Help, I’m newly married and pregnant

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Yes, this is a photo of a stick with pee on it.
Yes, this is a photo of a stick with pee on it.

Dear Bronwyn,

I just found out that I am pregnant and have only been married 5 months! We were diligently taking birth control, I am in the middle of my graduate program & my husband makes very little money. How are we to handle such a big change that we did NOT plan on having for another 4 or 5 years?                                   – Not Ready

Dear Not Ready,

I well remember feeling so broke and afraid of getting pregnant when we first moved to the US. We were newly married, had no money and very little support and I couldn’t afford any health care at all. I think I would have collapsed on the floor weeping at first if that pregnancy test had two positive little lines.

It is a BIG surprise. And it means BIG changes for you. But this is one of those classic examples where we have to say that while man makes plans, The Lord ultimately directs our steps. And the things we know to be true about Him is that He is good. He loves you. And He calls us, just like Jesus said to the disciples in the boat in mark 6 when the waves were threatening to engulf them, to not be afraid, but to have faith.

Jesus will lead you through this.

I remember a few years into our marriage doing some reading and being convicted that I had had some very wrong thinking about marriage and kids. I realized I had been making pro and con lists about whether and when we should have kids. And then at some point it was as if God said to me: “Bronwyn, I have said that children are a BLESSING. By definition that means they are a PRO. why are you making pro and con lists when I already told you which it is?” It was hard to hear at first, but actually greatly freeing for me.

God has obviously decided that right now you get to be blessed with this pregnancy. He intends it for good. You are definitely old enough. You are married enough.

You are ten years older than Mary was when God chose her to be the mother of Jesus.
And you have more marital experience than she.
And you have better health care.
And you have the spirit of the living God jnside you.
You are going to do GREAT. Have faith: if God has called you to this, He will equip and provide!

As far as feeling ready or prepared for parenting…. Well, let me just say that I don’t think we are ever really READY to be parents. It’s a huge big surprising adventure in grace. God gives us pregnancy months not just to grow a baby, but also to grow us. By the time baby comes, we are as ready as we will ever be – and in God’s grace, it will be enough. We don’t get a second shot at anything in parenting: we are never ready for babies, or for the first time our kids sass us, or the first time they really hurt themselves, or for them to be teenagers. Parenting is all about living in the moment by Gods grace.

On a practical note: your ob-gyn may not see you for several weeks. A doctor may consider your home test sufficient proof and only schedule a first visit and ultrasound at around 10-12 weeks, so it is possible you will have a few weeks to wait. If so, here’s my advice:

  • Take pre natal vitamins. Start this TODAY and don’t delay. The big thing with prenatals is the folic acid which, in the first weeks of baby’s life, eradicate the possibility of spina biffida. If you get nauseous taking them, try taking them with food or at different times of the day. But do take them.
  • Even if you’re planning to keep this a secret for a while, tell a handful of people. The first trimester is sometimes easy going, but sometimes rough. It is exhausting physically, especially around weeks 8-11, and you may need help and grace from friends. Also, if something does happen with the baby, you will need support. Trust me on this: we had one miscarriage and I was glad I had told just a few people. I needed them.
  • Finally, look into state sponsored prenatal care, which may cover many (if not all) your prenatal costs, and possibly also your baby’s healthcare for the first year of their life. If you already have health care, state health care will pick up the co-pay/deductibles etc. In our case, we were only be able to apply after the first ultrasound as we had to take in the picture to prove your pregnancy, but it was totally worth the red tape and the wait. We were SO THANKFUL for it. The state support for young families made us all the more willing to pay tax dollars in the years that followed.

You are going to be okay! There is a community of older, godly women which God has prepared JUST FOR YOU to give you all the advice, help, nurture and encouragement you need. He will give you more mothers to bear you up as you set out on this new journey of being a mother yourself.

I hope this helps. You and your husband are starting out on a grand adventure. You may not be ready to hear this yet, but CONGRATULATIONS!

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11 thoughts on “Help, I’m newly married and pregnant”

  1. Congratulations to this couple! I knew a couple of women who were pregnant during graduate school (both unplanned pregnancies), and the professors and other students were very supportive. Both women made it through grad school, too.

    Bronwyn, you’ve given them great advice.

  2. Our two unexpected pregnancies (five years apart) both in grad school met with the same sentiment as “Not Ready.” But we soon realized that grad school is not a bad time at all to have kids! We qualified for the California health coverage for the pregnancy and then for our baby. Grad health insurance covered the delivery. More than that, babies and kiddos have an amazing knack for helping a parent distinguish between the urgent and the important. That can be challenging but ultimately good for the grad student (who can always use help with that distinction, in my experience anyway). Another plus was this: there is often flexibility to the graduate pace of life, and I was so grateful for the time I got to take just being home! The best part of all though, these little people are amazing and I can’t imagine our family without them. So, Not Ready, I don’t think being “ready” in the way we imagine it is always the most important (or even the necessary) thing. It can be convenient, but it can also be deceiving. Seeing the unexpected gift in this timing, with its challenges and benefits, can open up a new kind of gratitude. Congrats!

  3. Congratulations, new mama!!! Fabulous wisdom for a 1st time mom! Bronwyn, can I add 2 things to your list as someone who is currently in the “1st time mama” phase myself?
    ***my son is 8 months old***
    1) When I was preggo I felt like I knew nothing about how to be a mama to a newborn baby so I read a ton of books, particularly on the topic of sleep. In hindsight, I think that it would have been more helpful to not read as many books and instead have one book on hand that I could reference if I wanted ideas. Even though you may not feel ready, God will give you the wisdom and intuition you need to care for your baby as no one else could. Go with your gut, mama.
    2) Connect with other new moms – I seriously cannot recommend this enough. Hunt down your resources before your baby arrives and plan to connect. I joined a “new parent support group” through a local baby store when my son was born. There is nothing more encouraging to a new mom that to be in a room with other moms who are in EXACTLY the same place as you. In my mama group we had about half grad students, half working professionals, and all mamas of babies under 5 months. If you live in a place where these groups don’t exist, join a mommy facebook group or be ready to text message a friend with little ones. (Bronwyn can give you my cell or email address if you don’t have friends with babies.) Being connected with other moms is the most encouraging thing ever.
    You’ve got this, mama! Congratulations!!!!

  4. New mama,
    My son is now 15 months old and when I found out I was pregnant, I had pretty much decided I was very content with the idea of never having a child.

    I can only say one thing. Best. Oops. Ever. My beautiful son has transformed my life in ways I had never imagined and designed only by God. He is a wonderful gift and teaches me new things everyday. He is a huge joy in my life and has given me insight into what Christ’s love for us looks like.

    All of this after I spent my pregnancy very anxious, overwhelmed, afraid and resentful. All I can say is that your life will be changes in amazing ways! Congratulations and much prayer for you!

  5. Wonderful advice, Bronwyn! I have one addition, if I may:

    Having other moms your age to share and compare, to commiserate and mutually despair and encourage is wonderful. It’s a comfort to realize you are not in this boat alone. But it’s also good to have the help of someone who has made it OUT of the boat and is safely on land.

    The Talmud says there are two gifts that are important to give yourself: One is a teacher, and the other is a friend.

    So, besides other moms in the same stage of life, find an older mom, one who has been there, tried the ideas, and come out the other side with some wisdom gained by experience. “Older women, teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2

    Just two cents tossed into the boat from a Grammy who hit land long ago.

  6. I had two babies while doing my phd and although it was hard it was doable. Plan to give yourself a break from everything but the baby at the beginning but as things get a bit easier (I found the first 6 weeks the hardest) sometimes it is really nice to have something different and stimulating to do if you are carrying on with studying.

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  9. Thank you so much for this post. We are in a somewhat similar situation, except we haven’t taken a pregnancy test yet because I have been top terrified to. We use natural family planning so I have my chart showing that I am about 3 days past when my period should begin, and I just had the courage to tell my husband about the possibility of pregnancy tonight. This post was just what I was looking for. Thank you for reminding me that God is in control, God will provide, and babies are blessings. God bless you!

    1. Hi Lisa, Thank you SO much for taking the time to comment. I am really encouraged that this post found you at just the right time! I said a prayer for you and your husband right when i read this, and I really would love to hear should it turn out to be a positive result!

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