"Oops" and "Uh-Oh"
Even so, the first reaction to an unplanned pregnancy is often disbelief. With my first pregnancy, I knew my husband and I had taken a chance when we skipped the condom on that lovely, sun-drenched spring afternoon when the air smelled like cut grass and the world seemed full of possibility. But when the home pregnancy test came back positive, I didn't believe it. I thought I must have misread the directions. Three tests later, I had to admit the truth: I was pregnant.
Like me, Linda of Hoboken, New Jersey, knew she'd taken some real chances with birth control when she went off the Pill at age 35 and played fast and loose with other methods. But she'd gone almost five years without getting pregnant, so a positive pregnancy test at age 40 took her completely by surprise. Her reaction, she says: "total disbelief and utter dismay. Those first few days, I was in such shock that if I'd miscarried, I might've thought it was a good thing."
"We just thought it was too soon to get pregnant again," says Matthew, whose second child, Julianna, was born a few days before their first, Jake, turned 1. "When Mary Kaye was pregnant with Julie and started feeling nauseated, we dismissed it as an illness," says the Roselle Park, New Jersey, dad. "I was literally walking out the door to refill her prescription for the Pill when she suggested I buy a pregnancy test instead."
Because her first two children were conceived after infertility treatments, Pia of Houston never considered that she might be pregnant again at 38. "I wasn't feeling well. I figured I had the flu and that I just couldn't kick it." It was her 10-year-old daughter who finally asked, "Are you sure you aren't pregnant?" Pia was. "How embarrassing," she says with a laugh. "At ten, she got it, but I was clueless."
Fear is also a common reaction. Lisa of San Antonio, Texas, was well aware that she and her husband, Michael, had taken a risk one evening. "We were practicing natural family planning, but one night we slipped." When she took the home pregnancy test on Michael's 24th birthday, Lisa says, "my heart was racing. We'd just gotten married four months before! There was no way we could be pregnant."
When Lisa gave Michael the news (by handing him the pregnancy test, saying, "Happy birthday, Daddy," and then bursting into tears), all she could think about was how they hadn't planned to have children for at least five years. "We sat on the bed, and all of a sudden I had a panic attack," Lisa remembers. "I started rattling off questions like 'How are we going to pay for this baby?' and 'Will we be good parents?' Everything just came spewing out."
Nashville mom Jess learned she was pregnant again when her first child was 6 months old. "I was afraid of everything," Jess remembers. "I was afraid we didn't have enough money, that people would think I was stupid for having another baby so soon. Mainly, though, I was afraid I couldn't handle it. I'd barely learned to be a mom at all. I was afraid I couldn't be a good one to two babies at once."