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BIS LIVES Blog

What to Do When Faced with an Unexpected Pregnancy

unplanned pregnancy help

Imagine the sharp confusion you feel when the wind gets knocked out of you, or the terror you’d feel if you got swept away by a fierce current in the ocean. When you’re in survival mode, it’s hard to imagine that eventually you’ll be able to breathe deeply again or safely swim back to shore.

Longing to Be Loved

In my early 20s, I was in survival mode. Deep wounds left me grasping for connection and approval through unhealthy relationships. My family thought I was a virgin and didn’t know about the man I’d been seeing. I was barely aware of my own woundedness.

Yet there I was—grad student, unmarried, and unexpectedly pregnant. The wind was knocked out of me. I couldn’t swim through the strong current. I couldn’t breathe and was overwhelming afraid.

How could this have happened? I’m a good Catholic girl from a devout family, fully aware of the repercussions of sin. I’ve studied John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and understand why sex is reserved for a husband and wife within the Sacrament of Marriage.

But I was unmarried and pregnant. And I knew that my life would never be the same.

Afraid…Accepted

I was afraid of the shame and judgement I’d face when people found out. I couldn’t imagine what my future looked like as an unmarried mother. Would I have to give up my career goals and love of adventure? What if my parents were so angry that they kick me out of the house? Would the father of my child abandon me? Deep down I knew that he was not able to marry me or help care for our child.

So there I was, unmarried and pregnant, and (seemingly) alone.

Yes, my life never was the same. And for that, I am so grateful!

Rather than give up on my goals, I earned a master’s degree in business management and graduated with a big baby bump.

Rather than kick me out of the house, my parents took the pregnancy test with me. They continue to support me on my journey as a single mom.

Rather than put the emotional power in the hands of a man not capable of caring for me or our child, I made a life plan for her.

Rather than give up on adventure, I forged new paths out of extreme love for my precious daughter and am learning to love myself in the process.

Her life is truly the greatest gift I have ever received on this turbulent earthly journey to Heaven.

We are All Adopted Children of God

My unplanned pregnancy led me out of darkness and back into communion with our Lord. While there still are dark days, I am confident in His love for me. My parents, siblings, extended family members, and close friends have shown me nothing but unconditional love.

When I was about four months pregnant, the Holy Spirit led me to choose an open adoption plan for my child. Our open adoption is full of both beautiful and extremely difficult moments, an ongoing glimpse into the mysteries of the Sacred Heart. My daughter is growing up in a happy home with devoutly Catholic married parents and two adoring big brothers, who are also adopted. Her strong, present adoptive father can provide for her in a way her biological father couldn’t. Her beautiful adoptive mother and I are very connected and hold great love and respect for each other. While the pain of missing my daughter can be overwhelming, I’m grateful for our open adoption, the strong love between everyone involved, and the support I receive daily from my family at home.

We share life together through photos, text messages, and visits. My daughter will always know me and understand how much I love her. Her middle name is Grace, which, according to the Catechism, means, “favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons [and daughters], partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.”

Grace—the most beautiful gift!

Every Pregnancy is Different

Remember that every pregnancy situation is different. While we teach our peers and children the truth about God’s holy plan for marriage and family, the brokenness of this world still results in unexpected pregnancies.

Those who are single, in committed relationships, or even married may conceive and not feel equipped to handle it at the time. It can be easy to give into fear and hopelessness when a new life enters the world in a way we didn’t expect or when we feel it’soutside the blessing of God’s plan. But God’s plan is always life-giving! Imagine how our Blessed Mother must have felt when she received the scandalous news of her own unplanned pregnancy. Then remember the support and love bestowed upon her by her family as they welcomed the Christ child into the world.

Regardless of the circumstances, we are called to embrace the gift of life. We are called to provide the love, support, and resources every pregnant woman and family needs to welcome their child into the world.

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What to Do When Faced with an Unexpected Pregnancy

Accept the reality of the present.

A young woman who experiences an unplanned pregnancy is fully aware of what happened. She needs love and empathy, not a lecture. The reality is that a child has already been brought forth into worldly existence. Choose to embrace the present and future, not dwell on what should or shouldn’t have happened in the past. Judgmental attitudes emotionally harm the mother, potentially threaten the life of the unborn child, and can damage relationships that take years to rebuild.

Rather than dwell in the past, dwell in compassion. Move forward in support of the mother and the beautiful new life carried within her.

Make a plan for the future.

A woman and couple have three choices when faced with a child that she and/or he feels unequipped to care for: the choice to parent, to place for adoption, or to have an abortion. Making a life plan early on helps the mother regain control of the situation. It takes care of her needs so she can make the best choice for her child’s blossoming life.

If you or someone you love is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, remember that you are not alone. There are wonderful people ready to support you along your unique journey as a parent. Taking care of your body, mind, and heart is just as important for your health as it is for your baby’s growth and development. Create appropriate boundaries, focus on the grace given to you each day, and cut out negative people and activities in order to reduce stress and be able to hear God’s calling for you.

And remember that whatever choice you make now that you’re a mother, your baby loves you and so does our loving God!

Parenting

If you feel prepared to care for your child as a single parent or with the support of the father, it is important to build your “village” with your family and community. Think about the potential barriers to your ability to be a good mom. Seek out trustworthy and reliable people who can help provide resources like baby supplies, childcare, and support for your own mental health, education, and career. Ask your church or local pregnancy center about getting involved with parenting classes and support groups.

Adoption

Making an adoption plan for your baby is an incredibly selfless, courageous, and loving way to ensure the best possible life for yourself and your child if you don’t feel equipped to parent for any reason. Choosing a forever home for your child through adoption is painful and there is grief in the experience. At the same time, it’s beautiful and healing.

Birth moms can choose the family they want to raise their child. They also decide how much interaction to have with the adoptive family as their child grows. You’ll “just know” when you connect with the right family who will love you and your child unconditionally. If you are considering placing your child for adoption, you can learn more about the process and get help from the online ministry BraveLove.

Abortion

Ending a pregnancy through abortion is devastatingly common and legal in America. But abortion is not an easy way out. It stops the heartbeat of one human being and breaks the heart of another. Studies have shown that abortion can be a dangerous procedure and drastically increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and other health issues for both women and men who’ve experienced abortion.

Be aware that whatever choice you make, life will never be as it was before getting pregnant. Post-abortive sorrow and regret is very real. There is hope and immediate help for those considering abortion by visiting OptionLine. If you seek healing from a past abortion, the loving community of Rachel’s Vineyard is ready to welcome you with open arms and walk through the grieving process with you.

We’re with You

If you’re in survival mode right now, give yourself a chance to be loved by our Heavenly Father. He wants nothing but the best for you and your child. He will never burden you with anything you can’t overcome with His help.

Remember that you have a community of resources here to support you on your journey as a mother. We love both you and your baby!

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Rachel LeBeau is a proud birth momma to a precious little girl and enjoys a beautiful open adoption with her forever family. She is available to share her pro-life story through speaking engagements (for booking information, you can email her at [email protected]). A contemplative at heart, Rachel loves to commune with our Redeemer through prayer and liturgy, nature, art, and her beloved ones.

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