Finding out you’re pregnant is one of the most bizarre things you’ll ever experience, and suddenly realizing you're growing a potential human inside your body can seriously change your life. A woman's reaction to the news can run the gamut, from delightful screams to lamenting cries. I know I was a mixture of emotions each and every time a pregnancy test turned out positive. In fact, there were things I was afraid to admit I felt when I got pregnant, too.
I’ve had very different experiences each time I’ve been pregnant. None of my pregnancies were planned, so that element of surprise was always there. Still, surprise was never the only feeling I experienced. The first time I held a positive pregnancy test in my hands I felt shocked, scared, and unsure, especially since I hadn’t known the father all that long (he is now my husband of five years.) The second time I found out I was pregnant I didn't know what to feel, because it was a rainbow pregnancy. I had lost the previous baby to prematurity, and I was still in grief mode. I didn't really know how to process the thought of another pregnancy, and some of the thoughts and feelings I had felt a bit, well, controversial to share. Simply put, I was scared of being judged.
There's no one-size-fits-all response to pregnancy, though, and women need to know that. You aren't a "bad" woman if you don't feel what society tells you to feel when you find out your pregnant (always excited, never scared, never filled with doubt, just happy all around). So with that in mind, here are some of the feelings I felt when I found out I was pregnant, but was just too afraid to admit to experiencing:
Indignation, Because Why Me?
I was upset in a number of ways. I just couldn't figure out why this life-changing thing had to happy to me. Little did I know how much it would change my life, and how much I would be eating these words later.
Devastation, Because It Wasn’t Planned
Seeing that positive test literally felt like I had the carpet of the world pulled right out from under me. I could see all my travel aspirations floating away and my career aspirations crumbling.
Now that thought is somewhat hilarious, because I've traveled more since I became a mom than I did in any other time in my life, and my career is finally in a good place.
Absolute Terror, Because Holy Crap Parenthood
I’m sure everyone is scared, right? I mean, I was literally shaking when I first found out I was pregnant. I knew nothing about children, except that I was pretty sure I wasn’t ready for one. But you’re never actually ready.
The second time around, because we lost our first child, it was difficult to curb that overwhelming fear because it felt like everything was happening so fast. While I was excited in a way, I was also terrified. I didn’t want to experience another loss and the intense pain that comes with it.
Anger, Even Though It Was Also My Responsibility
I have to say, I know I’ve harbored anger and resentment for some years toward my partner because I subconsciously blamed him for getting me pregnant. It wasn't his fault, though. And really, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. We were in some heavy-handed love (still are, except now we’re parents) and it got the best of us, and that’s OK.
Denial, Because I Knew I Wasn’t Being Entirely Careful
See the above. I was totally wiping the responsibility off me for a good long while. In retrospect, I know that was silly. I’m pretty sure I did this the second time around as well.
Envy, Because I Still Wanted To Be "Free" In My 20s
I was the first in my immediate circle of friends to get pregnant. None of them ever thought I’d have kids. After all, I was kind of the wildest of the bunch. So much so, in fact, that some of them thought I was totally joking when I broke the news.
Meanwhile, I would look at my friends and feel jealous that they could go to a party or a happy hour or whatever, without a care in the world, while I couldn’t stand the smell of anything and felt like puking every hour of every day. And when I got pregnant the second time, I felt this way again because it felt like, during that intermediate time, I was starting to get back to my “old life.” Honestly though, I much prefer my life these days, for so many reasons.
Shame, Because I Was Supposed To Be “Smarter Than This”
I hate that shame got mixed into my emotions about getting pregnant unexpectedly. That’s the damn patriarchy’s work right there: making me feel like I have to explain myself or be a “good girl” and make sure not to get pregnant. Ridiculous.
Confusion, Because What's Next?
Part of me felt like once I had decided to keep the pregnancy, I couldn’t tell anyone I still wasn’t sure. But it took a few months for me to really realize that I was OK with the idea of becoming a mother. Now I see that it’s normal to feel that way: scared, full of doubt, and overwhelmed. Not everyone is in love with pregnancy right away, especially when your first trimester is rough. Having the aforementioned thoughts when you find out you're pregnant doesn't mean you're a bad person, or that you'll be a bad mother. I can assure you, and especially in the eyes of my son, I am neither.