It was cold outside. I don’t remember what day or month, just that it was cold. I called my dad from school to ask him to come get me because I had been sick all day and it hadn’t let up. Nauseous. On the edge of vomit all day long. I just wanted to get home before it erupted. He took me home and I slept until the next morning. I awoke as nauseous as the day before. My sister and I talked about it in whispers while we got dressed … Could I be pregnant? Was this morning sickness? By the time we were ready to go, I was green. My mom agreed to let me stay home and my sister agreed to come get me later to go to the health department.
Our plans exploded around lunchtime and I found myself waiting on my mom instead. She drove me to the Health Department in silence. I was dying inside. When the test confirmed it, we were both pretty devastated. I didn’t see my life flash before my eyes. I watched it slowly go down the drain as this new reality set in.
My dad called me a whore when I told him.
I was devastated. I felt ruined. I felt the shame of every grown-up in my life. I felt the daggers of embarrassment cutting me to pieces through the eyes of everyone around me. Someone told me to face the facts, and then, in case I wasn’t aware of all of them, told me all the statistics about teen pregnancies and teenage mothers so I would know what was coming.
Hardship. Hardship was coming.
My mom said to me one day, “Why don’t you take some time and really think about your options. You can put this baby up for adoption. Or you can abort it.”
I know she was holding her breath in that moment. I squeaked in a panic, “Mom, please tell me that’s not an option. That can’t be an option.” She exhaled. “Well, I was hoping it’s not, but I wanted you to know you had options.”
But she hadn’t named them all. See, suicide is also an option. I didn’t want to kill an unborn baby, but myself? I could do that.
My life was an endless agony for the next few months. I was sick all the time, getting fatter, hating everyone, enduring their judgment and my own condemnation. Left alone to deal with it by the guy who fathered the child. It was hell.
I was going to end it. After having the baby, I was going to kill myself. I had a plan and a note. I had the resolve. I had an end in sight. The last month of pregnancy was the most hopeful month. I was ready to end it all.
I almost didn’t make it through delivery. It didn’t matter. I remember lying in the hospital room looking around while people talked and laughed, euphoric about the baby we were about to have. I was hurting so bad. Physically, but more so emotionally. My heart was breaking. Someone save me!
Someone did. It was the sweetest voice I had ever heard. Her tiny cry as they lifted her out through the incision reached into the depths of my broken soul and called forth a will I didn’t know was there. In one instant, I wanted to live for no other reason but to know and hear that voice.
And I did live on; so did my baby. But nine months later, the cycle started again. Another pregnancy he didn’t want. Another baby I wasn’t sure if I could deal with. More shame. More embarrassment. More statistical bullets shooting through any hope for my future.
I had him too. I endured it. I said this was about my abortion … I didn’t have one. I had a baby. I had two … before my high school graduation. I have lived on HUD, welfare, TANF, and I have raised two babies on my own for thirteen years. I know it’s hard. I know the shame is damning and I know about the nights you cry yourself to sleep because you are alone with thoughts nobody should be thinking. I know about the stigma and rejection. I know about the battles. I have lived them; so have my babies. We’ve all three survived.
I’m telling you this through tears. I understand not all pregnancies are planned. Some are even tragically the fault of another. But understand this: on the other side of that pain is a beautiful child who has the chance to live if only you will give it. She may grow up to love cheer and hate waking up in the morning. He may grow up with a weird obsession for cleanliness that makes housekeeping bearable. They may grow up to be the best thing that ever happened to you if you just get through this. The shame will subside. The pain will subside. The hardships make you stronger until you bust through those stereotypes and statistics and make something of yourself. Getting out from under the pressure and chaos and rejection are possible. The situations that grow you aren’t always preferable, maybe, but victory is possible. Your unwanted pregnancy is possible.
Just wanted you to know that. I love you, sister, and I pray for you and your baby every day. The world will tell you otherwise but most of them have never lived it. I have. You can do this. You’re strong enough. It doesn’t matter who fathered your baby or even if they help you raise the child. God gave that precious child to you. That baby may end up being the best gift you’ve ever received and God himself can and will help. Trust me. Trust yourself. Trust God.