On Unplanned Pregnancy, For a Friend

Today a friend of mine found out she was pregnant and her fear and confusion shook me to the core because two years ago, I was in the same place. Slightly different circumstances. Same emotional response. (Hysteria would be an understatement.) Falling fast, the feeling of overwhelming confusion and shock. The fear of responsibility. Fear of time. Fear of change.

At first I thought about terminating my pregnancy. My boyfriend and I barely new each other and the time was all wrong. We were broke. We were careless. We were new. I cried for two days straight. I pretended like nothing was going on in my body. That it was a dream. I tried to smoke. Tried to drink. Tried to lie.

One afternoon at work I wrote myself a letter and it was vengeful and frustrated and full of rage. I wrote of the hate for my body, my anger at the situation, my regret and sadness over having to turn my body into a war zone. How could I have been so careless? It was as if I was being strangled by my fate. I hyperventilated.

I realized after reading through the pages of my moleskin that I could not bear to have an abortion. I couldn't do it. Always thought I could but no. I was far too concerned with metaphor, what it spiritually meant to empty my womb. I knew if I terminated the pregnancy I would feel empty. Sucked of life. Sucked of love. Sucked of stories. Sucked of my own.

I hated that I couldn't go through with it but that was the truth. I wasn't as strong as I thought I was. Or perhaps I was stronger...?


My friend will have her baby. She is about to be married and was planning to get pregnant in the near-ish future. In that way our stories differ but regardless of the circumstances, the surrealism of an unplanned pregnancy is just the same. I saw it in her eyes this morning. I felt it in her arms when she hugged me.

I shook with her.

When I found out I was pregnant I didn't have a friend to give me advice and would have liked one. I think it would have helped for someone who had been there to be there for me.

And so I wrote this letter for my friend and for anyone who might need one in the same situation:

Dear Babe,

I would congratulate you but I know you don't know how to say thank you right now and that's okay. It's okay to be afraid. It's okay to mourn your single life, your freedom, your yesterday. It's okay to look in the mirror and find yourself unrecognizable. It's okay to feel as if you are sleep-walking, sick to your stomach, speechless. There is nothing wrong with long silences and blank thoughts. There is nothing wrong with being afraid.

Forget morning sickness and weight-gain and childbirth, the hardest part is right now. Today. Trying to understand the largeness of the situation, deciding that the truth is actual, trusting the double lines, saying aloud, "I'm pregnant." There is nothing more difficult than unknowingly crossing the line, becoming two people overnight, touching your body and coming to terms with the fact that inside, a face is forming and with it, a new world- a giant door that leads to everywhere, a wild jungle and OH MY GOD. Yes, everything is different, now.

When I first found out I was pregnant I couldn't say so aloud for several days. I choked on my words and swallowed air in their place. It wasn't until I had written the words down on paper 100 times that I could finally repeat them aloud. "I. AM. PREGNANT." Me, pregnant. I am going to have a baby. There is something alive in my body and one day it will have a name. Holy Shit! How is it possible?

Give yourself time. You do not need to tell anyone if you don't want to. You don't need to be excited yet. You don't need to plan your future. You only need to plan for the moment. For today. Get yourself through today and tomorrow will be easier and then, next week, next week you will feel differently. I promise. The first few days are the hardest. The most confusing. Like in a dream.

It takes time to feel comfortable with a new friend, to get along with a roommate, to trust a stranger and so with the child growing inside of you, it is much the same. The key to any healthy relationship is time. Time and faith and honesty. Be honest with yourself and do not be afraid to be afraid.

Pregnancy was the most amazing physical experience of my life. I cannot imagine never experiencing those forty weeks of creation, the changes and the swelling of self. I cannot imagine my body without it's stretched tattoos and belly flab. I cannot imagine my life without Archer.


I looked into your eyes today and I so remembered the feeling. I remembered the fear, the lack of control, the loss of power. I remembered what I was wearing when I found out, (red tee and jeans) the way my hair looked, auburn roots coming through my black dye-job. Roots that have since outgrown completely. I remember the six pregnancy tests in a row and me unbelieving. I remember shaking my head for a half an hour, huddled under the sink and how my bedroom looked, messy on the other side of the room. I remember the damn dog next door and how he wouldn't stop barking and how for once, I was grateful. The silence was too much to bear. I remember feeling like my life was over. The end.

And I looked into your eyes, at your hair and thought, "you too will remember this moment. You will remember what you were wearing, faded work-out pants and sneakers. The banana clip in your hair. You will remember the smell of my car when I picked you up. You will remember the way the world suddenly looked different. A shade off. A new tint. You will remember it like yesterday. Like the turning-point in your life."

And then I came home, and I looked into Archer's eyes and all I could feel was gratitude and love and joy and I thought of you because one day, 32 weeks(?) from now you will feel it too. You will look into the eyes of something that was a part of you, is a part of you. A gift. A surprise. A beginning. And once again you will be speechless. And then I can congratulate you again and in a whole new way, you won't know what to say.

Most definitely your life has changed directions and the compass is all out of wack. Most definitely I know that you will find your way.

Always,

GGC

47 comments:

Grateful Husband | 12:53 AM

I didn't realize it affected you quite like that. I knew you were a jumble of emotions, but reading this makes me see how the decision was much more than just deciding whether or not you wanted to have a baby. I'm glad you did, though. I too was a little turned around, not sure what to make of the present or the future. But now, with that little crazy guy crawling in and out of my heart, I think you made the right decision for the both of us.

mm | 3:04 AM

First off, sniffle on the husband comment! that man is a keeper...
Secondly! OMG! That was beautiful. Aching raw beauty. I'm immediately putting that on the "unplanned for pregnancy" file I have in my doula paperwork.
Surprisingly, I felt much as you did with my last child... seven year married and two other children... not the same as with the first two pregnancy tests.
Hard to admit that, especially with her rough start to life, but I really didn't want to be pregnant at the time.
I'll forever be thankful for her, but it was a tough road, and no one understood why my compass didn't work!
k

Anonymous | 4:05 AM

Hello.
It's the first time I write here and I don't know if I should be writing this. Its' hard to me to accept what I've been trough, it's hard to put it into words...this is one of the very very few times I am really talking about it. I've been there, in an unplanned pregnancy. Unfortunately, I didn't have your strenght. I aborted. I couldn't pass those days of fear, shock and confusion. I did it and I regret it ever since. I'm glad you chose Archer... I don't wish to anyone what I suffered then (almost 4 years ago) and what I still suffer today. There isn't a day that goes by in which I don't think of her, my little girl. I envy you...you took the right decision. I wish you and Archer and your friend all the best in the world. And to anyone who is confronted with an unplanned pregnancy...please be strong! Thank you for listening.

Mom101 | 4:58 AM

This is stunning, as is the husb's response above. It's such an interesting and perspective - the bad, the ugly, and of course the good. I'm so immersed in this mommy world these days, this trying to be a mommy or wanting to be a mommy that I had forgotten there was a time that "pregnancy" was nothing more than a scary, unwanted condition.

Mother | 6:07 AM

I echo the commenters - kudos to huz for that - as someone with a totally "unexpected" pregnancy (and we've discussed this before) I was scared shitless. It's easy to look back now with a wonderful child sleeping next to you and say "my God how could I have ever been scared" but you did your friend well by reassuring her.

Brianna | 6:21 AM

ugh...don't cry at work...don't cry at work. You're an amazing writer.

braiding mommy | 7:06 AM

Wow - I always identify with your blogs - this one especially. I remember when I first found out, crying in my friends arms and telling her I just couldn't do it. Its amazing where life takes you and how much things can change from what you originally plan for yourself...

Kudos to annoymus for being strong enough to comment and to husband for being a good dude.

Fraulein | 7:38 AM

How lucky she is to have a friend like you! Discovering you're pregnant for the first time is pretty freaking scary no matter what the circumstances. Having supportive friends who are moms themselves is such a huge help. Best of luck to your friend.

lisa | 8:20 AM

My daughter was unplanned and unexpected, and now, five years later I can't imagine life without her or my son. Sure, things didn't turn out as expected, but that's what makes life spicy and interesting.

Wonderful letter too!

Andrea | 9:09 AM

Your husband's comment made me cry. But I was already tearing up from your post. I think that some of that uncertainty hits most women who find they are pregnant, whether they planned it or not. I remember thinking at the beginning of my planned pregnancy, "Oh shit. What have I done? Am I cut out for this?" That fear is palpable. I could smell it in the room with me in the mornings, when I was my most quiet and reflective. To feel such things made me afraid to be afraid, because I "shouldn't" feel that way; it's so wonderful; it's so awe inspiring; pregnancy is so beautiful. It's still scary. And it's okay to be scared. I think more people will take something from this than you will know.

meredyth | 9:10 AM

wow. that was amazing. I can imagine myself writing those words, if I had been in your situation, one I have worried about often. I'm glad it has worked out for the best for you.
Reading about how you felt at first is a reassurance. My good friend had a baby back in December and I'm sure she was feeling the same things at first and now wouldn't change anything. Thanks again for a beautiful and insightful blog.

Anonymous | 9:14 AM

Hi,first of all, great blog a daily read for me. Second, you letter is just beautiful, passing through the same thing at 19, and there is not a day I count my blessings and be grateful for the decision I made 14 years ago, although I married the father 3 years later. Violeta

Rock the Cradle | 10:18 AM

Absolutely on the mark.

Though the Impling was a project we had worked on for quite some time, the emotional earthquake upon finding you are pregnant is universal. The grieving, the shock, the realization that everything has changed, forever.

The one slight difference may be that the "holy shit, how is this possible?" became a regret at our apparent hubris in thinking we could be parents, voiced as..."holy shit,what the fuck were we thinking?"

But you know, it's all worth it. SO worth it, isn't it?

sunshine scribe | 11:11 AM

I don't know if I am more blown away by this stunning post or your husband's response. Wow.

You are right, she will find her way... especially since she has a friend like you.

Kristen | 11:21 AM

She's lucky she has a friend who can identify with these feelings and support her the way you can. Pregnancy is shocking and scary (and amazing) for anyone who finds out; I can only imagine how that is magnified for someone when it's completely unplanned.

Jadenfish | 1:53 PM

thanks for that.

gusmomma | 3:49 PM

i can relate all too well..although i could never write it out so prefectly like did! gus was not planned a bit...we never even wanted kids. but now as i am having snot wiped on me with sweet sweet hugs i can never imagine my life differently...this is how my life was supposed to end up and it ended up beautifully! your friend is lucky to find comfort with you!!!

Gina | 9:37 PM

Oh so touching, GGC! How do you do it so well? Write and console a friend... and many of us all at the same time? I know my sister will appreciate this post. Thanks for your bravery and honesty here. You are someone to be admired... and we do... we do, we do!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 1:16 AM

Thank you for all of your comments, especially to those who have never commented before. Anon 4:05, your comment was heartfelt and honest and I am glad you shared your experience. It's always such a tough decision and I believe wholeheartedly that the choices we make in the moment are always the right ones. I wish you strength and self-love and am sending you hugs dot com through the www.

Thanks again...

jennifer starfall | 9:17 AM

you rock.

ECR | 10:47 AM

This is a great post, and a thought provoking one. As I am still thinking about it, I must reserve the right to comment at a later date. But, in the meantime, I wanted you to know it is still in my head.

RedsMama | 12:21 PM

Thank you for your honesty and amazing words. Your post is still spinning in my head. My older sister and my dear husband are the results of unplanned pregnancies. NowI feel like I understand my mother in law and Mama a bit more. Thank you again for the insight.

Anonymous | 1:41 PM

Beautiful, eloquent, heartwrenching, HOPEFUL.

Thank you.

Anonymous | 2:56 PM

Thank you for this. I was in that same place 16 months ago.

I never could have said everything I felt as well as you have.

bitemycookie | 5:00 PM

omg. just keep talking bec, don't ever stop.

Rebecca | 9:42 PM

W IS for WOW.
W
W
W
W
W

Mommy off the Record | 10:22 PM

Beautiful. I can't think of another word to add, but that.

wanderglow | 10:53 PM

What a beautiful post and what a good friend. Thanks for sharing your words and your perspective.

Jessica | 10:17 AM

Wow. Just...wow.

I was 16 when I had my son and I go back to my high school every prom season to discuss how I felt about it, what options I considered and how I dealt with it all.

Now he's 16. Gulp.

This is perhaps the most powerful post I've ever read on such an important moment. Thanks.

Stefanie | 5:59 PM

Your posts are always so inspiring. I'm so glad I found you.

kittenpie | 5:51 PM

It IS scary. I planned mine with great care, took folic acid for a year ahead and maternity vitamins for 3 months ahead, had finish my degrees and was five years into a stable career, had been married for years, and I still panicked. I was afraid, and as the end of the first trimester loomed, I one day thought to myself this was my last chance to bail on this and go back to how it was. Panic. I think it's a natural reaction to such a massive change, and a positive sign that she understand the magnitude of it as she makes her choices.

And I add - she's lucky to hve such a good friend for support.

Meena | 1:23 PM

Thank you for sharing the letter to your friend. Definitely a tear jerker (and your hubby's comment? what a keeper!). This pregnancy/motherhood thing is definitely life altering and sometimes scary, but as I think most of us can attest - it is so very, very worth it. What's that sappy saying about your child is like your heart walking outside of your body?

Anonymous | 9:38 PM

Thank you for this. It helps me more than you know.

Anonymous | 1:36 PM

so happy to stumble upon you letter. i had my baby boy seven months ago, but still find myself confused and regretful. the world is a different tint like you speak of. i love my son dearly, but i can't help but still mourn my innocence and youth. i'm afraid i wont ever be happy again like i was before getting preganant. i really didn't speak to anyone throughout the whole pregancy out of shame. now, i am in a marriage i'm not sure about and again i find myself with nobady to speak to. my biggest fear is looking back on life with regret.

Rebecca M | 8:21 PM

Thank you!!!,
Like so many others have said, your words were just what I needed to hear tonight. I've just realized that I am pregnant with my third and am in shock. Your words spoke to my heart. I can't even get myself to talk about it with my husband yet, and I truely wish that I had a close girl friend to turn to like you did for your friend.

Anonymous | 8:31 PM

GGC-

I read this post several months ago and remembered it yesterday when I got the call that my pregnancy test came back positive. It was just a confirmation of the at-home test I had done the night before. I had already hyperventilated, cried, and repeated over and over "I can't do this" as my husband held onto me. We've been married for 5 years and I have thought long and hard about whether having a child is for me, for us. Amazingly, the decision was made for me in a moment when I thought I was "safe". I'm still in shock, quietly going through the motions.

Thank you for posting this. It was helpful in all the craziness of this moment.

Anonymous | 1:35 PM

That was beautiful - thanks for sharing. I found myself searching for ways to console a friend with nearly adult children who found herself to be unexpectedly pregnant. Your response I feel reminds us that it's normal to go through a gumt of emotions (from rage to confusion, fear, acceptance). In all, it's a most personal experience and decision for every woman.

I recall a couple of years back when I had an unexpected pregnancy. It had to have been the most transformative and inwardly spiritual experience. I ultimately discovered that the being growing within me was compassionate and understanding, and decided to take it's little soul back to it's origin to wait until I'm ready for him/her. I accepted my decision and made peace with it, knowing that later our time would come to make 2 from 1, singular to plural, 'me' to 'we.'

I respect any woman's decision and hope that whatever she decides, that it is her decision and that she can rest assured in peace with that decision. With all the external pressures and influences, I held a quote from a dear friend that "love has no order."

iammahrissah | 9:17 AM

that hubband comment killed me!
so sweet!
im so happy it turned out well for the two of you :)

Anonymous | 9:13 AM

Thank you so much for this. Im just 15 and one of my best friends whos 16 just found just found out she pregnant. I had no idea what she must have been going throught or how to console her i was pretty much at a loss for words. Now i kind of understand a little better and i think i can try to help. I am so thankful that i read this and thanks so much for posting all those comments. Everyone says everything will be okay, but nothing is better then the experiences of others. Thanks a bunch.

Emily | 10:11 AM

I understand that this is quite in the past and don't know if you'll even get it now, but thank you so much. I recently found your blog when searching for whether I should have my two children room together or separate. I loved that post and decided to start at the very beginning. I am so glad I found your blog, I feel like you're my new friend and I just wanted to say thanks. I can't wait to catch up on the rest of the 4 years ahead that I haven't read yet.

Anil Philip | 7:15 AM

We're longing to adopt. Please let us know if you know anyone with an unwanted pregnancy, willing to place for adoption. http://longingtoadopt.com

poppies.mommie | 11:58 PM

SO it's been four years since you wrote this, but I needed it tonight. I wrote a bit of the story here: http://meandthepoppyseed.blogspot.com/2011/03/hormonal-horrors.html

but the short version is, your words lifted a burden from my heart, and I'm looking forward with hope :)

poppies.mommie | 11:58 PM

SO it's been four years since you wrote this, but I needed it tonight. I wrote a bit of the story here: http://meandthepoppyseed.blogspot.com/2011/03/hormonal-horrors.html

but the short version is, your words lifted a burden from my heart, and I'm looking forward with hope :)

PennyLane | 12:57 AM

Thank you so much for writing this letter. I saw those two lines today and am in a state of utter confusion.

I am 23 year old graduate student that feels completely unprepared to made the biggest decision of my life. The father is a guy that I have been casually dating for a little while, and he lives 12 hours away.

My initial feeling was fear and thought was that I would not keep it. But my mind has changed so many times in the past 12 hours.

Thank you for helping me to feel not so alone.

Anonymous | 5:04 PM

Thank you so much for these perfect words to help me help my friend through one of the hardest moments in life! I am forever grateful for your openness and for posting this. What an amazing way to tell someone you love them!

The Unexpected Pregnancy | 12:33 PM

I had an unexpected pregnancy too and much like you were I was angry and terrified. My son is 1 year old now (much younger than Archer) and it's amazing how something you didn't plan or except can seem like it was always meant to be. I literally cannot IMAGINE my life without A now! Literally cannot imagine! I've been blogging about my unexpected pregnancy as well: www.theunexpectedpregnancy.com. Would love to have you stop by and let me know what you think!

Anonymous | 11:11 PM

So I know this is an old blog post but thank you for posting this, my friend is going through the same thing and me being married I could not find the right advise to tell her she is at the stage where she is terrified and I understand, I found out I was pregnant with my second Child last year and I was in total denial I did not want it I thought I wasn't ready, but weather I was ready or not he was coming I hate to say this but I was not excited one bit about until the day I had him when he came out and I looked into his cubby little face I fell instantly in love and now 4 months later I can't believe I felt that way about the pregnancy thank you for your words I hope this helps her