Life is precious. Not just mine, but every single life. We only get one life and we need to be very careful about the decisions we make- they define us.
The year was 2004; I was a freshman in college. While I was supposed to be enjoying my new found freedom, I was actually preparing for the biggest decision in my life. I lived in an all girls dorm with two girls to a room and a communal bathroom (I do NOT miss that!) down the hall. My original roommate asked for a reassignment and the girl across the hall was in the same boat. So, with permission, I moved across the hall. Little did I know what an impact she would have in my life.
College life was fun! I was enjoying my freedom. I didn’t have to make my bed if I didn’t want to, or eat breakfast, or dinner. I could even have junk food for dinner because I could! Along the way my roommate/floormates noticed they had all gotten their cycle… several times. One of them asked me how I managed to not complain about cramping. ‘Oh crap!” I thought. I had been at school almost two months and not once gotten my period. That was pretty typical for me but when I sat down and thought about it, I hadn’t gotten it ALL SUMMER! That was not normal.
I was pregnant. I took several tests to make sure, just in case the first few were defective. I was indeed pregnant at 18 years old and about 300 miles from home!
My first thought was to run away. I couldn’t face my family and I certainly couldn’t keep a baby in my dorm, so I knew I had nowhere to go. My friends, however, were very supportive and even a little excited about the idea of a baby possibly living in the dorms with them. Even though it wasn’t an option, it was nice to feel loved when I knew my family’s reaction would be just the opposite. Before telling my family, I wanted to be sure. I truly believed there was a slight chance that all those pregnancy tests were wrong. “Maybe it was a cyst…”, I tried convincing myself. I called around and found a clinic that would take my insurance, made an appointment and with the support of my friends, I went.
“That’s the heartbeat.”, the sonographer said. As I stared at the screen, with my friend holding my hand, I burst into tears. Even though I already knew I was pregnant, seeing it on a screen made it so real. I was 16 and a half weeks along! The sonographer excused herself and sent in the doctor to have a talk with me. Turns out that I was in an abortion clinic! He grimly explained that terminating my pregnancy, at this stage, could be life-threatening to me. The thought never occurred to me. Abortion was never an option. I left the clinic and cried the whole way back to my dorm. I worried about how I would tell my parents and how I’d move forward with my life.
I finally mustered up enough courage to call my parents. They were divorced, so I had to have the difficult conversation TWICE! (Talk about pouring salt on an open wound). My mother cried. She told me how disappointed she was- that hurt me. Nobody wants to be a disappointment. My father didn’t seem to have any reaction when I told him. He asked me what my options were. I wasn’t sure what he was asking, then, very blatantly, he asked me about having an abortion. I explained to him what I’d been told at the clinic. Not because I had considered abortion as an option, but rather because I knew that he wouldn’t push the issue knowing my life was at stake. I wanted that baby, even if he was unplanned. My dad ended up not speaking to me until after my son was born.
I was glad to be away from home because it would give everyone some time to adjust to the news before I came back home. I managed to finish my first semester at college and I was determined to not let this pregnancy deter my college career. I refused to be another statistic.
Over the course of my short-lived time being away from home, I had so much time to dwell on what this pregnancy meant to me. I slowly realized that, while not the most ideal situation, I was called to be a mother. This baby… ALL babies, were a gift. I was being entrusted with the most important job ever. I was determined to prove to everyone who said I couldn’t, that I could!
That’s exactly what I did. I moved back home with my mom, continued going to college (only one to two classes a semester, so it took a long time) and I held a full-time job to provide for my baby. I knew that being a mom at any age would come with its challenges, but when you’re 19, everyone is watching your every move. They won’t hesitate to criticize your parenting in a heartbeat because “you’re too young” or “you’re just a baby with a baby”. It was hard, and many times I questioned if I made the right choice but knowing that I was choosing life just felt right.
Twelve years later I thank God for blessing me with the most amazing boy and challenging me to make the right decision even in the most inopportune situation. I truly believe it’s made me a better me. For that reason, I will always choose life.