At 19 years old, I found out that I was expecting my first child. For the majority of women in this situation, it is terrifying. I had just completed my first year of college, had no clue how to pay bills, file taxes — hell, I could barely do a load of laundry without turning my whites pink or shrinking my favorite pair of sweats. And suddenly I realized I would be responsible for a life, a child, an actual person.
In that first week after finding out I was expecting, I contemplated my options. I went to Planned Parenthood for family planning and weighed out each decision that was available. I spoke with two of my closest friends and asked for advice. After a lot of tears, I broke down and told my parents, who were disappointed but supportive of whatever decision I chose to make. And I prayed, oh Lord, did I pray. It seemed that for those first two weeks, I was constantly either talking to God or weeping behind closed doors.
I decided that I had created this life that was growing inside of me, and although I am pro-choice, I knew that I had to keep my baby. I felt it at the core of me — my heart had spoken. I was at peace with my decision, and I was able to throw myself into the excitement of pregnancy.
The only issue was that for the past 5 years I had been in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with the person biologically responsible for creating this child with me. I knew from the moment I decided I was going to keep my baby, I would be doing so as a single mother. That was the only option for me… for us.
This boy (I refuse to use the word “man” or “father” when it comes to this person) had spent years — my entire high school experience — cheating on me, degrading me, lying to me, and even placing me in the ER with a broken nose. With two other children who he did not take care of, I knew I needed to finally uncast myself from his spell and break away.
It was tough, but I had an amazing support system at home and was able to go through my pregnancy with minimal contact with him. He was not present at my daughter’s birth, nor placed on her birth certificate. I knew that I was strong enough, and had the right people surrounding me, that I would be able to do this whole parenting thing on my own.
In my darkest hours, I would question every decision I had made. I could not believe I had allowed myself to become a statistic. An unwed, single mother living at home with her parents. I despised him for the pain he had put me through and for not being there for my daughter. But even more so, I resented myself for allowing that toxicity to envelop me and control me for so many years leading up to my pregnancy.
But sure enough, with the help of my parents, I was able to make it out of the newborn stage (with a colicky babe) alive. I began to gain footing in my life and provide more for myself and my child than ever before. It was a strenuous few years, but I persevered.
Now almost ten years after finding out I was expecting my firstborn, I am able to happily reflect back on the last decade. I know I made the right decision in being a single mother and that I am so much more than a statistic. Three years after the birth of my daughter, my soulmate entered our lives and gladly claimed the role as her father. We have since welcomed two more children into the world and have built a family grounded in love and faith. I have been able to let go of any hatred I had for my abuser and relish in the knowledge that in choosing to be a single mother in the beginning, I had set up a beautiful life for myself, my daughter, and my family.
In the toughest of situations the true character of a person shines through, you just have to hold on, listen to your heart and never give up. Choosing to become a single mother was the best decision I ever made