Chaunie’s Story: My baby is not my punishment


ChaunieB picAt age twenty-one, two tiny blue lines changed Chaunie’s life. While fear of failure initially challenged this young mom, learn how she came to peace with her pregnancy and embraced the selfless love of her baby girl. You can read more about Chaunie’s story in Students for Life’s new book Courageous: Students Abolishing Abortion in this Lifetime.

This post is republished from the blog Tiny Blue Lines under the title “How Did Your Faith Affect Your Pregnancy?

I know that I’ve talked a lot about my pregnancy with Ada on here. I’ve talked about how I’ve wondered if I messed up, if her life is somehow forever altered because of my “mistake,” if our marriage has been damaged from the get go.

But I haven’t really every discussed something that was one of the most difficult parts of dealing with my unplanned pregnancy–

 The God factor.

The truth is, I’m a religious kind of girl. The kind that grew up with nine years of Catholic school, the kind that said her prayers out of a little booklet during my early college years, the kind that has really sought a relationship with God.

It may sound old-fashioned now, but Ben and I really did want to wait until we were married to have sex. It felt like we fought against it–and then failed.

Which is how I came to view my whole start into motherhood.

 As a failure.

I had messed up. In my eyes, with my own spiritual beliefs and background, I had sinned. I had done something I wasn’t supposed to do, and now, I was pregnant as a result. How on earth could I possibly be excited about it? How could I even begin to think that my baby was anything but a consequence of my bad behavior?

I felt trapped in a little cloud of guilty darkness for the first half of my pregnancy. I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t see how my baby, conceived out of a “bad” thing, could possibly be a “good” thing. Surely she would be emotionally messed up, marked by my sin, scarred by a marriage that started badly. Surely I would never love her the way a “real” mother would–the kind that planned for a baby, and surprised her husband sweetly with the positive pregnancy test and shopped excitedly for nursery decorations.

 I could never be her.

I haven’t really talked about my religion, or my faith on my blog that much, frankly, because I’ve been nervous. I didn’t want to turn away any “cool” young moms, or alienate any potential writing contacts with my spiritual ramblings.

But I want to be real about how important it was to me, in becoming a mother, in becoming a wife, to come to peace with my pregnancy.

For me, it took months of prayer. Not any prayer that I had grown up with, not any specific litany or phrase of words. My prayers were just silent pleadings to the universe for help. I didn’t know what I was asking for, or what I hoped would happen. I just knew I needed help.

And one night, it finally happened.

After a long day of classes, and work, and disappointments, and wedding stress, I sat curled up on our raspberry-cream colored hand-me-down couch. And for the first time in my life, I felt I very clearly was given an answer:

 My baby was not a punishment.

The moment I felt those words reverberate within me, I felt so relieved. I felt peace. I realized that on some level deep down, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was hiding in the shadows, cringing in shame, just waiting for God to strike me down with spite.

And suddenly, I realized I had it completely wrong.

God didn’t punish me with a baby. Sure, maybe I hadn’t done everything perfectly, but for cryin’ out loud, I was still loved, and He wasn’t about to give up on me so easily. I felt, with a sudden realization of happiness, that God had sent us our baby as an opportunity to learn the truth about love.

Because, after all, what else provides a faster lesson in true and selfless love than a baby?

 [Forehead smack.]

It took a long time for me to come to terms with my pregnancy. For me, prayer and a faith in God were key. I know everyone is different, but I felt like it was important to talk about–I know I can’t be alone in the conflicting feelings of guilt and shame, the need to feel like it’s okay to be happy about a “surprise” baby.

So, I’m wondering–did anyone of you encounter what I’m talking about? Did your particular religious beliefs make it hard to accept your pregnancy? Or did it help you come to term with your new life?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, speaker, and labor and delivery nurse. She began serving as an advocate for young women facing unplanned pregnancy after becoming a mother during her senior year of college. Chaunie has worked in the pro-life movement for many years and has presented her story across the country. She blogs about her journey as a young mom of three at www.tinybluelines.com and her first book,Tiny Blue Lines, will be released through Ave Maria Press in May 2014. Find Chaunie on Facebook and Twitter

Go to http://www.tinybluelines.com/how-did-your-faith-affect-your-pregnancy/ to read the responses of her blog followers, or include your comment below.

Pregnant Teens and Boarding Schools

Each year, as many as 750,000 teenagers become pregnant. So how does a parent respond when they find out that their young girl is soon to be a mother? Should she drop out of school? Should she continue her education? As you are considering your options, you may wish to consider boarding school as one possible solution to this situation. Whether your child is troubled or is simply in need of additional support, this article offers a compelling argument for this decision.

 

Timing is important in everything that we do. Timing is important in order to get the best possible results in all our endeavors. Wrong timing means complications, frustrations, and conflicts because there are so many things that are beyond the person’s control. One of the best examples of wrong timing is teenage pregnancy, especially if the girl is still in school. Pregnancy is best suited for adults who are already mature and know how to handle the pressures of life. If a teenager who does not know how to take care of herself gets pregnant in the middle of semester, then it is difficult to imagine how she can take care of another human being, especially someone as frail and as dependent as a baby growing inside her womb.

 

The emotional impact of confusion, shame, and shock about the situation works together in compelling the teenager to quit school. In some instances, the parents made the decision that their daughter should stop going to school. It may not be the best option available for pregnant teenager. Her parents must realize that it would be better if the pregnant teenager stays in school. However, it is also important to acknowledge that the parent and the pregnant teen may require some time off to reassess the situation and consider the best way forward. In some cases there is a need to transfer to a new school or transfer to a new city to start anew.

If one will consider all the things that need to be sorted out, the alternative solution is to figure out the assistance that could be provided by boarding schools. State-licensed boarding schools could offer intervention programs for those who suffer from the psychological and emotional backlash of teenage pregnancy. Thus, the troubled teenager does not have to deal with all the negative implications of being pregnant at a young age, instead she could avail the benefits of group counseling or individual and family therapy.

It is important to note that boarding schools for pregnant teenagers offer more than solace because these institutions also provide troubled teens access to intervention programs that allow them to learn more about themselves and explain why they were driven to self-destructive behavior. A boarding school is a place where troubled teenagers could develop a better worldview and appreciate the value of their family and friends. It is also imperative to point out that not all boarding schools could provide all the things that a troubled teenager needs. The parents or guardians must know how to choose the best boarding school for the pregnant teenager. For more information on this option, visit The Family Compass.

 

While boarding school is not for everyone, this may be a potential answer to your particular situation. Discuss you different options with your teenager, and continue your research so that you may determine the best option for your family.

 
 

Edith Gordon writes for TheFamilyCompass.com and helps them in spreading awareness about troubled and depressed teenagers (and how to deal with them).  The Family Compass aims to increase awareness on the current psychological and societal stresses of today’s teens and how these factors affect the future of our society.

Ashlee’s Story: You Are Not Alone

In her junior year of college, Ashlee Bush found out that she was pregnant with Anna Mae.  At 21-years-old, Ashlee was already making plans for her future, and being pregnant was the last thing that she expected.

Maybe you are going through a similar situation- or you know a friend who is. Either way, remember that you are not alone. Ashlee is one of many young women who knows the fears and joys of being a young mother. Take some time to watch Ashlee’s story, and read Ashlee’s answers to commonly asked questions about her experience!

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Tell us about the emotions you went through during those first few moments/weeks/months.

The first minute was total disbelief and shock! I immediately left my apartment and drove to K-Mart to buy another test.  This time, I ran into a few classmates and uttered, “This is for a friend.”  I got a sympathetic grin and hurried to the register.

I felt like I was in movie or a bad dream.  I started to pray, and I kept thinking to myself that this cannot be happening! I took the second test at a close friend’s house, and it was positive – again! More total disbelief, fear, anger, shock, and embarrassment washed over my body as I began to cry. My friend just kept telling me that I will be okay, and she reassured me that everything would work out the way that it was supposed to.

Not long after, I told my family, and the haze of disbelief started to dissipate. The reality of the situation set in, and I got moving.  I planned my school detour and decided to transfer schools to be closer my parents once I completed the current semester.

The remainder of my pregnancy was joyful. It was all about staying healthy, eliminating stress, and delivering a healthy baby.  I would sing to her, talk to her, and put headphones on my belly when I would study.

 What was your relationship status at the time?

It was complicated.  I was single and starting to get to know a guy from school.  The New Guy and I had been in a class together all semester, and we had finally started talking after months of casually exchanged smiles.  We talked and texted when we went home for holidays and at that time, my ex-boyfriend that I had not seen in few months wanted to take me to dinner. I agreed to meet him. Unfortunately, I drank way too much and wound up sleeping with my ex once.  When I went back to school, the New Guy and I had finally made plans for a real date.

It feels strange to say it out-loud now, but telling him was probably the hardest thing I had to do during my pregnancy.  I liked him a lot.  (The timing couldn’t have been any worse- or so I thought at the time.)

He surprised me with his first question, “Have you started taking pre-natal vitamins?”  The next day, he brought me a bouquet of flowers to congratulate me.  Later, I would find out that his sister had gotten pregnant while in high school. So, he understood my situation all too well. I was very fortunate to have his support throughout my pregnancy. I believe that he was put into my life at that exact time for a reason. Our friendship would eventually end as I decided to try and make it work with the father.

How did your friends and family react?

My family and true friends cried with me.  They could not believe that this had happened. Once the initial shock wore off, they were excited for me, and they wanted to help.  My family and friends would tell me about any resources that they found out about successful stories of young moms or moms who graduated school.  I felt their support for my decision every step of the way.

Sadly, I had one friend that thought my choice was “stupid.”  She thought my life was over and that my future was ruined. She was convinced that I would never be able to finish school if I went through with the pregnancy. However, I am proud to say that I have been able to be both a mother and a student. My decision was not “stupid”—but rather a choice made out of love for my child.

How has Early Motherhood changed you?

I used to be the girl who wanted to make sure everything looked and sounded perfect before life taught me to enjoy the journey and all the unplanned surprises. When I had to face something that did not make me look so good, I started to change. Slowly, one day at a time, I started to morph into the person who I always knew was hidden deep inside myself. Early motherhood has taught me to be more flexible in life- which, as it turns out, is a wonderful skill to have in adulthood!

What has your daughter taught you about yourself? About life?

Oh goodness…She has taught me so much!  I never knew how much I could love another person. The love that I feel for her is so pure and real.  It is unlike anything I have ever experienced.   Overall, the pregnancy taught me that there are no guarantees in life.  Life will change in the blink of an eye, and it’s best to just ride it out as best as we can!

What were some of the misconceptions you had about early motherhood/unplanned pregnancies?

As cliché as this sounds, I thought that it would never happen to me.

What prompted you to start blogging?

My world got turned upside down seven years ago. I was shocked and embarrassed that I was facing an unplanned pregnancy. Once that initial shock wore off, I was saddened by the lack of resources for young moms.  At times, I felt lonely being the only pregnant girl on campus and desperately wished that I could have connected with other women going through similar situations. A few years ago, I kept thinking about all of the unexpected moms who might be feeling alone, scared, and unsure of themselves — like I did — and decided to give blogging a try.

Fear is a powerful emotion. It can either make you feel paralyzed and trapped, or help us grow and change gracefully. It kept me from taking a huge leap of faith to even start to my blog Action Ashlee.

Why the title “Action Ashlee”?

Action because without action, we cannot change and grow into the people we want to be. Ashlee because it is a popular name that can be the face of a lot of typical 20-something women. Our motto: “Change gracefully. Live purposefully.”

If you could give one message to the young women facing unplanned pregnancies, what would it be?

To the woman facing an unplanned pregnancy – I believe that you have the most fantastic intuition and harbor an incredible amount inner strength and courage that you don’t even realize is within yourself. Follow that inner voice because it is YOU and only YOU that you need to listen to.

 


Ashlee Bush- croppedAshlee Bush lives in Missouri with her husband, Greg, and daughter, Anna Mae. She faced an unplanned pregnancy at age 21, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Communications, and developed a three-step systematic approach to handling an unplanned pregnancy. By day, she is a healthcare representative for a home health organization. Her life-long passion is to help other women get through their unplanned pregnancy. She dreams of ending abortion and pulling together a strong grassroots effort to promote the benefits of giving life. Her blog,
Action Ashlee: Change Gracefully & Live Purposefully, offers a wealth of inspiration and hope to women of all ages wanting to change gracefully and live purposefully. 

 

Follow Action Ashlee on Twitter and Facebook, and read her blog at www.actionashlee.com.

How will you help your campus become more pro-life?

In 2011, Students for Life of America launched a new initiative called ‘Pregnant on Campus’ to help pro-life groups learn how to make their campuses more pregnancy and parenting friendly. Pregnant on Campus was started when we first really began to notice that seeing a pregnant woman on campus is rare. We know that women are getting pregnant in college, but what is happening to them? Too often pregnant women feel forced to choose between aborting their child to continue their education and dropping out to raise their child. 46% of abortions are performed on college-aged women, so we know that far too many feel abortion is the only way. We want pregnant women to have the support they need to continue their education while raising their child. So Students for Life thought that if we could help college campuses become more pregnant and parenting friendly that we could help in being a solution to this problem. I was thrilled to be the president of one student group that took the challenge head on when it first started.

It can be a time consuming battle to try to make any college campus more pregnancy and parenting friendly, especially private Christian colleges, but it turns out to be more than worth it in the end. My group took on the challenge of helping to raise money for a mobile pregnancy resource center that would not only visit our college but also four other local colleges in our area of Virginia. The student group at my college worked on selling raffle tickets and asking for donations in order to raise the money for the mobile pregnancy center. In the end we exceeded our goal (of course, I say we could have always done more) and were able to give it to the local PRC as part of the Senior Class of 2012’s gift.

So, how can you help your campus become more pro-life? Take a moment to watch this video put together by Mary Washington’s Pregnant on Campus group ‘Baby Steps,’ that explains what their group is and what they are doing to increase resources for parenting students and faculty.

Don’t you want to be a part of the change on campus that helps a young mother choose life for her child because she knows there is help out there? We are in the process of creating new projects for colleges to work on to change the atmosphere on their campuses. If you want to get involved with one of these Pregnant on Campus projects, please email Beth at bomalley@studentsforlife.org.

 

Sarah Maher graduated from Liberty University in 2011, with a degree in Religion Studies. Sarah was the president of her college group, and since graduating, she has traveled with different pro-life organizations across the country spreading the message on what abortion really is and how people from every walk of life can turn the tide.