“A woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserves to experience unplanned joy.” This quote was spoken by actress Patricia Heaton, and I firmly agree with her belief. Unplanned pregnancies oftentimes provoke difficult emotions including shock, fear, and shame.
Tiffany Smart wrote about how she coped from the shameful feelings she felt because of an unplanned pregnancy in her article titled, “What an Unplanned Pregnancy Taught Me About Shame.” I can relate to her experiences of feeling low self-worth as I experienced multiple unplanned pregnancies. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, I want you to know that you are not alone. Through this rough time, it is important to become aware of your options. There are three options for an unplanned pregnancy. We will navigate through all of these options and provide in-depth details about what each one is like.
In my opinion, there is no job more important than being a parent. Parenting is a lifelong commitment to care for, nurture, guide, protect, and provide for another human being. I didn’t understand the intensity of this responsibility 10 years ago when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. I was 19 years old, I was not with the father, and I didn’t plan to be. I was in college pursuing a degree in psychology, and I had a part-time job. Once I found out that I was pregnant, I was very scared and felt ashamed about my situation.
Regardless, I immediately fell in love with the baby growing inside of me, and I knew that I would do whatever was necessary to be the best mother that I could be. Even though I didn’t know everything about being a mother, this was my decision–to raise my baby. I dropped out of school, and started working full time. I was not financially prepared, but I prepared for my bundle of joy the best way that I could.
I saved all of my extra money and went to rummage sales and stocked up years’ worth of clothes. I participated in expectant mother programs in my city, which allowed me to earn points for diapers and wipes. My mother threw me a baby shower, and I received so much support for things that I needed. Throughout the beginning years of parenting, I financially struggled with bills, formula, food, diapers, wipes, medical bills, and necessities. I learned how to accept help if available and to make the best out of a dollar, but the situations were definitely not ideal.
Along with financially providing, I was also emotionally unprepared. At 19, even though I had my own apartment and took care of myself, I was a mess. I was not mature enough to be a mother. I didn’t know how to emotionally take care of myself, so how could I emotionally take care of another human being? I had such a negative self-esteem and it affected every aspect of my life, including motherhood. Eventually I learned because parenting taught me so much. I learned what patience is, and I learned how to maintain patience in the most stressful of situations. I learned all about taking full responsibility for everything going on in my life. Most importantly, I learned how to love.
Of course, no one can be completely and truly prepared for parenting. Although, I recognize how easier life would have been if I would have not experienced an unplanned pregnancy. If I had planned my life out according to my goals and dreams, my children would have had a higher quality of life especially in their earliest years. That still doesn’t mean they cannot have a great life. I strive to provide that for them every single day. If I had to narrow down three pieces advice for parenting an unplanned child, they would be this:
- Be joyful. Instead of feeling so ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty. Feel honored, privileged, and inspired to be doing the best job available on this earth.
- Surround yourself with support and feel confident in your motherhood.
- Take care of yourself and love yourself. It will help with loving your child.
Another choice for an unplanned pregnancy is to place your baby for adoption. Some people may feel like they could never make this unique decision. I actually used to be one of them. When I got pregnant as a teenager, I knew there was absolutely no way that I could allow someone else to raise my baby. Five years later, I found myself pregnant unexpectedly again while raising two precious children all on my own.
My faith led me to and through my decision to place my baby for adoption and it’s been a decision that I have never regretted. It was a hard decision, but it was the best decision that I could have made for everyone involved. I learned how to be absolutely selfless, which was something I needed to learn. I finally and truly understood how blessed I was to be a mother, and it affected my mothering skills tremendously. I watched a couple’s dreams come true through the gift of a child, and it’s hard to explain how amazing it feels to have been a part of that. I’ve gotten to know my birth son through his parents. We keep in touch, they share pictures with me, and have become my friends. They tell their son his adoption story and make sure he knows it was a decision made out of love. I couldn’t have picked a better family for the child that was growing inside me. If you’d like to know more about how I coped after placing my child for adoption, I include further details of that here in this article.
If there were three pieces of advice I could give you about this decision, it would be these:
- Placing your baby for adoption is absolutely an amazing decision made out of love and strength.
- Helping someone else grow their family has been such a blessing to my life.
- I once felt placing my baby for adoption would be impossible, but I definitely learned that all things are possible.
Abortion can be an awkward topic to discuss, especially right now with all the controversy surrounding it. Abortion has been a legalized option for unplanned pregnancies in this country since 1973. A friend of mine, who prefers to remain anonymous, experienced an unplanned pregnancy and felt like she had no other option than to abort the baby.
She is willing to share her experience in an interview so that we can gain a better understanding of what happens when we choose abortion for an unplanned pregnancy. I am not here to judge, accept, or put down her decision. I just want to share with you her story and the experience of her decision. Below, you will find questions in bold followed by her answers italicized.
What made you choose abortion for your unplanned pregnancy?
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I did not want to go forward with the pregnancy. I did not want anyone to know that I was pregnant either. I just wanted the whole situation to disappear. So, I didn’t even think about any other options.
Was it hard to make this decision?
I struggled with the decision from the very beginning. I felt so guilty about it, and I avoided thinking about it completely until well after it was over with. It was so hard. I remember driving over an hour in order to get to the clinic the abortion would be performed at. The whole drive was filled with depressing feelings. I felt like scum, and I knew that what I was about to do was a really bad thing. … I tried everything in my power not to think about what I was going to do. Not thinking about the abortion was the only way I could survive the mental horror of it.
What was the abortion clinic like? How was the atmosphere and the people?
There were protesters near the entrance. The clinic had a waiting area with many people waiting inside. It was quiet and awkward—everyone avoiding eye contact. There were two windows that separated the staff and the waiting room, and that’s where they called my name and I had to fill out paperwork and bring it back to the person sitting at that window. I waited for almost half an hour before being called back. Everyone seemed really busy and emotionally disconnected.
So, what happened next? What was the process from there?
When they called my name, I sat down with a counselor who talked to me about my decision. I don’t exactly remember all the questions she asked me, but I do remember that I didn’t share with her all the bad things that I was feeling because I just wanted to get it over with. She asked me if I preferred to be awake or asleep during the procedure and I told her that I preferred to not remember anything, which was an option. She informed me about the procedure and what to expect. She took my vitals. Then, I went into a locker room area and was instructed to take off all of my clothing and belongings and put all my things inside of a locker. I was given a gown and booties to wear from that point. Then I waited in a separate waiting room for the actual abortion. There was a TV playing and a couple of chairs to sit. There were two other women who were waiting in that room with me.
Did any of you speak to one another?
No, we did not say one word to each other. We didn’t even look at each other.
So, what happened next?
When they called my name, I went back to the operating room. I laid down on the bed. It looked like a hospital room. A nurse told me they were going to perform the abortion and I would wake up in a recovery area. She put a mask over my mouth and told me to count to 10, and that’s the last thing that I can remember happening inside that room.
When did you wake up?
When I woke up, I was so confused. She told me I would feel relieved, but I didn’t. It felt so strange waking up and not really knowing what happened. It was like waking up from a very deep sleep. A nurse was by my side and she told me that the procedure was over and asked how I was feeling. I physically felt fine other than slight menstrual cramping. I could hear a woman crying very loudly. There were multiple women in beds in this room separated by curtains, and we were all recovering from abortions. I just remember feeling so sorry for the women who were sobbing so loudly. I started crying silently because I just felt so sad. Everything was just so very sad all around me. I felt so bad for what I just did and very guilty. It was horrible in that room. I just tried to think about other things.
How long were you in recovery?
I’m not too sure. I think maybe 30 minutes or so. Once I was confident enough to get up and walk around, I got up and walked back to the locker room. There were women still crying as I was leaving. I changed back into my clothes and met with a nurse who took my vitals again and gave me antibiotics and more instructions and things to watch for after leaving. That was it. Then I left.
How long was the recovery time after leaving?
I bled for about a week. It was similar to a menstrual cycle. Mentally, I still haven’t completely recovered. I don’t think I will ever recover from that decision I made. I try not to think about it, but I do. I still feel guilty, and I feel like the whole experience was just a complete nightmare.
If there were three pieces of advice you could give about abortion, what would they be?
- It is a lifelong decision, one that I still think about almost every day.
- I don’t know if I will ever fully recover from this decision. I still feel ashamed.
- Avoid having sex unprotected so that you don’t have to experience this.
It seems like no matter what decision is made for an unplanned pregnancy, it’s not always easy. Although, unplanned pregnancies can lead to the greatest joy one has ever felt. Laura Love wrote a personal article of her own experiences of unplanned pregnancies.
Her article provides us with such an interesting perspective of unplanned pregnancies from a woman who has made all three of these tough decisions and shares what each experience was like for her. If you are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, remember that you are not alone. You are not a failure, and you can get through this!