A (Double) Surprise Pregnancy Story

Shane Tarpley writes:

I am reposting this article/ blog that is from a great friend in California. Laura is a very close friend and has experienced the ups and downs of family conception. I am sharing this post from her blog as encouragement and strength to any and all who may have or will face the trials of parenthood and joys of raising a family. She is an excellent and well versed writer. I hope you enjoy today's blog.

Laura Ziesel writes:

Today I have a great guest post to share with you. After my post on The Sorrow of Conception , which mentioned the grief surprise pregnancies can cause, I received this post from a dear friend. Desiring to stay anonymous to the Google-able world, he still wanted to share his story.

He has been married since 2005 to his high school sweetheart. Unbeknownst to family and friends (that was me!), his wife was already pregnant when they got married. He and his wife welcomed their first daughter in 2006 and their second daughter in 2007. Both were surprise pregnancies. And, to top it all off, my friend and his wife were both sophomores in college when they found out they were pregnant with their first daughter. He and his wife have since completed college, work full-time, and lead a youth ministry.

He has some great things to share. I hope you enjoy his story.


What were the fears you felt before having kids?

Where do I start? To say we were scared is a great understatement; we were terrified! Many thoughts raced through our minds, such as: How could we afford it? What would we have to sacrifice in order to care for this baby properly? Do we breast feed or use formula? What about insurance and medical cost, house or apartment, toys, diapers, routine schedule? These were the types of questions that relentlessly raced through our minds.

The biggest thing that stuck out though, above any other question, was this: What would our families think? It meant so much for us to please our families that we were in such despair over the fact that we had conceived against what we had been taught was wrong on so many levels. Obviously the marriage part was not an option at this point. (In our minds, neither was the baby.) We thought we could play it off being that my wife was still so small and fit into her wedding dress. We planned to pretend that we had just gotten pregnant on the honeymoon! Were we ever foolish (this is what sinful thinking does). So that was our first fear: loosing the support of our family.

Our second fear was very much financial. We counted the cost of our marriage way before I had even proposed and found that we had just enough to cover our needs. So now, two months before we were to wed, there was an extra body in the picture. How could we ever afford to get married, much less raise a baby? We moved back home from Atlanta [where they were in college]. We bought a house, which was cheaper per month than renting in Atlanta. We knew that my wife would have to be out of work for quite some time to properly care for the baby, so we started saving every penny would could. We sacrificed family time with parents and grandparents because it meant traveling and spending gas. While we distanced ourselves physically from family, we were very much in touch. They planned grand and elaborate showers, giving us a plethora of supplies. The outpouring of support from our families totally suppressed the first fear, as well as helped alleviate our financial needs.

Our third fear was the fact that we were still so young ourselves. How could we, sophomores in college, even begin to generate the brain waves capable of caring for someone other than ourselves? We, as most new parents or soon-to-be parents are, were very self centered. We very much enjoyed our free time and privacy. Now we had to divide time between husband, wife, and baby!

I will tell you though, as time drew closer to the birth, these fears took a brief hiatus and were supplanted by excitement. It was like waiting for Christmas; the anxiousness of awaiting the arrival of the perfect gift caved in on the fears of being unprepared or irresponsible or financially secure! But, after the baby was born and we settled back into life, our fears returned.

Finding out about our second baby was just as much of a surprise as the first. Although we were more established and meagerly financially stable, we cried again. “It seems like every time we get ahead, something comes and knocks us off” was the rhetoric we used quite a bit. Although many of the same fears resurrected with our second baby, this time there was a new fear: How could I love another child as much as I loved our first? In our oldest daughter’s 22 months of life she wrapped us around her pretty little fingers nearly every time she spoke. Her sweet little voice melted our hearts like a hot knife to butter. Again, the selfish thoughts of sharing my love, now that I had gotten use to sharing with someone other than my wife, was overtaking me. I prayed, fought, and wrestled with the thoughts of how, why again, etc.? But once our second daughter arrived, she was a phenomenal baby. She hardly ever cried except to eat and be changed. This was a great change compared to the first go around.

Did those obstacles actually affect your kids or the quality of your parenting?

Laura, I had to chuckle a bit at this one. The answer is a twofold answer. To answer just yes or just no I would be doing an injustice to you. On one hand, yes, it sure did! The only thing we could focus on for a long time was how little we had: money, time, sleep/rest, etc. We treated our daughter as something that took up time, space, and energy (though we really loved her more than life itself). We had negative attitudes and were insecure about being parents, so we were uptight about anything that anyone said that trampled our efforts of parenting. We began to neglect seeing family and friends for fear of having the “parent police” inspect our every move. So again we feared the judgment others would direct toward us. We did, secretly, take others’ advice, but we never breathed it to them that they were being considered for their recommendations. Pride ate us up like a cancer. We wanted to prove to them that we could handle it when in reality we were sinking faster than the Titanic. Again, sinful thinking creates frustrated lives. Our life was filled with desperation, and when we finally asked for help or advice it was often too late. As an example, our first daughter went through six major ear infections because we neglected to ask the right questions to family, friends, and our doctors. It seemed that we prayed constantly, but in a selfish manner: that God would heal our child, but for our benefit of rest and financial recoup.

I can’t say for certain that our fears positively affected our children or our parenting. I’d like to think that our parenting is improved because we have now learned that the only sure thing is that we are nowhere near perfect parents. Moreover, as hard as it is to swallow and say, we do not have perfect kids either. And that’s freeing.

Did you cling to any Scriptures during both surprise pregnancies and during parenting?

As funny as this may sound, we clung to the scripture of 1 Cor 10:13: “There hath no temptation take you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

In addition, one of my favorite verses is Rom 8:15-18: “For ye have not received a sprit of bondage again to fear, but a spirit of adoption whereby we cry ABBA FATHER. For the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children then heirs, and if heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We have made mistakes, lashed out in anger, and caused fears and frustrations to overtake our marital relationship. We have climbed many hills and fought many battles, but when it was all said and done and the smoke had cleared, we stayed “nearer my Lord to thee” just as the old hymn says. God was our ONLY hope of survival, our ONLY hope of restoration, and our ONLY hope of proper parenting.

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