“Pregnant.” The word lit up across the tiny screen after two minutes of agony. It was a lot harder to ignore than the faint, second pink line on the test I’d taken an hour earlier. I walked out of the bathroom and threw the test toward my boyfriend. This did not fit into my five-year plan.
What ensued was a flood of anger, remorse and terror on my part and complete shock on my boyfriend’s. To be fair, he handled my initial panic with extreme grace. Telling him, though, wasn’t the hard part.
Since that day, I’ve had the distinct discomfort of sharing my news with family and friends. Reactions have ranged from overwhelming excitement to utter disbelief. But my favorite part of the big reveal comes in form of the questions asked in the aftermath.
Now, having been on both sides of this type of situation, I fully understand the knee-jerk reactions and word vomit that can occur when trying to properly formulate a response to someone’s unexpected pregnancy. However, there are certain reactions that I would be thrilled to never deal with again.
Don’t you know how this happens?
This is the single-most frustrating question to be asked, and my inclination is to retort with an equally ignorant quip:
“No, dearest acquaintance. I must have dozed off during each of the health and family classes I’ve taken over the course of my education. Please, tell me exactly how babies are made.”
But let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that I do understand this life-creating process. Do you really want to hear the details of my sex life? Probably not.
I’m so sorry.
Honey, you and me both. But what exactly are we apologizing for? I’m bringing a life into this world with minimal preparation and zero experience — but I’m bringing a life into this world. That’s actually pretty nifty. While I appreciate your attempt to sympathize, empty apologies mean far less than actionable advice.
You know this is going to be hard, right?
As a college student working three jobs, I thought it was about time to up the game. Some people choose to run marathons or jump out of airplanes, but I wanted something more challenging. Clearly, the only way to up the ante was to gamble my entire academic career by getting knocked up at the end of my junior year — which leads me to the next reaction.
Your life will never be the same.
Well, this is where you’re just wrong. I see no reason why I won’t be able to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans within moments of popping out the baby. There won’t be any stretch marks or raging hormones, sleepless nights or unyielding stress over keeping a tiny human healthy. Surprise babies can’t possibly affect work schedules, academics or a social life. Nope, no changes happening here.
With unplanned pregnancies accounting for nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States, odds are you will be faced with the challenge of responding to a friend or loved one’s news in a manner that doesn’t invoke eye-rolling cynicism.
Should you find yourself in this situation, the rules of engagement are simple: Think before speaking, and do your best to act like the world isn’t exploding for the expecting mother.