When my first husband died in 2011, I was 5 months pregnant with our third child. The thought of facing pregnancy alone was completely overwhelming and I had no idea where to start. The questions just wouldn’t stop coming.
What if I go into labor early? Who will drive me to the hospital?
Who will be with me when my daughter is born?
What if something else bad happens? How will I be able to handle it?
Oddly enough, being alone and pregnant wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. That’s because I was able to set up a support network that was absolutely amazing. I do not take credit for it, because I am just incredibly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life. But it’s important to note that I did have to be actively engaged in order to figure things out.
There are five key factors in learning to stay resilient when you’re alone and pregnant:
1. Identify and rally your support network.
Who is willing to be there for you? Who can help you? How can they help you? Make a list of people (no, seriously) and get in touch with each of them then outline what you need.
2. Investigate your options.
I looked into every detail about the actual labor and delivery of my daughter (and beyond) so I knew what my options were. Just knowing that I had options made the stress dissipate a bit. I interviewed midwives, made a list of possible birthing coaches and ultimately hired a doula. It was the option I was most comfortable with and since I had options, I didn’t feel forced or stuck in making one decision.
3. Take care of yourself.
This is so critical. You won’t have any chance of being resilient (or even functional) if you’re not taking care of yourself. Get your rest, pay attention to your nutrition and get some sort of exercise (I personally consider window shopping at the mall to be exercise as long as I keep moving).
4. Ask and accept help.
It can be hard to ask for help. For some people it can be even harder to accept help. If you ask for help, congratulations. But remember to follow through and actually accept the help that is offered to you. Someone wants to clean your house? Let them. Someone wants to make you dinner? Schedule a night. Let yourself be helped. The more you allow yourself to be helped, the easier it is to accept help in the future.
5. Make memories you’ll treasure.
There is nothing wrong with you just because you are alone and pregnant. And that means you are entitled to enjoying your pregnancy. If you want to shop for the baby, get your belly photographed or have a baby shower, do it. The memories you make while enjoying your pregnancy will stay with you forever and you won’t regret making them.
Being pregnant is hard and being alone can complicate things. But no one is truly alone. There is always someone who will help you or support you. You just need to know where to look and to accept help when offered. And if you want to be alone, then that’s your choice and you should respect yourself for it as long as it is what you truly want.