This is the story of discovering my very shocking pregnancy after infertility, and how we handled it as a family.
June 3, 2018
I woke up this morning feeling like something was definitely going on, and took a pregnancy test like I’ve done so many times before. In fact, it was the 49th in a pack of 50 cheap tests I got from Amazon. I do this all the time. Since wanting to start a family 15 years ago, I’ve dealt with infertility and irregular cycles, so I just test regularly on the off-chance that I ovulate and conceive. It’s always negative.
Today it was positive.
Me, from the bathroom: Um, this test is positive.
Husband, from the bedroom: What test? What are you doing?
Me: I took a pregnancy test and it’s positive.
Husband: What?! Are you sure?
Me: Pretty sure. See the two lines? Usually there’s just one that tells you you did the test right. There are two lines. It is expired though. Actually this test expired a year ago.
Husband: I’m going to the store for another test.
Of course, that one was positive too, and we just walked around for the next two hours looking at each other in disbelief. Could it be possible? We actually conceived AND I wasn’t already bleeding? It had happened twice before in the last 8 years, so I knew my body did randomly ovulate at least twice. But both of those times it was over before it had even really begun, and while we did feel sad about the losses, there never really was much hope anyway.*
The first thing we realized as we contemplated this news was that we had to tell the kids. We have a 10 year old daughter and a 13 year old son, and we knew they weren’t going to be excited about this new development. We have talked here and there about the idea since we have friends who have added babies to their families, and our kids are always glad that it isn’t us having a new baby. They have expressed how they like just having the two of them and things like that, so we were prepared for them to not be super excited.
We were right. Not only were they not excited, they were pretty upset about it. We stayed calm, kept breathing, and tried to just listen to their feelings without judgment, and without taking their reactions personally. Their feelings were about them. They were having their own experience, and we just needed to be with them, not try to fix it or change how they were feeling.
I tried to imagine being a teenage boy and finding out my mom was pregnant. Beyond the realization that his parents had sex (eww), it was really about what effect this would have on him, personally. Teens are in such an interesting place of egocentrism, and I don’t meant that in a bad way. It’s just a normal developmental state. They look at situations based on how they will be affected. My son suddenly felt like everything he had pictured for his future was going to change, and in a way he was right. This was not his plan, and furthermore he had not even been consulted about it. He was highly offended and, frankly, angry.
I kept breathing. We listened and validated his feelings. I told him I was sorry he was upset, and that I could understand why he would feel that way. I shared that I was very shocked as well, that it wasn’t my plan either, and that I honestly had mixed feelings about the whole thing. He asked me if I could “cancel” it, as if it were an order for takeout that I changed my mind about, and of course I said no. I told him that my children are my very best blessings from God and that even though it wasn’t my plan, I could trust in the larger plan and that I knew things would be ok eventually. But again, I reinforced that I understood how he was feeling in this moment, and that it was ok with me if he wasn’t happy, and that I would always listen.
Our daughter’s reaction was not happy, but not angry. She had more questions and could see more positives when she imagined the future of our family. Her whole adjustment to the idea was rather smooth, considering how shocking it was for everyone. The main problem she had was seeing her brother angry about it. She worried about his anger being hurtful to me, and also she was pretty offended by it herself. I talked with her several times about just letting him have space and time, and not trying to change how he felt. The biggest thing for her was not taking it personally. Once she got excited about the baby, she felt really upset hearing him say that he didn’t want it to happen and we had a lot of discussions about how others can have feelings and that doesn’t mean they are about us. Not taking offense to others’ expression of feelings is a common theme for her in normal situations, so this was just extra sensitive.
So the discovery story of this pregnancy was definitely not what I would have hoped for this new little person, but some things are just like that. We can’t control how we feel, only what we do with the feelings. I was surprised and not super happy at first, but I meant it when I said I trusted that it would be ok.
The contrast to my first two pregnancies was so stark. I had gone to a fertility specialist and taken medications to regulate my cycle and induce ovulation. My first two children were so intentionally planned and wanted and expected. This little one was completely unplanned and unexpected, and I felt sad and sorry that it was that way. But unplanned and unexpected are not the same as unwanted.
Being involved in The Consciously Parenting Project for so many years, I have a lot of knowledge about how early experiences, even in the womb, can have an impact on a person. Fortunately, I knew that there were also things I could do proactively to prevent long-term negative impacts, and they include naming feelings and clarifying that the feelings are not about the baby. I took opportunities to say, out loud to the tiny baby forming inside of me, that I was sorry this wasn’t a huge joyful welcoming, but that we do love and want him or her in our family. But I also didn’t try to change the way I felt, just acknowledged it honestly.
After a few weeks, my feelings did shift. The shock wore off and I was able to really believe there was a baby coming and to get excited about it. I had a lovely moment in church as we were singing, where I really felt that God has a destiny and a purpose for this new little person. I was able to really feel blessed and honored to be the one to bring this new life into the world, and get excited about who this person will become. It would have been nice to see that and feel that from the beginning, like I did with my other two kids, but that just wasn’t the way it went this time. Sometimes things are just like that.
Unexpected events happen in our lives, and that isn’t within our control. But our reactions, what we actually do with it is much more important and impactful. I am so grateful to have the knowledge and support from Rebecca to navigate this new terrain as an expectant mother.
*Since having those two experiences I had learned that low progesterone can be a cause of early miscarriage. With the support of a pregnant friend who was supplementing her own progesterone, I quickly arranged to have my levels tested. They turned out to be quite low so I started supplementing right away, just in case.