05 February 2012

Expecting the Unexpected

*Disclaimer* I am not bashing anyone. I am not accusing anyone of anything. This is not meant to be taken personally by anybody. *end disclaimer*

I think someday I'll write a book. I'll title it "Expecting the Unexpected". A New York Times Bestseller List review might start with something like "In this masterful blend of humorous recollections and serious thoughts, Esther Dale addresses her viewpoint of what it's like to face an unexpected pregnancy... as a married woman."

I'm now in my third pregnancy. Number one was unexpected before I was married. Number two was a TTC (Trying To Conceive) baby. The only surprise with her was how fast the pregnancy happened once I went off of Birth Control. Number three is, once again, unexpected, a pill baby.

I'll be honest. I've been on a whole roller coaster of emotions with this one. At first it was shock. Like, honest to goodness "No way is this real, am I actually pregnant" type shock. This past week when I finally got to see the bebe on ultrasound and get a due date (September 5, 2012), reality finally started to set in some and I've started to transition from "Um... I"m not really pregnant..." to "Um... I'm actually pregnant.".

Seeing what is unmistakably a baby with a definite heartbeat, arms, legs, a head, a body, a midline of a brain, and wiggling and jumping all over the place (knowing that this view is coming from having a camera wand shoved up the same place the baby will eventually emerge from) made it much more real.

"So, now that if feels real, you must be really happy and excited. I mean, it's a baby! And you're married! And you're a Christian of the Mormon variety so you view babies as blessings straight from God! You must be so excited, right?" Do you want the answer that I'm probably "supposed" to give? The "Supposed to" answer is "Oh yes, of course I'm terribly excited, tickled pink in fact!!!".

If that's not the answer you want to hear, stop reading right now.

The reality is that I'm not happy. I'm not excited. I will be eventually, but right now? No. In fact, I think I'm having a harder time adjusting to this unexpected pregnancy than I did the first. I would have thought it would be the other way around. As an unmarried pregnant girl, I expected to deal with a lot of stigma, judgment, and upturned noses. Since I got married before I was showing, the people who knew were people I knew and almost all of them were supportive of me. There was disappointment, sure, and I expected that. Christian girls aren't supposed to have sex (much less get pregnant) before they get married. But, pretty much everyone, regardless of disappointment, showered me with love and support. Their reactions spoke highly of the quality of their character that they didn't throw copies of The Scarlet Letter at me and demand my public flogging.

Last time, it didn't really derail any plans I had. I was working at a restaurant. When we got married, I only had to move 2 hours away so I knew I still had easy access to my family and friends, my support system. This time? I had plans. This time, I'm dealing with dreams that I thought were about to start coming true now being put off a while longer. Nursing school, Mrs. California-America, all sorts of things I had hoped to do this year that will now be changed or postponed because of two little pink lines. I had just come off the Zoloft and was feeling so much better. I had more energy, I was in a better mood, my sex drive made a return, I was excited about really starting to work out and lose weight. I was excited at my body finally being my own (with the exception of nursing but that's not a 24/7 thing and she's started to drink from sippy cups) and getting to be a normal person for a little while. Now, I share my body with a little person whose size will be likened to various types of fruit (apparently I am currently carrying a baby that is somewhere between a grape and a kumquat). The next 31 weeks will be about making sure that 2 of us are healthy. I can't just guzzle 5 Dr. Peppers if I'm exhausted (the irony being that I rarely feel the need for a Caffeine energy boost so much as during pregnancy).

I didn't want to get pregnant right now. I'm not happy about it yet. But most people expect me to be. Somehow, our society (or at least, the part of society to which I am privy) seems to have an expectation that if you are unexpectedly pregnant while married, you will miraculously skip all the conflicting emotions and disappointment about plans being thrown in the air and jump right to excitement and giddiness. When you add in being a Christian and the whole matter of "Babies are a BLESSING!"? Yeeeah. That makes it even harder to process your feelings. I personally have been told "But babies are a gift from God, you need to be thankful for this". Yes, they are. But you know, emotions are not quite that simple...

The guilt makes it even worse. I have friends who would LOVE to have a baby, but they have trouble getting pregnant or they get pregnant and then miscarry. So of course this nasty little voice in my head starts mumbling about how ungrateful I am and what a horrible person I am to be having feelings like this when there are people who would give anything to be dealing with an unexpected pregnancy.

Of course, behind it all are my worries about PPD. What if all this emotional turmoil is a pre-cursor to heavy medication and hospitalizations, to another bout with that not-so-dear companion? I wasn't ready to deal with having to prepare myself for the possibility of another round of PPMD.

None of these things make it easy to process (much less talk about) how I feel, and yet, aren't my feelings just as valid as anyone else's? Aren't my tears just as precious and my sadness at the things I have to put off, my disappointment at facing something I actively tried to prevent, real and legitimate? Why does society ask "Are you ok" when you're faced with a surprise outside of marriage but assume that you are if your "Wait, WHAT?" happens withing the bonds of matrimony? I've spoken with a few other women who have dealt with this same situation and I'm not the only one who picks up on this vibe, I'm not the only one who has trouble talking about her feelings on the topic and who feels guilty about it. And yet, we shouldn't feel any more guilty about our feelings than a woman who's going through PPD should (she shouldn't, by the way, lest anyone mistake what I'm saying).

Eventually, I'll be happy. With all the obstacles that stood in the way of us conceiving, God (or fate, the universe, whoever/whatever you believe in, however you want to refer to it/them) clearly intended for this baby to come along. There is a reason for this baby, it was meant to be and it was meant to be now. I accept that, and I am in awe of the fact that God determined me strong enough to travel this road, that He decided I am the right one to be it's mother. This is my baby and I will love it, care for it, do everything in my power to protect it from all manner of harm from now until the day I die. There is no question that this baby will be raised in a home full of love and caring, knowing that as with every human, it has value that goes beyond the here and now.

In the meantime though, don't begrudge me my emotions. Don't judge me for my feelings, I'm only human and doing the best I can with what I've got. Don't look at me, or any other woman who's in my shoes, and peer down your nose at us or say/think condescending platitudes. Let's work on changing society, changing the expectations, changing our reactions. I, and all those who stand with me, deserve to be able to have and express our feelings on this and receive love and support just as much as a woman who finds out she's pregnant and not married.


  1. Don't you DARE apologize for your feelings! You're entitled, I don't care if you're married, single, insane, on drugs or sporting a second head.

    You will get over this hump. You will process your feelings. And if nothing else, you come to Cat Box and visit me, D, and the kender-monsters.

  2. I'm glad you are opening up Esther. I really, really understand how you feel!
    You will be okay, it will all be okay, even if you feel the way you feel right now.
    God is very different than human beings, even Christians sometimes.
    He understands, he does not judge, he just cares.
    Massive hugs to you!

  3. Even in planned pregnancies women will have doubts and fears. Married or not. Planned or not. None of it changes the validity of your feelings.

  4. None of my three children were "planned". We used to joke about the various methods of failed birth control for each of them. The reason they weren't "planned" was that the idea of actually, deliberately, deciding to create a new life was terrifying to me. Each pregnancy carried its own fear. As someone who worries about everything, the fear that I wouldn't do things right, that I would make such terrible mistakes that I would scar my children forever...I wish I could reassure you that those fears would fade over time but they don't. (And by the way, the additional pressure of living up to the "LDS ideal" is VERY real, whether anyone wants to admit it or not!)

    I am sorry for not being as supportive of you as I could have been. I guess I was raised in an atmosphere of "just tough it out" and "don't share your anxieties with others." Sort of the "don't ask, don't tell" of personal and parental angst.

    Here is what I do know. You are surrounded by family and friends who love you very much. You might be surprised to know how common your feelings are. As far as worrying about a relapse of the PPD, I think you are aware enough of the symptoms that you will be able to recognize it and deal with it before it becomes as bad as it was the first time. (Also, your "support staff" of husband, family, and friends are also aware and perhaps understand the warning signs.) Please try to trust the ones that you KNOW love you to help you through it.

  5. I have felt so much guilt with this baby. From I wasnt ready, to im not excited like I was with Alex. To having so much going on and stress I just felt like I was already letting her down. I am anxious and scared to death for her to actually be here. I want her here so I feel better and I can start being a better mom to A yet at the same time how will I handle having 2.

    The point of it it is... Its rough. I love this little girl with all my heart but it took along time to come around to and im scared to death.

  6. You have every right to feel however you feel. I hope things go well with your pregnancy as well as afterward. *hugs*

  7. Thank you so much for bravely telling your story. I have suffered from PPD for a year now and understand the guilt you feel. A website I found very helpful is http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-ppd . It offers a lot of information about coping with PPD. Hope this is helpful to other PPD sufferers out there.