The wait to find out what the pregnancy test says can be either exciting or agonizing. You may be feeling the latter, as well as fearful, lonely, and stuck. Once the time is up, you gingerly grab the pregnancy test and take a look. The plus sign indicating pregnancy is right there, and suddenly, time feels like it’s stopped. Your breath catches in your throat and you wonder what your options are. Does this sound familiar? Are you going through a surprise pregnancy? Please know you are not alone. There are others who are going through the exact same thing, and others who rose above the ashes to tell their unexpected pregnancy stories. You probably have a lot of questions. This article will hopefully help you answer some of those questions
How do I Stay Calm Through a Surprise Pregnancy?
First off, don’t panic. Panicking can cause you to have your emotions spiral out of control, which in turn can become a panic attack. This isn’t beneficial for you or your unborn baby. Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done to not panic when you get caught off guard like this. Here are some exercises that have helped me when I felt my anxiety creeping up on me:
- Deep breathing can be of great use. There are many different deep breathing techniques to help you regulate your heartbeat. This article from the University of Michigan describes how to do belly breathing, four-seven-eight breathing, roll breathing, and morning breathing.
Belly breathing consists of you laying on your back, placing one hand under your ribs and one hand on your chest, breathing in through your nose and out your mouth (purse your lips when you breathe out), and repeat as often as you need to. Your chest shouldn’t move at all; your diaphragm is doing all the work.
Four-seven-eight breathing consists of you breathing in for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and breathing out for eight seconds. Your hands should be in the same place as the belly breathing exercise.
Roll breathing consists of you breathing in from your “lower lungs” and breathing out from your “upper lungs”. Check out the article to see the exact instructions as well as how to do morning breathing.
- Grounding. This is an excellent exercise to help you get your emotions back in control. There are multiple techniques out there, but my personal favorite is the fie-four-three-two-one method. You can do this wherever you are. Look around and try to find five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
- Journaling can help you express how you feel about your pregnancy through writing or doodling. It may be easier for you to express your feelings in those ways than actually speaking out loud. This is a great creative outlet to help you stay calm.
What if I Can’t Provide for the Baby?
Once you’re able to clear your head, you need to think about some things regarding the future of you and your baby. It’s possible that you’re not in a place to raise a child right now due to your age, finances, school, work, or a lacking support system. Regardless of what your situation is, it’s okay to admit that you’re not in a good spot right now. If for whatever reason, you don’t have access to assistance, whether it be through your state or amongst your family and friends, you can get help through other resources.
Who Can I Turn to for Help During My Surprise Pregnancy?
At this point, you may be wanting to receive extra guidance from others. You can turn to medical health professionals, crisis pregnancy centers, people that you trust, and adoption agencies.
- Medical health professionals can help you out. Get in touch with a midwife or OBGYN. They will be able to help you during your pregnancy medically but will also be able to offer advice. If you’re able to, then I would also suggest talking to a therapist or counselor. It may seem intimidating to talk to someone about your problems, but it’s so much more than that. Counselors are here to make sure you can get through your trauma without feeling like you’re being held underwater.
- Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) have plenty of resources free of charge, such as pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, and programs for birth families if they choose to keep the baby. Most CPCs are considered Christian, so that is something important to keep in mind. Just know that you won’t be judged or shamed. You will be loved and cared for during your pregnancy.
- If you’re concerned about what your family members or friends might say, then it may be a good idea to go to others that you trust. It could be a teacher, someone from your church, or even your counselor or doctor. This may be difficult or frustrating if you don’t have a good support system at home, but I can assure you that there are people out there that care about you and what to see you succeed through every portion of your life.
- You will also be able to get assistance from adoption agencies if you choose to place your baby with an adoptive family. Most agencies will help you with anything from finances, to medical appointments, and finding a forever family for your baby. They are here for you and want to make sure you are being seen and heard. Your thoughts and feelings matter, too.
What if I Decide to Choose Adoption?
Adoption is a beautiful and messy process altogether. If you’ve weighed your options and have decided to go with adoption, you will have a lot of people in your corner who are rooting for you. There are a lot of people who want to shower you with compassion and love, as well as make sure your needs are being met.
The first thing you need to do is to decide which adoption agency you want to go through. Going through your state’s foster care system might do more harm than good in the long run. Every state is different so you’ll have to do your research, but the birth family usually doesn’t have a lot of say during the adoption. You also may have the option to find a family without going through an agency; however, you’ll have more support going through an adoption agency as well as having all the legal aspects covered for you.
Finding the right agency for you is extremely important. Every agency is different so you’ll have to do some digging to see what they have to offer. This can be anything from checking out their website or calling them and talking to someone who works there. Some things to consider are:
- Does distance matter?
- Are you able to go further away or do you need to stay closer?
- Do you want a Christian or a secular agency?
- Is this agency accepting of all types of couples and families?
- What types of families are part of the agency?
- How intense is the home study process for adoptive families?
- Are parent profiles accessible physically or on their website?
- Does the agency offer financial assistance if necessary?
- Would you have access to post-adoption support?
When you pick the best adoption agency, everything else will start falling into place. You will be assigned a caseworker who will help you every step of the way. Your caseworker will assist you in making your adoption plan. This plan consists of what kind of adoption you want, what kind of adoptive families you would consider, what will happen during the birth of your baby, and what will happen after the adoption is over.
Regarding which kind of adoption you want, you have three choices: open, semi-open, and closed. Each type has its own pros and cons and it really just depends on what you’re more comfortable with. Open adoption means that you can freely communicate with the adoptee and adoptive family and all records will be accessible. A semi-open adoption happens when the birth family wants to be somewhat involved. All communication goes through a third party with the adoptive family sending updates and pictures as often as you’re comfortable with. Closed adoptions typically occur when abuse happens, but also if the birth family wants to move on and heal. Unfortunately, all records are sealed so trying to find your baby if you change your mind may be really difficult. Your child won’t be able to find you after he or she turns 18. This could cause an identity crisis as they’re unsure about why they were placed with an adoptive family in the first place.
The next step is to find an adoptive family that you absolutely fall in love with. This decision shouldn’t be made flippantly, but through a lot of reflection and thought. Your caseworker can help you narrow down your options based on religion, ethnicity, region, etc. Once you have a few families in mind, you can meet these families in person and ask them any burning questions you may have, such as:
- How long have you been together?
- What are you going to tell the baby regarding the adoption?
- Am I allowed to have visitations?
- Do you plan on having more children?
- Why did you decide to adopt?
Lastly, you’ll have to make your birth plan. This includes who you want in the hospital room with you while you’re in labor and giving birth, when the adoptive family can see the baby, and how much time you want to spend with your baby before you have to officially surrender them to the adoptive family. Again, every state is different about how much time you can spend with your baby before you terminate your rights. Ask your caseworker if you’re unsure.
Do I Have Access to Support After a Surprise Pregnancy?
Absolutely, yes. Most adoption agencies offer support and resources during your pregnancy and also after the adoption is over. Not only that, you will still have access years and years afterward. This is a wonderful aspect of going through an adoption agency. You will be able to receive help through counseling, support groups, or talking to another birth mother. Talking through your emotions with a professional is great, but it’s also a good idea to get advice from someone who has walked in your shoes.
Most adoption agencies can help you with financial, legal, and medical assistance. They will be able to pay your legal fees, help with rent and utilities, and assist you with making doctor’s appointments and trying to either get you on state insurance or pay for the appointments themselves. Again, you will have to research the adoption agencies on your radar to see if they can help you wherever you need it.
You may even be able to get assistance with your future goals and aspirations. The Gladney Center of Adoption has a next steps program. While making your adoption plan for your baby, you can also further your education through an individualized plan designed to help you meet your career goals. Many birth moms take advantage of training classes at the local community college. Your options counselor is available to help you create a plan and suggest ways to achieve your career goals. Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold or wait a while to start the next part of your life.
In order to stay calm during pregnancy, you need to make sure to remember that you have so many people who want to see you succeed. Whether you have a support system or not, you’ll have access to support from the adoption agency you choose, the adoptive family, and the counselors or birth mothers you come into contact with. You’re not alone and you can do this.
Emily Perez is a stay-at-home mama to two sweet boys and wife to a handsome electrician living the small-town life in Idaho. She has a BS in Elementary Education from Eastern Oregon University and loved teaching 2nd grade. When she was younger, her parents did foster care and adopted 5 kiddos from all walks of life to be her siblings. She hopes to do foster care and adoption in the future. Along with adoption, her other passions include advocating for mental health and special needs. Emily enjoys being with family and friends, snuggling her babies, playing the piano, singing, reading, and writing. Coffee is her go-to drink for fuel and she loves anything chocolate!