The latest in a series of guest blogs from contributors to the new book Millionaire MOM
She’s Pregnant! Now What?
What do you do when your daughter is smart, vibrant and challenges you to think? You’ve watched her grow. She always tells the truth. She asks you lots of questions. You’re proud of who she is becoming. Then you notice a shift in her energy and presence. How do you respond when you begin to see changes that you don’t really want to see?
That was me. I was sixteen years old with tremendous potential. I always told my mother the truth. That is, if she asked of course. You know I didn’t volunteer any information. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Right?
My mother never told me how she knew. She never shared what she saw. I’m guessing it was simply a “mother’s intuition”. Whatever she observed about my presence prompted this question. “Melanie do you have something to tell me.” I responded with a surprised and shameful look. I probably had guilt written all over my face. She paused and gave me another opportunity to share. This time she asked a very direct question. “Melanie, are you pregnant?”
The flood gates opened. Tears ferociously began to fall. I sobbed uncontrollably as I responded, “I think so.”
Truth be told, I was relieved that she asked. I was overwhelmed. The thought of telling her had totally consumed me. I didn’t know how to approach the conversation. The fact that I was pregnant really was not my biggest concern. The bigger challenge for me at the time was knowing that my news would disappoint my mother. Do you know how many times I went over this in my head? I don’t know either. What I do know is that my memory of it was one continuous thought. I had this ongoing dialogue in my head. I was weighing the cost of various ways to approach the conversation. In my head, every one of them ended in complete and utter disappointment.
She taught me the power of pen and paper. So great! That’s it. I’ll write her a letter and we’ll talk afterwards. That usually works. Right? Maybe I’ll get my sister to help me tell her, then I’ll have support and won’t feel so alone. Maybe I can tell her while she’s driving because she’ll need to focus on the road. Oh wait.... I know. I will tell her after church when she’s feeling good about praising the Lord.
Thankfully, she removed all of those scenarios off my plate. I didn’t realize it in that moment. I learned much later that the moment we shared in her asking set the tone of my entire pregnancy.
My tears were tears of relief. As I reflect on that now, I realized that I felt at peace sobbing in my mother’s arms. I felt supported, comforted and loved. I knew then that my baby and I were going to be just fine.
My mother taught me the power of first responders in crucial moments. I was correct in believing that she would be disappointed. She was quiet for the next few days afterward. She went about her days humming as she often did when deep in thought. I knew that it was wise for me to leave her with her thoughts. She needed time to process and digest the news of this precious being growing in my womb.
There were so many things she could’ve said. She could’ve been reactive and lashed out at me. She could’ve said things to hurt my feelings, tear me down, break my spirit or shame and guilt me. She could’ve preached to me about not abstaining until marriage, blah, blah, blah. She could’ve focused on how this would make her or the family look to others. You know what I’m talking about. What would people say about us? She could’ve driven me to the nearest clinic to make the situation disappear. She did none of that. Honestly, I don’t know if I would’ve had the wisdom to respond the way my mother did.
I felt comforted and supported because what Mom did next was ever so powerful. It meant the world to me. She held me. She said, “I’m here. We’ll get through this.” She honored those words until the day she took her last breath. She was there for my daughter and me. We got through it, just as she promised.
I said all of that to remind you that your words have tremendous power. This is not a cliché. It is the absolute truth. It doesn’t stop with your words. Your words must also align with your energy by meaning what you say. We all have basic needs.
· Physiological needs are to do with the maintenance of the human body. If we are unwell, then little else matters until we recover.
· Safety needs are about putting a roof over our heads and keeping us from harm. If we are rich, strong and powerful, or have good friends, we can make ourselves safe.
· Belonging needs introduce our tribal nature. If we are helpful and kind to others they will want us as friends.
· Esteem needs are for a higher position within a group. If people respect us, we have greater power.
· Self-actualization needs are to 'become what we are capable of becoming', which would our greatest achievement.
The need to be shamed, blamed, ridiculed or beaten down is not on the list. Is it? The reality is that telling a teen parent what they shouldn’t have done doesn’t help them. It is very clear to them in that moment that sexual intercourse may lead to pregnancy. They are fully standing in that reality.
What they need is a safe place to explore options and next steps based on their current circumstances. They need guidance and direction. They need to feel safe to share what they are experiencing without judgement. Some may choose abortion, adoption or to raise their own babies for various reasons. It’s not my place or anyone else’s to judge their choices. If you want to be helpful, then respond with empathy and compassion. It’s not important for you to have all of the answers. Realistically, none of us do. If you don’t know what to do or say, own that. Thank them for sharing. Acknowledge that it took courage to do so. Simply offer to help them identify a person, agency or organization who can adequately support them.
This is one of those times when this young person may need you more than they’ve ever needed you before. You may be the first person they share the new with. Your response may directly impact their next step. Choose not to drop the ball on them by shutting them out. Choose not to leave this teen and their innocent child in a pool of shame. You get to choose your role in shaping their future by the way that you respond. Know that your response has tremendous impact.
Instead choose a path of serving them in a time of need. Commit to holding a space for them to stand in the reality of their truth. Remember that it’s not your circumstance or situation that shapes you. Its’ how you respond to it that has the biggest impact.
My daughter was never a mistake. She is my unexpected blessing. My mother instinctively managed to fulfill all of my needs in that one meaningful response. I felt physically and emotionally safe. I felt like I belonged to my divine tribe. I knew that I was capable of becoming who God intended me to become. The warmth and compassion in my mother’s response sowed those powerful seeds. I am forever grateful for that.
Every second we are given a new opportunity to sow good seed in the way you respond. I encourage you to be intentional with the seeds you sow as you approach each day.
Author|Self-Love Ambassador|Freedom Catalyst