[The story in detail] As always seems the case on significant days, I woke up on May 6th thinking it was an ordinary day. But in the matter of about 10 minutes, my ordinary day changed to one that would forever hold a spot on our calendar. Kyle came home for his lunch break between classes and “randomly” suggested that I take a pregnancy test “just to make sure” because of a few possible indicators. In order to ease my mind, I decided to. Then, those 10 minutes happened. I looked down to see two lines on a pregnancy test that indicated positive. I felt shock fill my body. Kyle had to go back to school. After I got done pacing the apartment, I decided to go to the store and get two more pregnancy tests, just to make sure. The two tests indicated the accuracy of the first and the lump in my throat turned to tears that would not seem to stop. As hard as it is to admit, I did not feel one drop of joy in the tears that fell. At this point I did not feel one ounce of excitement. We were trying NOT to have a baby and we were planning our next few years with the (maybe immature/naïve but genuine) assumption that a baby would not be in the mix. The practical reality of where we were in life overwhelmed me …Will we have to move? Will we have to get a new car? Will Kyle have to take time off school?. How will I make money? Can we actually afford a baby? Will we get to travel like we had hoped to?…
These questions definitely added stress and I’m sure somewhat contributed to not feeling super excited. Slowly- as I started to tell friends and family who were naturally excited, as we decided on a fun way to announce, and as many people congratulated us- some feelings of excitement started to build. But when the hype died down I was left with a very bothersome and unshakable feeling: this was not what I wanted and the natural desire to be a mom was not there for me. I did not feel ready outwardly, but most importantly, I did not feel ready inwardly. And I could not will myself into wanting something that I didn’t. This led to times of feeling very guilty and isolated.
My biggest hesitation in sharing this was the potential for it to come across as insensitive. I know there are women struggling with infertility. Women who long to be the mother of a child they gave birth to, and this strong desire is not being fulfilled. There are also women who have/do suffer through miscarrying. I could only imagine the sort of deep and lasting pain that unfulfilled desire, or loss, would cause in regard to pregnancy. I realize I could be seen as the person who complains about how terrible their parent is to someone who actually knows what it is like to have lost their mom or dad. That person is inclined to think, “at least you have a mom or a dad…” Some people may read my story and think “how selfish and ungrateful, at least you can have children.” I do recognize that having a baby is a gift that many long for, so I do not intend to minimize or ignore that reality. I also do not intend to compare the feeling of getting something I did not desire with that of an unfulfilled desire, or loss of life in the womb. I know the two do not even compare. So please know my heart and intention as I share what I do.
A major reason I decided to share this is for others who have, are, or might experience something similar upon their news of pregnancy: I want you to know you are not alone. Pregnancy brings on different reactions and emotions for everyone. Each woman’s story is different. Our hearts and desires are all in different places when we find out any sort of news regarding pregnancy. Just because they are different does not mean they are not legitimate. For me, I will confess that there was and still is selfishness and sin that influence my feelings. And it is probably a lot deeper down than I can even see at this point. I also confess that there are things I am missing and not trusting about God’s character that have led me to my reaction, as well as some flawed understanding of the beauty and gift of life. But, whatever your reason is for feeling totally unprepared, unequipped, or just lacking a genuine desire- know you are not alone and you are not crazy. Let yourself feel things. Be honest about them, and then work through them as necessary. Tell others how you are doing, with discretion and sensitivity, but also with honesty and vulnerability.
Another reason I decided to post this is because I wanted to share a different perspective I have gained having walked through it thus far. One specific thing I have begun to learn is that feelings are not forever. I am by no means trying to dismiss feelings/emotions. While some change very quickly and seem unidentifiable, some come with great reason. Some last for a long time. Some point to something very deep going on inside the heart. Some seem to control and even cripple. So, I am not dismissing genuine emotions that are deep and lasting. However, from this experience I have been reminded that they can and often do change; especially when we are willing to let them. …Last night Kyle and I went to the labor and delivery unit because of some symptoms I was experiencing that are worrisome this late in pregnancy. Based off of specific signs it did not seem too serious, but we did not want to risk it. As I was laying in the hospital bed at 3:00am waiting for the results, and as Kyle was sleeping on the chair beside me, something started to happen in my heart. It was then in the hospital bed that I imagined holding the baby in my arms, and I felt true excitement and joy. I felt such relief when I saw the heartbeat on the monitor and heard/felt the crazy movements of our wild-child and was assured that he or she was fine.
I cannot promise it will come for you at any particular time or in any particular way. I realized early on that I should not put too much weight on or expectation in a specific “moment of joy”. It might not be when I first see our baby. Joy filled moments might come in the most unexpected way. So instead we must put our hope in truth, not feelings. We should strive to let solid and unchangeable truths inform our thoughts and control our choices, not feelings (no matter how deep or real they might be). Feelings and emotions do not have to define us or dictate the choices we make.
…and months or years down the road when I finally crawl into bed and shut my eyes only to hear the baby start to cry (and anger starts to boil up inside me), or I see my friends traveling the world (and I am tempted to be jealous), or our kid is older and continues to disobey or seemingly regress (and I feel like a failure not cut out for this) it is then, too, that I must remember that truth is what must guide me and keep me, not my emotions.
Lastly, I wanted to share all of this because of the new perspective it has given me. It has caused me to have just a small taste of what it is like for women who get pregnant when it was unplanned or unwanted, and who consider having, or do have, abortions. I genuinely believe that God is the giver of life and that it begins inside the womb. Because I believe that, I believe that a child’s right to live is greater than a mother’s right to choose. But beyond what I believe about life in the womb, I have an incredible support system. At the end of the day, the decision itself was not hard to make. I could not imagine not being sure what I think about abortion, supporting abortion, or having absolutely no support system, and then making that decision. But that sinking feeling that overcame me when saw the test result and the tears that would not stop flowing when I drove around in my car aimlessly, gave me a new empathy for women/girls who find out they are pregnant and did not want to be. For girls who have seemingly no reason not to abort. Who feel as if they would be selfish to bring a child into the world under their current conditions.
It is inconsistent to care about life only when it has to do with abortion, but to show no concern for the life of the mother. This new perspective has shown me that we should, to the best of our ability, put ourselves in the shoes of the woman, too. We should realize the sacrifice it takes to let something totally overtake, intrude, and change a woman’s body. We should consider what it is like to undergo the various amounts of pain and discomfort pregnancy causes for 40 weeks of a women’s life. And we should not be blind to the reality that awaits some who would choose not to abort: abandonment by friends and family, judgment and criticism from others, feeling totally alone with no resources or help. Remember that someone is most likely not just making a 40 week decision, they are making one that will change their life forever. It is no small decision.
Do I believe it will all be worth it? Yes. My life and body are not “mine” to begin with. It is the Lord who gives life and sustains it and He is the one I will rely on to give the grace that motherhood will require. But many do not see it this way.
We must remember to consider and care for the life of the mother as well. To empathize with her feelings and thoughts. We must care about the life of the baby and mother AFTER it is born, and not just before. Remember, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that you might not see or understand when a woman finds out she is pregnant.
Consider her story.