Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Story: Having a Baby at 23

July 4, 1999

Today is my baptism birthday. 

I was twenty-one when I was baptized in a Presbyterian church, which may seem really odd because I was raised Assembly of God and am now Lutheran. Oh how I wish I had better feelings about the day I was baptized. It was a requirement for marriage in the church, so I thought “why not?”. My Meme cried, so I knew I was doing something right. I do long for a great story around my baptism, some big redemption that led to my baptism. 

The true meaning of my baptism would not be clear to me for two more years. The feeling of forgiveness would come over me as I walked into a church of people I didn’t know, very pregnant and they would great me with a “we know you are unmarried and pregnant, but we love you (maybe even more)” 

So, I probably could have named this blog “Conversations During Road Trips”. I kind of knew that this was coming, but love see how God works. He has been preparing me for this because I’ve been trying to write the story of Shelby’s conception and Shelby’s biological father and really not sugar coat it, but open my self up to people and let them understand that I did not do things correctly. 

When I told Shelby, last week, that it would just be her and I driving half way to North Texas, she was very happy. She said she had some questions she needed to ask me. It took awhile her to her get them out since she was very hesitant about what I would answer and what I wouldn’t answer in regards to her biological father. She hadn’t been ready before, but that Sunday afternoon she felt ready to hear the story. 

Then she final got up the nerves to ask, “was I a mistake?” 

I did not plan to get pregnant, but at the same time I knew what I was doing would possibly cause a pregnancy (I didn’t sleep through all of my freshman health class). She was far from a mistake. She was wanted and cherished as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test. I still remember that day mainly because I accidentally bumped into my aunt at Target while trying to buy a test, I played it cool, but quickly left the store with no test in hand. I was not ready to explain that to my mom’s older sister.  I did wind up purchasing a test and taking it in the bathroom at work. 

It’s funny how most of my memories about those first few days happened at work. I traveled between locations at that time. I remember what location I was in when I told my parents, which probably was the most professional things to do at all since I cried through most of it. I knew what there response would be, but I was not prepared for my then best friend would do. 

When I called and told her, she acted as though she understood and supported my decision, but later her phone accidentally called mine back leave a voicemail that would forever damaged our 15 year relationship. I heard her telling someone else terrible things about me and the fact that I was pregnant and unmarried. It was one of the most hurtful things and I unfortunately had it recorded on my voicemail to listen to again and again. That’s when it hit me - this wasn’t good and people though terrible things of me. At that age I believed everything people said about me (extreme people pleaser). 

It wasn’t until I was maybe seven months pregnant that the Lord sent someone into my life to show my grace and help me understand forgiveness. I had a client (who I was supposed to be counseling) that dug a little deeper into my story each week. Then, she brought me a bible (that I still use today). As she handed it to me she explained that Jesus’ death of the cross wiped clean all of my sins. Jesus still loved me. 

Jesus still loved me. 

It wasn’t the easiest gift to accept - the belief that in all my shame Jesus still loved me. I had battled for months to be love. I did receive love from my parents, but felt shamed by so many people including the family of Shelby’s biological father. Look back I don’t think I realized at the time how damaging all of the words of other people were on me. 

For some reason at this point I can’t bring myself to share the details surrounding Shelby’s biological father - the things I had to deal with. I hope you understand that I can’t bring my self to spill out all the details like Lifetime Movie. I am not sure if I am protecting him, Shelby or myself. I want to say that when I became pregnant I had not daydreams of us getting married and having a family - I knew that would not happened, but I did think at first that he would be a part of her life. As the events played out, I knew that she was mine and I would raise her alone and you know, I was fine with that path. I embraced raising that sweet girl on my own - I owned it - she was all mine (which is probably why I am so over protective of her - she’s mine). 

I think I am through all the yuck of the situation and I live in the forgiveness which is right where I was on September 13, 2001 - just two days after our Nation suffered such a huge loss. Looking back at my time in the hospital I was realize that I was still so young and now realize why the staff treated me that way. I was young, but so filled with God’s glory - I was the most committed to my faith during that last few month’s of my pregnancy. I couldn’t get enough of learning and prayed continuously. I felt like I had received a huge blessing - I did, all 8 pounds of her. I was in love the moment I saw her - she was absolutely perfect. 

I wish I could say that single parenthood got easier once Shelby was in this world, but it didn’t. I was the first (for a long time) of my friend to have a child which left me out of so many things. My friends were finishing college, going on trips, having brunch and coffee while I was making bottles. I did miss some life experiences, but I don’t think I felt the longing for those things then. As I look back today, I wish I finished college (I still can), but in reality I received something so much bigger than a college degree - I found the true meaning of grace. I found Jesus, I understood the words I said when I was baptized two years before. And that I would not change for anything. 

And I love my girl. She’s absolutely amazing. 

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