Coping with a crisis pregnancy is one of the most difficult things a woman will have to go through, and it comes with an array of emotions: fear, worry, anxiety, depression, and even anger just to name a few. But first, we must truly understand what even constitutes a crisis pregnancy.
A crisis pregnancy by definition, according to the dictionary, is an unplanned pregnancy or a planned pregnancy that has become a serious problem to the pregnant woman because of desertion by the father, lack of support from her parents, financial problems, etc. There is a common misconception that a crisis pregnancy is only associated with a young and unwed mother, but a crisis pregnancy can, unfortunately, plague anyone. No one is immune to it. I can’t think of a single situation where I would love to hear the word “crisis” but add in a pregnancy, and my stress level will go through the roof.
I found myself in not only a crisis pregnancy but an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 16. I was facing a lot of aspects of a crisis pregnancy almost from day one. After just one week of knowing we were pregnant, the birth father broke up with me, told me he had only been using me for sex, and he walked away completely. He disassociated in every way. Even after learning about the adoption plan, he did not contribute in any way.
I also think multiple people and sides can experience a crisis pregnancy besides just the pregnant woman herself. Let me explain, take my situation for example. I was 16 and pregnant, I had no job, I had dropped out of high school, I had no plan for myself or my baby, and I had just dropped all of this on my parents. My parents then experienced a crisis pregnancy to the fullest degree. They really felt the pressure to help me figure out what I was going to do, what was going to be best for my baby, and how we were going to make this work as a family. My parents experienced this crisis pregnancy on their very own level. I realize that even more so now that I am older and have more children of my own. I can’t imagine the stress that they were going through as parents. Looking back on it now, years later, they probably needed counseling of their own to process their own feelings and struggles of this crisis pregnancy. I chose adoption, as it was what was best, more importantly for my baby but also for myself. That meant my parents were also going to experience a loss. They were going to have to come to terms with their very first grandchild being placed with another family and not coming home with us, not knowing if they would ever see their first grandchild in the flesh again.
Telling your family that you are pregnant and in a crisis situation can seem like a very daunting task. You might experience high anxiety, fear, stress, or all of that, and trust me, I know. At any age, this can be a scary thing to tell your family. Do what works best for you. Maybe start out with just telling one person first instead of the whole family at once. Tell the person that you are closest with and trust the most and have them help you tell the rest of your family. Remember that this news could be quite shocking, and they are going to need the space and freedom to have their reaction and feelings; give them some time. If they don’t react completely positively, don’t take it too personally. Not many people are at their best when given shocking news without warning. I’ll never forget being 16 and telling my mom–I definitely did not take into account her feelings and what this might do to her. I had also not given myself any time to process the fact that I was pregnant. I had only known for about 12 hours, which was not enough time. My mom kicked me out, so you can imagine how great that talk went. Thankfully she did not kick me out for very long at all; it was a very hurt and knee-jerk reaction. I honestly have no idea how the birth father told his parents or if my parents told his. Another piece of my story that I still don’t know, even 18.5 years later! I definitely wasn’t worried about their reactions back then. They were on their own and on the birth father’s conscience, not mine, in my opinion.
If you find yourself in a crisis pregnancy, the number one priority is the physical safety of you and your baby. If you find yourself in any kind of abusive relationship, then please reach out for help. Reach out to the proper authorities, a family member, or a friend. There is also the National Domestic Violence Hotline and website which is available to you 24/7. This incredible website is truly tailored to those who may be being abused in any way and even includes features such as the ability to wipe itself from your web search history if you click a certain button twice. Do not let anyone tell you that abuse is just physical; it can also be emotional and mental as well. No one deserves to be abused in any form, and if you are pregnant, you have a tiny human who is depending on you for protection now. You can do it, and you are not alone!
If you are in an unplanned pregnancy and are wondering what your options are besides the obvious choice of parenting, have you ever thought of adoption? Adoption has come a really long way from the old horror stories that you may have heard about or associate with adoption. I can certainly understand because that was my perception at first. I thought adoption was kind of your typical horror film where they would take the baby from you as soon as you delivered and you would never see the baby again. You had no options and certainly no opinion, but this could not be further from the truth of what adoption is today. It has come a long way even since I placed my son with his family 18.5 years ago. Open adoptions are becoming more and more common and widely accepted, but semi-open adoptions, which is what I had, are also a common option. Closed adoptions are very rare unless that is something that YOU truly want, and I emphasize you because it is truly about what you want going into your post-adoption plan. The Gladney Center for Adoption is the agency I went through for my adoption, and they were truly incredible. They have so many resources to be able to help you in an unplanned pregnancy or in a crisis pregnancy. They have a dorm located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area that you can live in if needed–that is what I did 18.5 years ago. The Gladney Center for Adoption has someone answering the phone 24 hours a day as well, or an online chat option if you could to their website. Calling and getting information in no way commits you to them or to adoption, so if you are curious and just want more information, don’t hesitate to reach out. The Gladney Center truly cares about you and your baby and wants what is best for both of you.
I am a huge advocate for counseling. If I could shout it from the rooftops I would! Seeking out help from a counselor or a therapist during a crisis pregnancy can be a great relief. You are going to be going through a lot, and it is okay to need and ask for help. It is healthy and normal. There has been a social stigma related to mental health, and it is time to shed that stigma. When you are pregnant, your baby is going to feel your stress as well. Being the best, healthiest version of you and being healthy is going to benefit not only you but also your baby.
Find your tribe! What I mean by that is find your tribe of friends who support you, who will surround you and love you through whatever you are going through and whatever you may choose. Having an amazing support system is key to survival, and if you feel like you are needing one, then find online resources. For example, there is an amazing group of resources that are popping up for birth moms. One is a podcast called Birth Mother’s Amplified, and it can be found on all major platforms for podcasts and on Youtube. They are also on Facebook and Instagram. Another great birth mom support group that has recently hit social media is called The Table. They are on Facebook (on Instagram they are called Thetabledfw), and they even hold monthly virtual support groups. This is a great place to find resources if you are already a birth mom or even if you are thinking about adoption and have questions.
I have kept a journal ever since I was in the second grade, and yes, I still have all of them. Journaling can be a great way to help destress and work through difficult stages in life, and a crisis pregnancy can certainly be one of those things. Who knows, maybe the crisis pregnancy will work out while you are still pregnant, or maybe you and the birth father will work together/stay together and decide to keep your baby, but journaling can also be a fun way to look back years later. I find it incredibly interesting how many of the little things I have forgotten until I go back and get a “refresher” from my journals. It’s not for everyone, but give it a try; you never know.
The elephant in the room is this new pandemic, COVID-19. Nobody really has firm data on what effects it may have on pregnant women. I’ve seen just a few articles touching on whether or not pregnant women should or shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Don’t worry this isn’t a debate on COVID, this is just simply acknowledging that there is something additional and stressful going on in today’s world that can add to a crisis pregnancy. It is okay to have fears, but don’t be afraid to voice those fears and concerns with your doctor and even with your friends and family. Sometimes just saying it out loud can make us feel better. Who knows, you may not be the only one feeling that way. Once you have voiced it, you could be pleasantly surprised at someone else having the same concern or opinion. We are all in this new pandemic world together, so the most important thing to remember is to support and respect each other.Are you considering placing a child for adoption? Not sure what to do next? First, know that you are not alone. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to speak to one of our Options Counselors to get compassionate, nonjudgmental support. We are here to assist you in any way we can.