The nurse walked in and her face delivered the news long before her lips could say, “Baby girl, you are pregnant”. To this day, I’m unclear as to why but I began laughing hysterically; I think it was some twisted defence mechanism to maintain sanity.
There I was, a straight-A student, pregnant, and at university abroad, thinking, “How am I going to break this to my parents back home in Trinidad?”
The nurse handed me a pamphlet and went through the routine of informing me that the college clinic offered no assistance during pregnancy. The tri-fold handout had photograph of a mother and child on the front cover with a heading about ‘options’.
Inside, there was a list of clinics that I could attend to ‘take care of it’ or agencies that specialized in adoption services. Finally, on the back cover listed the contact information for the lone, low-income medical centre that offered support and pre-natal care, if I decided to embark on this journey.
Looking back, I think that pamphlet was a printed microcosm of the level of genuine support that is to be expected when one chooses the proverbial road less travelled. Of all your family, friends and acquaintances, only a handful will truly have your back in times of crisis. Of that handful whose love for you is undeniable, there are still those who will impose their own doubts and fears on your already bleak situation. But, that’s okay!
After breaking the news to my parents that their firstborn child was now three months pregnant for a Rasta man, my mother and greatest supporter decided that I had only two options: I was to either drop out of school and return to Trinidad immediately to have the baby or stay in school and when the baby was born send him to Trinidad to be raised by grandparents. It was a challenge standing against her on this issue, but I opted for neither. I fought through and graduated two and a half years later on top of my class with my son at my side.
My lesson? In your calamity be discerning, and trust your instincts. No one is going to grasp the intricacies of your problem better than you. Don’t be afraid to tune out the advice of others when you know in your core that it’s not the best decision for you – even when the advice is coming from someone who has your best interest at heart.
Deliverance and encouragement sometimes come from the most unlikely source. My father was terrified to have me break the news to my grandmother, that I was pregnant out of wedlock, while still a student. Before making the call I had braced myself for total humiliation, and a proper scolding for bringing shame to the family.
Instead, my grandmother’s kind words, non-judgmental approach, compassion and understanding brought me to tears. All wrapped up in my troubles and ready for a fight, I had forgotten that with her age came wisdom. She too had many obstacles to overcome as a woman in the 1940s seeking out higher education from poor beginnings. To her, the blessing of a great-grandchild outweighed the negative scrutiny and upcoming hardships; my responsibility was to keep pushing forward.
So yes, it’s okay to doubt yourself – for a moment. A moment of doubt gives way for deeper contemplation and fine-tuning of your game plan. It’s not okay to allow yourself to wallow in a cesspit of self-pity and uncertainty and thwart any potential of resolve. Necessity really is the mother of all invention, and when your back is against a wall, you’ll discover that you are stronger and more resourceful than you had ever perceived.Be resilient. Be stubborn.
Insanity by definition is doing the same thing while expecting a different result, so assuming we’re not crackpots, learning to embrace change and be fearless when we come to a decision is a must. Mistakes are mere side effects of progress, so be open to them as well. Cry over them for a moment, but then press on.
When life throws us curveballs, the answers aren’t always immediately clear, and problems aren’t instantaneously resolved. I have questioned God at various, difficult junctures in my life. Reflecting now, I feel like the ungrateful Israelites. So now, I pray for faith, because through each turmoil and decision, I believe there has been a single consistent thread – my faith. Don’t be ashamed to say a prayer (even when you feel guilty for not having done so for ages), or listen to uplifting music. When things don’t go your way, sometimes, you just have to claim a sense of calm, steadiness and comfort – a reassurance that all things will work for good… even when the end result is out of sight.