Accidental Humans

Recently, at the Ottawa Bloggers’ Breakfast *** the talk turned, as breakfast conversation so frequently does, to accidental pregnancies.

The theory was posited that most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the accidental pregnancy. We took a quick survey around our table and, indeed, I believe everyone at the table had begun life in a not entirely planned manner.

We decided right off the bat that the term, “accident” was not a nice way to refer to a human life, so we chose to call ourselves “surprises” instead.

And really, an “accident”  is something completely unforeseen and unexpected whereas pregnancy should be assumed as a distinct possibility if a fertile male and fertile female engage in sexual intercourse without adequate contraceptive protection.

Anyway, a surprise baby can occur in a variety of situations. Sometimes, the surprise is so great and so unmanageable that the surprise child is given up for adoption. And, at the other end of the spectrum, a surprise can occur when a couple intends to have a child sometime and then finds that sometime is actually now.

That’s what happened to me. We’d been planning for a summer baby, which we would start working on right after we got back from our winter vacation.

We spend that winter vacation in Tobago. It’s a small island with not much going on, so after a few weeks we got adventurous and decided to spend a day hiking through the rainforest. Around noon we happened upon a small waterfall. It had been a long, tiring morning. We were hot and sweaty and miles from another human being. So, we cast off our gear and plunged into the water.

Of course we’d packed protection against snakes and protection against bugs and protection against the merciless sun and we even had food and water to protect ourselves against hunger and thirst.  We were well protected for all eventualities — except one. And there we were in a very exotic and romantic place with only SPF 15 and Deet for protection.

We had a winter baby.

My own conception was much more prosaic, but also not quite planned. When my parents were dating, they were both still living with their parents and several siblings each. It wasn’t often they had a house to themselves and when they did, I understand they took full advantage.

Sometimes they only had a few minutes. Like this one time when the two of them were over at my dad’s for Sunday dinner. His brothers were in their rooms doing whatever it is young boys spend so much time doing in their rooms. My mum and dad were helping his mother in the kitchen when she realized she needed more butter and popped out to the shop to fetch some.

In those few minutes, my dad managed to distract my mum from peeling potatoes long enough to impregnate her — with me — right there in my grandmother’s kitchen!


They did manage to get married in plenty of time for me to be born “on the right side of the blanket”… though it was a noticeably skimpy blanket.

So, anyway I thought about doing a poll just to see how many of us were surprises, but the variables are so great that I don’t think a simple button-clicking poll would do it justice. It’s not just a matter of planned or unplanned. We’d have to also know, for instance:

  • Were the biological parents a committed couple or just a couple of horny teenagers who couldn’t figure out how to unroll the condom?
  •  Did the biological parents keep and raise the baby (you) together?
  • Were the biological parents planning on having children together anyway?
  •  Were you the first child, a second/third/fourth/etc unexpected child or maybe a late-in-life surprise?
  •  If you were planned, did everything go exactly according to plan?
  •  Do you even know if you were or were not planned? (Apparently, not everyone has had this discussion with their parents. Maybe you could go and call mom right now and ask. We’ll wait.)

Accompanying anecdotes would also be great.

And how about your own kids? If I had to bet, I would say that for various reasons, our kids, overall, were probably  less of a surprise to us than we were to our parents. At least the conception part.  Every day after that is just one happy and sometimes not-so-happy surprise after another, isn’t it?


*** If you are an Ottawa area blogger and would like to take part in life-affirming conversational topics like this, please send an email to: with a link to your blog and you’ll be added to the mailing list and kept informed of upcoming Ottawa blogger events.