After announcing to my friends and family that I was pregnant, a few people asked me if I had planned it. This seemed to be one of the most absurd questions I’ve ever encountered, given I am not a married woman and given that I have always been vocal about wanting to be married prior to becoming a mom. It baffled me to the point to where I questioned who I have been in my life, as my question quite naturally was, “what about me says I would intentionally become a single mother?” In my mind, perhaps it would make more sense if I were much older, but given the fact that I haven’t succumbed to societal pressures to be married by a certain age; that should have been a clear indication that I don’t care what people say about what I “should” be doing in my life.
Let’s be clear, I have been proposed to more than once in my life, 3 times to be exact, and twice by the same person (the first time I said “no” and the second time I said “hell no” because he obviously didn’t hear me the first time he asked. we broke up shortly thereafter). This is a fact I don’t think I have shared with anyone, because when asked, I knew they weren’t my husband, so there really was no need to involve my friends or family in something that would never be because that would undoubtedly lead to annoying questions and unnecessary pressure stemming from their projections.
In theory, if I was concerned about what people thought about my marital status, I had 3 opportunities in my 20’s to do something about it. Thankfully, I was secure enough in myself to not give in, just to have the pleasure of saying I could change my last name, have the big wedding and reception, only to pacify the public, while denying my true desires, wants, and needs. Had I gotten married at those times, my priorities would have changed and I probably would not have gone back to school for my Masters degree until much later, if at all.
Many also know that I spent a bulk of my 20’s taking care of family members, which meant I often traveled to my hometown several times throughout each month, before I eventually resigned from my position and moved there when the travelling became too physically and emotionally draining. Had I been married, I’m certain that scenario would have played out differently, as I wouldn’t have been able to up and leave my husband and who knows; I could have also had kids by that point, which would have made traveling to Florence much more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my dad before he passed away. I learned so much in those last months and many questions from my childhood finally received answers. That experience was the type of self healing that can only occur when you are able to put self first. I also got to fulfill some promises I made to my grandmother before she passed away.
Again, if I had a husband or children, there is no way I could have accomplished what I was able to do for them. Only a single person with no major responsibilities outside of the typical bills could get done what I got done. The conversations I was able to have with my grandparents before my grandmother left shed light on so many things and also gave me answers I needed in moving forward. Even when things went berserk after my grandmother passed away, I had peace because I knew. I have peace, because I know.
My 20’s were spent concentrating on myself, my education, my career, and my family of origin. Keeping that focus allowed me to not have any regrets. I never thought time was running out on the marriage and kids front, because 30 isn’t old in my opinion. I still had more I wanted to accomplish in my career. I eventually went back to school to increase the knowledge I believed I needed to enhance that career, and in my mind 2012 was my year to make the career moves I was unable to make because I spent so much time making sure I wasn’t more than a quick drive away from home. This was my time to open that business, so to get knocked up in 2011 was far from any plan I had for my life. At the time, I was in a great relationship with a man unlike any other I’ve dated and I was content with seeing where that would grow. However, missing my period wasn’t planned.
Every fear I’ve ever had was actualized in the moment when the results of that pregnancy test came back. My mom reared us without a husband, so I knew first hand the difficult road I had ahead of me. Disappointment in myself also set in, as I couldn’t logically think of how in the world I could have gotten pregnant after never having so much as a pregnancy scare in my 32 years of life. I had prided myself on being able to live the dream of graduating from high school, going to college and graduating, going back to college and graduating, and finding myself working in a career with young girls who saw me as an example they should follow.
That gave me joy and much pride, as I was able to show them that you did not have to give in to pressure and it is okay to wait to have sex (there were several years of celibacy during this time period). All of my years of work, all of those group sessions, all of those individual conversations seemed to drip down my face with each tear that flowed. I thought I had let down everyone, including myself and God. Being the book smart person I am, I knew I could continue to work with young ladies and have my testimony serve as a “look at what can happen to you” story, however, I did not want to be the stereotypical single mother who now works as a mentor showing young ladies there is a better way than the path she took. I preferred being the “this is how you can live your life and still be content and happy” mentor where my life and my choices were the choices to make. Why would someone like me choose to eat so many words shared over the years?
After disappointment came denial. There was no freaking way I was pregnant. No way whatsoever. I ignored it and carried on with my life as if I never received the results of both home pregnancy tests. I convinced myself that the sickness I was feeling was from that stupid job that I hated. They made me sick daily. And since I never vomited like most pregnant women do, then that means I wasn’t pregnant in my mind. The queasiness I felt with certain smells were because I was weening myself off of fatty foods and apparently I was doing great on my diet because the smell of this garbage turned my stomach. Yay fruits and veggies!
After denial, rationalization. In my “book smart” mind, I knew statistically most first pregnancies ended in miscarriage, so I chose to wait out the month of December. I received no medical care because I just knew I would miscarry. Everyday, several times a day, I went to the restroom and looked for blood in the toilet. Abortion was never an option, but in my mind if I had a miscarriage, that would have been God’s natural way of warning me “this too could happen to you” and I would have learned my lesson. Nearing the end of December, the blood never came, and I knew I had to tell my mom. At this point only the dad and one other friend knew that I “thought” I was pregnant. But somehow, I knew I had to tell my mom. Well, I did and she didn’t believe me which pissed me off, so again I went back into denial. After the first of the year, my relationship is more rocky and while I’m no genius in math; I knew the last time I had my period was in October which meant by this point, I was a couple months pregnant. I made the decision to get over myself and make a doctor’s appointment.
I got a big surprise when at the doctor’s office they told me I was pregnant. *Insert sarcasm* What was shocking to me was that I was already out of my first trimester. Those fools told me I was 14 weeks pregnant! I looked at the nurse and said, “I’m in my second trimester.” In a “duh” kind of tone she said, “Yes.” She then slapped that cold gel on my belly and for the first time I heard my baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t say a word, but tears flowed endlessly down my cheeks. I don’t know if they were happy tears or sad tears, but it felt real in that moment. My denial and rationalization turned to guilt. I began to hope I hadn’t done anything to hurt my baby. I couldn’t stop crying because in that very moment I wanted nothing but happiness for this child. I finally accepted the fact that I was indeed pregnant.
I began to tell others. Many of the reactions were disbelief and I understood why. I went through it myself. But I still couldn’t and can’t fathom why anyone who truly knows me would think I would plan something like this. I know we live in a day and time where self-proclaimed “independent women” willingly becoming single mothers and profess to want to do it on their own, but I am a clinically-trained therapist who understands the psycho-social reasons behind why it’s best that children have 2 parents. As a woman who has accepted Christ as her savior years ago, I know what God thinks of pre-martial sex, marriage as a covenant, and parenting as a ministry. As a child from a single-parent household, I know life as a single parent won’t be all cheese omelets and walks on the beach.
This journey has also taught me not to beat myself up too much because as much as we plan out our lives, sometimes a bigger plan comes in and trumps it all. A part of me accepting I was pregnant was because I realized many women were trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. I also realized that women were getting pregnant but not able to carry full term. I began noticing articles where women were blessed with children only to abuse them in some of the most unimaginable ways. Seeing and experiencing these things led to me asking God to forgive me for ever wishing ill of my pregnancy, as there obviously was a reason He kept me and this baby. He chose me to be a mother at this point in my life for some reasons that have already unfolded and others I’m sure will continue to unfold. And while I know God is not pleased with my actions, I thank Him for his grace and mercy. I thank Him for forgiveness. I thank Him for keeping His promises to me despite my shortcomings to Him. From disappointment to denial to rationalization to incredibly humbled is where I now stand.
As I sit here today at 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant with a little girl I have yet to meet and am already completely and totally in love with; I have reached the point where I again say I am not concerned with what others think. I will continue to work towards my goals, perhaps more diligently now than ever now that I have another reason not to fail. I will continue to let people know God is good even when we are not. I will let my child know she is not a mistake and she is here for a reason. Every life God creates has a purpose~each and every one. I will teach her to be who God created her to be and not fall prey to what others think she should be or do in her life. She will be taught to make plans for her life, but to ultimately submit to the plan of the One who gave her life, as ultimately that’s the only plan that will manifest anyway.