I had no plans to become a mother, so when those blue lines showed up—immediately and unmistakably dark on the pregnancy test—I cried. Not tears of joy. Not even tears of surprise, oh, I already knew. They were tears of deep dread, and a what-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do feeling. I broke up with the father the week before, and I was happy to be rid of him after a mediocre two months of trying to will myself into feelings I didn’t have out of loneliness. My first instinct was abortion, but working as a bartender at a failing restaurant wasn’t exactly raking in the bucks. I knew I’d have to ask him to help pay for it.
In true Millennial form, I told him I was pregnant via text message. We met up that night to talk about it, and I told him I was leaning toward having an abortion, but hadn’t made a definitive decision yet. He agreed to support my decision “no matter what” and offered to help me pay for the procedure. I gave myself a few days to think about it.
That weekend, for whatever reason, I decided against it. I can’t explain why, maybe later in my life I will understand the decision better. Overwhelmed is an understatement for how I felt in terms of the idea of raising this child, especially with a person I already knew I didn’t want in my life, even as a boyfriend. But I thought, people do this all the time; they raise kids with partners they don’t love in situations that aren’t traditional family settings, and that’s okay right?
I told the father I was having second thoughts about the abortion. He had flown to Colorado for the weekend to eat mushrooms with his friends in the mountains. That Sunday he told me he had a plan. I took a deep breath and thought, “alright, here we go.” His plan was that he would customize a bus for us to live in with our infant child. He told me that his biggest fear was “falling into the traps of normalcy,” and that we could “show our kid the world.”
I felt my blood pressure rise, my face got hot, and my brain nearly exploded from the idiocy. It was as though my fingernails and teeth had sharpened; only then did I begin to understand how it feels to be truly protective in the way only a mother can be. As we tried to talk it through that night and over many nights since, it became increasingly more clear that this person was not a person I could depend on as a co-parent. We had exceedingly different mindsets on what raising a child should look like, differences that—it was obvious to me—couldn’t and wouldn’t result in compromise.
The next couple weeks passed in storms of different emotions. I was terrified. I knew I didn’t want to be tied to this person for the rest of my life. I knew I didn’t want that person having a central role in influencing the life of my baby. I knew I wasn’t ready to raise a baby on my own. I had other goals I wanted to achieve, I had very little money, an unstable living situation, and like a lot of 25-year-olds, I am only now learning how to take care of myself. I was spiraling. I couldn’t handle my emotions—intensified by those devilish pregnancy hormones—that were a mixture of regret, terror, and the most severe anxiety I’ve ever experienced.
When the idea of adoption first occurred to me, I cried in a way that reminded me of when I found out about the pregnancy. Full-body sobs rooted in something so much more complex than sadness alone. The strangest part was that when the notion hit me and I had this extreme physical reaction, it was also tinged with a sense of relief. The first wave of relief I’d felt since realizing the changes that were about to take place in my body, and those spiritual changes I had no idea would take place over the following months.
I was adopted as a baby, a part of my life that I think made it easier for me to conceive of this idea having been through it. I’m thankful to my birthmother because her strength gave me the amazing people who raised me: my mother, father and brother. Her strength is something I admire, because though the decision to place me for adoption wasn’t an easy one, it was the right one for her and for me in the long run. Even though she was a teenager at the time, and even though she chose another life for me, she became a mother. I found out much later that my birthmother was also adopted as an infant. Maybe when it came time for her to make the decision for me, her birthmother’s strength inspired her as well.
I’m now 27 weeks into this pregnancy. I’ve chosen an adoptive family, spoken with them on the phone and through email, and am regularly going to therapy to deal with all of it. The father goes back and forth; one day he claims he’s supportive and the next he attempts to pressure me into raising a baby I know I am not ready for, into a life with him that I don’t want. I’ve dealt with a lot of guilt about choosing an alternative, but at the end of the day, the main reason is because this path is ultimately what’s best for my child.
A large part of my struggle dealing with this adoption is the idea that after the birth, my role as mother ceases. What I am coming to realize though is despite the fact that the father seems to want to make me feel like I am a coward for my decision, that I’m not a mother unless I raise my child, and despite the fact that my son will call another woman Mother and she will raise him, that doesn’t mean that these changes didn’t take place in me.
People say that women become mothers when they find out they’re carrying a child. For me, it was when I made that first difficult decision for him. For me, it was choosing to provide another home for my son that offers the opportunities I can’t afford for him at this point in my life. I have to remind myself of that, and I have to keep that notion: no matter what, even though I won’t raise him, my son made me a mother. Regardless of if I choose to have another child when I am ready or if I choose not to, I always will be. Motherhood isn’t as simple as just birthing and raising a child, as if that’s simple. It’s doing what’s best for your child, in spite of yourself, in spite of what anyone else thinks.
Author: Kaitlyn Buhrman
Author Bio: Kaitlyn Buhrman earned a BFA in writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design and currently lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction, and works in a variety of mediums in visual art including fibers, illustration, painting, and mixed-media collage.
Social Media: www.instagram.com/forestmilk