SOLVING YOUR PROBLEMS--ONE AT A TIME
"Patience is both virtue and victory."
--M. P. N.
Throughout this book are examples of women who became pregnant in situations that were less than ideal. Each of these women experienced a crisis pregnancy, one in which the mother encountered some type of hardship and had to act to resolve a problem. Uncertainty about what to do plagued these mothers. Their names, and some other details, have been changed to protect their privacy. If someone you know was in a situation similar to and has the same name as somebody described in one of the stories, it is purely coincidental. Every pregnant woman's name, without exception, was changed in this manuscript. However, if you are pregnant and are reading this book to help yourself decide what to do, you may be like at least one of the very real women in these examples.
Maybe your situation is similar to fifteen-year-old Sheila's. She wanted to have her baby, but her parents insisted that she abort.
Or perhaps you are like Jo, who, when she became pregnant, was depressed, unwilling to continue her education, jobless, and homeless. Her college lover offered to pay for an abortion.
Maybe you are recently married, like Lisa and Tyrone, who were just barely making ends meet when Lisa became pregnant unexpectedly.
Maybe you are a victim of rape, like Sarah. A single women with a physical disability, Sarah lived in a small town and became pregnant after a married acquaintance raped her.
Perhaps you are in Dora's situation. When a routine test indicated that Dora's baby was mentally retarded, both she and her husband agreed not to raise a child with special needs.
Or you may be an older mother like Mae, who married at thirty-five and decided that she was too old to be a parent. At age forty-five, she discovered that her "menopause" was actually pregnancy.
Your situation may differ from any of these. Like you, all of these women were in a crisis. And all gave birth to their babies. How did they do it?
FOUR TRAITS FOR SUCCESS
Shelia, Jo, Lisa, Sarah, Dora, and Mae had four common traits that helped them through their pregnancies. These traits can be developed in anyone, including you.
Learn to like yourself! When you like yourself, you'll like your baby, too. You'll want to make plans to help you both. Sure, you have room for improvement--we all do. But you are still worthwhile. Why? Because you're you! You want to give your baby a chance. Only someone special can do that.
You can talk yourself into liking yourself. Look in a mirror and say your name. Then add, "I want to like myself. I will try to like myself. I know that I am valuable. I like myself." If you do this exercise often, you'll soon mean what you say. Think positively about yourself.
If you have difficulty liking yourself, speak to a friend, psychologist, counselor, or member of the clergy. Talk about why you don't like yourself. Ask your counselor to help you see the good inside of you. You may need to heal some wounds and get rid of guilts in order to like yourself.
Face Up to Your Crisis Pregnancy
Make sure you're pregnant, following the guidelines in Chapter Two. Denial is common in pregnancy. If you are pregnant, admit it! Once you admit to yourself that you are pregnant, then admit that you can't run from your situation. You can't go to a "crisis clinic" and simply a crisis, no matter what your situation is. You have to face and work through your problems. Your pregnancy will end, with your baby's birth or otherwise. This book will help you end your crisis.
Discover the Real Problem
You see, pregnancy is not your real problem. The real problem involves the circumstances and people that make this pregnancy difficult.
For example, if you were healthy, happily married, and financially secure, with a supportive family and a healthy, planned baby and no other difficulties in your life, your pregnancy would not be a problem. You are experiencing problems because your life differs from this ideal picture. Ending your pregnancy will not change the circumstances or the people in your life. They will all exist whether you are pregnant or not.
In order to solve your problems, you have to see the "big picture." You'll either have to change the circumstances and people that are troubling you, or learn to deal with them.
Take One Knot at a Time
How will you solve your problems? The same way you untangle a mass of yarn--one knot at a time.
As much as we would like to have our futures clearly mapped out, we must face each day as it comes, with the problems and surprises it brings. One problem faced, one problem solved--one problem at a time.
Before your baby is born, you have months to plan. This book will help you. Right now, why not skim through this book? Skip the parts that don't apply to you and concentrate on the ones that do. You'll get ideas on how to handle your crisis. Go back and reread the sections that apply to you.
AND NOW YOU'VE BEGUN
Believe it or not, you've begun to deal with your situation! You know you have difficulties. You know you need help. Yes, some decisions will be difficult, but you are trying to believe in your ability to make them. You're beginning to feel more confident about giving both yourself and your baby a future that will make you proud.
BOTHERING WITH A PREGNANCY
"If you can't have Life as you want it,
want Life as it is."
--M. P. N.
A crisis pregnancy sometimes involves feelings of guilt. It could be guilt about how you got pregnant. About the poor timing of the pregnancy. About wanting to give birth against the advice of those around you. About angering or disappointing someone. About not wanting to raise a baby. You may feel guilty enough to choose to have an abortion, even though you don't really want one.
Pregnancy itself brings depression, because rapid hormonal changes cause depression and mood shifts in every pregnant woman. Any veteran mother and/or seasoned obstetrician will tell you that even in the most well-planned and long-anticipated pregnancies, hormones wreck havoc on a woman's emotions. The result is great confusion in even the most dedicated mothers. Luckily, this passes as the pregnancy progresses. In a crisis pregnancy, the hormonal influences are especially upsetting because your crisis creates depression, too. You think nothing will work out, so why try?
Guilt and depression are states of mind, not flags signaling defeat. Yes, you have problems and have made mistakes. Who hasn't? Let go of guilt and depression. They will keep you from making good plans for your baby's future.
PEOPLE WHO CREATE GUILT AND DEPRESSION
Avoid people who are especially good at creating guilt and depression. These people might make you feel guilty either for getting pregnant or for wanting to give birth.
There are people who like to have complete control--the planners. They believe that life should be perfectly planned. They ignore the reality that plans sometimes go astray. If someone asks, "Was your pregnancy planned?" reply, "That's a personal question." Some people may think that you should abort a baby you didn't plan on having. You may feel that your baby deserves a birthday.
Sad sacks have the attitude that life is always most unfair to them. They will see your pregnancy only as a negative thing, a burden. Don't listen to them. Planning and help can lighten even the heaviest burden and turn your baby's birth into a wonderful experience.
Authoritarians are overpowering and manipulative, locked in a struggle for control. These people may try to badger you into giving birth to your baby. You might rebel and want to choose abortion just to prove that you can decide for yourself. Don't choose to have an abortion that you don't want in order to retaliate against authoritarians.
Fantasizers think that life should always provide happiness. "Just get an abortion and forget your pregnancy ever happened," they say. Sometimes their advice sounds tempting.
Blacklisters think that you never do anything right and that you care only about yourself. If you listen to them, you might come to believe this. "Maybe I am self-centered. I don't care about my baby, so why give birth?" But you do care. That's why you're reading this.
Sanctifiers view you as almost perfect. You're trustworthy, dependable, kind, and intelligent. Sanctifiers expect you to choose abortion so you don't disappoint or worry anyone. If you want to have your baby, an abortion may disappoint and worry you. Put yourself first for a change. Do what's best for you.
Is abortion really your free choice, or are you choosing it because you are influenced by depression, guilt, or the reactions of others?
Will you choose abortion just to please someone else?
Soon you'll learn how to deal with your feelings and with those of others. You'll be able to make a firm plan for your pregnancy and childbirth that others will learn to accept.
IF YOU NEVER WANTED A CHILD
Maybe you never wanted children. Now you're pregnant, and you're really confused. You don't want a child, but abortion makes you uneasy. You don't really want that either.
Do you know why you don't want children? Finding out will help you understand the emotions you must work through in order to have your baby.
Appendix D has a series of questions that will help you discover why you don't want a child. Answer these questions alone or with a trained counselor. You may be surprised at what you will learn about yourself.
What Is Your View of Children and Parenting?
Maybe you dislike or misunderstand children, or expect too much of them. Perhaps you can't visualize yourself as a parent or don't want to parent. In order to have your baby, you might need accurate information on childbearing and parenting. Perhaps you have to heal the angry, frightened child who still lives in your memory.
Upon their marriage, Rebecca and Craddock figured that they would be able to overcome their unhappy childhoods and poverty if they worked hard and remained childless. After trying unsuccessfully to end a late-in-life pregnancy, they came to love their daughter Karen and gave her many opportunities to become a teacher, lecturer, and world traveler. Karen cared for both her parents when they became terminally ill. During that time, Rebecca apologized for not being able to show her daughter more love. Yet Karen had learned love. Those who knew her said she blended compassion and humor in dealing with her students.
What Is Your View of Men and Women?
You have a certain view of men. You may feel that men will find you unattractive if you're pregnant. Or perhaps you believe that men have used pregnancy as an excuse to keep women in secondary roles. You may reject your pregnancy because you think it could be a negative influence on your love or work relationships with men.
You also have a certain view of yourself as a woman. In a way, it might be said that rejecting pregnancy is denying your biology, your womanhood. Maybe you think that being pregnant means being weak, but that's not true. Going through a pregnancy, especially a crisis pregnancy, taking charge, and making decisions may require that you be the strongest you have ever been.
Perhaps you, like fashion designer Yolanda, want to be totally free to pursue your chosen lifestyle. Like her, you may feel that a woman can find fulfillment without raising children. That's why Yolanda and her husband felt perfectly comfortable continuing their careers throughout Yolanda's two pregnancies and then making adoption plans for their two children.
In order to give birth, you need to know just how you view men and women. Are your views valid? How can you give birth and still maintain the views you hold?
What Is Your View of Change?
Being pregnant definitely means facing changes in your body, physical activities, and plans. In addition, you will try to imagine how your life will change if you parent your baby or if you make an adoption plan.
The only thing constant about life is change!
Yet many people fear change. The fear of change can cripple you. You may be tempted to end your pregnancy so that you don't have to face the changes pregnancy will bring.
How do you see change--as a challenge or as a threat? What changes necessitated by your pregnancy are you dreading? Try to view change as a chance to improve yourself and expand your experience. Change can be good!
Hannah and her husband are both blind. After being told that Hannah could not get pregnant, the couple became foster parents to children with disabilities and adopted a few of them. When Hannah became pregnant, she was so afraid she'd love her adopted children less that she didn't want her baby.
After much emotional turmoil and a difficult pregnancy, Hannah gave birth to a blind, gifted daughter whose deafness disappeared without treatment. Hannah soon realized that she had enough love for all of her children--her adopted children and her newly born daughter.
ENDING A PREGNANCY
Pressure to end a pregnancy can come from others or from mixed emotions within yourself. It's tempting to "end it all" quickly, before you change your mind. But these nine months of pregnancy are less than 1 percent of the average lifetime. It is possible that you may never be pregnant again.
Sometimes ending a pregnancy might seem as simple and quick as removing a thorn. Is it? Because you are pregnant, your body feels different. Your mind knows that a new life is beginning, even if you don't like to think about it. You'll remember your trip to the abortion clinic, the procedure itself, and the sensations you feel afterwards as your body returns to its nonpregnant state. You'll also remember the obstetrician-gynecologist who gives you a follow-up exam to make sure that no problems or infections resulted from the abortion.
If you're like most post-abortal women, you'll start to notice pregnant women and babies and recall your abortion sequence. Often, ending a pregnancy leaves many memories. Sometimes, it can leave emotional scars.
If you don't really want an abortion, reaffirm your decision to have your baby. Life is not always the way we want it to be. Sometimes we have to accept life the way it is. Accepting your pregnancy is a beginning toward making your life all it can be.