Pregnancy, Female, 27
“My boyfriend’s parents wanted us to stay together, to get married, to uphold THEIR agenda”

Describe the situation of the crisis pregnancy:
I was in a time of emotional turbulence. I had sort of lost direction in life and let go of my Christian faith at that time. I went to visit an old college acquaintance which in hindsight wasn’t a good idea, but I had no reservations at the time. I ended up in a relationship with him. One night we went out to socialize with some of his coworkers, and I attempted to have a mixed drink. I’m not much of a drinker regardless, but this night I felt particularly sick and asked to go home. I threw up later but thought nothing of it. I thought I’d already gotten a weird, rather light “period” earlier in the week, so pregnancy wasn’t really on my radar. But just to be on the safe side, since I just happened to have one, I took a test at my boyfriend’s house while he was at work. When it was positive, I was in shock. I didn’t understand back then, biologically speaking, the ins and outs of conception, so I didn’t understand how it could be possible. I thought I’d already gotten my “period” which was likely implant bleeding, but I didn’t know that back then. I rapidly went out and bought several more tests, and they were all positive as well. In addition to being shocked, I was also scared. I was not at all upset or disappointed about the baby, in fact, I did not have any negative feelings at all toward the baby. I had wanted to have a family at some point just not in this context. My emotions were all related to external things. My situation was challenging since I wasn’t completely settled as far as where I wanted to live, long-term, and how committed my boyfriend would really be.

If you had to name the specific fears, worries, and anxieties you that were going through your mind during the course of the pregnancy, what were they?
My first fear was, of course, judgment from family and friends who identified with being Christians and knew that I had always identified the same way. Most people did not know my personal struggles and didn’t realize how much I had been through. They did not have any context to understand how or why I could be pregnant when my faith had always been so central to who I was. I was also worried about finances because my relationship with my boyfriend wasn’t set in stone. We were loosely committed but had only officially been together for a month or so; we’d had no time or reason to clarify our long-term intentions. At the time I found out I was pregnant I was staying at his house, and he was working. I was not. I knew if things didn’t work out, and I left him, that money would sooner or later become a scary topic for me.

Describe the process of opening up to others:
I can’t remember how long we waited. I told my boyfriend first, and then maybe after the first ultrasound or so we called my parents first, and then his. I was afraid of what they would say. I can’t speak to how my boyfriend felt. But we both agreed that just getting it over with as soon as possible was best. We didn’t wait too long.

What were the practical things people did for you, with you, or said to you that were helpful?
Honestly I don’t know that there were very many practical things people said or did initially that were helpful. Later, I did end up leaving my boyfriend and going to live with friends. I was ashamed at first because I knew them to be extremely religious in the legalistic sense. But surprisingly, instead of shaming me, they welcomed me and asked me about my pregnancy and baby with excitement and joy. That helped me more than anything.

What were the things people unintentionally did or said that were unhelpful or hurtful?
My boyfriend’s sister, when hearing about the pregnancy, asked my boyfriend’s parents in front of me, “Does that mean I’m the ‘good child’ now?” She was implying that her brother was “bad” and by extension, I was too. I did have a friend who sent an aggressive email asking me how I could possibly be pregnant and what had gone on for me to get into the situation. But when I responded with humility about not making Christ-centered choices at the time, she backed off and became a big source of support. My mom, who is a piece of work, also asked me very early on, “Did you ever consider abortion?” This may sound like a reasonable question in a generic situation, but I have always been firmly pro-life. So it was both insensitive and demeaning for her to ask me that.

What was the pregnancy season like for you spiritually?
Pregnancy was definitely a struggle in some ways. My boyfriend’s parents wanted us to stay together, to get married, to uphold THEIR agenda for our lives, regardless of what the two of us wanted. We started having relationship problems amidst all the pressure, and I eventually left him. I endured a lot of verbal abuse from his mother up to and after that decision, until I told her not to contact me anymore and blocked her messages. My father told me if I left him he would disown me. Although it was hurtful to hear that, I knew deep down that it was a bluff, and I wasn’t willing to be manipulated or controlled no matter what he said or did. I sought God’s will for me and my baby, and I felt God leading me to leave the situation and go live with some friends. I actually had a strange experience where I had a vision from God about all the immediate challenges I would face if I chose to obey him. In the vision, he was asking me “Are you sure you’re willing to obey me if this stuff is going to happen?” I said yes, and all of those things came true, but I had a supernatural peace throughout everything that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Crazy things happened! My boyfriend left his house with a gun and no one could find him for a day or two. He stopped answering my messages or calls, and we weren’t sure if he was looking for me, so even the police were all on alert. But it ended with no one being hurt, and we permanently parted ways after that. The pregnancy itself was probably easier than some, but I had a lot of nausea, extreme reflux, and fatigue in the first trimester. The second and third trimesters were much easier. Regardless, there is nothing like the supernatural peace I had. I had made the right decision for me and my baby regardless of others’ agendas.

Between parenting, adoption, and abortion, how did you navigate your choices? And what did you choose and why?
I never ever considered abortion. My dad worked at a pro-life nonprofit when I was in preschool and elementary school. Maybe it’s unconventional, but I practically grew up watching videos about the sanctity of life and the medical realities of abortion procedures. I also felt that even though I knew it would probably be really hard, I wanted this baby. Despite the circumstances not being what I would have chosen, I wanted to keep her. So that’s what I did.

With the political and social conversation around abortion often being so argumentative and abrasive from both sides, as someone who could have chosen abortion, what did you find unhelpful, hurtful, or disconnected about how people talk the abortion in public?
I think people discount the fact that HAVING a baby will also impact your life forever, whether you choose to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. There’s a narrative floating around that for those who abort their babies, the decision will haunt them forever, or their lives will never be the same. But honestly, the fact of pregnancy, no matter what you choose to do, will impact your life forever. No matter how it turns out. Abortion may have a long-lasting impact but so does parenting and giving up a baby for adoption. All choices have a long-lasting impact. I actually never considered abortion, but I highly disagree with the mean and aggressive Christian pro-life groups that harass clinics and their clients. That’s not the way to win people.

What advice would you give to the girl currently facing a crisis pregnancy like yours?
What you do is your decision, and yours alone. You don’t have to explain, justify, or discuss it – unless you WANT to. No one else has the right to tell you what to do or what choice to make. If you need unbiased information I urge you to seek it, but if you already have all the information you need, don’t let anyone else coerce you to make a decision you don’t want to make, regardless of what that might be.

What do you wish everyday people would know about people who walk through a crisis pregnancy?
Well, being a single mom of a school-aged child, my ‘crisis’ pregnancy was a long time ago now. I think I wish that people understood that the pregnancy is not the only time the women and children need support. Single parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it gets easier in some ways as they get older, but harder in others. Simply trying to cover the cost of childcare when you work a full-time job tends to be more than half your monthly salary. I was in the income bracket where I made something like $200 too much to qualify for government assistance, but yet not enough to be able to pay rent and childcare on a consistent basis without borrowing or getting help from somewhere.

Society today is becoming more and more aware of how destructive, crippling, and powerful shame and stigma can be. With that in mind, how do you think shame and stigma impact those facing a crisis pregnancy situation?
I think Christians in general can and should be WAY more compassionate and supportive to those in the situation. I think Christians also need to talk more openly about sex and sexuality. They need to find a balance between encouraging people to live Godly lives and acknowledging that sometimes we don’t know how to do that and don’t necessarily make the best choices. “Purity culture” destroyed a lot of young Christians’ views of healthy sexuality and put a huge shroud of shame over even talking about the topics. If you’re pregnant, you obviously had sex, which means you obviously sinned, or so the narrative goes. While it’s apparently okay for people to publicly be greedy, shallow, compassionless, and dishonest as Christians, having sex and getting pregnant is not okay. This is the message we’ve been fed.