Four years ago today I found out I was pregnant. Like most moms, that is a day I will never forget. Although there have been many times that I wish I could go back and redo it - that I could somehow send a message back in time and say, “Hey, everything is going to be ok. You aren’t just going to survive but you will eventually learn how to thrive.”
In case you don’t know me or haven’t guessed by now, my pregnancy wasn’t planned and I was not married. This may not be a big deal to other people but to me it was, for various reasons. But I really only had a few minutes to think about those things because just as quickly as I could say “I’m pregnant”, I found out that I would be facing all of those fears and uncertainties alone or at least without a partner.
Talk about kicking a girl when she’s down.
I was completely devastated and I have never felt so alone in all of my life. The next few months were filled with many dark days for me. Multiple arguments with my son’s dad and weeks at a time of not speaking to each other. Crying myself to sleep every night and then waking up gasping for air due to panic attacks. Calling my mom who lived 2,000 miles away in the middle of the night sobbing. Not saying much but when I could find words all I could say was “he doesn’t want me”.
It kind of feels like a dream now (or a nightmare) and I am so grateful that I’ve come out on the other side a better person.
Here are 3 things that I learned through my unplanned pregnancy experience:
I am stronger than I ever thought.
I really can’t put into words the aching that I felt from the night I found out I was pregnant until well into my second trimester. I know that a lot of it probably had to do with pregnancy hormones but that doesn’t change the very real pain and sense of hopelessness that I felt. Though, people would tell me that I would be so in love with my child one day that it would all be worth it, I just couldn’t picture it. I was like Anne with an E in the depths of despair!
I entertained a lot of crazy scenarios but the one that I just could not see was, first of all, going public with my pregnancy and then actually being a single mom. But here I am. Not only did I publicly announce I was pregnant (in my third trimester, to my Facebook friends) but I publicly share my life as a mom - a single mom - to a much broader audience than my 700 Facebook friends!
Another thing I could never imagine was being friends with my son’s dad. I truly could not picture that there would ever be a day that I could look at him without feeling rejection. The first time I saw him after having my son, I got extremely depressed. I couldn’t find the will to do anything but I eventually came out of it; each time after that it got easier and now I can enjoy his company again and we both want good things for each other.
I also faced my fear of childbirth which even though I always said I wanted kids I never thought I would actually go through with physically having a child.
I really never thought I had the mental (or physical) strength to do truly hard things but now I know that I am. We all have more strength within us than we think; it’s how we were created. I truly believe that!
Fear of judgment means there is a deeper issue
I was so afraid to tell people I was pregnant because I was afraid of their judgment. Less than a year prior to getting pregnant, I had been a children’s pastor which was my career for almost my entire adult life. This news would completely shock people, some would be disappointed, confused even and then, of course, I knew that there were those that would judge me. And I feared their judgment.
I didn’t like the idea of people talking about me behind my back. If I’m being honest, I still don’t like the idea of it. Anytime I hear the phrase “I saw (insert any random name), he didn’t know you had a kid”. My heart skips a beat. Or when someone tells me that someone from my past ministry life was asking about me, my mind immediately jumps to wondering what they said about me.
I admit this is still a struggle that I have but it’s my issue, it’s my own internal struggle. I’ve learned to ask myself what it is that I am really fearing when I fear the judgment of others. Usually it’s that I either fear rejection or that maybe what they are saying is right.
I have really had to make a conscious effort not to care what other people might think or say about me - both good and bad - because I am not defined by what other people think or say. If I own my decisions, they cannot effect me. And just as my response to their judgment is an internal issue, their choice to judge me is their own internal issue. If it’s not me they judge, it will be someone else because it really has nothing to do with me at all.
I can thrive in any situation if I choose to do so.
Whether you became a mom 100% willing and excited or you were in a situation like mine, we all have something in common - everything changes when you become a mom. We all lose our old selves which isn’t really a bad thing but it’s certainly a struggle for some of us. The biggest thing I have learned through my pregnancy and, now motherhood, is that things may not ever be the same but they can always be better.
After some (or a lot) of grieving, I eventually came to a place of accepting that this is my life and I could either continue being sad and mopey or I could choose to enjoy the incredible gift I had been handed. I chose the latter. I chose to jump in and embrace motherhood as the high calling that it is.
I am not the first person that has been thrown a curve ball in life and I won’t be the last. Life almost never turns out how we pictured it but it’s not our circumstances that define a good life, it’s how we choose to live it.
Whatever life has handed you, I hope you choose to take it and thrive.
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.