The grief of unexpected pregnancy
20-something miseries, motherhood

The Grief of Unexpected Pregnancy

I’ve always wanted to be a mom. When I was 11, I used to dress up in my “mom” outfit (jeans and my favorite rainbow top, with hoop earrings because I was sophisticated, thank you very much), put a baby doll in a stroller, and walk around the neighborhood, imagining that all the neighbors genuinely believed I was just a very short (but totally normal-aged) mother. I love kids. And not to toot my own horn, but kids love me back. I’m great with them, mostly because I am willing to be completely ridiculous with them in ways most adults aren’t, probably because I still relate more to kids than to most adults.

Still, when my period was late, and then later, and then too late, I freaked out. I am well past the age where it’s socially acceptable to feel like your life is ending because of a positive pregnancy test, but I’ll admit that I truly felt like everything was coming crashing down. I’m 25, I have two degrees, I’m happily married, and my husband and I just bought a house, so I felt like I had no right to be panicking like I was 16, but alas, there I was.

To be fair, even though I’ve done a lot with my life so far, there was a lot more I wanted to do before having kids. Until buying this house, my husband and I had never lived together, just the two of us (and if you count the little peanut inside me, technically we still haven’t). We were hoping to get a year or two without kids where we could just enjoy each other’s company, go on trips, save up some money, just…be 20-somethings. I was hoping to have more time to be a person. Not that moms aren’t people, but ask anyone with children, they will tell you how their entire identity has shifted. When you have a peanut, that peanut needs you, and you have to be there for it. That changes you, and makes your life a lot less about you and who you are as a person.

That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not what I was hoping for. Not yet. So I freaked out. I cried and cried. I thought about abortion. I thought about miscarriage. My husband wasn’t ready yet either, so then I thought about the baby driving a wedge between us, ending our marriage, and me becoming a single mom. I thought about my poetry, and how it was already falling by the wayside with all of the responsibilities of homeownership and adulthood. I thought about therapy, and how I was finally digging into and dealing with my own upbringing, and how I wasn’t at all ready to be on the other side of things. I thought about the peanut, who didn’t ask for any of this, who was already forming fingernails. I thought about the cruise I was hoping to surprise my husband with this Christmas, which we definitely could not do now, not with a newborn.

I thought a lot, and cried a lot, and generally did not handle it well. I didn’t want to be pregnant.

Now, at 25 weeks pregnant, I feel a bit differently. We’ve started picking out names and nursery themes, we found out that our peanut is a little baby boy, and as my bump grows, I feel myself getting slowly acclimated to this reality. And it’s not so bad. All of those things are still true. My husband and I are going to miss out on so much that we wanted to do and be, but now I’m starting to see past that. Because I can’t change it. So instead, I grieved for it.

I took time to cry and mourn for the life I thought I was going to have, and that’s important. That’s why I’m writing this. More moms need to hear that it’s okay to grieve for your old life at first (and to continue to do so as needed). Pregnancy and babies are wonderful, and many women want that desperately, but that doesn’t mean we’re always ready when it happens, and that’s okay. Trying to immediately be thrilled and overjoyed at this miracle when you really feel like it’s a total disaster isn’t going to help anyone. It will only repress those feelings deeper until they come out in unexpected, and often hurtful, ways.

So I grieved. Some days I grieve some more. But most days now, I plan for the future and daydream of little toes. How did I turn the corner? I let my grief out, let it eat me alive some days, talked to my therapist about it, and then I let go of the life I wanted and turned around to embrace the life I actually have. It’s hard. It’s not the right choice for everyone, and if you haven’t turned the corner yet, or if you go back and forth around the corner fast enough to give yourself whiplash, that’s okay. However you’re feeling is okay. I’m just letting you know, that for me at least, the panic receded and life got better because I let myself feel my feelings, and then let myself move on to new ones.

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