I'll never forget what some of my friends and coworkers said when they heard the news that I was having a baby. "Congratulations?!?!???" I probably didn't seem like the mothering type, what with my aversion to maturity and my affection for bars. And cigarettes. And pain killers. And sleeping late.
But there I was, knocked up. It was actually a lot like the movie Knocked Up, except I was more like Seth Rogen's character and my husband was more like Seth Rogen's character. But we totally read the baby books.
Oh, the things people said. "Must be the clock ticking," and, "Well, she's in her thirties." You know what women who are in their thirties are right, like? It's like, 29, 30, 31, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, 33, 34, Witch Who Guards the Gingerbread House And Eats Children, 35, dead.
Now that you're accidentally pregnant, some people might tiptoe around you, because maybe you're fucked up about it? Other people act like it's great news if you planned it and even if you didn't — who gives a shit? Babies are great! Still other people can never quite get over YOU with a BABY. (Thirties! Also: you!)
Seriously: You? Remember how you puked out of your car while driving that one time, leaving the entire side of your Honda Civic covered in fettuccine? That will never stop being a thing people know about you.
But there's good news: You're not just some loose, birth-control forgetting puker in her thirties. People in this country are actually better at planning to watch Game of Thrones then deciding when or if to have a baby. A recent study says 49% of pregnancies are unplanned in this country.
Forty-nine percent! I know what you're thinking — that can't all be Britney Spears. But isn't the stereotype of the mother behind the unplanned pregnancy the low-class redneck, the slutty chick who's too dumb to use birth control, the teen moms and the promiscuous college students? Turns it out it's a lot of people. Probably your mom, even. Ask her!
What I really don't get is the stigmata. I mean stigma. (I actually really don't get stigmata either.) What's the big diff? I never tried to pretend that my baby wasn't a happy accident. You're not a worse mother because you weren't sure if you wanted a baby or not. In some ways, I would argue that this can actually make you a better, more realistic mother. If I had studied in college like I studied for having a baby I'd be writing this from my desk on a space station where I'd have a job as a really well-paid smart person who lived in space because I knew so much I couldn't even live on earth anymore.
Sure, I didn't have a baby name stored in a firebox since I was 5 or a hope chest with a nursery theme already picked out by age 11, but my circumstances meant I would approach this baby as the enormous responsibility that it is, because I was terrified shitless of fucking it up. I'm not saying people who plan to have babies are cavalier about it. I'm just saying that if you always know from day one with complete certainty that you want something, you might gloss over the bad stuff, minimize the sacrifices, or treat it as something inevitable and not as much as the awe-inspiring choice that it is.
I found out a few good things: I happen to work better on a firm deadline. I happen to pay loads more attention when the situation involves what you might call a dramatic twist. And, my very own swell season (ankle joke!) had built-in suspense from the get go, all the more wild a ride because of how little time I had to get up to speed.
I'm not implying it was a walk in the space park. The preparation and ensuing emotional upheaval — hormones! FEELINGS! — was, in short, the single most consuming existential plunge of my life, all the more difficult because of the fast turnaround. But the doubt and the examination only made my faith in my decision stronger.
And, of course, now I have an amazing double rainbow of a baby who proves why all the shittiest stuff about parenting is totally worth it. The shitty stuff is still shitty — make no mistake — but that doesn't change the double rainbow payoff, and in many ways it enhances it.
What's perhaps even more amazing on a logistical level is how quickly you can stockpile money, clean a house, get your affairs in order, and rearrange your life when every fucking thing depends on it. If only I could get pregnant every time we wanted to take a vacation or buy a house. Besides, in that sense, I technically did plan my pregnancy — right after I found out I was prego, I decided I was going to keep it. And it is still hands-down the best impulse purchase I ever made.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She has still never actually seen Game of Thrones.
Image by Jim Cooke.