Many women have stood in line holding a pregnancy test, whether it’s for a friend or a “friend.” It doesn’t matter who is peeing on the stick: if a pregnancy test is being bought, it’s like you can feel the panic in the air. Once you saw that positive pregnancy test, you might have felt a surge of anxiety. It’s as if your stomach dropped to your feet and nothing in life makes sense. You may hope it’s all a dream and that you’re not really pregnant. Anxiety, fear, and even anger are all normal feelings when dealing with unplanned pregnancy. For the next few mornings, you wake up with the realization that it wasn’t a dream and you’re really pregnant.
You might be pressured by your friends and family who have strong opinions about what you should do. You may feel afraid and confused. If you’re in an unplanned pregnancy, take a quick breath. Step away from all your emotional overload.
Here are 7 things that no one tells you about dealing with unplanned pregnancy, and that we want you to know. If you’re feeling unsure of how to deal with unplanned pregnancy, here are some thoughts to consider before you make any decisions.
- No one can tell you what you should do
People will give you their opinions, of course, but NO ONE can tell you how your decisions will affect your life. No matter how much Googling you do, it can’t predict your future. But if you can turn off the noise from others’ opinions, you may realize your heart already knows which choice is best for you.
- You’re not alone
Nearly half of the 6.1 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unplanned (according to the Guttmacher Institute). When you take this stat into real life, the reality is that a lot of women coping with an unplanned pregnancy know the unique heartache you’re feeling.
- It’s OK to be scared
It’s normal to feel scared and confused. No matter how old you are, an unintended pregnancy can come as a shock.
It’s also okay to be sad or angry. Maybe you’re grieving a version of your life that you’re going to have to let go of. Or maybe you’re just not ready at this point in your life to raise a child.
However you’re feeling when dealing with unplanned pregnancy, it’s okay to feel that way. Don’t repress your feelings. These emotions will eat you alive if you don’t allow yourself to feel them fully.
- Anger and fear are bad decision-making tools
When dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, it’s normal to feel embarrassed, ashamed, and even disappointed with yourself. Remember, an unexpected pregnancy doesn’t define who you are, no matter what others say. Getting pregnant by accident doesn’t make you irresponsible.
Try to calm down so that you can think clearly before you make a decision. Your emotions are real, but they can end up getting in the way of your thinking clearly.
- It’s good to have a support system
If you’re thinking about adoption, a support system can be hard to find. You can find one through virtual, online support, but it’ll be an important factor in moving forward. Consider visiting a pregnancy center or talking to one of Lifetime’s peer counselors. These are women who have been where you are right now, so they’re able to give you advice. If you’re interested in talking to birth mothers, just call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784.
- You’re not a statistic
It’s normal to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or even disappointed in yourself as you begin to cope with an unplanned pregnancy. But at the end of the day, know that you’re so much more than a statistic. Your pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, doesn’t define you. Getting pregnant by accident doesn’t make you irresponsible or stupid.
- Adoption is a choice that you can make anytime
You don’t have to decide on adoption right now. Adoption is one of three unplanned pregnancy options, and it’s never too late to choose adoption. Lifetime has helped women make an adoption plan after their baby’s been born and even when their child is a few years old. We’re not here to rush you or pressure you. It’s entirely your choice.
Lifetime’s goal is to assist pregnant women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy with the adoption process. If you’re not ready to become a parent, adoption could be a way to give your child the life you would want for them. Open adoption allows you to stay in contact with your child as they grow.
Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784 whenever you’re ready to learn more about adoption.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 22, 2017, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.