The fall semester of 2017 changed the course of my life forever. It was my first semester as a transfer student. Though I didn’t know it then, it was also my last semester at the University of South Alabama (U.S.A). After I had graduated with my Associate’s degree in Science from Southern Union State Community College, I worked for a year to save money to put myself through school. Then began at U.S.A as a Broadcast Journalism major with a Marketing minor.
I was so excited about starting a new chapter at U.S.A. I did my own Jazz music show on The Prowl ( the school’s radio station), wrote for the school newspaper, and worked in film and media for the school’s various sports programs. I stayed busy and worked hard to give my best at everything I did.
I made the decision during this time to give love another go-around with my ex-boyfriend, Andrew. He was living in Seattle at the time, and long-distance wasn’t ideal for us, but we made it work. Though I was nervous about traveling on an airplane for the first time and going so far away from the South, I went to visit Andrew in Seattle. I discovered that I enjoyed the culture and job prospects that awaited me post-graduation. When I came home from the trip, it was right back to the school and work grind. Some weeks passed, and I began to feel different. I was sick to my stomach constantly, and I felt like I was going through a superhero transformation with how strong my sense of smell had become. One night I was telling Andrew about how I had been feeling, and it hit me...what if I’m pregnant? I said it aloud almost as a joke, but neither of us could muster much laughter.
I got a pregnancy test, and on video chat, decided to take it. Andrew and I nervously waited together for a few minutes - an eternity - and I felt so sick because in my heart I knew what it would say. When it came out positive, Andrew and I laughed and cried together, while he reassured me again and again that we were in this together. The next day, I took one more positive test for good measure before making a doctor’s appointment to make it official.
I was terrified. I knew I was pregnant: the tests confirmed it. I still found that I was fighting the facts in my mind. I knew I would accept it finally once a doctor officially confirmed it. The next week, a doctor at the campus health clinic confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. She gave me some health pamphlets and referred me to a doctor.. I was completely overwhelmed. Even after calling Andrew and hearing his sweet and encouraging words about my pregnancy. I just wanted to run away, hide, and cry. - which I did. I had a good long cry and cried out to God in my car right in the clinic parking lot. I remember asking for help and strength. After all this, I was able to drive back to the home I was staying at, about 30 minutes off-campus . My sweet Christian couple, Sherry and Brad, who had taken me into their home while I was going to school, were worried about me. They knew something was up, but never pressured me to speak until I was ready. I did open up to Sherry and it was a huge relief to have her hug me, cry with me, and assure me that I would not be alone and I would have support. I didn’t have any of my family around on that day; I will always remember how she stepped in for me.
Within two weeks’ time, Andrew flew down to join my host family and I in their other spare room. He was determined to be there to support me as I finished out the semester, and never missed a single moment or doctor’s appointment.
The next step was telling my parents the big news. Honestly, I was petrified about telling my mom and dad - I didn’t want to disappoint them. I thought of a million different ways to break the news but, of course, it didn’t end up going like any of those imagined scenarios. I was an emotional ball of nerves when I broke out crying on the couch with my mom and asked her after she told me that she would love me no matter what “Will you love my baby, too?”. Yes, looking back, I was a bit dramatic, but I’ve learned that most people are in this circumstance. My mom hugged me and assured me she would always love my baby and I. She still needed time to process this news, which I totally understood. Mom told my Dad the news for me and Dad, being the sweetheart that he is, gave me a big hug, while reassuring me that the baby and I were very loved. I was relieved to have told them and to have their support. It made a world of a difference!
The next two years passed like a whirlwind. I made the decision to go with my boyfriend back to Seattle,and four months later we moved to New York City for his job. For me, as a small-town girl who had never even visited NYC, I was lost and way out of my element. I was determined to power through and make the best of my newly found city life, more for my baby girl’s sake than my own.
When I was six months pregnant, I got some news that shook me to my core. That morning everything was fine, so I thought; I was just going in for a routine check-up and ultrasound. During the check-up, the ultrasound technician saw something that looked concerning. Before I knew it I was going to a second, more in-depth ultrasound at NYU. Within the week, I met with a pediatric cardiologist to discuss the coarctation of the aorta that was discovered during my baby girl’s secondary ultrasound. . If you are not familiar with this term, it refers to a narrowing in part of the aorta that prevents regular blood flow to the body. I was devastated and filled with fear and anxiety like never before. Even with all the questions, I could think of being answered and a surgeon prepared to conduct the risky surgery to repair my baby girl’s aorta hours after her birth. All I could think of is what if something went wrong? When all the fear would come flooding in, that’s when I had to lean on my faith, family, and friends to help me get through.
The last months came to a close, and the time came where I brought my Vera into the world. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed holding my precious girl. My heart went with her, as not long after being born she was whisked away to the NICU. She was hooked up to monitors and watched over closely, that's when the waiting game began. The NICU staff made sure her levels were good and were caring for her until it was time for surgery. Then, my miracle happened! After two days, the doctors and technicians were astounded: Vera was a perfectly healthy, no coarctation of the aorta, baby girl! Who after just two days in the NICU after birth, got to go home in my arms, with a clean bill of health and no need for any follow-up doctors’ appointments. There really aren’t any words to describe my happiness and thankfulness to my God for my little miracle!
As college students, we look forward to the possibilities: of building a future and doing great things, carrying our hopes and dreams with us. When a life-altering event like finding out you are going to have a baby and be someone’s mother hits you, it is a lot to handle to say the least. Please know that it does not change who you are, but only adds to you and the hopes, dreams,and future you are building. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but with family or without family, with friends or without friends, you will have your team by your side. You won’t be alone. You will have a future, hope and this amazing little person right by your side to experience it all with. Your journey may not look like mine, or another’s, but that’s because it’s your journey. We got this.
By giving a voice to those whose stories include unplanned pregnancies, we hope to empower those who may be in the midst of their own. These are The Stories We Tell.