This guest post is by Megan, a birthmother.
Many of our decisions in life have a fairly immediate outcome that is either good or bad. Sometimes these decisions only affect us, but sometimes it might affect someone else.
Sixteen years ago I was faced with one of the biggest decisions of my life. Coincidentally, it would be a decision with monumental impact on the life of another as well.
I had just turned eighteen when I discovered I was pregnant. The acknowledgement of that fact in my own mind was absolutely terrifying.
I went immediately into denial, where I buried myself away with careful precision. The fear and sadness of my situation consumed me.
I had no idea how I was going to survive this experience, let alone trust my own judgement on what to do with this growing baby when I hadn’t been able to trust myself to keep things in control within the relationship I’d had with my boyfriend.
I had let myself down, and in my mind, after succumbing to the physical desires in the heat of the moment, I’d felt that I had let him down.
I’d let my family down. Even my best friends would never understand! I was a failure.
As a young religious girl with a seemingly glowing reputation, I was ashamed of what I had become. That devastation was more than I could bear.
I couldn’t make eye contact with those closest to me, and avoided looking at myself in the mirror.
My story took an insane turn. One that I can hardly believe is my true story. Even though I knew I was pregnant, I didn’t want to say it out loud.
I Hid My Unplanned Pregnancy From Everyone
I wanted to hide. At times, I wished I would just die. I couldn’t stand the thought of bringing sadness or disappointment to my parents or friends, and I was petrified of judgement from my peers.
So I did just that. I hid. I consciously hid myself from everyone I loved and I didn’t tell anyone besides my boyfriend that I was pregnant.
And, despite his best efforts to convince me that we should tell our parents, I had zero intention of telling anyone what was going on.
Not even when I was five months pregnant and in the dressing room with my mother trying on prom gowns.
I knew she was concerned. Why was I getting so heavy? I said nothing. I graduated from high school a few weeks later.
Around that same time I could feel the baby moving in my belly. I knew I needed to get information. I needed a listening ear. I desperately wanted someone to take me under their wing and care for me.
I wanted someone to tell me what to do! I wished for someone to remove the burden from me. I didn’t want to have to make the decision that would change the course of my life, regardless of which decision I made.
I went to a clinic to seek that information. I was in a crisis, and I didn’t know where to turn. The feeling inside the clinic was sterile and I felt a distinct disconnect in humanity under that roof.
They gave me a pregnancy test, as per protocol, and then checked the baby with an ultrasound. The baby measured almost twenty two weeks. No gender was announced to me, and in the numbness of the moment I didn’t think to ask.
Reality Didn’t Set In Until My Baby Was About To Be Born
I was offered the possibility of a late term abortion, though they would need to get approval. Terminating the pregnancy, in the clinical words, was presented as a quick, standard procedure, but I knew what that actually meant.
I would be removing another growing human from my body before he/she was ready to survive on their own. I absolutely wouldn’t even consider that.
I wanted to know more. I didn’t know what to ask. They had inquired if I had other pre-natal care, which I hadn’t, and recommended I seek that out.
No referrals given, and no offer of any other options. I left with no further clarity on my situation, other than I knew this baby was going to be here soon.
I remained numb. That is really the only way to cope when you are in a traumatic situation. Being alone in my experience was ultimately what empowered me to make a decision about this pregnancy on my own.
Even though my boyfriend tried to be helpful, his cheerful, optimistic demeanor infuriated me. He didn’t understand what I was going through.
He didn’t have to live inside my mind all day, every day. He didn’t know the emotional overwhelm I was drowning in.
He was still in high school. He was a 17 year old girl-crazy kid! He seemed so carefree while I was in constant panic. I kept him at arm’s length.
For the duration of the pregnancy I steered clear of my family and friends by holding down two full-time jobs while still living with my parents and sharing a room with my older sister.
I slept on the top bunk. I was the first to leave in the morning and the last one home at night.
My sister was the first person to learn of my pregnancy when I went into labor in the wee hours of the morning on September 29th, 1999.
I finally caved into the reality of the situation and told her I needed to be taken to the hospital. I finally surrendered myself to the reality. A baby was about to be born.
My parents, who were out of town vacationing at the Oregon Coast, were called and told to come home early and that I was in the hospital.
My siblings decided it was best to wait until they were back in town to tell them why I was there. They didn’t want them to be more worried on that long drive home than they already were.
It was while I was already in the hospital, with a perfect little baby girl in my arms that the option for adoption came into focus.
In a whirlwind, same-day event, I sorted through a giant pile of family profiles from the adoption agency that came running when my boyfriend made the call; we have a baby here and she needs a forever family.
In the days, then months, then years that passed after this experience, I have come to realize that my healing process has been very resolute because of the gratification I felt in making this critical, permanent decision myself.
With only the guidance from the adoption agency, support from my boyfriend, and lots of prayer and comfort from a Heavenly Father whose love I could feel stronger than I’d ever felt before that time in my life, I stood firm in choosing to place my baby for adoption without my thoughts being skewed by outsiders.
I didn’t even consider letting other people who said adoption was “giving up a baby” sway my decision, but I know now that is a luxury that many women do not have.
There have been a handful of occasions over the years that I have been compelled to share my experience as a birth mother, but only recently have I felt very strong promptings to share it with the world, in an effort to be a resource to other women who find themselves in this situation.
And, more importantly, to be an advocate for them to make the best decision for their unborn child without too much influence from other people.
My mission is to empower these women, and provide them the support they need as they navigate this life-altering trial, especially if they are under duress of someone trying to control the situation.
Many Birthmothers Do Not Have The Support Of The Baby’s Birthfather Or Their Family
After I shared this story publicly I was hit with an avalanche of stories. True stories from other people. Many who are currently pregnant and trying to decide what to do.
Some who have placed a baby for adoption. Some who chose to keep their babies. Others, many others, who made the permanent choice to terminate their pregnancy.
Stories from women, and some from men. Stories that bring those burning emotions to the surface, which is easy to do because experiencing an unplanned pregnancy is something that stays deeply rooted in your heart and mind. Forever. Regardless of the decision. It’s there daily.
Amid those stories I am witnessing a great unrest. Women who are questioning their decision. Many of them who did not have support from the birth father or their family.
Even more unfortunate are the beautiful women with defeated souls because they felt forced into a decision. Each is a unique story.
Some who were persuaded to keep the baby and take “responsibility,” others who placed their babies for adoption, and the hardest stories for me to hear, are those from women who were, in their words, “forced” to abort their unborn child.
Carrying a baby to full term, and bonding with that child, then trusting your decision to place that baby into the arms of another mother, is not an easy one.
I would argue that it is very courageous to choose adoption instead of the quicker, quieter way out of the mess you’ve gotten into.
Everyone seems to know what is best for someone else, but it is the woman going through this who must live with whichever choice she ultimately makes.
She will think of it every minute of every day, sometimes for years, and even after time passes, there are daily reminders.
When you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy, you have a very finite amount of time to make a decision of what to do with that pregnancy. It is immense pressure and emotionally draining.
The commonly discussed options are to either keep the baby and raise it yourself, or to terminate the pregnancy. The third option, that I am in love with, is adoption.
Adoption Is Not ‘Giving Up A Baby’
At the time, I remember being overwhelmed by selfish feelings of how this situation would affect me. I feared judgement of others. I worried that no one would love me in the future.
I was angry at myself. I was angry at my boyfriend for trying to be happy during this time.
Ultimately, I made the decision myself. As much as I think my boyfriend was trying to be there for me, it just wasn’t helping the situation.
He knew as well as I did that we weren’t in a position to be parents. Could we have survived if we had kept her? Sure. And yes, she would have been loved immensely.
She still is! But for us, for me, and most importantly, for her it was the right decision.
She has lived a wonderful life and recently celebrated her Sweet Sixteen with a family who absolutely adores her.
I’m an advocate for adoption, which after all these years I still strongly believe is not about “giving up a baby.”
But even more than that, I am an advocate for women to study all the options and ponder them intently and privately so that whatever permanent decision they make, they can truly live with.
Megan has been married for 14 years to Mike, and is the mother of three young children. They reside in Boise Idaho.
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