The Baggage & Motherhood Guest Writer’s Series gives a space for moms around the world to share their story of what life has thrown their way and how it has impacted them in their role as a Mom. This post by Courtney Patterson explores what is was like for her to have an unplanned pregnancy, and how her world has changed for the better by having her darling little girl.
All of the posts in this series touch on the real life struggles of bringing your “stuff” with you to your most important job: Motherhood.
I didn’t want this. I had other things in line for my life. My husband and I barely had any time to create a life together. This wasn’t part of our plan.
Before we got married, Patrick, my husband, and I decided we didn’t want to have kids. I was terrified of childbirth and he didn’t want to recreate the same mistakes his parents did. It was an easy choice for us. Unfortunately, sometimes life doesn’t go according to your plans.
I found out I was pregnant on August 4th, 2018. It was a Saturday.
Patrick and I went to Walmart to do some grocery shopping and I started feeling a little nauseous. All of a sudden, I had a mind-numbingly painful headache. I knew I was one day late on my period, so I told Patrick we needed to pick up a pregnancy test. He laughed. He said I wasn’t pregnant, but if I was worried, I could go and get one.
Now, before you get all “If you play with a loaded gun, expect to get shot!” on me, I should tell you that we DID try and prevent this pregnancy. I have tried many birth control options and it turns out my body does not handle them very well. (I get REALLY SICK. Like throwing up uncontrollably!) So, we rely on protection and the occasional Plan B.
So, we got home and I went straight to the bathroom. I needed to put this fear TO REST.
The Clear Blue Pregnancy Test blinked its loading icon at me; I put it on the bathroom counter as I waited for the words that would change my life forever to appear.
When I finally looked, I couldn’t breathe. I walked slowly out of the bathroom and toward my husband, who was getting the mail. I called to him. He came inside. I couldn’t even speak. I just handed over the test.
He took a deep breath and said, “Okay.” with a gush of air. He wasn’t mad or upset — he was so calm.
That’s when I lost it.
For the first time since reading the test, I took a breath and began crying. I cried for hours. I was upset, angry, and confused. Patrick just held me and allowed me to feel the sorrow and fear that was running through my body.
I wouldn’t be better for a really long time. I spent my entire pregnancy battling fear and anxiety due to the thought of childbirth and having someone need me all of the time. I had to find ways to deal with the idea of having a baby. (If you are interested in finding out more about my unplanned pregnancy and how I got through it, you can check out my post 5 Ways to Cope with an Unexpected Pregnancy here!)
How my unplanned pregnancy affected me as a mom
This experience through my unplanned pregnancy has impacted me in a million different ways as a mom. I feel stronger and more brave because I was able to get through the one thing that terrified me: childbirth. Granted, I used an epidural, BUT STILL. Giving birth is hard, no matter how you do it!
I feel more confident as a woman. I love my body more and am so much more accepting of what I look like. I don’t spend as much time worrying about a few pounds here or there. My body created LIFE. It’s an absolutely incredible feeling.
I also feel like I was impacted as a mom by my situation because I know that there will be hard times, but out of those hard times, something amazing can come. With every growth spurt my sweet baby girl goes through, she comes out bigger and stronger and smarter. Every time she topples over, she learns cause and effect. No matter how terrible it sounds, when she cries at night, I know that letting her fall asleep on her own will benefit the way she sleeps as an adult in the best way. It has really opened my mind to realize that rainbows follow the storm. You sometimes just have to wait out the storm.
How I coped with my unplanned pregnancy
Since starting The Unplanned Tiny Hand, I’ve learned there are so many women out in the world like me. Many of the friends who I thought were thrilled to be parents actually contacted me after I launched the blog and told me they went through the same thing. They, too, were confused and angry. It was an amazing feeling to connect with others who went through the same struggles.
Finding a way to connect with other people and moms helped me cope with my unplanned pregnancy. Telling people I was pregnant was really hard to begin with, but slowly became easier. After the fifth or so person, I finally was able to get through telling people without crying.
Then, I found small things to be happy about. Taking cute photos was exciting. Knowing a whole bunch of people (i.e. my mom, Patrick’s family, my sisters, etc.) wanted Patrick and I to have kids made me realize how exciting a pregnancy announcement would be. Then finding out my baby’s gender was exciting. Find things that make you happy or excite you to get through the pregnancy.
Don’t let other people’s happiness make you feel worse. One of the things that was brought up by a new friend of mine was that she couldn’t tell that I was struggling with the idea of being pregnant, according to my social media accounts. If you go back and look, I acted like I was completely thrilled about having a baby. I guess I was trying the whole “Fake it until you make it” mantra. Many other people are feeling the same unhappy feelings that you are and it’s OKAY to not be thrilled about your pregnancy.
I wish I could go back and tell myself how much I would love being a mom. (I did NOT love being pregnant. It was horrible and I actually have nightmares about getting pregnant again! LOL!) If I knew how incredible moments like seeing my baby girl smile at me for the first or hearing her laugh would be, I don’t think I would have been as scared. Patrick told me he would sometimes visualize what she would look like and how she would act and what kind of person she would be, and it helped me get used to the idea of being a dad.
The best advice I can give you is to find your “people”. Find a couple of friends or family who know you struggle with the idea of having a baby and who support you in every way. Those are the people you can vent to when times get hard. Talk to them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people, keep a journal. I would write my daughter letters when I felt stressed. It helped me connect with her in a way I hadn’t been able to before. Find things to be excited about and share those moments with people you trust. The best part of parenthood is coming.
Resources for anyone still struggling
I looked for hours during my pregnancy for websites with women explaining the same feelings I was going through and couldn’t find any. It really made me feel like I was completely alone. Every time I went to a new site, I would find things like “CONGRATS! You must be so excited!” or “You’ve probably been waiting for this day your whole life!” and it made me feel broken. I don’t want any other woman to feel that way.
That’s why I started my blog, The Unplanned Tiny Hand. I talk a lot about how my pregnancy affected me and real thoughts and feelings I was experiencing along the way. I try to be as honest and open as possible. My focus is to make women like me feel validated and prepared for motherhood, without making feelings of guilt worse.
If you’re still struggling with your unplanned pregnancy, please feel free to go to www.theunplannedtinyhand.com and connect with me. I LOVE getting emails from people who went through the same experiences I went through. I started this website to connect to other moms and dads who struggle with the idea of being a parent and I always try and keep that in mind when I am writing new posts.
You’re not alone. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel like you’re life is coming to a halt. Take care of yourself and everything else will fall into place.
Even though I wouldn’t be able to see it for a really long time, getting pregnant was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Courtney Patterson is a teacher by day and the content creator behind The Unplanned Tiny Hand by night. After struggling through an unplanned pregnancy, she started her website to connect with and encourage other mamas who didn’t plan on becoming mamas. Courtney lives in Arkansas with her husband and their 9-month-old baby girl, where they enjoy longs walks and binge-watching crime shows.
Thank you Courtney for sharing your story and your truth. It could be easy to pretend that you had always planned to be a mom, and yet you share you story to help others out there feel not so alone if they find themselves in the same situation. And it touches me so much to read and see your posts and just how much you love that sweet little girl of yours. Thank you!
SEE THE REST OF THE POSTS IN THE BAGGAGE & MOTHERHOOD SERIES HERE!