It was on my dad’s birthday, just over a month since I had turned 21, when a feeling in my gut told me I should go buy the test. As I sat in the floor of the bathroom of my parents home, I cried and I screamed (as silently as I could so that no one would know anything was wrong). I begged and I begged God to just make one line appear instead of two. Of course, He knew what I needed better than I did in that moment. As those dreaded two lines popped up almost instantly, I felt numb. I felt like my life was over. I just knew that my parents would kill me. That they would be so filled with shame and disappointment. How would they face their friends? Our church? I would surely have to drop out of school. My life was ruined, what was I going to do? I drove to my then boyfriend’s work (Kroger - how was this grocery store clerk and I going to bring a baby into the world, right??) and I broke the news to him on his lunch break in my car. His response was more than I could have ever imagined it would be. He assured me that we were going to be just fine, and with that I knew we would be. Of course the coming months were brutal. We drove to the Hope resource clinic to have an official pregnancy test done and an ultrasound. Sure enough, there was a little blueberry sized baby on the screen in front of us. And let me just tell you, seeing this baby that was actually growing inside of me was all the strength I needed to move forward. I felt this wave of love and confidence come over me in that moment. A feeling that I truly can’t put into words. After having the official confirmation of this tiny human, we knew it was time to face the music and let our parents in on this secret we had been keeping for what seemed like an eternity.
Telling my parents I was pregnant at 21, unmarried, before I had finished college, was everything I ever imagined it to be. It was horrible. Even after the feelings of love, confidence, and strength I had discovered after seeing my little one for the first time, all the shame and disappointment was fully present again as we sat in their living room, all of us sobbing. There were hardly any words spoken for the remainder of the night. Mostly tears and a huge pit that filled my stomach. I felt lost once again. I thought we’d never recover from this as a family. But you know what? We surely did.
By the next morning, my dad walked into my bedroom while I lie there awake, unable to sleep, but also unable to get up. He knelt down next to my bed and he just hugged me. He asked if I had the ultrasound. I showed him the picture, and he began to cry again. This cry was different from the cry the night before. This was a cry of love and pure joy. He sat there with me crying, smiling and hugging me as we stared at that ultrasound. The next words he spoke to me are words I will never forget, and words that I think any young girl that finds herself in this situation need to hear. He said to me that it did not matter what others would think, it did not matter what others would say. He told me that he loved me very much and that this was NOT the end, that it was just a new chapter that we were going to embrace fully. He told me he didn’t know how yet, but that he knew I was stronger than any words or thoughts that would come from others. Ultimately, I think that’s what young girls are afraid of the most - what other people may think or say about them or their life choices. If I could go back to this 21 year old me, I would tell her how silly she looks sitting there crying over this unborn child. I would tell her that she would end up loving this most precious human being more than she could ever love herself. I would tell her that the love she is about to experience is a love like no other on this earth. A love that would actually fulfill her life in more ways than she could have ever imagined.
The rest of my college career was a little crazy. The summer before Cade was born, I moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend, his daddy. I took the fall semester off of school, which was really hard for me. I was a pretty lazy student to begin with, only taking the bare minimum hours required to maintain full-time status. So taking a full semester off really put me behind. When I went back to school the following spring, I also went back to work. We juggled Cade between grandparents, my sister, and even friends so that we could manage school and working, and being new parents. It. Was. Hard!!! But we had an incredible support system behind us. Three years later, I finally completed my degree. After completing my degree I accepted a full-time teaching position immediately. I only worked for one semester before deciding that I wasn’t satisfied and went back to school. Now I know what you are thinking: I was insane. It took me six years to complete my undergrad. I finally did it. I got the job, I had a happy healthy baby, I had the supportive boyfriend and family. I did it! But that wasn’t enough for me. So there I was, one semester after my undergraduate graduation, and I was back in school. It was January of 2018 and I was starting grad school and still working full time. Well, guess what? Eight months into graduate school, I found myself pregnant AGAIN. I will say breaking the news to everyone the second go around was much easier. BUT the process of completing graduate school, keeping up with my four year old, and supporting my boyfriend who had just gotten a job in a different city was really really hard.
We actually laugh at our story now. It is now August 2019, my husband and I are now 26 and both college graduates. We have an extremely happy, healthy, energetic FIVE year old and a spunky, precious, new baby who is three months old. I had baby Brooks, completed grad school, got married, and moved to a new city all in May of 2019. I say all of this to bargain with anyone that finds themselves in a similar situation as I did at such a young age. I beg you to realize that a baby does not mean that you cannot finish school. I completed not one, but two degrees both while pregnant. I am certainly not telling you that it was easy, but having a support system in place is the key to success. I wish a program like Baby Steps was around when I was first finding out I was pregnant, but I was fortunate to have an extremely supportive group of family and friends surrounding me. Life doesn’t have a specific check list. Things do not have to happen in a certain order. Sometimes God has a different plan, and I learned quickly that that is OKAY. My now husband and I literally did everything in what the world may see as “backwards”, but our story is just that - OURS - and we cannot imagine our lives any other way!
By giving a voice to those whose stories include unplanned pregnancies, we hope to empower those who may be in the midst of their own. These are The Stories We Tell.