounded by women who said that mothering was “what they were meant to do” and that they had “found their life purpose”, I felt selfish and less-than. But things got better as my daughter got older and now I know that it’s ok to not be completed by motherhood.

    • Julia

      I really value this perspective, Kathy – thanks for commenting. It is definitely hard to hear such comments about mothering when you don’t exactly feel the same way. So far, parenting my son is not my life purpose, but one of my biggest priorities in life. There’s definitely a distinction 🙂

      And of course, I respect the women who DO feel completed and sustained by motherhood more wholly. That’s amazing. It’s just not the case for everyone and that’s okay.

  • Wonderful article. I feel like I could have written this myself–this is EXACTLY what I went through when I found out I was pregnant with our daughter. But then, I never came across anyone who said what I felt was OK. I’m still hesitant to tell people that our little girl wasn’t a planned baby–was actually a massive “Oh sh*t” moment in life at first. But this… well, even almost two years later, I realize I needed to read this. Thanks. 🙂

    • Julia

      I laughed out loud at this! I think it’s okay to state that truth, even though it does make people uncomfortable. I remember when we first found out, and people always asked if we had been trying, and we were like, “No!” (Which is a luxury and gift in itself vs. those struggling with fertility.) Ours too was an “oh shit” moment that turned out beautifully. Thanks for reading.

  • Jessica C

    Thank you.

  • Jen

    I really enjoyed this article. thank you thank you thank you.

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  • Anna

    This is so spot on to my experience during an unexpected pregnancy! A lot of my friends were trying to get pregnant, many of whom had experienced fertility problems, so my (very obviously as I’d talked openly about waiting to have children) unplanned pregnancy placed me squarely into the category of “undeserving of motherhood.” Throughout my pregnancy I experienced periods of ambivalence, fear, and excitement— but there was never a big moment where I suddenly felt prepared to be a mom.

    I’m happy to report that having an unplanned pregnancy has had zero baring on my happiness as a mom or my ability to mother! I am convinced that every woman responds to motherhood differently, but for me my moment of excitement and confidence came after I had my baby. I held her in my arms for the first time and all of my fears of not being prepared fell away. They were and are irrelevant. No one, no matter how planned or prepared they may be, will be a perfect parent. In many ways, adapting to the unexpected life change has positively impacted my parenting choices.

    I’m also happy to report that it is indeed possible to retain your identity as a person AND be a great mom! There is pressure to reorient your entire world around your baby, but I honestly believe I’d be doing my child a disservice by making my life all about her. She will benefit from having a mother who is a strong woman with passions and interests outside of child-rearing, as will your child.

    Best of luck to you, and thank you for writing such a beautiful piece about something that isn’t discussed nearly enough!

    • Julia

      Love this: “There is pressure to reorient your entire world around your baby, but I honestly believe I’d be doing my child a disservice by making my life all about her. She will benefit from having a mother who is a strong woman with passions and interests outside of child-rearing, as will your child.” Thanks for such thoughtful comments! I too never had an “aha” moment about parenting, but now that my son is here, it feels natural. And going with the flow of life’s unexpected moments is a strength 🙂

      Thank you for reading!

  • My pregnancy was planned and I still felt all these feelings. Thank you for spreading a much needed message. I think sometimes even women who DID feel this way, brush it off and try to forget it once they have the baby… which leads people like us to feel even more alone when we’re going through it.

    • Julia

      You are so welcome, and that’s a great point. It seems like some of these themes ring true for motherhood in general as well as throughout a pregnancy — something I’m slowly learning! Thanks for reading.

  • Bridget Keelean Baum

    this resonated with me so so deeply. i’m just out of my first trimester in my pregnancy-one that happened after a very half-hearted first attempt, and am still trying to figure out how to feel like myself in this new life. i loved so many things about my pre-pregnancy life and i find myself mourning its loss already. this made me feel like it’s okay to feel … whatever i am feeling on any given day. thank you.

    • Julia

      It really is okay to feel whatever you are feeling, knowing it’ll change day by day. In my new life as a mama, I too am trying to figure out (again — ha) how to “feel like myself,” and the journey can seem so elusive. Sending you lots of love and light throughout the rest of your pregnancy.

  • Robyn Hall

    Thank you. My baby is 4 months old and I can identify with the letting go of outside expectations for the nursery, maternity clothes, and to be all twitter-patted about the up coming baby. The funny thing is our baby was “planned” and I have decided to be a stay at home mom for the next couple of months. But during pregnancy, I never felt how everyone seemed to expect me to feel – all happy and obsessed with reading books or putting together the nursery. I have enjoyed being a mom more than I would have thought and I do tend to obsess more now about things (like his sleep), but I still feel different than other moms. I feel like my love for him his growing whereas some moms seem to be in love instantly. Anyways, I appreciate you for voicing this perspective. It is nice to know I am not alone. Your last line is words I need to remember each day: “let go of how I think my life should be, and instead embrace how it actually is.”

  • Adrienne

    This is a great article, Thanks so much! I’m not pregnant, but now that my husband and I have been married for a few years people keep asking (pressuring) us to have children. Honestly, i’m not sure I want children, I mean yes…but i don’t know…it’s like that. I constantly feel like I’m being selfish for not wanting children, and I feel that I can’t share those feelings with my family (other than my husband). So anyway, thanks for permission to feel how I really feel. 🙂

  • I think this article is great. I also think that what you went through isn’t so different from what so many women go through. I just think there have been so many taboos and societal expectations that censor what women really experience when it comes to pregnancy. Thank you for sharing something so honest and poignant.

    http://www.thebusinessofblooming.com

  • Cait

    Great piece, thank you for writing this.

  • Yes yes yes. I felt all if these things during pregnancy. I wasnt sure if I’d like being a mom. Surprised to say that I love it, and I’m a wine/beer/hot yoga/strong coffee/cursing/business owner kinda gal, too.

  • Hey Julia. Thanks for sharing this really raw, honest post. I am a newlywed, and I don’t have any desire to have kids yet, but I’ve observed the amount of pressure & expectations that people put on women who haven’t had kids yet. I love how you say it’s OK to feel all sorts of feelings. It’s so important to be honest & real – covering up the truth doesn’t help anyone. Thanks for sharing. X

    Elise – http://www.sheislight.com

  • Wow, thank you. I’m not a mom right now but I’m always scared that I’ll be that one woman not obsessed with motherhood whenever it comes. Thank you for sharing your honest perspective.

  • Aubree Edwards

    These are exactly my sentiments about my pregnancy. THANK YOU for your honesty and vulnerability.

  • This is excellent – a really talented writer telling a really interesting personal story x

  • Jo

    I needed this.

  • Michelle Fernandez

    I wish I could better formulate words to express the immense gratitude I feel towards you for so beautifully and perfectly expressing the feelings that can come with an unexpected pregnancy. I too had an unexpected pregnancy and can relate to sooooo many of these emotions and thoughts. I felt so alone for a long time because as you said society does not understand the slightest twinge of hesitation when speaking of children or childbearing. I cried when I read this because it made me feel less alone! Thank you.

  • Lindsay

    Thank you. I’m glad Google showed me your article in my surprise pregnant panic. I’ll probably read it every time I feel those emotions which, let’s be honest, will probably be my whole pregnancy, lol. Again, thank you!

  • Lindsay

    So I’m currently in that ‘omg I just found out and I’m googling everything related to pregnancy/whatdoidofirst/canieatthis’ phase. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have come across an article like this. In the past year I have struggled tremendously with ‘finding myself’. Last year, at the age of 28, I got engaged to my fiance and moved thousands of miles across the world almost completely on a whim. I quit my job of 5 years and have been working pt jobs here and there just saving some money for us to travel at the end of this year. I’ve considered myself very fortunate to have found someone like my fiance who is very secure in himself and has inspired me to do some really spontaneous and exciting things.

    As I mentioned, as much as I’m grateful for the lifestyle I’ve lived the last few years with him, I’ve also felt so torn, trying to allow myself to enjoy this time and to focus on how exciting it is, rather than feeling guilty that I haven’t used my 29th year to bust my ass for some big career move. I told myself that when we get back from traveling I would start off the year getting back on my career track and possibly even going back to school pt to get my masters. And now I get this news. Not only am I trying to figure out ‘what do I want to be when I grow up’, but now I have to do all that while preparing for a baby. Honestly, I’m scared to death and wish I had been more careful, knowing that I wasn’t ready for this. But, unfortunately for me, quitting your job and moving to a tropical island ultimately translated to temporarily not having health insurance…hence…no prescription birth control.

    This is something I always knew I wanted. Kids. To be a mom. But of course, it just doesn’t always end up happening quite like you pictured. I took a year-long break from job security just in time to get pregnant. Started planning my elopement to Italy only to now realize that might have to happen much sooner. I’m venting. I’m complaining. But alas, thanks for making me feel like I’m allowed to.

  • Olivia

    This article helped me so much. I specifically looked up “how to get through an unexpected pregnancy,” and came acrossed this. It feels good I am not the only woman feeling this way. I am engaged and we have been so busy planning a wedding. It is so scary having this pop up and right away having to change your lifestyle forever. Now we will move the wedding to another year, which I am ok with. Thanks for the helpful and inspirational word! P.s I live in IA too, I saw you are from DesMoines 🙂

  • Courtney

    Thank you so much for this…. I just found out I’m 8 weeks…. and I’m just not ready. It’s good to know there are others out there like me..: feeling what I feel…so many tears… and terrified….

  • Ashley

    Thank you so much for this article.
    It was so refreshing to read and article that didn’t just try to give simple solutions like “give your baby a name to bond with it” or “find people who support you.” Not all situations are so ideal and reading this and feeling like I can eventually get a point of happiness about pregnancy has made a big impact on me.
    Thank you a million times.

  • My wife also felt the same way.
    unexpected pregnancies.
    strenuous activity, running and fell from the vehicle while pregnant frightened of what happened to the fetus

  • Jo Stevenson-Tate

    Thank you Julia, your article emulates my current emotions. I feel as though I want to share your words with everyone around me, to make them realise its natural and not uncommon to be unhappy in pregnancy. Jo x

  • Ali Harrison

    Thank you thank you thank you. A healing balm on my heart.

  • Michelle

    Beautiful writing. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am feeling incredibly guilty today… I found out recently that I’m pregnant and it was completely unplanned. I want to keep the baby, and I am already doing everything I can to plan and prepare for this new life. I have a good job, my own place, a solid support system. I already love this baby with every ounce of my heart. But I have so much anxiety and fear about being a single mom. It’s so easy to feel guilty for having those thoughts when we’re “supposed” to be over the moon with joy. But life is not perfect, clearly, and it’s really relieving to hear that I’m not the only one feeling uncertain.

    Also to people who are saying “why didn’t you just have an abortion?” that isn’t an option for some people. I thought about it but knew I would spend every day for the rest of my life wondering “what if”. For people in other circumstances, an abortion would be the way to go. But in this situation it just wasn’t right for me. And clearly it wasn’t right for the author either. I can’t believe how easily people throw that idea out – “Oh, just have an abortion then. Easy peasy.” Give me a break.

    • Julia

      <3 A little late, but thank you for sharing this, Michelle! Wishing you the best.

  • Elizabeth O’Hagan

    wow Julia thank you for this. So well written and I love your honesty. I am pregnant myself just now and to tbh I am struggling as it was unplanned… I’m not in a stable relationship, with no stable income… I am holding on to what I do have which is an excellent network or supportive friends and family but sometimes I do wonder is it enough… am I crazy for thinking I can do this? On top of this, my mum is having treatment for cancer at the moment and I have been rather distracted with caring for her. So much to handle and sometimes I don’t handle very well. I know people will think / ask ‘but why not an abortion?’ and sometimes I berate myself for not being strong enough to go through with it but honestly… I just never wanted to. Deep down in my heart. So I’m reminding myself of this when I can. It’s not all doom and gloom for sure and when I allow myself I can be quite excited about the pregnancy and the baby’s arrival… but feel like I need to deal with and process SO MUCH fear, and doubt and worry on top of everything else (hello hormones) Anyways articles like these are so very necessary for allowing women to feel whatever they feel, whether it’s an unplanned pregnancy or not. Thank you <3 x

    • Julia

      Thank you, Elizabeth! Pregnancy is tough as a whole, and circumstances can weigh heavy as well. Sending you lots of light throughout your experience! <3

  • Jen

    I really needed to read this. So unexpected my news which I got on Monday 🙂 x flip this article made the new bump flutter and my heart calm x

    • Julia

      Oh, I love hearing that your heart is calmer – wishing you well, Jen! xo.

  • Rula Schmutz

    Thank you indeed. My relief made my eyes water up because it is so GOOD to feel understood and not alone anymore.
    “Try to make peace with the journey” and the last section are so very wise and touched my heart. => I`m not a cheesy person… 😉 Rula

    • Julia

      Haha, I might a little cheesy! 😉 I know the “feeling of relief/eyes well up” moment very well. You are NOT alone <3

  • Sofia Rehman

    I feel like I’m reading my own thoughts in this article. I’m newly married, just received a promotion at work, and I love coffee. Just found out I am pregnant and it definitely wasn’t in the plan..at least not yet. I’m so afraid of losing myself. I feel pretty much all the feelings you identified in your article. I wanted to ask, now that you’ve had your baby, how is work? Are you able to balance it out?

    • Julia

      Hi Sofia! Great question. The short answer is: work is hard but rewarding, and balance is not possible. I’ve stopped striving for “balance” in terms of everything being equal because it just isn’t. Some days there’s a little more mom-ing, some days more working. It evens out on the whole. Some days parenting is super fun and rewarding and delightful, some days I just want to get to bedtime. It ebbs and flows 🙂 Thank you for asking and commenting in general! Best of luck to you!

  • skpasell

    I cried. I screamed about how boring my life was going to be. I was furious. When I met him, I was terrified. I am still dealing with the aftermath of baby body 16 months later. If one more person says breastfeeding is the best weightloss tool I’ll lose it. Letting go is hard, I am still working on it. Thank you for this. Truly.

  • Kasey

    Thank you

  • Kathleen Mia

    Wow I’m 20 years old and I just found out I’m pregnant I cry a lot but this gave me a lot of hope I’ll be ok and I think once my baby comes I will be very happy. It’s just hard becuase i just got married and evrything looks like a mess. But it’s just these months that are very hard I feel like once I have my baby I will be happy and content

  • kunjarani dsouza

    Dear Julia,

    Today, more than a year after your article, I re-read these lines just so I feel same, safe to have found a common group of thinking. I am just newly pregnant and not planned but married but I have never been more scared and upset, psychologically and emotionally and I can’t express the feeling openly. It’s too new to become a reality and yet I have to still deal with it.
    Thank you for writing a piece that has me saying, “Yes exactly”

    I appreciate it .

  • Jen

    Thank you so much for this. Just recently found out and feel like I got hit by a truck of emotions. One day fine, the next day, miserable. It’s like navigating a maze without any clue what’s coming. So glad to hear others identify. ❤️

  • Lori Beaulieu

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Brenna Lynn Martin

    thank you for writing this!

  • Hailey

    I was told I had endometriosis and few years after was told because of it I wouldn’t have kids .. At first it broke my heart you know most girls dream of the day they’ll get married and start a family .. and like most girls I did ! So I was upset .. I thought I’ve always been wonderful with kids I love kids ! And to not be able to have my own ? How is that fair ? Well now I’m newly 8 weeks pregnant and the idea have having a kid is terriflying to me .. the thought that I’m not where I wanna be yet in life for myself, let alone a baby? I’m going to have to give up everything that makes me, Me! My whole life will be around this baby now! I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet .. I guess I became so comfortable with the idea i would never have a baby that now it’s happening and I don’t know if I want it to … my husbands so excited and can’t wait for the baby to be here but me I have no acknowledgment of it.. am I wrong for thinking of myself and goals and thinking maybe the timings wrong? But than I love this baby I mean it’s my baby! This could be my only chance of having a family .. very confused on what to do .. I have no support system besides my husband and I feel selfish and very guilty talking to him about it because I feel I’m taking his happiness away … I was looking for guidance when I came across this article so thank you for such wise words as I have a lot of the same emotions towards unexpectly being pregnant …

  • i liked it. You are really great. Every one has his/her own decision. At last, your decision is yours. Good luck!

  • Jo

    Thank you.

  • Great experience shared!
    i personally suggest you to buy MTP kit that is the best abortion kit online available to terminate unexpected pregnancy that is less than 9 weeks.