Elaina was a surprise. I think it’s safe to say she is the best surprise Marvin or I ever received. I won’t go into the events that led up to the surprise pregnancy because that’s a whole story in itself. When I found out I was pregnant I was shocked! I called Marvin at work. I was flabbergasted. He seemed cool as a cucumber. I’m sure he wasn’t, but it’s how he seemed. I really couldn’t believe that I was pregnant. I just kept staring at the test and repeating “I’m pregnant” over and over again. I’m not sure that my reaction had anything to do with my marital status; I think any time a woman is pregnant (planned or surprise) for the very first time it takes some….. time to wrap her head around the idea of it all. The idea that there is really a BABY in there is hard to adjust to.
What surprised me most about being pregnant in the beginning? The reactions. I was pregnant and not married and apparently that’s taboo? Marvin and I were pretty ecstatic right away. Other people (whose lives would not be affected whatsoever by this news): not so much. I didn’t get it. I mean, I was 23 years old and had graduated from college, I had a full time job and was independent in every way (specifically financially). Anyone who knew me would’ve definitely said I was responsible. I was dating a 26 year old guy who was quite fabulous. We lived together. He had a full time job and was extremely responsible as well. We had a very healthy and happy relationship. And yet, people reacted like I was 15 years old, alone, irresponsible and pregnant. It was weird.
The people you’d expect to have a hard time adjusting to the news (parents) really kind of just rolled with the punches. My parents were living in Florida at the time so I had to tell them over the phone. I can remember that phone conversation like the back of my hand.
I called my Mom’s cell and she answered and I asked her if she was busy. She said she wasn’t and I asked her if she could go into a room because I needed to talk to her about something privately. “Sure,” she said.
Me: I’m pregnant
Mom: You arrrrrrrrrrre?
Mom: Are you freaking out?
(at this point she begins to cry and hands the phone to my Dad)
Dad: Baby, you’re PREGNANT?
Dad: That’s so awesome! I’m going to be a grandpa? Wow, man!! Your mom is so happy she’s crying.
Now, if anyone was going to be upset (and, really, why in the heck SHOULD anyone be upset??) you would imagine it would be my parents, right? Well, in all fairness my parents are….. different. I remember in High School I was the President of the Students United for Abstinence Club (pause and allow the irony to sink in) and I came home all proud and excited to tell my parents. My mom was all “oh, cool” and my Dad launched into a speech about how “that’s great if it’s what you want to do”, but sex is a natural, normal thing that we shouldn’t be ashamed of. It’s not scary, he’d say. It’s not shameful. Not your typical parents.
So, my parents were ecstatic. They moved back to Louisiana so they could be close to their grandchild. I was ecstatic too. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be having a baby. I started reading and learning and researching immediately. I was already in love with my little bean! I didn’t feel like the pregnancy was anything secretive, so I didn’t keep it a secret! I let all of our friends know. We told our families and Facebook. It wasn’t a secret by any means. I was PREGNANT and I was HAPPY and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops!!
I called a group of women who were close to me (individually), excited to share the news with them and their reactions surprised me and really hurt me. I considered these women role models my entire life and I was always aiming for their acceptance. I heard “what am I going to tell my kids?” (Umm, that I’m pregnant, duh! What do you mean?), “Well I guess if you’re happy then I am” (Gee try to reign in your enthusiasm) and “Are you going to get married? You need to get married. You have to put yourself aside and get married now because it’s what’s right for the baby. Raising a child out of wedlock isn’t stable. The baby needs stability.” (whaaaaa?). I got really mad. How dare they make this extremely HAPPY time for me negative. I got super defensive and that was that. I kind of closed myself off from them. I didn’t have room for anyone’s negativity. A BABY was going to be born and Marvin and I were beyond-words happy.
After those negative conversations, I realized something: you set the tone for how people react to you. Had I kept my pregnancy a secret, people would’ve slowly found out and whispered and gossiped about it. Had I acted like it was something depressing or sad, people would’ve felt bad for me. But, if I was open and happy (the way I truly felt inside) about it publicly people could either get on board or look dumb. Do you know how dumb you look when someone is all “We’re expecting, we’re so excited!!” and then YOU (the person who this does not affect) are upset by the news? You look dumb. I decided I’d set the tone for this. I wouldn’t allow others to treat this as anything but HAPPY and AWESOME news, and if they did, they’d be alone in their sorrow; I wasn’t going to entertain it.
My grandma (my mother’s mom) was so happy. This woman was the most Catholic person in my family. She had such a pure heart. She was extremely religious and yet, she was happy! I’ve never been as close to my mom’s family as I’ve been to my dad’s (purely a proximity thing, my mom’s family lives in Puerto Rico), but they all seemed to be so happy for me! My aunt (my mom’s sister) sent me care packages of baby books that she found helpful. She sent a little note in the package that I kept in Elaina’s baby book. She called me and had excitement in her voice. She was so happy for me, she said. It’s such a wonderful gift and she couldn’t wait for me to experience it. Call her if I want any advice or have any questions. It’s awesome, she said. (She has no idea what that conversation and note meant to me. It came just when I needed it.) Wow. The people who I personally called to tell (because they meant so much to me– I thought they’d be SO happy) reacted terribly (and continued to be less than supportive throughout my entire pregnancy), and the people who got the news via my mom were my biggest supporters. It was crazy to me.
I had some pretty infuriating conversations during the pregnancy. Certain people kept trying to get Marvin and I to get married before Elaina was born. We were good, but thanks. They said that it would cause problems logistically if Elaina and I had different last names. (All those divorced moms out there seem to be handling it just fine.) They said I would regret this one day when Elaina started asking questions. I would have a hard time explaining to Elaina that we weren’t married before we had her, they said. These people didn’t get it. Had they met me before? I had (and to this day I still have) zero anxieties or worry about Elaina asking questions about this topic. She was 4.5 months old when we got married. She’s in the wedding pictures. It’s not a secret. It didn’t feel wrong at the time and I wasn’t about to “hurry” and get married in an effort to cover up the fact that we got pregnant before we got married. I didn’t even feel like this needed covering up. It happened how it happened. The order was of no concern to Marvin or I.
These same people who were outraged that I was pregnant with Elaina were ecstatic when they heard we were pregnant with Dane. Hypocrites. What’s the difference? A piece of paper? It’s no longer “a sin”? Really, I don’t get it.
Anyway, I don’t really know what the point of this blog post is. I guess it’s just to share my experience. It really surprised me how insensitive and ignorant people are. And, I guess my advice is if you’re going through something that OTHER people may find taboo, but you’re feeling wonderfully about it…. SCREW THEM!! Hold your head up high and be excited. It’s your life. They can either follow your lead or look stupid.