Finding out you are pregnant when it is unplanned is a very scary and overwhelming experience, especially when you are further along in your pregnancy. I didn’t know I was pregnant with my son until I was 6 months along (to read the full story, click here). Immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I went home in a complete panic and began to google what could possibly be wrong with my child.
In the office, when my doctor told me that I was expecting, she insisted that I must have a strong baby because he or she continued to grow despite the fact that I was not taking care of my body as well as I would if I had known about my pregnancy. I was a young college student at the time and was certainly mistreating my body in more ways than one. Sure, my doctor’s reassurance should have been comforting, but all I could think of was the possibility of my baby not being healthy. How could my baby possibly be healthy when I have not done anything to ensure it? Many woman who take their prenatal vitamins, do prenatal yoga, read loads of pregnancy and parenting books give birth to children with disabilities, illnesses or special needs. How would it be possible for someone who was doing none of these things to have a healthy baby? I began pondering, how would my low body weight affect my child? How would the alcohol affect my child? How would the second hand smoke affect my child? and the X-ray? and the soccer games, and all the falls I took affect my baby? and how would the lack of prenatal vitamins and care affect my baby? The questions and fears were endless and I became engulfed in fear.
After reading dozens of articles on what could possibly be wrong with my baby, I made the decision to forget the past and look toward the future.
Here are tips (from my personal experience) on learning to cope with an unplanned pregnancy:
1. Let yourself worry for 24 hours only.
Worry and fear is inevitable. If you have just found out you are pregnant, whether you are 6 months along or 1 week, if it was unplanned there are a lot of things to take in at once. For one, if you did not know about the pregnancy, you may be wondering if your baby is healthy. Or, if you are just learning to cope with the shock, you may be struggling on what to do next. Either way, let the tears and fears pour out. Freak out about what your parents will say, stress about how to father is going to react, learn the consequences of poor prenatal care (if it is relevant), and the, pray and hope for the best. Once you have thought of all the negatives, forget it all. Close out the articles on complications, forget any negative energy from others, and smile.
2. Think happy thoughts.
You are allowed 24 hours to worry and that is it. When those 24 hours are up, think only happy thoughts. Think of all the positives of the pregnancy. Think of what you hope for the future and what you look forward to about parenting. If you have not taken proper care of your body, it does not mean your baby will certainly suffer. Just like some woman who do everything right do not always have a perfectly healthy baby. Of course, this does not mean you should not take care of yourself now that you know, because giving your baby the best you can is always the safest way to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
3. Let yourself get wrapped up in the moment.
Start letting yourself enjoy the fact that you will be a mommy! Go to Babies R’ Us, it will make any woman happy! Little pink shoes, blue booties, rattles, and adorable toys will make even the toughest girls, “ooooh” and “ahhhh.” Buy a scrapbook and begin jotting down your wishes and dreams for your child! A week after I found out that I was pregnant, I went to Babies R’ Us and stepped into reality. The moment I walked into that store, the baby that was growing inside my belly came to life. Being that I was already 6 months along I had found out earlier that day my baby was a boy. I went over to the blue section and began dreaming of what my son would look like in little blue overalls and what the nursery would look like with fishes and octopus on the walls. I let it all sink in, and I left with a heaping carriage full of blue.
I did my best to think of only the positives and ignore the thoughts on how my twenties would be made up of diapers and preschool, rather than friends and parties. My shopping sprees would be at Stop and Shop and Babies R’ Us, rather than American Eagle and J.Crew. Okay, so these thoughts did tend to sneak past my unconscious and into my train of thought, but I did my best to shut them off. Instead, I would remember how excited I was to put a little backseat on my bike, take trips to the playground and have someone who would love me unconditionally because I was there Mommy.
4. Hold your head high, and never be ashamed.
Yes you are pregnant and it was not planned. Yes, it was a mistake. But hopefully it will be your favorite mistake, I know it was for me. My son is the greatest thing in my life, and as soon as I learned to accept my pregnancy, I began to enjoy it. I brushed off any negative comments from friends and family and when asked what I was going to do, I replied, “I am going to love my baby.”
Coping with an unplanned pregnancy is not easy. Try to give yourself time to grieve and fear for the past and future. Of course, some people will need more guidance and help than others, so please don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. There are many resources for pregnant woman (especially young mothers). However, once you learn to accept your pregnancy, try to begin to enjoy it. Then, with time, let it be your favorite mistake and embrace it fully.