Four: Develop a Support System
"A problem shared is a problem halved," says the old adage. As personal an experience as your pregnancy is, it is vital that you have a network of people and places to draw strength and advice from. As one new mother says, "I knew that I could come back intact from my crisis, but it depended on some help from others who believed in me." If you have a partner, make the effort to include him in everything possible. Discuss your feelings with one another, your expectations, and your needs. If you don't have a partner, then find one—your mom, a sister, or close friend—look for someone that you trust and feel comfortable with. Being stoic about your situation is simply the opposite extreme of wallowing in self-pity. Graciously accept any offers of assistance and rely on as many family and friends as are willing to share in this wonderful time of your life.
Your community is another place to turn for support. Local support groups, clinics and hospitals, community centers, and universities all offer programs that can help you. Many local hospitals offer support and counseling groups, and prenatal classes. Most educational institutions also offer a wealth of resources for expectant mothers—from support groups to free literature to classes. One organization in particular, www.nurturingnetwork.org, offers an extensive employment, medical, educational, counseling, and residential network geared to help with the crisis of an unplanned pregnancy. (Their toll-free number is 800-TNN-4MOM.)
Five: Educate Yourself
Education is your key to empowerment. The Internet is a fantastic tool to provide you with access to a wealth of information. The danger, in fact, lies in accessing too much information and becoming overwhelmed. Take some time to first write a list of everything you are unsure of or would like to learn more about. There are sites ranging from providing simple information to in-depth online classes. Being as informed as possible will give you the confidence to enjoy your pregnancy and to look forward to the challenge of being a parent.
Pregnancy is not the end of your life; it's the miraculous beginning of another's. "It's true, change forces us out of our comfort zones, stretches us in ways that might hurt for a little while," says Roberta Rand in her book Focus on Family. "But the rewards can be astounding. In releasing the stale familiar, we clear the way for new experiences that can feed our thirsty souls and re-animate our lifeless dreams. Purged of the fears that held us back, we emerge as better people, more free and certainly more interesting."