It takes two minutes for your life to change forever. Two minutes for a positive pregnancy test to develop, and your world to turn upside down. Those two lines of a positive pregnancy test are lines in the sand of your life; the one before and the one after.
I don’t believe parenthood begins when a baby is born, but when you become a parent in your mind. That was certainly the case for me and my (now) husband when we found out we were expecting only months into our relationship.
We met in the sticky heat of New York City in July. By September, we’d moved in together — I’d shipped all my belongings 5,000 miles from London to Brooklyn after three dates — and were pregnant.
It was a whirlwind romance for the ages; I’d fallen blindingly in love with this man and — no matter the transatlantic hurdles — would move mountains, storage boxes and all expectations for him.
Finding out we were pregnant so soon into dating was a shock. We’d talked about starting a family one day, but "one day" came around quicker than expected. The circumstances weren’t exactly perfect. He’d yet to meet my family. We’d had hopes of traveling together. I was still going between cities for work.
There’s never a right time for big change — and like so much of our relationship, we found ourselves laughing at the craziness of it — that this beautiful, unexpected miracle had found its way to us at the height of our romance.
For me, it something to celebrate. Yes, it broke the conventional timeline of most relationships, but it was OUR timeline. Something shifts in your 30s, I believe; you know yourself better and what you want out of a relationship. And when you find it, things naturally move quicker because you’re in the right place to embrace it.
People often ask me how our friends and families reacted. The truth? When they saw us together — how happy we made each other, how much we’d leaned into our love despite crossing continents, cultures and time zones — there was no protest to be had. In fact, I grew up with the notion of whirlwind romance being normal; my mum met and married my dad within a month herself. My friends FaceTimed us for a virtual bridal shower. My husband’s family was there to throw confetti on the day of our City Hall wedding. There’s nothing more we could have asked for.
Being away from family when pregnant has been tough. There have been times when I've desperately craved simple things, like popping out for coffee with my mum, that I was so used to back home. Pregnancy has also brought me closer to my mum in many ways; knowing I’m having my own little girl created a deep need in me to be mothered myself and turn to her for advice and support. Living away from my mum has meant I've had to step up and parent myself in a way I hadn’t before, learning how to self-soothe and comfort myself in harder moments of pregnancy.
And, as for our relationship? I have learned that pregnancy, when treated with optimism, joy and humor, can be bonding for a couple. The sudden shock that we were going to become parents to a little girl by June 2023 — having only met in July 2022 — brought us closer together.
We've had to navigate so much newness together. For my husband, that's meant learning how to swaddle, soothe and become a birth partner. For me, it's meant understanding a totally new healthcare system, medical lexicon and approach to childbirth. The American healthcare system is very different to the U.K. I was practically laughed at for asking for a water birth and was shocked when asked if I’d like a mirror at the end of the bed to watch myself giving birth (we Brits are far too bashful for that). I've realized that a "gentle birth" in the U.S. is less common, and you have to really advocate for yourself when it comes to intervention, pain relief and birth preferences.
Pregnancy is beautiful, but at times gnarly. We've swapped morning cuddles for morning sickness, and have gotten very comfortable talking about my perineum. There were times that I felt embarrassed by the un-sexiness of it all (the acid reflux, nausea and exhaustion of pregnancy) and worried I was no longer "fun." When you’re early in dating, you still want to show your most sparkly, brilliant self. That’s hard when your head is halfway down a toilet bowl most of the time. But the magnificence of pregnancy is it brings a new level of vulnerability between you and your partner, as you traverse something uncharted together. We've found the humor and lightness in it all — even when I'm sobbing my way through another hormonal episode and drinking pickle juice from the jar.
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