Hello darling woman.
You are standing in a difficult place, a place that can feel lonely, overwhelming, complex and stressful. The pregnancy test has confirmed your fears and the world is spinning with the repercussions. As you attempt to carry on with your work or study or family life, an obnoxious four-word question keeps pressing on your mind.
What will I do?
You don’t need to answer it immediately. I believe you’ve landed on this page for a reason. It’s no accident that your eyes are travelling across these very words. Do something for me: roll your shoulders, forward and back. Tip your head to the left and to the right. Take five deep breaths, slowly inhaling and exhaling. If you want, grab a cuppa or a glass of water and give yourself five minutes to read on and prepare mentally for the journey ahead. Feeling calmer? Here are five really great things to do before answering THAT question.
1. Share your news with a supportive someone.
Kick those feelings of shame right where it hurts, because they have no place in your head right now. Push them aside and repeat after me: “There IS someone out there who cares about what is happening in my life right now, and I have to tell them.” Too many women tread this journey alone and statistics tell us that 70 per cent of women who have had an abortion would have kept their little ones if just ONE person stepped up and supported them through it.
It might be your baby’s father, your mum, your sister, a friend or a teacher. Tell someone you trust, who will listen without judgment and give you a big hug and affirm that everything’s going to be ok. If no one springs to mind, why don’t you tell one of the wonderful people on the other end of the Pregnancy Helpline:
1300 792 798 (QLD, NSW, VIC, ACT)
1300 655 156 (SA, WA, NT, TAS)
2. Write it down.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and draw a line right down the middle. On one side, scribble down all the reasons you’re feeling fearful, worried or angry. On the other side, list the exciting and good things that could come of this unexpected turn of events. This exercise gets the conflicting voices out of your head and helps you to literally see what’s influencing your decision.
Next, put a line through everything that’s temporary. It’s so easy to get carried away by emotion and forget that these feelings will dissipate as quickly as they arrived. In fact, it doesn’t take much for them to be replaced with qualities on the complete other end of the spectrum: love, fulfilment and hope, for example.
3. Research, and research well my friend.
How far pregnant are you? Google your pregnancy term and immerse yourself in everything from ultrasound photos, stories of women just like you and newspaper articles, to blogs detailing the size of your fetus according to a fruit and vegetable chart. Seriously illuminating, I tell you!
Ask all the questions. Ask mothers, ask friends, ask your partner, ask your GP – ask us if you like!
How does the female body accommodate a developing baby in the womb?
How big is a baby’s foot at 70 days gestation?
How much does labour hurt?
How does an abortion happen?
Does it hurt the baby?
How old does a baby need to be so that it can survive outside the womb?
No question is stupid. You’re pregnant. It’s a wise woman who keeps asking questions to prepare herself for the future.
4. Be clear.
When everything is pared back, distilled to its simplest degree, you have three choices for your baby: parent, adopt or abort. In order for your choice to be just that – a choice (and not some form of coercion, which happens all too frequently due to presumptuous medical advice or a partner who threatens to leave unless the pregnancy is terminated) – you must be armed with ALL information.
Adoption is the choice most often neglected even though it has proven to be a good choice for vulnerable women and their naturally vulnerable unborn babies. You can read a Q&A with an adoptive mother here, and find information about the Australian adoption process here.
And while we’re here on the point of clarity, allow me to reiterate: this is a decision that cannot be undone. Once your baby is terminated, life cannot be breathed back into their still-forming lungs.
However, if you bravely give birth to your baby and are struggling to cope, support is available and adoption is still an option available to you.
5. Believe in yourself.
It sounds clichéd, like some sop out of a self-help book, but it’s integral. The human body, mind and spirit is such that we are incredibly adaptable, unaccountably resilient, and you will find that women have been in your shoes and become stronger in every way because they stood firm. Contrary to popular belief, hardship doesn’t weaken us, it makes us bolder, stronger, more courageous than ever. Don’t you want to be that woman?
Try re-imagining yourself. Build a picture of yourself stepping into responsibility while maintaining a grasp on the things that make you unique.
We love the Brave Foundation. Their advice to mums-to-be is to make three personal promises to set your mind to. Like this: 1/ Be a good mum. 2/ Finish my education. 3/ Start a small business.
You can do this – and more.
One, two, three, four, five; there they are.
Remember, the treasure of life is found in the diversions, in the unexpected.
Enjoy your adventure, lovely.