I’m taking it back to 2009. I was 24 and “doing it all.” I had a great job, with great benefits. I was cheerleading for a local sports team and partying with the best of them. John and I had just started dating in January. Despite my past relationship mistakes and faux pas, I was hell bent on not screwing this one up. We were both relatively cautious not to fall too hard, too fast, but you can’t tempt fate. It was easy and fun. In four short months we fit in lots of nights out, nights in, a few trips and without noticing, fell in love. Around the beginning of May, there were “signs” if you know what I mean. Despite my denial, I peed on a stick. Plus sign. WHAT? I peed on two more. Two more plus signs. I didn’t cry, I didn’t really do anything. John and I looked at each other and he hugged me. In that moment, I knew everything would be OK. If I could have spent the next few months in that bubble together, I would have. Instead, we had to face the harsh reality of a judging world.
How do you explain, that just barely 4 months into a relationship, you were going to start a family and are happy about it? We knew it would work somehow, but to our families, to our friends, coworkers, acquaintances… we had no idea how everyone would react. From all of the different people in our lives, we experienced probably every emotional reaction known to man. Fear, happiness, anger, disappointment, etc… Some thought we did it on purpose (we definitely didn’t). Some thought we were careless (maybe!) and others were genuinely happy for us (I thank those people). After the final person was told of the news, I had gained a few gray hairs and experienced more stress than I had in my entire life up to that point.
A baby is a blessing and looking at Olivia now, all of that drama was worth it. But why drama? For what? John and I were old enough with enough resources to raise a child.. I realized that there is a huge problem in our society. An unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock is a scandal for no reason. With almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce, the institution of marriage is failing. Children are being raised in “broken” homes left and right. Now, when someone is getting a divorce, it isn’t the dishonor that it should be. To hear someone is getting a divorce is sad, but never unexpected. However, if you are bringing a beautiful new life into the world in an nontraditional way, you have judgment from every which way. It’s really ridiculous. I once had a conversation with a older man who had been through 3 divorces. When we departed, he closed with, “I hope you get married soon so you can join the rest of society.” I was so shocked that I had no come back. Even now, I don’t have anything productive to say. Honestly, I’d rather be unmarried for the rest of my life than experience three divorces. The landscape of love has been changing for a while now. The quintessential family is now the minority. We should shift our thinking to accommodate for that. Sure, some people are really irresponsible and shouldn’t be having children. But, some married and seemingly responsible people should also not be having children. John & I chose not to marry just because of a baby and I’m glad for it. (Believe me, there were times I thought I wanted to just be married to get people off of my back.) Though, we both had faith that our relationship would withstand the trials of becoming a family, we could never had guessed how hard it would be. We’ve had three babies, bought a house and completely changed our lives. Now, we are in a place where we can plan unpressured and be extremely sure of our relationship. We can do it for us and not for society, which should be the point.
My hope for everyone reading is this: Next time you hear news that someone in your life has been “knocked up,” think about my words. It’s not our place to make people feel scared or judged. So what if someone is getting married because they are pregnant? Kudos to them for taking that step. So what if someone is pregnant and is planning to raise the child on their own? Major kudos to them for their bravery. So what if you feel that someone is not ready? Who are you to judge what someone is capable of? We should offer support and allow them to be open and honest so that they are focused on a healthy pregnancy and preparing their life for a baby. Rather than thinking about how you feel or how society feels, think about how that person feels. If you hear it from someone else and are angry that you didn’t get a first person message, let it go. Imagine how many other things are going through the parents’ minds besides getting the information to the right people in the right order. When they do tell you, read them and react accordingly while being sensitive to their emotions. Honestly, they are going through enough without you adding to it. How a pregnancy begins does not determine what kind of parent it is creating.
For anyone that has gone through or is going through a similar experience as I did, feel how you want to feel. If you aren’t embarrassed, don’t feel like you need to be. Just because the rest of the world sees your new baby as a mistake doesn’t mean he or she is. People will react to you based on how you present yourself. If you are confident and excited no matter the situation (especially with acquaintances or disparaging people) there is only so far they can go with their opinions of you. Focus on yourself and your new family and let in the people closest to you. You will need their support! Lastly, be honest with other women and couples. If we could all share our stories of happiness and success that all started from an “unwanted” pregnancy, it would make the future seem much less bleak for others in comparable situations.
John & I will have been together for 4 years this coming January. Here we are year by year as our family has grown:
Everything you see in these pictures is a mistake!! We are pretty damn proud of our mistakes. 🙂