I am a call manager at the Center for Pregnancy Choices (CPC) in Jackson, Mississippi, a nonprofit providing counseling services to women facing unexpected pregnancies. Some would say I am perfect for this role – I faced two difficult unexpected pregnancies myself. Today, I give back so other women know they are not alone.
In my work at the clinic, I sometimes receive calls from women who just found out they are pregnant and in need of help. Many are looking for a listening ear or the resources to make their own decision. Most of them are anxious and unsure.
I can relate. An unexpected pregnancy threatened my educational goals.
When I was a senior in college, a positive pregnancy test stalled me in my tracks, blurring my hopes for graduation and grad school. I was overwhelmed with panic, fear, and stress.
What would I do? How would I finish school? What would my boyfriend and parents say? What would the members of my Christian college community think? I doubted whether I could handle a baby while simultaneously completing my education.
Yet, amidst the wave of panic and stress, I knew I had somewhere to turn.
Through CPC, I was provided with a list of doctors to see, prenatal vitamins, free counseling, an ultrasound, parenting classes and other support. They even helped me navigate telling my parents.
Unlike some girls facing unexpected pregnancies, I was blessed to have supportive parents. My boyfriend at the time – who is now my husband – was also very supportive.
Still, the road was far from easy. I knew I wanted to further my education despite my unexpected pregnancy, however, this required many sacrifices. It was tough to walk around campus and attend classes with a visible bump. At times, I felt the disapproval of other students in my campus community. Juggling classes with pregnancy appointments and battling morning sickness was extremely difficult.
Thankfully, my college professors allowed me to finish my classes at home during my pregnancy, which helped me to graduate only one semester behind.
While at graduation, my boyfriend surprised me by proposing.We got married that summer after college, right before we started graduate school in August.
Though the journey was hard, bittersweet moments like these helped me realize I made the right choice.
My experience inspired me to work at CPC while attending graduate school – where I found out I was pregnant again. This time I knew I had the support of CPC and they stepped in to help ease the process.
Now I give back so that others have the support and resources that I did. Through CPC, I was able to recognize the need to let women know there are alternatives to abortion, and support systems in place should they choose life.
My experience with an unexpected pregnancy has enabled me to empathize and encourage these women. So many women are like I once was – shocked, afraid, and unsure. Through my work, I seek to give women hope, and to give them the strength and resources necessary to shoulder the burdens of an unexpected pregnancy.
In addition to my work at the CPC, I am currently pursuing a doctorate in public health. Did I mention I love education? My dissertation focuses on the correlation between mental health illness and unplanned pregnancy, and it emphasizes the importance of maternal mental health screenings, counseling, and support for women, so that they have a healthy pregnancy outcome for both mother and child.
Just a few years ago, staring in panic at my first positive pregnancy test, I never thought that pursuing my DrPH would be possible.
But it was. Through the support from CPC and my loved ones, I knew that my goals could be met without ending the life of my child. More importantly, I found beauty and grace in a journey that gave me a new life calling, and a deep desire to give back. Each of my children have blessed my life in countless ways, and I am thankful for the people and support networks that encouraged me to fulfill my goals and dreams, even after experiencing two unplanned pregnancies.
Today, when I talk to women who call our center, I am constantly reminded of my journey and those who made it possible. I find joy in being able to help women as I was once helped, and in sharing the message that I’ve learned over the years: You’re stronger than you think.
DaChiron lives in Jackson, Mississippi.