Before we married, my husband and I discussed all the normal things couples do: our values, how we would manage finances, how many kids we might want, etc. I have always been firmly in the “two kids” camp, with my husband in the “tentative two” party. That all changed after our sweet son arrived. While I’ve certainly known parents who had it harder, the newborn days were pretty rough for us. But for me, after his birth I was even more convinced that our family was meant to be a foursome, even in spite of the dirty diapers and sleepless nights. My hubby, who was working and going to school full time during the first two years of our son’s life, went in the opposite direction.
Of course, we had conversations about this. Tense conversations in which I tried to convince him of the joy and beauty of having another, and in which he pleaded with me not to add more stress to our already full lives. Conversations that usually ended with uncomfortable feelings and no resolution. I could understand his perspective, but mine had value too. So while I hadn’t given up on the idea of a second, I had come to peace with the fact that if I were to be pregnant again it wouldn’t be anytime soon. I resolved to bring it up in another six months, or a year, in the hope, wish, and prayer that time would change his mind.
I would be lying if I said the thought of purposefully “slipping up” with my birth control didn’t cross my mind. It did, and more than once. But I never seriously entertained it. I didn’t feel comfortable bringing a little human into the world or into our family on false pretenses. And nor did I want to risk the stability of my marriage or our family on something that only I seemed to want.
Fast forward to me switching birth control brands. Fast forward to missing my period, but being relatively unconcerned because, you know, new birth control kind of messes with your body. Fast forward to me casually taking a pregnancy test before I started my next pack, just to be safe. Fast forward to the clear digital readout: PREGNANT. Fast forward to one of the most difficult days in my marriage.
I know am not the only woman in history who’s been in this situation, but in that moment I felt very alone. Very conflicted. Very scared. It’s not easy to talk about these things, with your spouse, or anyone. My husband was, to put it lightly, not happy. And from his perspective, I completely understand. He never said aloud that he thought I had created this situation purposefully, but it would be crazy for him not to wonder. After all, I was the one strongly wanting another child. I was the one in charge of managing birth control. And I was the one defending myself from an accusation that was never actually stated. I felt guilty, and I wasn’t sure why. My conscience was clear of wrongdoing, but I felt as though I had let him down somehow.
Once the shock wore off and we grew used to the idea that, “This thing is happening,” my heart truly began to fill with joy. I also started to notice the ways that my hubby might be more okay with another baby than I originally thought. When he’d get our son ready in the morning, giving me a few extra minutes in bed, I would hear him talking to our son on the baby monitor, “You know, you’re going to be a big brother.” He suddenly wanted to talk about names. I melted. And gradually, my heart began to open itself to being vulnerable again.
For a while, I felt as though I wasn’t “allowed” to feel happy or excited about my completely accidental, contentiously conceived pregnancy. I felt as though I shouldn’t talk about it, shouldn’t acknowledge the horrible symptoms that come along with the first trimester, should try to pretend it wasn’t happening. Not because of anything my husband said, but because of that darn self-imposed guilt I mentioned before.
What brought me the greatest relief was actually connecting with others, even others online who I didn’t know. I was comforted to learn that many couples aren’t on the same page about how many children they want. And even more comforted to learn that I was the not the only self-perceived “responsible” woman to become pregnant accidentally. Not by a long shot! I debated writing about this topic, but then I remembered that it was through reading other people’s stories that I began to heal.
However your baby comes to be, it’s okay. Not every pregnancy unfolds like a Hallmark movie, and that’s okay. You’re okay . . . and I’m okay.