Advice for mom who is unexpectedly expecting?

A reader writes:

Dear Simcha, do you have any reading material suggestions (in print or online) for me?  I have an adorable 8 month old and just found out I am unexpectedly expecting another one!  I intellectually know this is a blessing but yet could use some encouragement about how to overcome the panic?

My answer:

First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy, AND don’t feel like you have to Feel the Right Thing right away. I always figure it takes nine months to get used to the idea of being pregnant; and it’s possible, even normal, to be welcoming of a new baby and horrified at being pregnant, all at the same time.

I just got a book called Tiny Blue Lines: Reclaiming Your Life, Preparing for Your Baby, and Moving Foward with Faith in an Unplanned Pregnancy. I haven’t read it yet – not even the first page – but it’s getting good reviews, and sounds kinda like exactly what you are looking for, so I’m taking a chance and passing the name along.
It’s a really, really good idea to find other people who will understand what you are going through. I used to belong to this message board for people who use NFP. It’s grown a lot since my day, but there are many, many women (and a few men!) there who will understand exactly what you are dealing with, and will be your real (online) friend.
Other than that, make sure you are praying with your husband every day – even just a quick thing. There is no substitute for being united and at peace with your spouse with the help of the Holy Spirit.  If at all possible, an hour a week at adoration can make a huge difference.
Hang in there! I know it’s to feel at peace about it, especially as you look forward and wonder what the next few decades might hold. I had my first two kids fourteen months apart, and the second and third kids fifteen months apart.  It’s hard, but definitely not impossible, and very often a joyful life, especially when you’re young.  And remember that you are giving your child a magnificent, irreplaceable gift in a sibling.
Readers, any other suggestions?
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  • Alishia Hanson

    Congratulations! This was me last year. I always find it’s best to first tell people who will congratulate you no matter what. My life is crazy with six kids eight and under but I find it’s manageable. However, I must keep focused on my vocation and not compare our family to other families. Keep your standards low-and I mean that in the best way possible–so that you can enjoy your time with two babies. It really is a blessing even though it will be overwhelming at times. I pray all goes well in your pregnancy.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/ priest’s wife

    My first 2 were 51 weeks apart (but not surprises)- they are almost twins!

    It wasn’t easy, but I am so blessed to have them- now they are 14 and 13 and help me with the 6 and 4 year old (we lost a baby at 20 weeks in utero between the 13 year old and the 6 year old)

    you can do this!

  • Ezbs

    I was “devestated” when I fell pregnant “accidentally” with my third daughter. My second daughter was 21 months when my third was born. It put all my plans out of wack. I was going to return to work and “get my life back”. It was too soon to have another child. So I thought..

    6 months after my “accident” child was born, I got diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and was given 2 weeks to wean my little daughter before I was to start chemotherapy. I was told I could freeze my eggs, because the chemo could make me infertile.

    All of a sudden, my perspective changed. I was devestated I may never conceive again. Although I obviously didn’t freeze any eggs, and leave my fertility up to God, I thank God I had that “accidental” third child. She is truly a blessing. And in Gods amazing goodness, she was the easiest baby during my chemo- her sleeping and eating routine was a dream.

    I’m in remission, and am still unsure if the chemo has affected my fertility and to what extent. But I leave it up to God. This incident was a big lesson for me in letting go and trusting God. You cannot possibly control your life. It’s impossible. Women are fed lies that they can and they must control their fertility to the enth degree, and their life. It’s a sign of an immature society really..

    Every child is a big deal. Every pregnancy is anyway. And it’s totally normal to freak out about how you will cope or manage.

    But trust in God. Enjoy your pregnancy, as much as you can. And feel comfort in the knowledge that This pregnancy was meant to be for a reason that only God knows now, but that you will come to realise in time.

    God Bless you and your family.

  • Vera Hough

    My first two (boy then girl) were 23 months apart, which is amateur hour in this crowd. They have been the best of friends all their lives and I always say that the first years were 90% bliss, 10% utter torture. Which is not bad at all.

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer

    I know the author of Tiny Blue Lines, and I even knew her before she wrote the book! In fact, I got to edit part of her first draft! Whoa! I feel like a celebrity! Anyway, Chaunie is a lovely person and very authentic. By that I mean that she isn’t going to be all “Oh boy I’m pregnant and it’s unexpected but I am completely filled with joy!” Nope. She gives it to you straight and leaves you on a happy note, because that’s where unexpected babies leave you.

    And on that note—please do not ever tell that baby that you were upset that he or she happened. That is, not unless you follow that revelation by hugging the child and assuring him or her several times that you are now overjoyed at being surprised in such a fashion. I know, I know, that sounds obvious. But trust me, there are people who blame the child for arriving. Or else they tell stories about how the child messed up their lives as if that were an amusing anecdote. It is not. Make sure that the child knows that he or she is a blessing. End of public service announcement.

    • Karyn

      Very good point – I shared the womb with an IUD and my mom told me that she briefly considered an abortion. Not exactly information to make one feel warm and fuzzy. She would go on to say how I’m the best thing that happened to her (that is, when she’s in a good mood) but somehow I don’t feel better.

      • Ezbs

        Oh dear. I hope you have found assurance over the years that God wanted and willed you. Over an IUD. The miracle in that is wonderful!

        You bring up a good point. Never tell your child they were an accident.

        • Karyn

          Yes, I have made peace with a lot of it – though I still picture myself coming into the world with the IUD embedded in my forehead like a Teletubby, lol.

          By the way, I’ll be praying for you, Ezbs.

          • Ezbs

            Thanks Karyn.

            I love your sense of humour!

  • Coraline

    Can I suggest another NFP forum, made specifically with Catholics in mind? http://www.livingthesacrament.com has been an AWESOME resource for me. Lots of amazing women who have been through the whole spectrum of experiences. Well worth joining, imo!

  • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com/ Beadgirl

    Congratulations! My situation was somewhat different, but I nonetheless can say with authority that it is totally possible to love your baby while being very upset about the timing. And as Simcha says, the next nine months will help you come to terms with all your emotions and concerns.

  • Eileen

    Well, I’ve found myself unexpectedly pregnant quite a few times. The amazing thing is that once the baby begins to feel real, I’ve always gotten very excited, no matter how much the pregnancy (not the child, the actual pregnancy) would disrupt our lives. Until I was excited, the only person who’d know I was pregnant was my husband. I think the last time I was pregnant my daughter suspected – since I tend to vomit around the clock, losing anywhere from 20 to 30 pounds each pregnancy, we do usually have to tell the kids before my full excitement sets in. But we always waited at least until after we had the first ultrasound – I’m a high risk pregnancy so the OB takes one at the first visit. The good thing is, kids are always excited to have a new baby in the house and that excitement feeds off itself.

    I would recommend finding out the sex of the baby and naming him or her. That way you can talk to the other baby about the new baby as if (s)he’s already here.

  • Eileen

    Funny story. They were having circle time in my son’s kindergarten class. One little boy (whose mom was pregnant with her fifth) raised his hand and told the class he knew the new baby’s name – he’d heard his dad tell his mom and his mom said it was perfect. The new baby’s name was going to be “Woopsie!”
    Woopsie is now five and as far as I know strictly goes by Lucy. ;)

    • Cordelia

      Oh, dear…I just can’t stop laughing over that one!

  • Sarah Babbs

    While I did not find myself unexpectedly pregnant, I was certainly NOT expecting to be pregnant with twins! But I was. They are now 3 months old. Despite the fact that this was very much a wanted and “planned” conception, two babies was not part of the plan. I just gave myself permission to feel what I felt. Overwhelmed, scared, and grieving just a little for what I thought life would be like. I didn’t give in to guilt about feeling not 100% awesome at every moment about going from 1 to 3 kids all at once. After a few weeks the fear and sadness diminished and I was able to get excited and look forward to all of the good things these babies would bring. Don’t beat yourself up for how you feel, but also know that those feelings will fade with time! Prayers!

  • RH

    I found this post by Rebecca Frech to be really understanding and helpful: http://shovedtothem.blogspot.com/2010/11/congratulations-im-sorry.html
    “It’s never the baby we’re sorry for, but the crush of responsibility on an already burdened life.”

  • Erika

    I’ve come to rely on “Your Labor of Love” by Agnes Penny for each of my pregnancies. It is a perfect, short book that highlights the beauty of our times of pregnancy in very practical ways. It really makes me see my vocation of Motherhood in a different, better way.

  • Chaunie Brusie

    Thank you for sharing my book, and of course, I hope it can be of help! I wrote the book as a young mother and then had to “re-learn” the lessons when I found I was expecting baby #4 before I felt fully ready. It’s ok to be scared and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother!

  • Heather Turner

    Coraline beat me to the suggestion of Living the Sacrament (http://livingthesacrament.com/Forum/index.php). It’s been an invaluable tool for support in times of frustration, confusion, questions, and joy with NFP. I’ll be praying for your reader, Simcha!

  • http://forwantofwonder.wordpress.com Nicole

    Ohh, this is me, right now, too! We found out 14 weeks into the pregnancy that we were expecting #2. So Baby 1 and 2 will be 15 months apart. I understand the panic. Slowly and surely, it will fade away into acceptance, and then excitement and love. Eventually! Don’t beat yourself up with the shock and dismay you feel.

    Also, Simcha- I think I speak for all women in the camp of two kids less than two years apart when I say- PLEASE write a little book on how to survive the phenomenon!!

  • Beth Turner

    This happened to me 8 months after my first was born, too! Two of my pregnancies were fully planned, two were somewhat surprising. I’ve never felt excited about being pregnant in the first trimester, with any of my four pregnancies. I joke that I was terrified to become a parent until my first son was about 6 months old. It’s only slightly terrifying for a short period of time each morning now, but I think it’s 100% normal to feel totally overwhelmed. Big responsibility, right?

    I also used to have a really hard time hearing Christ’s commandment, “Do not be afraid.” Especially so as a pregnant woman and mother. But now I know that He gives us all the resources we need to fulfill this particular command! Especially at the beginning of the day, but also any time you feel scared, even just the tiniest little bit, I would encourage you to go to Him in prayer and open yourself to the gifts He’s giving you. Sometimes those gifts bring difficulty and pain! But tell Him that just as He opened wide His arms and spared nothing for your sake, you will spread your arms wide and spare nothing for Him and your child. You will receive strength from heaven in those moments.


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