There are occasions in life where certain reactions are expected of us. It’s as much promoted in fiction as it is by society. On our birthdays, we are meant to be a mixture of happy at the attention with a tinge of misery over our ageing. A wedding is a joyous occasion, in the lead up to which the bride is expected to turn into a control freak.
By far the most expectation-heavy time of our lives, however, is when a woman finds out she is pregnant. With the possible exception of for those who are clearly at a bad point in their life, society generally expects us to be overwhelmed with joy. We’re surrounded by pregnancy test ads featuring mothers-to-be, excitedly telling their friends their news. YouTube is full of videos of women telling their significant other with their family, the delight radiating from the screen. This is a happy announcement, a blissful time, and everyone feels the same.
It seems almost taboo to discuss it, like you are breaking the rules of womanhood. But for some women, the realisation of an impending pregnancy is not something that brings happiness. Depending on your situation, it can bring about fear, misery, heartache or even anger.
The reasons for this vary. Perhaps you already have your hands full with two children, and have no idea how to push the budget to a third. Maybe it’s the wrong point in your life, right when your career is flourishing. Or you’re not with the right man; or it is the right man, but not yet the right time. Perhaps you are childfree and this never figured in your plans; or you’re too young to feel you are capable of the challenge of parenting.
Whatever the reason, however, it’s important to say: it’s okay to not be okay. Forget what the world demands of you. If this is a stressful realisation and you have no idea what to do about it, that’s fine. The simple fact is a pregnancy – even a planned one – is a huge bombshell.
Your life is potentially going to change in ways you can’t even consider. There are many joys to find with parenting, but there are many freedoms you stand to lose out on. With any other life event that throws up that many issues, it’d be natural to have a mixed reaction. No one would judge you for being worried about a new job or moving to a different country – so don’t let them judge you for this one. You’re not just an incubator for a new life; you still have a right to yours as well.
If you find yourself in this situation, the most important thing to do is consider your options. Unless you found out very late into your term (which, though possible, is unlikely), you have got plenty of time to consider the future. It may just take a few days to let the news sink in before you can begin to process it, so use that time to make your considerations. Unless you have religious objections, termination is a safe procedure with few side effects. Then there is the middle option, that of putting a child up for adoption, which can give both parties the life they deserve. There’s little need to mention considering keeping the baby too, as this will be at the forefront of your mind. But do take the time to consider everything equally.
If you do decide to go forward, again, it’s still okay to have reservations! Your life is going to change, your health is going to be affected, so keep things to yourself until you’re ready to talk about them. The last thing you need is being fawned over, expecting to be beaming, until you are ready to at least entertain this notion. There’s sound medical reasons for keeping quiet in the first three months anyway, so no one is going to be offended if they don’t find out for awhile.
If you have a parent, talk through your feelings with them. It’s always true that bottling your emotions is dangerous and counter-productive, but even more so at this time. Not only are you worried and stressed, but hormones are going to start interfering with your thoughts.
Most of all, alleviate the pressure on yourself. If you’re sad, or scared, or worried – then be sad, scared and worried. The only expectations you should care about are the ones you set for yourself, so give yourself a break, and breathe.