When I found out I was pregnant, it wasn’t a joyous occasion for me. I was scared to have the baby and scared not to have the baby. If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I was pro-life, I would have said, “Sure.” But when you find yourself in a situation where you could possibly lose your house, lose the ability to feed the three children that you already have — now all of a sudden your morals are really put into question.
But I knew if I didn’t have the baby, I’d be left with shame and regret for the rest of my life. I have had an abortion before; it’s not something I’m proud of. I would often cry about the baby that I lost. I think it was probably out of guilt that I got pregnant again. I was hoping my boyfriend would be happy, because he had told me that he wished we had kept the other baby. But there was also a lot of shame in having a baby, too. I was afraid of how the community would view me.
I asked my boyfriend, “What do you want me to do?” And he kept saying, “It’s your choice.” It just didn’t seem fair. [It was our baby,] but now it was all on my shoulders. I think what I really wanted to hear was, “I’ll be with you every step of the way, no matter what!” I felt that there was no good option, and I didn’t know what to do.
So I made an appointment at the abortion clinic. I begged them to let me take the abortion pills home because I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to do. I put them in the cupboard, and I would take them out and look at them. I even took them out of the package, and I held them in my hand. But I just couldn’t do it.
I reached out to an online group called “I Regret my Abortion.” A man connected me with the Sisters of Life, who offered that support that I had been looking for. They called me every other day when I was scared and trying to make up my mind. They kept pouring life into me and saying, “You can do this.” But I wanted to know how, because on paper there was no way I was going to be able to afford to have a baby. They just said, “We can’t tell you how — but we know that God provides.”
I took a leap of faith and destroyed the abortion pills. I said, “Welcome to the world, little one. I don’t know how I’m going to feed you; I don’t know how I’m going to keep my house, but God does, and that’s all I need to know.” But in other moments I would think, “What did I just do? I just flushed my life down the toilet.” The anxiety was paralyzing. I still had bills to pay. I was still working 60 hours a week at a factory.
One day, when I was really struggling, I told the Sisters that it was my dream to get out of the factory. It was physically taxing. The Sisters encouraged me to go back to school, so I applied. I just wanted to see if I would get in; I never thought I’d actually go. It seemed impossible with a baby on the way.
Although I was accepted into the program, I continued working at the factory. When September rolled around, I could no longer stand for a 12-hour shift, and so my doctor qualified me for short-term disability. That freed up the time for me to start school. While waiting for my first disability paycheck, I received a scholarship grant just when I needed it. The timing was amazing. I completed my first semester, and then gave birth during my Christmas break.
I never would have thought in a million years that things would just fall into place for me like that. I had to get the brakes done on my van, and miraculously I got the exact cost sent to me from a government grant. I was worried that I didn’t have enough baby things. But when the Sisters came to visit me, they had the whole room full of gifts for me and the baby. I was bawling when I saw it. The Catholic ladies in my town did a diaper shower. They figured out how many diapers a child would need from birth and gave them all to me. The community here has really stepped up in so many ways. There is a woman who would come over and just hold my baby so I could do my school work.
My friend, the one who reached out to me online, was inspired to send me a Bible passage from Hosea: “I will bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hos 2:14-15). That same day, I was speaking to Sr. Mary Grace on the phone, and when I read it out loud there was dead silence, and then Sister said, “That is the Scripture I was praying with this morning.”
I always believed God existed, but I never felt His presence until things like this started happening. I was raised going to Church, but I was lukewarm and just did my own thing. So for Him to pour out grace on me … Why? Why me? There are really good people out there who didn’t mess up! But it’s just nice to know even when you do mess up, He’s still there; He still loves you. I know now that nothing I can do will make Him love me more or less.
If you had asked me last year to write the script of how my year was going to go, I never would have imagined that it would go like this. How does a single woman with three kids at home doing online school recover from a C-section, go to school full-time, and make the Dean’s Honor Roll? I can’t even tell you how! It’s God — that’s it. He’s all-powerful, and He has provided for me. So lately, I have found myself reaching out to other women online who are in the position I was in. I feel privileged to walk beside them.
I don’t know what the future holds for me. I look at my smiling girl, and I can’t imagine life without her. I know that she was meant to be here. God had poured out so many blessings on me because I took that leap of faith. It has inspired me to keep taking leaps of faith.
* Name changed for anonymity
Originally printed in IMPRINT Magazine Fall 2021.