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

December 13, 2012  |  

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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

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