What to Expect When You're NOT Expecting — 7 Things to Know About Surprise Pregnancies

Family Matters on 08.15.11
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Image: John Cave Osborne

As parents of a nine-year-old and three-year-old triplets, my wife and I were all set when it came to kids. So the plan was to hold right where we were. Yet things don't always go according to plan, a fact my wife and I were reminded of one Sunday morning last October when we learned about our surprise pregnancy. Fast forward ten months, and our surprise is now a reality. And speaking of surprises, we ran into quite a few of them along the way — things that might have been helpful to know.

So, should you find yourself in a similar boat, you might be able to learn from our experience. As such, here's a list of 7 things to expect when you're NOT expecting. 


1. Head Games

therapistImage: pasukarus 76 (catching up) via Creative Commons

Gotta head doctor? Might wanna get one. Because I hate to break it to you, but this pregnancy is going to be psychologically challenging. Initially, you'll feel countless emotions in rapid succession — shock, denial, second guessing, and even mourning, as the life that you once knew is suddenly gone forever. It won't take long, however, before you wrap your arms around the reality of it all, at which point your pregancy will feel like any other one. Well, for a little while at least!


2. Difficult Pregnancy

pregnant womanShe only made it look easy, because it wasn't! — Image: John Cave Osborne

Only "for a little while" because you'll soon find that this pregnancy is nothing like any of the others you've experienced. You see, surprise pregnancies usually happen to folks who, like us, had all the children they could handle! And during an unexpected pregnancy you may be surprised to note that it won't be the pregnancy, itself, that will wear you out. It'll be your kids who, despite whatever Daddy does to try to help, will climb all over you like a knocked-up jungle gym.


3. Guilt

guiltImage: spaceodissey via Creative Commons.

So you've absorbed the initial onslaught of pychological emotions, and have even gotten used to the difficulty. Smooth sailing from here on out, right? Wrong. Because there's one feeling in particular that will come back intermittently throughout your pregnancy — guilt. And it will do so for three primary reasons. First, since your life was full enough to have rendered this pregnancy a surprise, you'll likely find that this pregnancy won't be front and center like your prior ones. Second, given that there are so many couples who long to get pregnant but can't? It won't feel right that you're not exactly doing cartwheels 24-7 about this one. And finally, you might even worry about being spread too thin when the new baby arrives such that you won't be able to love all of your children sufficiently.

I'm not saying these guitly feelings are rational. But I am saying that you'll likely experience them. But don't worry, because the guilty feelings will eventually go away when you hit the 30-week mark. Because once the arrival of your little surprise is imminent, your unexpected pregnancy will start to command the attention it deserves, and all will start to feel right in your world.


4. Co-Sleeping With the Enemy

co-sleepingImage: John Cave Osborne

Okay, we're not into co-sleeping at my house (not that there's anything wrong with it!), but I just couldn't resist the subtitle. You see, once our little boy was finally born, we naturally assumed that this unplanned little being would sap all our energy. But we were wrong. Because taking care of our infant, we've found, is a breeze! (I'm talking super-easy, folks.) So the "enemy," if you will, isn't be the baby — it's our kids! Sure, sometimes they provide some much-needed help, but more often than not, they complicate every last thing as it pertains to our baby. So be prepared my fellow unexpected expectants. It won't be your baby that'll be hard to deal with. It'll be his or her siblings!


5. Riding a Bike

riding a bikeImage: John Cave Osborne

It hadn't even been four years since my wife and I last tended to an infant. But a lot has happened in that time, and as such, we were worried that we'd be all clueless when it came to taking care of our little one. Especially given the fact that it wasn't as if we spent the entire pregnancy preparing for every last detail of his arrival. (We were too busy chasing his siblings around!) But it turned out that we didn't have anything to worry about, and you won't, either. Taking care of a baby you love is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it.


6. Role Changes

big brotherTurns out, he was always meant to be a big brother! — Image: John Cave Osborne

Since this was a different kind of pregnancy than the planned ones which came before it, you probably didn't spend as much time as you might have explaining to your little Indians that they were about to get promoted to Chiefs. But they'll quickly figure that out on their own. And although their gears will grind a little bit (just as all children's will whenever a new baby comes on the scene), it'll be all the more fulfilling to watch them fall into those roles given that they're ones which you never imagined they'd assume. And a heads up to all you dads out there: no matter how plugged in you already are, I can promise you this: you're about to become even more plugged in. Simply put, there'll be no way to get it all done without your extra effort.


7. Math

surprise pregnanciesImage: John Cave Osborne

Remember number three? The guilt? Much of it stemmed from your concern that there wasn't enough love to go around, whether it was because you weren't giving your pregnancy its proper due or because you were fretting that you wouldn't be able to love all of your kids as much as each deserved once your little surprise arrived. But as soon as you bring home your baby, you'll discover that there was never anything to worry about. Because it will, too, be possible to love all of your children as much as they deserve. In fact, it would be impossible not to. And what’s more, each one of them will be able to feel every single drop of it.

Because love is infinite. And infinity divided by any number is still infinity.

Have you ever experienced a surprise pregnancy? Tell us what else to expect if you're not expecting in the comments.

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