In May of 2015, I graduated from South Dakota State University, full of ambition and ready to take on the world. However, I was broke, so I moved home to save money. I spent my summer working and reconnecting with old friends.
I started seeing a guy I had known for a few years. It wasn't a serious relationship, just a summer fling that I knew would never last. I liked him a lot, but just as I expected, by the time the summer started to fade away, so did we. It was September, and something wasn't right. I was late, and I was terrified. I took two pregnancy tests on the floor of my bathroom, and sure enough, I was pregnant. It didn't feel real. I didn't even cry. My life was about to change, but I couldn't believe it because I was numb.
I went to his apartment and we discussed it. Inconveniently, he had already moved on to someone else. There was no time for a baby. No money. We didn't love each other. There was nothing more to say about it. I was backed into a corner, and it felt as though there was no way out. I was ready to move on from this heartbreak, so we agreed on abortion. He drove me to my abortion appointment before the sun was up. The numbness I had felt since I took the test was wearing off. No one knew it, but I was sad. I was fighting a battle in my head. Finally, they called my name and took me back to the room. I changed into a faded gown and sat on the cold metal table and just cried. I talked to God. I asked Him for protection. I was devastated. I then realized that making a choice out of fear and pressure is really no choice at all.
They put me to sleep for the procedure and that was it. Or so I thought. I woke up in the recovery room to a nurse looking over me. She said, "I'm so sorry Kelsey, but the abortion did not work." My cervix was hard and they couldn't get through.
This wasn't the type of protection I had in mind when I prayed, but it's the type that I received. I had the option of going back the next day, but I chose not to return.
After talking with my best friend and her mother, I decided to make an adoption plan. With the guidance of a counselor the Women's Care Center, I was able to take baby steps forward instead of trying to tackle the whole journey in one jump. I eventually told my mother about the pregnancy, and to my surprise, she welcomed me with open arms and support. I chose a family from a stack of profiles, and when I met them, they felt so familiar to me. They were just like me, but with more stability. I knew there was no one else that I would trust more. It seemed as though everything was falling into place in the big picture, but every single day was a battle. I often cried myself to sleep, apologizing to my child as I felt my bump.
In my waitress book at work, my baby's ultrasound picture was tucked behind my checks. I was constantly looking at it; amazed that there was a tiny part of me that would soon be introduced to the world. Of course, soon I was fired from that job. Vomiting in the back alley during shifts apparently was an inconvenience. Morning sickness was all day sickness. I decided to become a substitute teacher since no one was going to hire a pregnant girl. I taught students that were 5-7 years younger than me, and I felt embarrassed. They knew I was single and pregnant and had nothing to offer my child. Having a baby was supposed to be a happy moment in life, but my transparency showed that I was the opposite. However, I worked hard and stayed focused.
It took me a long time to come to terms with my pregnancy. I was in denial and it really didn't hit me until my water broke in the delivery room. I was absolutely terrified.
I was constantly looking up at my mother for help, who was steadfast in encouragement and never left my side. She was my best friend throughout the pregnancy; my unwavering companion. Labor was a nightmare that felt like it would never end, but when the doctor held my son up in front of me, all of my pain went away. This little boy that I created was finally in my world, and it was an incredible feeling. The next day, I signed adoption papers with tears in my eyes and love in my heart.
When it was time to be discharged, I kissed my son, hugged his parents, and wished everyone well. I walked out of the hospital with my mother and father at each side, but I was empty. The pain was intense. For weeks, I woke up every morning in a frenzy when I realized my baby wasn't in the room. My heart was sore; the separation and grieving were heavy. At one point, I tried to move on with my life and forget about what happened, but I was soon reminded that this is truly a part of who I am. Every time I got a new picture or watched a video, I thanked God. My child is alive, he is happy, he is loved.
After struggling for months, I found a support group in South Bend, Indiana. I met other women like me, each with their own incredible stories, and their friendship and connection gave me such grace and peace in my heart. It was almost addicting, to attend support group every other month because it was the only time in my life that I could talk to someone else who understood my grief. I struggled with depression for months, and one day I just couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to help myself. So I started to write.
In February of 2017, I turned my writings into a blog.
I named it From Anotha Motha. I started telling my story and it was so therapeutic. Journaling is free therapy ladies, take notes! I started connecting with birth moms all over the nation, and they have become my very best friends. We have a unique sisterhood centered around something traumatic, but sacred. In May 2017 I began working at Adoption Support Center, an agency in Indianapolis. I found another wonderful group of women at the agency, who support me and love me every day.
My open adoption is so weird and yet, so cool. It always feels unnatural. I don't know if that will ever change, but normalcy isn't important to me. I visited my son four times in the first year, and I continue to visit this year. Each visit better than the last, all of them unique and memorable. I carry happy memories with me, and I always long to see him just one more time. This May he will be two years old (and I don't even want to talk about it… why is he so big?!) His parents and I truly respect, trust, and love each other. They are everything I wanted for him and more.
I truly believe in the inner strength we all have.
Birth moms do not walk an easy road; grief and struggles are certainly prevalent in the life we have chosen. However, I want each of you beautiful women to be able to stand tall in your decision. I want you to be supported and loved, instead of criticized and judged. I believe birth moms have a certain resilience and we all deserve to have peace with this choice; the choice we made in love.