When Pregnancy Isn’t Part Of The Plan
I get emails all the time from women (Caroline, Jodie, Viv…I’m talking to you) who are reeling from a positive pregnancy test. They’re blindsided, shocked and frankly, not at all happy to find out that despite their best intentions and precautions (or not), they’re having an unplanned pregnancy. To them I say, “Welcome to the club.” It’s going to be OK.
It’s estimated that 51% of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Of those, about 20% are flat out unwanted and the other 31% are just a matter of bad timing. About 40% of these unwanted pregnancies (not including those that miscarry) end in abortion. The other 60% ends in birth. That’s a whole lot of unexpected children.
I have two children that started out in that 60% – not planned, poorly timed, total surprises. In the days immediately following my positive pregnancy tests, I too felt blindsided and unhappy, confused and dreadful, filled with doubt about my ability to handle another pregnancy and child. My feelings turned around in fairly short order and I consider myself one of the lucky ones. Everything turned out just fine, in fact, better than I could ever have planned for myself.
The Guttmacher Institute has all kinds of interesting demographics related to unintended pregnancies. They indicate that a large number of unplanned pregnancies happen to poor women, uneducated women, young women and women who lack medical insurance and healthcare access. But unplanned pregnancy is an equal opportunity employer and happens to women of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and religions and in all regions of the country. It happened to me three times, resulting in one miscarriage and two unexpected but beloved daughters.
I consider myself luckier than many women I know who’ve gotten pregnant unexpectedly. When I found myself looking at shockingly positive pregnancy tests, I had the support and resources I needed to continue my pregnancies and raise my children. But that’s not the reality many women face. I have only compassion for women facing pregnancies they don’t want, can’t support and are certain they can’t continue. One way or another, they’ll come to terms with how they’ll deal with the unexpected and if they decide to continue their pregnancies, my hope is they’ll be as lucky as I was and will be supported through thick and thin.
What should you do if you find yourself unexpectedly expecting? Circle your wagons, evaluate your options, ask for support and go with your gut.
- If you know without a doubt that this pregnancy is not one you can continue, well then, honey, know that you’re not alone. Millions of women all over the world throughout history have stood where you’re standing. Planned Parenthood is a great resource for women making the choice to terminate. If there’s no Planned Parenthood near you, ask your doctor what options are available that are safe, respectful and affordable.
- If you decide you’re going to continue your pregnancy, know that you too are not alone. Remember the statistic? More than half of all babies born in the U.S. are unplanned. You’re in good company. It’s going to be OK.
You’ll absolutely face challenges you hadn’t anticipated but you’ll also identify personal resources you didn’t know you had. That’s the thing about mothers – we find a way, no matter what. No matter how you feel about your unplanned pregnancy at the very beginning, odds are you’ll adjust in time and before you know it, you’ll look forward to your upcoming surprise package. Eventually, you’ll realize that your unplanned baby is a gift you never would have given yourself if your life had stuck with the plan. It’s going to be OK.