I was only seventeen and a senior in high school when I saw those two little lines show up. It was the winter of 2000 and my now husband and I had no idea what to do or even where to start. An unexpected pregnancy can knock anyone at any age off their foundation. Something that many wait years to experience can make you feel like your dreams are falling apart. I know right now you feel like there might not be much hope, but you are taking part in a miracle. So, no matter if this unexpected pregnancy is pure joy for you, or you are terrified of what is coming next, these 4 things to keep in mind when you are faced with an unexpected pregnancy will help you find your footing.
1. Find your support team to help deal with your unexpected pregnancy.
Many women in your situation feel alone and isolated right now. You are facing a massive life-changing event in your life and truly you just were not prepared for it. Those fears and insecurities are going to keep you from leaning on those you love. Many women worry about the disappointment they may face, possible anger from our loved ones, and honestly, the fear of actually having to come clean about this situation. If you can find your support team right away, it can help save you a lot of time and sleepless nights full of worry.
Since I was only seventeen when I found out about my unexpected pregnancy, we kept it a secret for the first five months. Luckily, I was only a whopping 83 pounds when we found out and I barley showed at all. Wearing lots of baggy shirts and sweatshirts helped a lot as well. Not only was this a massive secret, but the weight of how big this was added way more stress on me than was needed. I was going through this pregnancy alone. Not even able to share it fully with my now-husband because we were not living together. He missed my morning sickness, our son’s first kick, and all the wonderful changes your body goes through those first few months. Once we did share our big news, it was only four months before our son arrived. Needless to say, our family did not take the announcement well. If we could go back now, we would have been open with our loved ones. Allowed them time to process this new and be part of this big change in our lives.
Unfortunately, since I was in high school during the majority of my pregnancy, I did not receive proper medical attention. We were blessed that our son was not born with any complications or health issues due to the lack of prenatal care I received, but for some families, this is not the case. Receiving proper care is vital during the early development of your child. Not only for the child but for you as well. Making sure everything is going smoothly and healthy is one of the first things you need to do. Many organizations help women get in touch with medical professionals as well as counselors. Or you can contact your local woman’s hospital to see if they suggest a medical professional in your area.
You can also find other women who were in your situation to lean on and count on. There might be support groups in your area or even online. You can also download a free eBook called Stories From Birth Mother’s to help you find some answers.
2. Consider your options when you are faced with an unexpected pregnancy.
Even though right now you might feel like you are up against a wall, you do have a few options to consider. If you choose to keep your child, there are plenty of options and programs that help women of all ages. Even for high school students, there are programs set in place to help teen mothers complete their education. Even some high schools offer nursery care and counseling for expectant mothers. We are no longer living in the times where expectant unwed mothers were shipped off to “live with their aunt.” Young women have the capability and means to not only raise a child but continue her education and make a life for herself. Personally, my husband and I always knew we wanted to keep our child. We knew our life would be more difficult, but we were determined. But not everyone is in the place to make that choice.
Adoption is a valid and selfless option for anyone facing an unexpected pregnancy. There are families all across the United States that would welcome your baby with open arms. This selfless act will allow you to bless someone else and continue with the plans you had set for your life. You might not feel like adoption is something possible for you, but women from all aspects of life choose to place their child up for adoption. You can speak to an adoption specialist to go over your options and see if adoption is right for you.
Even if adoption is the path you choose, there are still many options available for you. The agency you work with will do their best to make sure you are prepared, secure, and ready to complete the adoption process. Many offer counseling services throughout your life. This is your time to make the chooses that feel right for you and your unborn child.
Your agency will help you choose the perfect family for you. You will be presented with parent profiles and once a family feels right for you, the agency will set up a meet and greet. This is where you will be able to express your desire for the relationship you wish to have with the child after the adoption. A closed adoption means you have no communication or updates until the child has reached legal age. Simi-open adoption means you will be able to receive updates and photos throughout the child’s life and possibly even some meetups in person. Open adoption means you are a major part of the child’s life. The agency will help mediate between you and the prospective families to make sure everyone is comfortable with the plan.
Keep in mind, many agencies will assist you with health care, financial burdens, and counseling throughout your pregnancy. They will also help connect you with other families who are going through the adoption process to help build your support team. Make sure the agency you choose to work with is willing to help you through this journey.
3. Focus on self-care during your unexpected pregnancy.
I have given birth to three amazing kids now, and honestly, I never enjoyed my pregnancies. The crazy hormones, emotions, and changes to my body were just not something I ever really loved. Looking back, I believe that if I would have practiced a little more self-care, it would have been a more enjoyable experience.
Focusing on your spiritual wellbeing, no matter what your beliefs, will help you build the emotional strength you need. When it comes to an unexpected pregnancy, many women struggle with the feeling of shame and regret. Those feelings, when left unaddressed, can create darkness and depression. Speaking with a spiritual counselor will help you work through these feelings and be able to keep your focus clear.
Your physical health is not only important for you but also for your unborn child. And we all know, exercise makes you feel good emotionally and physically. During your first trimester, you might not have the energy or desire to work out in any way. But if you can push through that and take short walks, going on a light run, or even doing yoga, you will feel better in the long run. Focusing on your physical health will help you not only make this experience more enjoyable, but it will help make sure you are prepared and healthy for the delivery.
Lastly, keep in mind that you might be an emotional wreck during this time. I remember struggling with my emotions during my unexpected pregnancy. I was angry, frustrated, and so emotionally drained. Depression is very common during these situations and I was feeling it. Making sure you have someone you can open up to and express your feelings will help you manage your emotions. If you do not have access to a counselor, grab a close friend or family member who is willing to listen. Keep in mind that even though your emotions might be all over the place, what you are feeling is valid and true. Do not hold on to these feelings or tuck them away because they will drag you down.
4. During your unexpected pregnancy, it’s ok to not be ok.
This wasn’t your plan. This might have come way out of the blue and you never imagined yourself in this situation. It is ok that you are not excited and dreaming about your new baby. You might not be ready to pick out baby names or prepare your nursery. You might be feeling angry, overwhelmed, and unhappy with this situation. That is completely understandable and you know what, it’s ok. Give yourself some grace and allow yourself some time to deal with this new journey in your life.
You are also not to blame for this mistake. Unexpected pregnancies happen all the time to women of all ages, financial standings, and relationship status. I remember I felt the judgment from those around me that I trapped my husband. I felt eyes on me wherever we went and that contributed to my depression. I was not strong enough at the time to stand up for myself, but let me tell you, this is not your fault. It is no one’s fault. No matter what the situation, babies are a blessing. Just keep in mind that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however, that does not mean that you need to base your decisions on their thoughts. This situation does not have to change who you are, what your goals are, or what you can still accomplish. You might need to make adjustments to your goals, but they are still very much reachable.
Remember to rely on your support team and focus on working to improve all aspects of your life. Your spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing should be your top priority. This is one part of your journey. This does not define who you are, but it will help shape the strength you will carry forever.
It’s been nineteen years since my unexpected pregnancy. My son is now an adult and preparing to start his own life. Seeing him now the age I was when he was born, reminds me of how far I have come. Even though we had our son at a very early age, and not in the way we maybe wanted to, we are grateful for him. He now knows the struggles we faced to bring him into this world, and in a way, I feel like we grew up right alongside him. I sometimes wonder how my life would have gone if he wasn’t part of it, he changed my path in life. But through him, I found my strength and determination. My unexpected pregnancy forced me to grow up faster than I should have, but I do not regret a single minute of it. One day you will also be able to look back and see how this surprise changed your life. Hopefully, you will be able to find the joy in at and be prepared a little more than I was way back then.