“What would life be without him?”
One seemingly inevitable side effect of a morally upright community is a tendency to look down on those who do not share the same values. I was raised to view sex before marriage as both immoral and irresponsible. Unplanned pregnancy was only part of the reason.
The night we discovered an unplanned pregnancy in our own family, my sister introduced the topic in a strange, somewhat confusing way just after dinner, while we were all still seated at the table. There was a moment of uncertainty, a single direct question asked, and then stunned silence. I didn’t know where to look or what to feel. It hardly seemed real. This was something other families dealt with; not us. Then the anger crept in. Part of the anger was directed at her, not for making a single stupid, reckless decision, but for engaging in consistent behaviour filled with stupid, reckless decisions. However, most of the anger was directed toward the young man involved. Although it was consensual, he was the one who had constantly been pushing the limits and readjusting boundaries.
I was glad to go back to university a couple months later, to simply escape the situation and family tension for a while. I didn’t talk about it with anyone while at university. I thought about it as little as possible. Then I came home on break the day the baby was born. That’s when it all changed. Seeing him for the first time, it suddenly felt not only real but alright. We had a new member of the family. This was how life was going to be from now on. And I was ok with that. It was a strange sort of contentment after all the months of turmoil.
Although I have attended church my whole life, I have never gone to it for support. I have a strong family and community who support me, and I honestly rely more on my own strength to get through life than I should. As an uncle, I didn’t feel the need for much support anyway.
After the baby was born, the family dynamics completely shifted. The tension evaporated and we became close again. Many young, unmarried mothers lack any kind of support. My sister was lucky. Still living at home with two siblings and both parents present, she was surrounded by people to support her in her personal life in a time of great change and to take care of, provide for, and help raise the new kid.
To be perfectly honest, I still view unplanned pregnancy (outside of marriage) as far from an ideal situation. However, even mistakes can turn into something beautiful. Before the baby was born, my sister was caught in a downward spiral. She was making bad decisions and was miserable. Having a little person to care for gave her life structure and renewed purpose. We all love the little guy. He brings joy to our family. At this point, it’s hard to imagine life without him.
*Olivia’s name has been changed for the purposes of sharing her story.
I didn’t know where to look or what to feel. It hardly seemed real. This was something other families dealt with; not us. Then the anger crept in.-
However, even mistakes can turn into something beautiful.-