My husband and I got married “too young”– before we were above the poverty level, before we had finished school, and well before we had stable income or good health insurance. We even crashed with BOTH of our sets of parents in between moves to be able to afford deposits and down payments. We babysat, did yard work, worked restaurants, painted mailboxes, and ate our fridge empty each week. The morning we found out hubby had a start date for his first full-time job was the morning we got our first positive pregnancy test.
I have been a working mom since the first few weeks of my first pregnancy, when morning sickness struck unexpectedly on my very first day of work at a brand new job. My boss kept me on even though I got sick in between customers, because her first child had been a surprise, too. I still get queasy at the smell of melted cheddar and bacon.
We moved into our own little condo with college loans, a crib from my parents, and my in-laws’ old bed. I couldn’t hold food down for months, but started a new job in a new city with no friends.
Some people rolled their eyes and whispered about our life choices as they waited for our future to disappear. But others chose to love us instead. A sweet priest, not only hired a pregnant youth minister, but found a couple of couches for our living room. Then he spread the word, and we got a kitchen table, too. I never had to sit alone at church, because families and individuals took the time to get to know me by name. Sweet baby girl had four baby showers thrown for her–such love.
Giving birth didn’t make having the child any easier. It compounded my career and financial challenges, not to mention drastically changed my body and my relationships. My grad school experience and post-partum social life were not what I had pictured. But people stayed present and caring. They were generous with thoughtful and practical gifts, plus offers to snuggle a little one or to babysit for a date night. For the first baby…and the second baby… and the third. Now, I’m able to pay it forward a little bit and reach out to my fellow mothers in solidarity and support.
But for everything these little ones take away, they give back in potential by leaving me with the opportunity to be a different and better person. My studies, my career, my spouse, my religion, and my family pushed me in the same direction, but it was my motherhood that hurried me along the path. Radical selflessness is not optional with young children.
I survive AND THRIVE as a woman and human being because of women and men who are pro-life with their time, not just with the words of their religion. They make an ideology possible, because they live it with me.
So, my words to the unhappy pregnant mother are these:
You don’t have to give up your future. It may be different, but different isn’t bad—this is America! We get creative and innovate! A child may not require sacrificing what you dream of, but rather the adjustment of your timeline or the mental picture of how you get there.
You don’t have to raise your baby. Sometimes being the best mother means letting someone else give your child everything he or she deserves.
You don’t have to be alone. Yesterday’s choice, today’s choice, tomorrow’s choice, regardless of what it is, you are loved. Not just by me, but millions of people around this country. We are here to cry over the 6th positive pregnancy test with you. We are here to be your village. We are here when it feels like your life and dreams are slipping away.
And dear, newly expectant mother, if you didn’t know these things, that is a failure of the pro-life movement.