A baby screaming on the floor
Image: Cathryn Virginia, 

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Oops I Was Born! Growing Up as a Surprise Baby

“Somehow, my dad managed to slip into conversation: ‘You were actually conceived by accident on your nan's bedroom floor!’”
A celebration of history's biggest fuck-ups.

Ever since the pill was invented around 70 years ago, we’ve made leaps and bounds in curtailing the number of unwanted pregnancies and their impact on the lives of people who can bear children. And yet, to this day, nearly half of all worldwide pregnancies are unintended, due to a bad combo of poor sex education and reproductive healthcare, as well as restrictive cultural norms. Even in the UK, up to 45 percent of all pregnancies are either unplanned or associated with feelings of, er, ambivalence. 


The truth is, no matter how prepared you are, accidents still happen. No contraceptive method is totally infallible, and horny people tend to do the things they aren’t really supposed to.

Obviously, unplanned pregnancies are often discussed in the context of access to abortion and birth control – and rightfully so. No one should have to birth a child they don’t want. But abortion stories are only a fraction of unwanted pregnancies. Thousands of people are born every day without their parents *exactly* meaning to have them, and their lives don’t need to get painted as tragic failures either. 

In fact, when you think about it, one of the most important people of all time was a surprise baby. When an actual angel descended from the sky to inform her, 15-year-old Miriam of Nazareth probably wasn’t planning on birthing the son of God. Still, Jesus Christ turned out to be pretty OK, depending on who you ask.

To learn more about what it’s like to unexpectedly come into this world, I reached out to a few more “oops babies” I met through social media and at work and asked them to share their beautifully bumpy stories.

Karina (surname omitted for privacy reasons), 39, project manager

Unwanted babies, Karina – Woman with black curly hair, a blue and red striped t-shirt and aviators, sitting at a table outside in front of a bottle of water and two glasses.

Karina, 39, is originally from Mexico and has been living in the Netherlands for 10 years. 

VICE: Hey Karina! How did you find out you were a mistake?
I realised when I was a pre-teen. I have two older siblings and I noticed the age gap was quite big. My eldest brother is 15 years older than me and my sister is 12 years older. I also realised they were taking care of me. My mum didn't live with us at different times while I was growing up. So I noticed that my parents had issues.


Later on, when I was 15 or 20 years old, my mother actually told me she became pregnant while having an IUD. She had to lie in bed for four or five months because she was at risk of miscarriage. That's how it came out, actually. She was like, “When I gave birth to you, I put on 30 kg extra because I couldn’t move for months.”

Oh god. That’s my worst nightmare. I also have an IUD. I sure read about these kinds of pregnancies on the internet but it's real! You're real!
Yup. But even though I was not planned, I guess I was wanted. She was worried about losing me and took a lot of effort to carry me to term.

So you grew up primarily with your dad?
And my siblings, yes. They were teens when I was born and I spent a lot of time with my brother. Actually he quit high school and was my primary caretaker back then. When I was starting elementary school, my mum came to stay with us more permanently, but not with my dad. 

Have you ever felt bad about the fact that you were unplanned?
I never felt left out or unwanted. I think it had the opposite effect: The rest of my family became overprotective. Sure, I was not planned. Things happened before, things happened after. But in the end, everything turned out well and I cannot be more grateful to everyone.

That's very cute. Do you have any funny stories from your childhood?
When I was a baby, my brother and my mum were 30 and 15 years old, but my mum looks quite young. So at some point, people thought I was my brother and my mum's kid.


So your mum was 16 when she had your brother. In a way, it was already in the family to expect a teenager to take care of a kid.
Yeah, and that’s also why it was so hard to make the marriage work. If you start when you are 16, I can see why you would struggle 15 years later.

Michael Venner, 32, Senior Advertising Creative at VICE

Unwanted babies, Michael – man with black hair and a short beard, sitting outside on a terrace and holding a pint.

Michael is originally from Bromley and moved to Amsterdam last year.

VICE: Hey Michael. How did you find out you were an oops baby?
Michael Venner:
Well, my dad has a tendency to share these really embarrassing stories when I have friends over. I think he gets a lot out of making people laugh, like me actually. 

I was in my early 20s and my friends were picking me up for a night out. Somehow, my dad managed to slip into a conversation, “You know what? You were actually conceived by accident on your nan's bedroom floor!” My mates were in absolute bits, and I sort of went redder and redder. 

You told me you have a brother and a sister. Were they planned?
My brother is a year and a half younger, my sister is about five, six years younger. I actually bought this up years later and my mum and dad were like, “Yeah, it wasn't just you, your brother was unplanned as wel”’. My sister was the only planned child. They had two boys and wanted to try for a girl.

How do you think your birth changed your parents’ relationship?
I didn't realise how young my parents were when they had me until I started making friends at school. Their parents were always between ten to 15 years older than mine. I think my mom was 21 and my dad was around 20 when I was born.


Because of their age, they had to make a lot of sacrifices. But I'm glad they had me when they did. I'd like to think that me, my brother, my sister, we all brought them closer. 

And they're still together.
Yeah, they're still together.

Having lived through my 20s without kids, I'm very grateful they've brought me up the way they did and were so present. I guess a part of me has always felt a little guilty, like I've got in the way of their younger lives, their younger selves. But in a cheesy way, I hope I can make it up to them with my accomplishments.

Have you ever wished your parents never told you?
No, never. It's funny, it's a moment I think about a lot. This is weird to say because it’s about my parents having sex, but I love hearing stories like this. As me, my brother and my sister got older, we'll hear these stories around Christmas time when the family comes together again. And then days, weeks, even years later, I'll randomly think of a story and it'll just bring a smile to my face.

Jazmin, 29, fashion student and bartender

Unplanned babies, Jazmin – woman with a bridge piercing, a short, blond wolf-cut, tattoos, a white tanktop and black shorts, serving a beer in a bar.

Jazmin is from Birmingham and has been in Amsterdam for six years. 

VICE: Hey Jazmin. How did you find out you were conceived by accident?
My parents had no shame in telling me from both sides. My mum and dad were separated from the moment I was born. I was with my mum during the week and with my dad every weekend. I've got to give it to them, they were both somewhat supportive of me. I'm lucky with that.


Growing up, my parents often used me to manipulate each other in various ways. My dad raised me in a way to get back at my mother, and she hated him for being in my life. He also was shit-talking her all the time, and prevented me from bonding with her.

It was only as I got older that she opened up to me and said she was sleeping with other people at the time I was conceived and lied about being on the pill because she wanted a baby. They had to do a DNA test on me. 

Wow. How did your dad take it?
My dad was obviously upset, it wasn’t his plan whatsoever. He was married to a woman at the time who’s always been there for me. I’m lucky to have her, actually, she is one of the saner people in my life. My dad dropped everything to take care of me. Until my teenage years, when everything went wrong and he very openly told me I ruined his life.

When I was 18, he kicked me out. He raised me to be very punk and a rebel, but when I rebelled against his restrictions, he didn't like that. And then he came out as gay. So he literally said the words to me, “That's it, we're done. I'm gonna go live my life as a gay man.” 

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I'll never forget that time. He was obviously having the time of his life. He went from a very strict, very controlling man to someone who was happy, rainbows and fairies and all that. And ultimately, I was proud of him. I was not expecting this whatsoever but, one day, he went and got his nipples pierced. Funnily enough, on the same day, I’d gotten my nipple pierced too! 


The thing is, I'm also gay! So I opened up to him about it too. All he said was, “It's all about me now. I did enough for you. Go.”

That seems like a really tough environment to grow up in.
I always look back and feel like I did have a loving relationship with my father. But then again the older I got, the more I realised how narcissistic and manipulative he was, both with his partner and with me. My mother also had multiple partners, so that prevented me from bonding with her too. She’s still quite self-absorbed.

How do you think this chaotic childhood affected your self-perception?
Well, I would say, I'm very lucky, in a way, because I was wise to all the bullshit from a very young age. I grew up realising I couldn't trust either of them. They both put me through school and supported me, but I could never fully see them as legit figures of love.

It's definitely affected me in relationships and friendships, I have a fear of abandonment that I still wish to go to therapy for. But as it stands, I’m quite proud of myself. All of it built me to be this strong, confident person without the need of people's acceptance.

Do you ever feel resentful towards your parents?
When I turned 25, I realised my parents were the same age when they had me and that fully changed my whole perspective. Now, I don't really blame them. Ultimately, I can say they gave it their best, but they're both manipulative people and they couldn't help that, they're still like this to this day. That's their stuff, I'm fixing mine. It's time for them to do that.