She’s Not Happy She’s Pregnant, How Do I Love Her Well? – Courtney Patterson #15

What happens when a couple decides they don’t want to have children and then they get pregnant? Anger, anxiety, grief, and faking that you’re happy is all a part of my guest Courtney Renee Patterson’s story.   Courtney Patterson is a writer of the blog The Unplanned Tiny Hand, a 9th Grade English teacher in Arkansas, a wife and a mom.

What happens when a couple decides they don’t want to have children and then they get pregnant? Anger, anxiety, grief, and faking that you’re happy is all a part of my guest Courtney Patterson’s story.

Today we’re talking the grief and loss in unplanned pregnancy. My guest is going to share her story of never wanting to have children and then getting pregnant. Her and her husband made a conscious decision to not have children. I realize if you are currently struggling with infertility, this may be a difficult episode to hear. But I wanted let you know that I feel like Courtney does a fantastic job of being sensitive about that. So, if you feel like your heart can take it and you are on a path wanting to be a more loving supportive friend, this is worth the listen.

I also understand that for some listening today, you cannot imagine a married woman (home-owning and fully employed) deciding to not have children. Maybe you are already secretly judging her as self-indulgent, self-absorbed…selfish. Ooo and if that is you, friend, I’m super excited for you to get to know my friend, Courtney Patterson.

Courtney Patterson is a writer of the blog The Unplanned Tiny Hand, a 9th Grade English teacher in Arkansas, a wife and a mom. She says in her blog post, 5 Ways to Cope with Unexpected Pregnancy,

“I didn’t want to get pregnant. Yep. This is the truth my daughter will one day confront me with. My husband and I were just a few months away from celebrating our second anniversary when the PREGNANT sign popped up on my Clear Blue pregnancy test. I wish I could say I was excited and filled with so much love and affection for a baby forming inside of me, but I just wasn’t. This was just the start of our unplanned pregnancy.”

She started The Unplanned Tiny Hand as a way to help new moms navigate the ups and downs of motherhood, from pregnancy to balancing work and her new role as a mom. She shares all the tips and tricks she’s learned through trial and error on her blog. Don’t forget to check it out after the show at

Courtney says on her blog:
“I want to be the voice that tells women IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE THRILLED (to be pregnant). It’s okay to be sad about your body changing. It’s okay to feel like you’re not ready.”

The Interview

How Courtney & Kathleen met – through a patreon member

What drew Courtney to blogging

Why Courtney and Patrick decided to not have children

Was there pressure from others to have children?

The younger generation is more comfortable with the idea of not having children

What questions to not ask of women who are not pregnant:
“When are you going to get pregnant?”
“When are you having kids?”

Check out Courtney’s blog post: 24 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

The day they discover they were pregnant
Courtney starts to get weird symptoms and gets suspicious she’s pregnant.
The blog post Courtney mentions:

The Program That Helps Patrick’s Anxiety
Dennis Simsek –

How long does it take for them to have their feelings change
Anger & guilt were a part of her story until hours after baby Carter was born.

How they coped with their grief during the pregnancy
They tried to embrace the excitement of her growth by posting “happy” pictures on social media

Kathleen shares her story of not loving being a mom of babies and how society’s expectations that every mother should enjoy being around babies made her feel a bit broken. She also shares how much she appreciates Courtney giving women permission to not have gooshy feelings in her parenting.

The spiritual effects for them both came out of their anger towards God and their own feelings of guilt for being upset

If you don’t know for sure this is a planned pregnancy
What Not to Say:
Congratulations! You must so excited.
I bet you’ve been trying for months.
(Any unsolicited advice)
(Any terrifying birth stories)

What To Say:
Are you excited?
You look great.
How are you feeling?

What to Not Say to a Pregnant Woman:

Big Reveal

Wrap Up
I hope that you do not hear through Courtney’s story that because she had a baby this is now a recipe to
  • to change your feelings about not wanting children
  • improve a marriage relationship
  • strengthen your relationship with God
  • a way to get your partner to start a relationship with God

As a matter of fact, there was a reluctance in me to air these parts of Courtney’s story because I don’t want women to hear that having a baby is the To Do List (the prescription per se) to make all things shiny and wonderful. Many of us know by our own stories, having a baby is no magical pill. We cannot judge the outcome of someone else’s life as a guarantee of what will happen in our own.

I’m reminded of the Results Not Typical Disclaimer on weight loss products. “The weight loss and fitness testimonials presented apply only to the individuals depicted, cannot be guaranteed, and should not be considered typical.”

This is your Results Not Typical Disclaimer. LOL!

Can these things happen? Yes.
Is it a guarantee? No.

What I hope you do walk away with
is empathy and compassion for women who are struggling to be happy about their pregnancy.
That those women will be met with compassion and care. And that you will better know and understand how to be a support to them.

Another reason why I am spending so much time
making sure you don’t camp on all the goodness that has come from Courtney’s heartache? Because I think then you will be tempted to not remember the terrifying 9 months she had.
The anxiety her husband experienced.
The tears. The fear.
You’ll forget that part which is the very thing That will enable you to feel with and express empathy for your friend who is struggling to be excited about her pregnancy. I’m afraid you’ll then be tempted to jump in with silver linings, hope, and “it’s all going to be ok” before really listening…before she has a chance to feel seen and heard by you.

Courtney’s story is a beautiful reminder
of God making beauty out of ashes, and I believe he never stops doing that, but what often gets in our way from connecting to one another is our RUSH to make her feel better. When we rush to happy endings, we miss her.
And she doesn’t get the support and love you were wanting her to feel.

So, yes please embrace gratitude that Courtney’s story
has so much goodness, but also don’t forget the hard hard places her and Patrick fought through to get there.

I want to talk about one more thing. Another reason why I don’t want you to focus too much on Courtney’s “happy ending”

I know there are women listening right now who will be tempted to say,
“See, women who get pregnant and say they don’t want children, all they have to do is just have the baby, and then it all works out beautifully.”

And then here is my fear:
Courtney’s story is then to be used to shame those who have had an abortion.
Hear me out:
Here’s what I know… there are women in your life right now, women who sit next to you in church,your bible study, or small group
of whom you would NEVER guess who have had an abortion. And for most of us, we’ll probably NEVER know who all those women are.
But they are there. They are women who are precious to you.
Women you adore and look up to.

And why don’t we know about her story?
Because often in our discussions (at Bible Study, social gatherings, or just in the foyer at church), where we ASSUME everyone in the room
has the exact same experiences as us, we say hurtful things about people who have made different life choices, not thinking that any of THOSE people could possibly be in the room with us.

Here’s what I know about you: the last thing you want to do is shame your friend.
You love her.
If you knew abortion was a part of her story, you would not stop loving her and you would DEFINITELY be more careful about the topic of abortion around her. If your friend still feels pain or guilt, you would never want to add to it.

Wherever you stand on the spectrum on the issue of abortion,
here’s what I think is important to ask ourselves:
Are we making space for women who have made that choice?
What do I mean by this? Do we consciously think of these women in our circles when this discussion comes up?

Think of it in terms of this story:
You are at a Bible Study. Years ago your good friend’s dad died in a one fatality car crash, but what isn’t well known is that her dad was driving while intoxicated. Only you and your friend know this piece of information. While everyone is enjoying their coffee cake and warm beverage, the topic of drinking and driving comes up, which leads to someone in the room saying,
“Anyone who gets in a car while they are drunk is an idiot and deserves to die.”

I ask you this: How do you now feel for your friend?
Are you horrified for her?
Are you feeling a stab of pain for her?
Will your friend feel safe to share about her dad in the future? Maybe.
But there’s a good chance, based on how that discussion went (did everyone agree and then add their opinions of drinking and driving)
she may never feel she can share. And the super sad part is that unbeknownst to this group, they have now given everyone in that group
the message that those kinds of stories are not accepted there. If in the future, one of those women discovers her son has a drinking problem because he gets a DUI, do you think she’ll be more or less likely to share with the group?

We do the same thing with all sorts of topics.

So, here’s my challenge to you.
Ask yourself this:
if the topic of abortion came up in a group, and you knew in advance that 2 of the 10 women in the room had an abortion,
would you choose to be careful with your words? Would you make broad statements about their character or lack of moral values?

My point?
We don’t know EVERYTHING about everyone.
We can’t assume everyone in the room has made the same choices as us.
Had the same life experiences.
Just because she’s a Christian doesn’t mean she’s immune to bad things happening to her or because of her. And even if everyone in the room says they are anti-abortion does NOT mean she never had an abortion (a couple of months ago a friend revealed this to me about her). 

If you’ve had an abortion, dear listener. If this is your story, I see you. I don’t know your situation. I don’t know what was happening in your life, but what I do know is that you are loved by a God who isn’t holding this against you or is ashamed of you.
His love for you is deeper than you can ever imagine
and is WAY bigger than this one act.
You are not defined by this.
God is not a god of shame. Shame is just isn’t his gig.
He will go on loving you just as he did the day you were born…before you were born.
He wants you to live loved and free.
 If guilt is holding you back, if it is striking pain in bruised places,
I want to encourage you to find yourself a licensed therapist, who has experience in trauma therapy someone who can help you walk out the healing God is so rooting for you to have.
I’m rooting for you, dear one.

Connect with Courtney 

Connect with Kathleen
Instagram: @speakerkathleenmpeters

Kathleen’s Workbook
Embrace You: A Guide to Uncovering the Real You

Bonus (Interview After the Interview) Episode: 
Become a $2/month Patreon Member and get access to all the bonus episodes where my guests shares the WHY to her Big Reveals. Patreon Information

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