Congrats? What Do You Say To A Married Friend Who Is Unhappily Dealing With An Unplanned Pregnancy?

37 Comments
December 13, 2012 ‐ By Alissa Henry
"Pregnant black woman"

Source: Shutterstock.com

When my friend texted me “I’m pregnant,” I didn’t know what to say. I was certain she wasn’t fishing for a, “Congratulations!!!” because the lack of enthusiasm – even through iMessage – was evident.

She and her husband just celebrated their one-year anniversary, but I knew she was not wanting to have kids anytime soon. “We’re on the five-year plan” she’d told me a few weeks after the wedding.

Her employment situation was as stable as it can be considering that she worked at a retail store for seven years, yet they refused to promote her to manager because she doesn’t have a college degree. She finally quit that job and only recently got another at a better store with better pay. Her husband owns his own business, but the high time was in the summer and, during the winter months, business is virtually non-existent. He recently began working third shift at a local company. Not only do they not necessarily want kids right now, they also aren’t as financially prepared as they want to be either. I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to pry, but I’m fairly certain they don’t have health insurance. It’s a situation that many newlyweds find themselves in but you never see an “Ugh, we’re pregnant” Facebook status update.

When you’re married, everyone expects you to begin popping out kids like they’re free to take care of. There’s sympathy for the teen mom when she gets pregnant by a random highschool dropout, but when you’re a wife, you’re expected to be excited about your pregnancy. When my friend and I finally talked, I could already tell that she’d been “comforted” by less than comforting statements from other people such as: “At least you have a husband to help you” and “there are some women who can’t even have kids”.

What blows my mind about both of those statements is, just because you have a husband to “help you” doesn’t mean you want to have kids at that moment. And just because some couples cannot have kids, doesn’t improve your financial situation. People truly say the darndest things sometimes.

According to the CDC, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned and some of those unplanned pregnancies happen during a marriage. Unfortunately, you can take precautions like using contraceptives and/or the calendar method – like my friend did — but if you absolutely do not want to get pregnant then there are really only two things you can do: refrain from having sex or have the factory removed. If neither is an option, then you just have to be as cautious as you can and hope for the best.

It felt weird talking to my friend about her pregnancy because I’ve never been in her shoes and, as I told my husband, I would be just as devastated as she is if that happened to us. I want to be comforting, encouraging, supportive and positive, and I believe I can be those things without having experienced what she is going through. Still, what do you say to someone in that situation?

Initially, I didn’t really say anything. I congratulated her and told her she is going to be the cutest little pregnant lady ever, but most of all, she’ll be a terrific mom. After that, I just let her talk. She talked to me about the disbelief, how she’d taken four pregnancy tests before believing the results. She talked about her fears and that she enjoyed being a wife but didn’t feel grownup enough to be a mom. She talked to me about being thrilled and nervous at the exact same time. She talked about being self-conscious and how long she waited before telling anyone. She talked about her job and how much she loved it but wasn’t looking forward to being pregnant on her feet all day. She talked about her apartment and that she and her husband wanted to begin looking for a house. She talked about her husband and that he was excited, but he works third shift so they barely see each other anymore. She talked and I listened because that’s what friends do.

Next, I think I’ll go online and look up some things to put into a “Mommy-To-Be” care package and mail to her. She lives about six hours away, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be there for her in spirit.

Life is full of surprises and getting pregnant when you weren’t expecting it – whether you’re married or not – is definitely a huge surprise. But as her friend, one thing she can count on is that I’ll do my best to be there for her. And, should I ever (God forbid!!!) find myself joining the ranks of the 50% of women who didn’t plan their pregnancy, I hope I’ll have a friend who will be there for me.

Have you ever had a friend dealing with an unplanned pregnancy? What did you do?

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • Pivyque

    I was the one in that situation and my friends didn’t know what to say! Lol They knew better than to say congrats. They asked if I was ok, was I going to get an abortion, was I going to tell my husband….Smh. Terrible. Married or not, there is nothing worse than being pregnant when you don’t want a kid lol I’m serious tho..

    • bits

      so did you keep the baby?

      • Pivyque

        Yeah. My husband got excited at the idea of a “little him” and convinced me to keep it…which was surprising in itself because we got married with the agreement that we wouldn’t have kids.

        • bits

          how do you feel now that you made the decision to keep your son? and btw thank you for sharing your story here. its good to get different perspectives.

          • Pivyque

            Well, it was a girl. Lol I was only a few weeks when I found out and tried to get an abortion, so we didn’t know the gender. He just had the idea in his head that it would be a boy. How do I feel? It’s life. A lot of sacrifices had to be made and, as the mother, the majority of said sacrifices fell on me. So, was I thrilled? No. She’s older now, so I get a lot more “me time” than I did when she was an infant/toddler. It gets better as they become more independent, but if I could do it over again, I would have gotten the abortion and I would not have uttered a word to my husband about the pregnancy.

            • bits

              There are a lot of women who feel the exact same way. People are usually quick to judge when a woman says she doesn’t want children but its honorable for a woman to know who she is and what she wants despite “tradition” or status quo. All the best to you and your family. Thanks again for sharing.

              • Pivyque

                No problem! Thank you :-)

            • renni

              wow, you see and interact with your child and you still say if you could’ve done it over again you would’ve gotten an abortion. Some things shouldn’t be said cause that’s real cold, right there.

              • Pivyque

                I don’t think it’s cold. I love my kids to death, but like i’ve said before, there are sacrifices that I had to make because of the path I chose. If I had to choose it again, I would go a different route. My life is nowhere near the way I planned. That’s neither good nor bad, but I knew that I wanted to live my life for me and that is why I never wanted kids. Until they are 18, you have to live your life for them. If you don’t feel that way, kudos to you. I’m just not the maternal type. I’ve learned how to be all the things my mother was for me, but it didn’t come easy or naturally for me. Luckily, she was there to help me.

  • bits

    first of all great article. second it is really a shame when any woman married or unmarried feels burdened by a pregnancy and i blame society. too much emphasis is put on people working down to their bones only to receive no pay or health insurance (although the affordable care act will be kicking in soon).In this society the belief is to work until your hands bleed and people like the pregnant woman in this article are left feeling hopeless even though they work their hardest to be financially secure. their are so many women who spend their entire young adulthood working for pennies just to pay off student loans or hell keep the lights on and then when they turn around its too late and they can’t have children. In some countries women are given PAID maternity leave. Pregnancy is not celebrated in this country and its sad because new life should never be looked as a burden.

    • Ms. Kameria

      It is, because as hard as it already is economically why would someone have another mouth to feed aka “burden”, and more than likely the woman is left to take care of the child herself. jmo

    • Pivyque

      If you don’t want kids, it is a burden whether you are financially stable or not.

  • Shuga_B

    As a newlywed, with a plan to wait for children, i understand to a certain degree where your friend is coming from, having a child when your not totally ready is scary, however i also realize that if poor precautions are taken to prevent pregnancy, then its bound to happen and there has to be some level of accountability for that. There are options are out there, and you have to do your research to find them. As for advice…once the initial shock wears off, be supportive as you have already stated and encourage your friend to find joy in the fact that she is about to be a mother, one of life’s most amazing experiences, right now she can begin to educate herself on resources and supportive groups and networks that she can utilize. Sulking over something that is now out of her hands will only make her situation worse by adding stress and could cause complications for her and the baby she is now carrying. I pray your friend and her husband find the peace and joy they need to celebrate the newness that is to come for them. Everything else will fall into place if they stay positive and hopeful.

    • chanela

      i only read the beginning part of your comment and i am FLOORED! i had no idea that so many grown MARRIED women felt this way. if a 26 year old married woman with a job feels like she’s not ready to have a baby, just imagine all these 14 and 15 year old girls having babies left and right with no job, still in high school, and with a boyfriend that shes had for 3 weeks. crazy. i can’t believe there are so many teen moms. that is so scary!

    • chanela

      i only read the beginning part of your comment and i am FLOORED! i had no idea that so many grown MARRIED women felt this way. if a 26 year old married woman with a job feels like she’s not ready to have a baby, just imagine all these 14 and 15 year old girls having babies left and right with no job, still in high school, and with a boyfriend that shes had for 3 weeks. crazy. i can’t believe there are so many teen moms. that is so scary!

  • Gye Nyame

    Not trying to sound like an obgyn, but when you want long term birth control you go with an IUD. They have the no hormone IUD, and low hormone IUD…IJS.

    • bits

      i got preggers while on the IUD…IJS

      • Pivyque

        A few of my friends did too. Smh.

      • Gye Nyame

        Well if you had an IUD the doctor told you it was 99% effective, no form of BC is 100% except abstinence which is not going to take place in a marriage. But for MOST women that want long term BC it works well. People love pointing out the exceptions as if most women with IUDs get pregnant…stop it. More importantly my issue is not with failed BC…ish happens, but I take issue with people saying they don’t want children but they don’t take necessary or realistic precautions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.f.vorhees Jason Fangz Vorhees

    Im curious to know how many woman payed to the changes in obamacare. do all women and young girls know now that with a perscription that birth control is free? that includes the ring and IUDs.

    • Charla

      Many states are still appealing the new healthcare mandate while the other ones don’t have to fully implement anything until 2014. Meaning birth control is not free yet. Although there are many clinics in urban areas that give it for free or reduced prices.

    • Ms. Kameria

      It is, but I guess some women won’t take the time to research on where to get contraceptives,(that they most likely wouldn’t have to pay for) or if they do it will be because they’ve already had about 4 or 5 (children) and its too late.

  • Kaori

    I wouldn’t say anything really.

    • pretty1908

      me neither…. i would ask where was she registered at for the baby’s shower.

  • Nikki

    If she wanted to be sure that she wasn’t getting pregnant until 5 years from now why didn’t she go on the pill? The failure rate is extremely low.

    The only reasons I can think of are religious and don’t like the effects of the pill. There’s still the sponge, the patch, condoms, the ring, IUDs, etc.

    • Ms. Kameria

      Right…..some form of protection should be used. It’s common sense.

      • Pivyque

        Doesn’t always work.

        • Ms. Kameria

          IF she really didn’t want to get pregnant, then she would have found something that will work…..

      • chanela

        you would THINK that its common sense but have you seen the amount of teenagers with babies? then being 23 everybody that is my age is already on their 3rd child definitely not common sense. that’s non existent nowadays

        • Ms. Kameria

          I see it everyday, and I see the amount of grown people with babies that they didn’t want to have. I’m 24 and have managed very well to keep from getting pregnant. Like I said before, if a woman knows for a fact that she doesn’t want to have kids (at any point in her life at any age) she knows or will find out how to keep from getting pregnant. The only differences between the young lady in the article and a young woman/ teenager is the fact that she is married, and the father of her child is in the actual household. As many new contraceptives that are created each year, there is no reason why a woman should get pregnant if she really doesn’t want a child….she’ll find a way not to get knocked up.

          • chanela

            this is exactly what i’ve said. there is too much damn rapidly evolving technology in this world for so many women to just pop up pregnant.

            BUT! some people can be truly on the dumb side. i know a girl who just found out that shes pregnant and i saw it coming because she would ask me EVERY WEEK how you are supposed to take your birth control. even though her pack came with directions and i’ve told her multiple times that you simply take it every single day at the same time. she would still just get frustrated and give up. now shes pregnant and unprepared.

            seriously, how hard is it to set a damn alarm to take your pill everyday? SMH

    • Guest360

      She doesn’t have health insurance that would pay for the pill, IUDs, etc. Condoms protect against pregnancy MOST of the time but they are hardly a reliable method to use for long term birth control.

      • moemiel

        but condoms n oral contraceptives are 99.99% effective. they prolly stopped using condoms.

        • Pivyque

          Yeah. We stuck with regular condoms (until it broke and we got a baby…) for a while, but now we use the female condoms (and spermicide…just in case). They’ve been great for keeping no buns in this oven.

      • SHEBABY

        SHE COULD HAVE WENT TO THE HEALTH DEPT THEY WORK ON A SLIDING SCALE SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN AN IUD AND WHEN YOU ARE ON A SLIDING
        SCALE YOU BARELY PAY ANYTHING!! NO EXCUSES!!

      • Annonymous

        She doesn’t need health insurance. Planned Parenthood will gladly provide some forms of birth control. I had a lapse in coverage and had to resort to going to PP. I got a year supply of BC pills. If I remember correctly, the pills were free or just a few dollars. But nothing that would break your pockets.

        • Ms. Kameria

          Exactly. If she really didn’t want to get pregnant, she could have done something to make sure it didn’t happen.