Becoming First Time Parents
“Did you pee on the stick for EXACTLY five seconds??” my husband yelled down the hallway while I stood dazed in the bathroom, peering down at the stick.
“I THINK SO?!”
Actually, I peed on it for all of one second and the plus sign pretty much appeared in an instant, leaving no real margin of uncertainty. I felt amazed, ill, scared, thrilled, and terrified all at once. I went to the bedroom to lay down while my husband paced the hallway.
We were having a BABY.
Off To Baby Land
I always used to wonder how people could “not know” if they were pregnant. It seems so obvious. But then it happened to me. I remained in a strange denial for a few weeks before I even took that pregnancy test, even when the symptoms were all pointing in the direction of Baby Land. I blamed the fatigue on my recent case of mono and being a graduate student, my late period on recent air travel, and the sore boobs on my impending (some day) period. I took that pregnancy test on a “whim” when my period was so late that I was either having serious female issues or by some slim chance, I was pregnant. And now you all know how that ended.
Having a baby that was not planned is crazy, exciting, and also scary. The more the reality hit us, the more elated we became, but we were also anxious and appropriately terrified. We needed to prepare, since we had not been preparing at all up until this point. But how do we prepare for the rest of our lives being significantly altered by adding a PERSON to our life, to our family? And the terror would hit again. And then the excitement. What had we gotten ourselves into?
If you find yourself in this position, it is okay to freak out. And then know that somehow, someway, you’re going to figure it out. I’ve actually wholeheartedly embraced this mentality as a parent too, when I look down at my son and remember he is in this family for life, or when I think, “Am I really a mother?”
If you find yourself in this position, it is okay to freak out. And then know that somehow, someway, you’re going to figure it out.
Getting Ready For Baby
Thankfully, nine months is a lot of time to get ready for a baby. Comfort yourself with that reality. It’s really long. In the meantime, here are some things to consider, if you find yourself in this position, that can guide you through the journey of the unexpected:
- It’s okay to take your time to find the doctor or midwife that you like. For my first prenatal exam (8 weeks) I went to the OBGYN that was on staff with the primary care practice I had been going to for yearly exams, checkups, etc. I just figured this is what you do. I had never personally researched to find an OB who I would have my children with, because I wasn’t thinking that far in advance. This OB, however, after a bit of conversation, suggested that I find a midwife to deliver my baby, based on the type of experience I desired to have. I met with a couple different midwife teams before I settled on one that I loved and was conveniently close to my house for both appointments and delivery. Finding a provider you trust and that you feel completely comfortable with is KEY. You have plenty of time to find the care you want.
- Plan a surprise reveal. As you can guess, no one saw this baby coming. That made for a very memorable reveal moment, where we yelled, “You’re going to be grandparents!” to our parents when snapping a family photo. Hugs. Tears. Joy. It was awesome.
- Find a prenatal yoga class. Not only will this help your body prepare, but it will also help that anxious mind and introduce you to other pregnant women. Even though I was so excited to have this child, I was anxious during my pregnancy because it was just happening! Going to yoga was a gift. I was able to meet other moms, ask questions about how I was feeling on a weekly basis, and take time to just breathe and relax.
- Solicit registry help. Finding out you are having a baby when you haven’t even created a secret baby Pinterest board yet is overwhelming. There is a lot of baby stuff out there (read: there are a lot of opinions on baby stuff out there) and researching it all can be intimidating. I relied heavily on mom friends — I still do — who have done a lot of research (including experiential!) on car seats, high chairs, strollers, etc. I’m STILL learning. Don’t stress too much about the “stuff” – your baby really just needs love.
- Take a birth class. My husband and I took a 12-week birth class and while I may have signed us up just to make sure he was ready for all of this, it was incredibly beneficial for both of us. It helped us to prepare together.
- Enjoy it. There’s nothing like a baby to bring about the surprise of a lifetime!
Did YOU have a surprise pregnancy? Any tips for other new moms out there?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Lauren is a new-to-Milwaukee mom, wife to Patrick, and mama to Jack. She loves all things local, city living, and exploring neighborhoods on foot. Lauren has her Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota and is passionate about maternal and child health, health equity, and community engagement.