Coping with a surprise pregnancy
Taking Charge of Unexpected Change
Coping with an unplanned pregnancy requires time, space and a network of support. "It isn't something you wrap your head around overnight," says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (Wiley). "You need to actively work through what you're feeling. Talk to other couples who have experienced a surprise pregnancy to find out how they got through the tough times."
And while you may not realize it at first, an unexpected pregnancy can have unexpected benefits. Schneider says hers included "a wake-up call to get my priorities straight. What helped me was saying to myself, this has happened, and now it's time to get over it and get ready."
Taking the reins in this way can help you feel more in charge of your life, starting with your baby's birth. "The pregnancy may have been unintended, but the birth can be planned," says Nancy Felipe Russo, Ph.D., a regents professor of psychology and women's studies at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Choosing Your Outlook
Honos-Webb suggests that the way to change your attitude about the pregnancy is to change the questions you ask yourself. "Stop asking yourself who is to blame, what you did to deserve this, and what's wrong with you," she says. "Instead, ask yourself, 'Am I OK, what do I need, and how can I comfort myself?'" In other words, ask questions that help you find solutions and move forward, not questions that fixate on blame and fault.
This process worked for Angie Schneider. "I'm not sure we're at total happiness about this next set of twins, but we're definitely at positive acceptance," she says. "What moved us to this stage is feeling that it must all be happening for a reason and is completely beyond our control. When we realize we don't get to control every aspect of our lives, it's almost liberating. This wild ride has already brought more joy and meaning to my life than I could have imagined."
3 Things Not To Panic About
1. Housing You have your entire pregnancy and many months after the baby is born before he needs a room or even a separate space. A bassinet and a place to keep baby clothes and supplies are all that's required in the first few months.
2. Money Cut back on extras like daily lattes, and you can cover the cost of disposable diapers. Shop consignment stores and garage sales for lightly used (sometimes brand-new) baby clothes and furniture. If you're not insured, find out about medical payment plans, less expensive providers such as midwives, or state insurance programs.
3. Not having a life The future is still yours to plan. You need to commit to parenting, but also to your own life, says psychologist Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D. "Plan to do what you love and take the baby along," she suggests. "You aren't sacrificing your entire life, just making adjustments."