A young country couple has fought back against culture, prejudice and pressure to give birth to a miracle baby.
“Maddie” and “Jake” were under enormous familial and cultural pressure to have an abortion or give their child up for adoption when she unexpectedly fell pregnant while they were engaged. Jake wasn’t the father.
Both sets of parents wanted them to separate.
They were 18. They had met at a party in their mid-teens; it was pretty much love at first sight for the youngsters, and their first serious relationship.
They were young, but the parents approved. He was polite, kind and hardworking. She was shy, but sensible, smart and respectful.
Even so, the parents went to great lengths to ensure they didn’t get too hot and heavy, insisting they not spend too much time alone, particularly at night.
They were well-liked and had many friends. She had copped some bullying at school because she was quiet, prone to getting lost in her own thoughts. They both had part time jobs, she at her parents’ IGA supermarket, he at a hardware store.
They had wise heads on young shoulders.
No one was surprised when they were engaged at 18. The two sets of parents scraped together enough money to host an engagement party at the community centre. There were gold foil balloons, caramelised onion tarts, Maddie’s uncle brought a wheel of aged cheddar, the cake was a massive layered sponge cooked by a neighbour and Jake’s dad was handing ’round light beers. Over 300 friends and relatives turned up and, amidst the laughter and dancing, were told that the wedding would be held the following year, after Jake completed his apprenticeship.
After the wedding, the teens planned to live at Jake’s parents’ house until they could save enough to get a place of their own.
But a few months after the engagement party, Maddie discovered she was pregnant. She didn’t have to tell Jake that he wasn’t the father; they’d never had sex.
He was speechless when she first told him. Gutted. Numb. Maddie sobbed inconsolably, but Jake just couldn’t muster strength to offer comfort.
“I remember going home, lying on my bed and bawling and bawling,’’ he said.
“I felt betrayed. I couldn’t understand how she could have done this to me. My mum figured out something was wrong when I hardly left my room over the next few days. She thought Maddie had called off the engagement because she had found someone else.’’
Maddie eventually told her mum that she was pregnant and Jake wasn’t the father. She didn’t press the issue when Maddie wouldn’t answer the obvious question, but she did offer to take her to get an abortion.
Both sets of parents were mortified. Being a small town, it didn’t take long for people to talk, to speculate about who the dad was.
People took sides, but no one owned up and Maddie wasn’t saying anything. She was too upset and embarrassed.
Some people suspected Jake was the father. Others suggested she might have been raped. There were even vicious rumours about family members being involved. Maddie insisted she had not been raped, and her dad strenuously denied any family member was involved.
Meanwhile, social media comments turned ugly. Maddie deleted her social media apps from her phone.
Her parents sent her to her cousin’s house interstate to give everyone some breathing room. Quite a few people thought she had been sent away to have an abortion or give birth and gift the baby for adoption.
Everyone had something to say:
Jake’s parents wanted him to break off the engagement.
The family GP suggested termination (which was again refused).
Maddie insisted she would raise the child with or without Jake.
Still, there were plenty of relatives, friends and interested others who loudly declared she should end the pregnancy.
At first Jake agreed to break up, but later changed his mind. She was the only girl he had ever loved. His mates and family said he was naive, that he could never trust her, and he could do better.
Jake remembers his mum taking him aside and saying…
“If you have this baby, it will wreck your career and your relationship with Maddie.This child will never truly be yours.”
But He didn’t want the child to grow up as a bastard. He planned to adopt the child and embrace the role of father wholeheartedly. It wasn’t the child’s fault that things had unravelled this way.
So Jake and Maddie were married when she was about seven months pregnant. It was like any wedding day, full of extravagances that had been saved for; feasting, suits, flowers and swaying dresses. But no one could deny that Maddie’s bulging stomach, the constant reminder of an uncharted future, tainted the celebrations.
She couldn’t fit into her original wedding dress, the one with the lace overlay and delicate pearl buttons, so had to settle for a simpler, less figure-hugging dress.
Still, there was a sparkle in the eyes of the newlyweds and many lingering looks as the evening stretched on. In fact, they seemed oblivious to the tension that the pregnancy had caused with some relatives and friends.
“We were young and in love and optimistic,’’ Jake said.
“We got through what had happened. Why couldn’t everyone else?”
They went to the city for their honeymoon, staying with Jake’s relatives. While they were there, Maddie started having lower back pain and cramping. Being her first child, it took her a while to recognise the telltale signs of labour and, by the time she did, that baby was ready to meet the world. There was no time to get to hospital.
Maddie had a home birth with the kind and attentive help of a relative who spoke calmly and kindly. The ambos arrived a few minutes after the birth, just in time to cut the cord. Jake was speechless, but a certain wetness on his cheeks spoke volumes.
They had a boy.
They named him Jesus.
Last I heard they were all doing well.
The Christmas story of Mary and Joseph and their newborn son is not so different from what many people facing unplanned pregnancy experience today. Intrigued? Read how it really happened.