“Either you got a boob job or you are prego. Your boobs look HUGE!” Lynn announces. It was the end of a busy night at the restaurant where I waited tables and I was hunched over wiping down a shelf full of condiments. I took a deep breath, put down the mini mustard and say to Lynn, “Unless the University is giving out student vouchers for books and a boob job, I think it’s safe to say I must be prego.”
Lynn’s face turned the color of the ketchup I was wiping and I could have swept the floor with her jaw. Normally I would have fallen over laughing at her reaction, but I had only known that I was unexpectedly expecting a baby for a few weeks, and I was still busy picking my own jaw up off the floor.
That was four years and nine months ago, but lately I have noticed an influx of my friends and acquaintances who have come down with a case of the “Unexpected Pregnancy,” or they, like my friend Lynn said upon finding out I was pregnant, “got knocked the fu$k up!” I would like to point out that I am intentionally not using the expression “Unplanned Pregnancy.” I imagine that those are words that are most often whispered by not so well-meaning individuals around water coolers and hors d’oeuvre tables. “Unplanned Pregnancy,” is an expression that implies some sort inherent flaw in the mother to be, as if she was too callous and/or lazy to bother planning her pregnancy. I prefer the expression “Unexpected Pregnancy.” It sounds like a zany surprise, a last-minute house guest, or a freak weather pattern, and best of all there is no judgment. I mean, an unexpected house guest could happen to any one of us.
So now that we have the terminology down, I’d like to share a few of the things I learned during my own unexpected experience. Here is what NOT to do when you are expecting: please, please, please, for the love of God, do not go out and buy that book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” If you insist on buying it please read it slowly and sparingly, not obsessively and compulsively, like I did. Let me be clear, this book could scare the maternity jeans off even the most courageous mom-to-be. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a bunch of prego-elitist fear mongering and no matter how much I bitch, I’ll never get back that hours of sleep and general sense of peace I lost due to reading that book. The text will go into long detail about birth defects that effect something like one in every one million babies that are born under a full moon. Then it will heap on guilt and have you believe that if your baby did have this rarest of birth defects it would most certainly be your fault. Everything from Alka-Seltzer to zucchini is hypothesized to have some adverse effect to your unborn child. “What to Expect” will make you feel confused, paranoid and completely inadequate, and these are two areas in which pregnant women need no additional help.
Now, what TO do (the very, very abbreviated version): Go ahead and get over all your preconceived notions of what a mom should be, which are probably based on what your mom was (or was not) and what society says a mom should be. Guess what? This is your experience, your life, and you get to determine what kind of mom you want to be. You want to make casseroles in your Manolo Blahnik’s? You want to make organic casseroles in your Tom’s? You never want the word casserole mentioned again in your presence? Great, fine, whatever, because you are in charge now and this is one of the few perks of being an adult.
Immediately after this first step, proceed to step two: get over all your fears, insecurities and doubts about your ability as a mother. So, you’re unmarried? So, you don’t have the perfect job? So, none of your friends have kids? So you are afraid you don’t have a maternal bone in your body? So, your friends don’t quite trust you with their house plants let alone their children, your idea of cooking is a microwave chicken pot pie and you find the idea of breast-feeding simply repulsive? Well, this is my advice: So what? Really, it does not matter.
Line up all those feeling of inadequacy, look ‘em in their beady lil eyes and say, “So what?” Because, you are about to live outside of what you ever thought yourself capable of and you will look back and say to yourself, “damn, I did that!” Sounds deceptively simple, but make no mistake it’s actually one of the most difficult things I’ve ever faced. But it’s worth it.
Take it from me, an admittedly somewhat selfish girl who found herself: pregnant, unmarried, in a dead-end relationship, with no nearby family, a waitress, a college student, with little to no personal example of what being a good mother was, and with the strong suspicion that I had accumulated enough liquor over the years that milk would immediately curdle upon making contact with my breasts, it is very much worth it.
There is a sign above my son’s bed that says, “I am a Dream Come True.” The thing is, when he first came into my life I didn’t know this, but now I know there are no words that are truer.
And my last piece of advice is: what you should expect while you are unexpectedly expecting is that you will rise to the occasion of creating the perfect situation for you and your loved ones, as only you can do.
Enjoy, and just be glad THIS can’t happen: