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First Comes Baby, Then Comes Marriage? The story of a pregnant bride

How my "big day" made me a better mom

By chauniebrusie |

When I found out I was pregnant one fateful night following a frantic trip to Rite-Aid during my senior year of college, there seemed to be one overlying question:

Would we get married?

As anyone who experiences an unplanned pregnancy in a committed relationship can tell you, it’s the question that everyone wants to ask. It’s the elephant in the room, the words hanging in the air, waiting to burst out of the mouth of your parents, the grocery store clerk, your next-door neighbor.

It’s the question that my boyfriend of four years, Ben, asked when he proposed to me on a drizzly fall day, the sun bursting out through the rain clouds the moment he dropped to his knees.

Getting engaged while you’re pregnant is a bit like your parents congratulating you for running your junior high track meet – sure, they probably mean it, but in the end, they kind of have to, don’t they?

I wasn’t sure how I felt about anything. I had no idea how to accept the fact that I growing an actual human being inside of me, let alone deal with the fact that in nine short (long) months, I was going to become a mother.

My whole life had already changed, literally overnight. Did I really want to rock the boat even more by jumping into marriage?

The consensus among our small town was that of course we should get married – and soon. The pressure to wed felt overwhelming. People looked at us as if we committed the ultimate sin of getting pregnant out of wedlock, and yet, they somehow thought our getting married would make it all better – that even though the math didn’t really add up, it would still be ok when I popped that kid out as long as I had a ring on my finger.

My mom was the sole voice of reason through the whole thing. She urged me to not to rush into marriage just because I was pregnant. She knew there would be doubts someday as a married woman, and she reminded me that I wouldn’t want those doubts surfacing because of a baby.

Of course, I already had doubts – was Ben just doing his duty? Were we too young to get married? Was I ready for any of this? Did I even want this?

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Bethenny Frankel “owns” her shotgun weddingCeridwen Morris

There were other things too. Like the fact that I wanted my day. I wanted to feel pretty, not pregnant. I wanted to look at Ben and see my husband – not the father of my child. I wanted everything that came with the wedding – the champagne, the dancing, the carefree joy of the day.

A wedding is supposed to be the one day in a woman’s life that is really and truly all about her. The hair, the dress, the jewels – it’s all about the bride.

But in my case, it would be all about the baby.

And then there’s the fact that a wedding is more than a day; it’s a symbol of the perfect life that we all dream about – the beautiful bride, the loving first kiss, the start of happily ever after. We all want the fairytale wedding.

Pregnant brides are not the stuff of fairytales.

Eventually, I had to face my reality, which was that it wasn’t just about me anymore. I had a baby to think of. Worries and questions flashed through my mind as I considered getting married after the baby came: Would I rather have the pregnant body or the postpartum body? Who would watch the baby during the ceremony? Did I want the nurses at the hospital asking me which last name the baby would carry? Could I breastfeed in my wedding gown?

There were practical considerations, too – like the fact that my due date fell on the week of my college graduation, that Ben would still have a semester of school left, that we would be moving, job-seeking, and apartment hunting.

Then again, I knew on our first date that he would be my husband, the shy boy in the striped sweater across the restaurant booth, and we had discussed marriage plans before I found out I was pregnant. Would moving it up a year matter?

And part of me wanted to make a stand for myself and for all the young moms out there like me who still face judgment and hostility for our unplanned pregnancies. I wanted to show that I didn’t care what people thought – that I could be pregnant, get married, and remain happy all while wearing bridal white, thankyouverymuch.

So I did it.

At five months pregnant, after two months of planning, I walked down the aisle. Four hundred guests craned their heads to look at me, not just to see the blushing bride or beautiful dress, but to see if I was starting to show.

Most days, I am confident that I made the right decision in marrying before I gave birth, but on other days, like when I see a bride who can actually fit into her wedding gown, I have my doubts.

I compare the non-pregnant bride’s glow with my own experience, and I wonder about what could have been.

I never thought my wedding would turn out the way it did. I didn’t think I would puke in the parking lot from morning sickness right before wedding dress shopping. I didn’t think I would show off ultrasound pictures at my rehearsal dinner or that I wouldn’t have a bachelorette party or bridal shower. I didn’t think I would call my seamstress, crying and hysterical, when my wedding gown, already let out twice, tore completely down the side with hours to go before the ceremony.

I’d like to give you a neat and tidy ending here, but the truth is, I’m still not sure I did the right thing. Getting married when I was pregnant was hard. It was stressful on both sides of the family, it was rushed, I was exhausted and nauseous, and it felt entirely like too much pretending everything was “normal.” I found myself wanting to stand up in the middle of the ceremony and shout, “I’m pregnant! Everyone knows it, so can we please stop pretending I’m not?” I paused at the part of our church ceremony when they asked if we would accept children into the marriage – how did they expect me to answer that?

In the end, I don’t have an answer for you. I don’t know what the right thing to do is when you are expecting and engaged.

But I can tell you this:

That sometimes, you can re-write the fairytale.

That sometimes, you get to dance with your daughter at your wedding.

That sometimes, all you can do is sip your non-alcoholic champagne, ignore your swollen ankles, and dance the night away.

Ready to say “I do” before the due date? Check out the 10 things all pregnant brides should know.

More on Babble

About chauniebrusie

chauniebrusie

chauniebrusie

Chaunie Brusie is a freelance writer and a young mom of three (soon to be four!). She is the author of Tiny Blue Lines: Reclaiming Your Life, Preparing For Your Baby, and Moving Forward in Faith in an Unplanned Pregnancy. Find her on her blogFacebook, and Twitter. Read bio and latest posts → Read Chaunie's latest posts →

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23 thoughts on “First Comes Baby, Then Comes Marriage? The story of a pregnant bride

  1. Sylvia says:

    “A wedding is supposed to be the one day in a womans life that is really and truly all about her. The hair, the dress, the jewels its all about the bride.” Well, no – weddings are about the couple celebrating their commitment. When did women start latching onto this absurd notion that the man is somehow absent from the wedding except as the reason she gets to be a princess? It’s HIS wedding day, too. Why are women so willing to throw the beauty of coming together out in favor of having a “me” day? Spas are for “me” days – weddings are for the couple.

  2. michellehorton says:

    LOVE this! :)

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m in tears! Thank you for sharing. I was in a long-term relationship with the man I wanted to marry when we were surprised by a positive pregnancy test. I was fresh out of college, he still had two years to go. The months ahead of us were very similar to the way you described it. We were torn. In the end, at 6months pregnant, I walked down the aisle on my daddy’s arm. My empire-waist dress, ivory, but white to the untrained eye. In the moment I dared people to say one word to us about our rearranging the timeline of happily-ever-after. Two years later, I find myself less brave…asking many more questions. I’m challenged by the “what-ifs” often. My sweet husband reassures me each day. He loves us as a family, but he remembers to love me for the girl he met and learned to love even before our daughter came to us. Our decision brings me the greatest moments of delight and happiness yet brings some of my most dark, insecure emotions.

    I’ve felt alone all this time. I’ve never met anyone who can understand and express the emotions I felt. I’ve never ran into another person who has stood where I stood. So thank you, thank you so much for being brave today and sharing. I’ve never told anyone how all of this has made me feel. I’m still scared but feel a little stronger since “meeting” you today and reading your honest words.

  4. Erin Heyman says:

    Thank you so much for this! I am not going to be a pregnant bride (I don’t think anyway haha) but I did have a baby out of wedlock and these are things I think about all the time. I DO get to dance with my son at my wedding and to me, that is amazing :) Thank you again for sharing your story!

  5. Kayt Huff says:

    Thank you! I was actually six months into planning my wedding when I got pregnant. My wedding dress arrived in the mail the day I peed on that stick. I cried and cried, talked it over with my fiance, then we decided to push up the wedding date. I was also five months pregnant when I walked down the aisle. Best choice I made, easy. That was three and a half years ago, and we couldn’t be happier.

  6. LoganClarissa says:

    my best friend’s mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here CashBrave.com

  7. Jesus York says:

    My best friends mom makes $77 an hour on the computer. She has been out of job for 9 months but last month her check was $7487 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read about it here
    http://goo.gl/qE8f5

  8. Amber Doty says:

    Yay! Great piece, Chaunie!

  9. Hannah says:

    I loved the part about re-writing your own fairy-tales. Well said!

  10. Robin Farr says:

    What a great piece, Chaunie. I can feel your emotion through it and can imagine how that would have been less than ideal. Beautiful writing!

  11. Nadia Radosavljevic Beckman says:

    Absolutely beautiful! I loved reading this. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have everyone staring at you like that when you walked down the aisle. I don’t like people staring at me at all, which is why I had a tiny wedding with only immediate family. Anyways, I really enjoyed reading that. :)
    http://www.fitandpreggers.com

  12. Anonymous says:

    I love this article! My now husband and I had our daughter before we got married and the reactions we got when we said we werent getting married before the baby was born were out of this world. I was so upset when people would critisize the great relationship we have because we werent married. We are married now and we bought a house but we did it our way and on our time. I wanted to prepare FULLY for the baby not just half assed becuase i was planning a nice wedding pregnant and sick. I vomited 5-7 times a day everyday of my pregnancy. I got sick the day after she was out! I would not have enjoyed the wedding. And yes sometimes you do dance with your daughter at your wedding. My husband did a father daughter dance with her at our wedding and I loved it. This doesnt make you less of a parent or a bad person, it makes us human. Things happen and we deal. I was fortunate enough to have met the man of my dreams when the pregnancy happened. I love our little family and we look like every other family now… mom,dad,baby, black lab, beautiful home, very nice vehichles, 2 great jobs and love! It doesnt matter how you get here, everyones journey is different, this was ours!

  13. A M says:

    I love your eloquent telling of your story. I’m so impressed that you, pregnant and a full-time student, pulled off a wedding in two months. I can’t imagine doing that. You’re truly amazing!

  14. Nelly Frect says:

    first comes baby….hope you enjoy your bundle of joy…just like when iread here its great…http://is.gd/Yo5fib

  15. MooneyPhoebe says:

    my co-worker’s half-sister makes $84 an hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for 8 months but last month her pay was $8967 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it here http://goo.gl/5kjiI

  16. Unimpressed says:

    “It’s all about the bride.” What a spoiled, narcissistic little girl. Yes, YOU were far too young to get married. And you still are. I pity your husband and your poor little child.

  17. Ceciley says:

    Mrs. Bruise,
    I wanted to thank you for this article! I’m currently 24 weeks pregnant and my fiance and I are getting married on November 26th of this year. We got engaged August 23rd so we’ve been scrambling to get our wedding together, but I know no matter what, everything will be perfect because my husband-to-be and father of my child will be waiting at the end of the aisle for me.

    Eddie and I weren’t together for very long when we got pregnant. To be 100% honest, I was FREAKED OUT when we got the positive pregnancy test. We’d JUST moved in together about 2 or 3 weeks before I peed on the stick. I was so freaked out because I worried how he’d react (My previous relationship before Eddie was abusive and I had been told multiple times that if I ever got pregnant, I’d have to abort or raise the child myself without any support. Needless to say, I was terrified I’d be raising this baby on my own!) Eddie was in the bathroom with me when I took the test. At first it looked negative, then after a few minutes a -slight- pink line appeared. I bawled my eyes out, terrified for my future, our future, and the future of this baby. I remember looking at him, my mouth agape, as he stood there and smiled and laughed. He reached out and held me and hugged me and exclaimed excitedly “I’M GOING TO BE A DADDY!” This was not the reaction I’d expected. Thank God. Within 24 hours, he was kissing my tummy, talking to it and telling it how much he loved it, and discussing our child’s future. Oh and BEGGING to watch baby/pregnancy related movies on Netflix (we watched 9 Months, Knocked Up, and Father of the Bride 2 that night). The thought of marriage didn’t even cross my mind until my parents brought it up. I knew the only thing that mattered was that he’d be there for me and the baby and I was happy with that alone.

    When we came out about the news, we got asked MULTIPLE times by our family, friends, coworkers, etc if we were gonna have a “shotgun wedding”. Like I said, the thought hadn’t even crossed our minds! We talked about it and decided we didn’t want to get married just because of a baby. We discussed getting married AFTER Ava was born, but for the first few months of my pregnancy, we decided that we’d leave that up in the air and not worry about it until later. On our anniversary however, about 15 weeks into my pregnancy, Eddie proposed and we decided we’d tie the knot before our little-one enters the world. We’re READY to be married (and wedding planning seems a little easier while pregnant than while being parents to a newborn).

    I know in my heart that Eddie is “The One” and that he’s going to be the best husband and father anyone could ever ask for.

  18. Roslynn says:

    My husband and I were 6 months away from our wedding date when we made a mistake and ended up pregnant. We weren’t even planning on having sex until the wedding night….but so much for that. We moved our wedding up 3 months and we planned the rest of the weddding in about 6 weeks. That included, cake, caterer, reception hall, invitations, coordinating family, EVERYTHING! We truly believe in marriage before sex (and thus, children), but like you said…we’re human, we make mistakes and we deal. I live with the “what ifs” every day of my life, and even though some days I wish I could take it all back….my sweet little baby will smile at me, or say mama or give me a snuggle and I realize that I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

  19. Guest says:

    I feel so sorry for you having to be stuck with a kid when you least expect it! I think having children in general is a waste of time and I wouldn’t ever want to have a child ever!

    I honestly hate children especially bratty little toddlers and I would have waited until you had the little brat before I walked down the aisle.

    Sad to say but I feel sorry for you and you probably would have to put your career on hold to raise a brat before you ever have to go back and work.

  20. Friend says:

    I’m in a similar situation and still not sure whether to get married before the baby or wait until after. Thank you for sharing your story and best wishes to you and your family :)

    To the guest above, I’m sorry to know that your mother didn’t share your sentiments on children. Reading your post was a waste of time and you are a waste of space.

  21. Alison says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m in the same situation and scouring the internet to find others! We got engaged and found out we were pregnant in the same week. Talk about a lot of life! Since we hadn’t started planning the wedding yet, we haven’t decided yet whether to have it before or after.

  22. Toni says:

    If you don’t want to get married when you’re pregnant, duh….don’t get pregnant before you get married. These girls are idiots. Waww…wawww Not I it’s not all about me, it’s about the baby. Seriously, grow up. You’re going to be a mother. Have a small intimate wedding and put the money you would have spent on the big wedding into a savings account for a house, a new car, or here’s an idea, college for your new baby. This generation wants to have it’s cake and eat it too. I want sex before marriage, I want to live with my boyfriend, but if I should get pregnant, then I still want a huge fuss made over me. Please….for the sake of these innocent babies, grow up.

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