Unexpected Pregnancies: Personal Stories
I was twenty-seven and living in a cheap apartment with a couple of roommates when I realized I was pregnant. I was in a stable, if long-distance relationship, with a supportive guy who I knew would be behind me no matter what I chose. I spent a week thinking, wondering, agonizing and writing. At the end, I realized that I wanted to be a parent. I told my significant other that he could leave now, or he could stay and be a father. Iím glad he decided to stay. Iíve told my daughter, who is three now, this story many times. Itís one of her favorites. I want to make sure she knows that I wasnít forced into having her, that I chose to be her mother, and that she always has a choice.
When I met the man of my dreams, I was almost 40. We both wanted to have children so we decided not to use birth control, thinking it would take the average 6 months even though were not yet married. To our surprise, we got pregnant in one day! We were shocked. When we starting doing the practical things, we realized we couldnít get insurance because we were both self-employed and could not upgrade for his type of policy, and I did not have one. I am sad to say we were a bit relieved when we had a miscarriage.
I was using the pill with my long-term boyfriend. After we broke up, we had break-up sex, and the condom broke. One time was all it took! He was certain that he did not want to be a father. He said he would support me no matter what choice I made, and that he would be involved minimally, but that he did not want the responsibility of being a parent. I knew I could financially care for a child, but I did not feel it was moral to have a child who knew his father did not want her/him, no matter how much love I gave. I also did not feel emotionally secure to raise a child alone. I had an abortion and felt tremendously relieved.
After trying various methods of birth control different pills, the patch, the side effects became too much to handle, and I stopped taking chemicals and decided to rely on condoms and nature. My fiancť and I decided to try a new type of condom, it wasnít latex, it was polyurethane. Well, about a month later (and shortly before our wedding), I discovered that I was pregnant. We werenít ready. I had just earned my B.A. and was planning on starting graduate school, and he was planning on going back to school to earn his B.A. We talked about it, and we researched options, but we decided not to make any decisions until after the wedding. The day of the wedding, I awoke with stomach cramps, but passed it off as nerves. The ceremony went well, and I was greeting our guests at the reception when my new mother-in-law ran up to me and told me there was bright red blood on the back of my white dress. The bleeding continued into the honeymoon, and about the third or fourth day I had a complete miscarriage. The rest of the honeymoon I was a complete emotional mess and it took me about a month to return to a sense of normalcy. I was upset that the choice wasnít left to me, but it did make me feel a tiny bit better that I wasnít going to have to put my life on hold for something that we werenít prepared for anyway.
I thought I was pregnant because I missed my period, but I tried not to think about it. I didnít want to talk to anybody because I was too scared. My mother would never let me forget it, so I didnít want to tell her, and I didnít want to tell any of my friends because I was afraid word would get around school. Finally I told my boyfriend. He found out where I could get a test done but I was scared. Iíd make an appointment at the clinic and then I wouldnít go. Weeks were going by and finally I talked to my counselor at school, who I really like. She was great. She explained everything to me. I got the test; it wasnít so bad. But I was already five months pregnant.i
Both of my sisters got pregnant when they werenít married, and they had the babies. I think theyíve had it really rough. I want to have a better life than them. Itís tough raising a child on your own, especially when youíre as young as I am. Iím having an abortion.ii
After my second child was born, we used condoms religiously when we had sex until I had my first period. I had been using natural family planning, plus condoms during the ovulatory part of my cycle, for years and we were delighted to begin using it again. I didnít have the next period in my normal 28 to 29 days, but I wasnít too worried because I knew that the first postpartum period is often without ovulation. But I did a test in a couple of weeks anyway. When the test was positive, I felt really stupid, because I know all about contraception but I had screwed up. My baby was still on the breast, about 8 months old, and my older child was 2. We both knew that we already had the family we wanted, so I had an abortion. While I was waiting at the clinic, I kept looking around at the young women around me and feeling like at 38 I should have known better. I should have taken the advice not to rely on natural planning so soon after having a baby.
At my age , I thought I knew my body really well. I wasnít using any protection when I knew I was ovulating. We make assumptions; you think youíve got it covered. I was tired a lot. I didnít miss the first period, it was a little light. Maybe I was a little bloated. Someone I worked with said, ďCould you be pregnant?Ē But I didnít even consider it. When I missed the second period, I bought a pregnancy test and did it at lunch. I was so rattled I turned it upside down and it said I wasnít pregnant, so I went out and bought another test and did it the next day. It was positive.
I felt scared. Of what? I guess everything. I am a real planner. I have plans for various scenarios in my head, but I didnít have a scenario for this. I was working 50-60 hours a week and I had two kids, one in elementary school and one in middle school. I immediately told my husband. He was totally calm--really great--and I started crying. He said, ďYou know those tests donít always work.Ē
The next day we went to the doctor, and I was pregnant. She said that statistically, it would probably be fine, so we were leaning toward having the baby, but we went through some genetic testing anyway. There were some things that didnít look quite right, but eventually the tests were fine, and we decided to have the baby. We had to rethink some things in our lives and we decided that my husband would delay some work plans in order to be home while the baby was little. It all worked out. The older kids were great, and now that they are in high school, they know what having children means.
To read additional stories of women who faced unexpected pregnancies, see Many Voices - Many Choices
i From Ruth Bell et al., Changing Bodies Changing Lives: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships, expanded third edition. New York: Penguin, 1998. [back to text]
ii Bell, op. cit. [back to text]
Written by: Gathered from submissions to Our Bodies Ourselves and from Ruth Bell et al., Changing Bodies Changing Lives; a book for teens on sex and relationships, expanded third edition. New York: Penguin, 1990.
Last revised: March 2005
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