When I looked down at the two tiny blue lines of my positive pregnancy test a mere four weeks into my senior year of college, my first thought was…
Actually, I can’t exactly write what my first thought was, so I’ll tell you my second thought.
Never mind, there was no second thought; it was mostly just incoherent sobbing. On to the third thought,
I knew that my life would change with a baby. (Yes, that might be the biggest understatement of the century, but give me a break, would you? I was only 21, after all.) I spent the next nine months changing everything that I had ever known and focusing a lot on what I — as a woman and a mother — needed and wanted out of life. But one of the most important aspects of my life and my pregnancy really got pushed to the wayside: My relationship with my then-boyfriend, turned husband as I rounded the corner into my third trimester.
So in honor of those bases we may have glossed over, or skipped all together, I present — the surprising ways that an unplanned pregnancy can affect your relationship.
1. It Can Make Your Relationship Even Stronger
“One of my favorite pictures from our wedding day was the one with me, my new husband, and our six-month-old daughter,” says Tara Pringle Jefferson, a blogger at The Young Mommy Life. “We had found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant the year before and since we were crazy in love, we made it official and got engaged. Being pregnant changed everything about our lives, as it should have. I was cranky. He was bewildered at where the sweet, happy, carefree woman he loved had gone. It was an adjustment for both of us, becoming a family while still learning how to be a couple. We didn’t always know when to focus on our marriage or when to focus on our daughter. The lines were very blurry. But we managed to stick it out together in a way that might not have happened if we had waited longer to have children.”
2. One Word: Hormones
The stress that an unplanned pregnancy can bring can be crazy intensified by all of those pregnancy hormones–and unfortunately, that stress might just take an outlet in the form of fighting with your partner. “As I continued to work throughout my pregnancy I found myself being extra hormonal, stressed, scared and feeling alone, which made for some pretty epic fights with my now husband, who was feeling the same way (minus the hormone changes),” explains Jacquelyn, a professional photographer.
3. It Might Make The First Year Of Marriage More Challenging
If you choose married parenting in the wake of an unplanned pregnancy, you might discover that that blissful newlywed status takes on a difference face with a baby. “I’m not going to lie, once we were married, it wasn’t all roses,” says Jacquelyn. “We still had a lot of learning to do about each other and it was challenging because we had a third person in our relationship…our son. However, as our son grows, we have grown tremendously in our marriage. I feel like every challenge we’ve faced, it has brought us closer together and I can honestly say I love my husband more today than I did yesterday.”
4. But Not Neccessarily
I was one of those women who choose to get married after I found out that I was pregnant. And honestly, although you do hear a lot about how that first year of marriage can be hard, I felt like our first year of marriage was simple happiness. I mean, it wasn’t blissful, of course, and there was a lot of stressful situations going on (unemployment, hospitalizations, night shifts), but compared to the obstacle of facing parenthood as college seniors? Piece.of.cake. Delicious wedding cake. (No, really our cake was really good.)
5. It Will Test Your Relationship
Wondering if your man is “the one”? Wonder no more with this exclusive new and simple test, designed to let you know if your man is destined to be your partner in life–the pregnancy test! No, but for real. “When my boyfriend and I found out I was having a baby, it presented us with a challenge,” explains Mandy Lange, a teacher and blogger at B Sides: The Amateur Mom. “We had been serious about each other even before we had officially dated, but our words were put to trial in the weeks following my positive test result. Would our words actually have meaning? Were we ready to sacrifice everything- from our comfortable career plans to our bank accounts- for our dream of a family? I don’t think you’re ever really ready to make a decision like that- you just have to take the plunge, and we did. The months that followed were the most painful of my life, but we made it through by relying on each other. The best decision I’ve ever made was to start a family with the man I’ve loved since I met him.”
6. It Might Make You Get Married For The Right Reasons, Not The Wrong Ones
Although the majority of women that I interviewed for this article chose to get married, I wanted to include this word about unplanned pregnancy and marriage: I think a surprise pregnancy can help you really evaluate what you want out of a life partner, because frankly, there is always going to be that lingering question of, am I getting married for the baby or for me? And as much as you may want to, getting married for the wrong reasons is simply not right and a pregnancy might help you see that more than ever. Marriage is hard, kids or no kids, and the last thing you need is wondering if you got married for the right reason.
7. It Can Make You More Grateful For Your Partner
As Michelle Horton of Early Mama explains, an unplanned pregnancy can put your relationship into perspective. “It completely changed our relationship,” Michelle says. “It made us a family, more than any document or vow ever could. It led us to marriage — probably sooner than we would have otherwise. And while we’ve had our struggles, and I’ve wondered at times if we would still be together had we not had an unplanned pregnancy, I’m grateful for my marriage each day. It gave us a reason to stay together and to keep working on ourselves. My unplanned pregnancy was — without a doubt — the most life-changing, eye-opening blessing I’ve ever received.”
8. It Can Help You Grow Up Together
This one comes courtesy of my husband. When I asked him what he thought our unplanned pregnancy changed the most about our relationship, he had this to say: “I know everyone says you need to be your own person before, but I think it helped us to want to grow old together. We grew up together because we were babies having babies.”
9. Your Roles Can Be Reversed
Amy Scerra, an entrepreneur who recently launched Think Global Institute, a non-profit organization that helps launch women entrepreneurs, shares how her boyfriend took the news that she was pregnant unexpectedly. “Steve, my big bodybuilder, my broad-shouldered protector, Green Bay Packer die-hard fan, went completely white. Blood drained from his face. He stood up and I felt nervous that he was going to faint. He paced all over the living room and didn’t say anything.” Whereas Amy was used to Steve being her protectant and looking out for her, she had to take the reins and tell him, as she relates, “Thankfully, I’m the cool-as-a-cucumber in our family. I basically told him that balance was bullshit and that a baby should be even more reason for us to pursue our dream.”