by Emily Klesick - June 4, 2020
October 26th, 2011. I sat in a waiting room with a cell phone in my hands and a purse at my feet. This follow-up appointment was supposed to address my tendinitis, a side effect of my job as a barista. When I entered the room, I informed the doctor that while my wrist was better, I was having some other odd symptoms. He ordered some tests and sent me out to wait.
I texted my friend saying, “They’re doing a urine test. He thinks I might have a UTI. Also running a pregnancy test.” We chatted about how ridiculous that would be, but a fleeting thought went through my mind. What if I am? No way. It’s not possible. I’m on birth control. I had just broken up with my boyfriend. There was no way.
Called back into that exam room, I sat across from the doctor as he said these words: “Everything came back clear.” I breathed a sigh of relief. “But… there is a faint positive on the pregnancy test.”
I immediately started to sob. This doctor, in his mid-twenties and obviously doing his first go-round at a basic clinic, had no idea what to do with me. He began frantically handing me tissues with the words, “So, I take it this was not planned?” All I could do was gape at him.
“We will need to get you some blood work to be sure. But just so you know, it’s really early. There’s nothing really there yet. You have options.”
It’s interesting to me, looking back on that moment. I was not a Christian. I had no reason to have any sort of negative stance on abortion. But immediately I knew this: there was a child inside of me. And it didn’t matter how small or how early, that child was mine to carry and protect.
I texted my friend back in that waiting room: “It’s positive.”
I went home that day, finding it very difficult to keep myself together. I found myself screaming at the God that I had rejected for years, begging Him to change my reality and questioning why He would allow this to happen to me.
I told my parents that night. They were, of course, shocked and hurt. They also wanted to know if I had thought about my options. And while I knew what my decision would be, I told them I would think about it.
The next day, I went in again to have my blood work evaluated. The doctor confirmed that I was about 4-5 weeks pregnant. Once again, I found myself facing someone who wanted me to have an abortion. I politely told him no, I wanted to keep my baby. Like the doctor the day before, he told me that it wasn’t really a “baby” yet. Praise God, something deep inside of me told me he was wrong.
I remember calling my mom outside of that appointment. “Well Emily, what are you going to do?” “Mom, I am going to have this baby.” “Okay, Em. We’ll do it. I love you.”
With that confirmation, I contacted my ex-boyfriend and told him I needed to speak with him. After texting back and forth that day, I knew that he was fairly sure of what we were going to talk about. Sitting on the bumper of my car in the middle of our university parking lot, him twenty and me eighteen. Unwilling to make eye contact, he said to me quietly, “Please don’t say what I think you’re going to say.” But the reality was there, I was pregnant. We couldn’t hide from it or run from it.
As he and I conversed that night, he was genuinely shocked that I did not want an abortion. I think he finally realized that I was not going to change my mind, and with that, we decided to attempt to get back together and make things work. After a very short-lived period, over which he continued trying to talk me into an abortion, our relationship ended. I quit university and moved home to be closer to my parents while he stayed in the town where our school was. It was unbelievably hard, but I knew that I wanted to be close to my mom as I walked through my pregnancy journey, knowing that it wouldn’t be easy. My mom became my biggest cheerleader, owning her newfound role as a grandmother. I will never be able to thank her for how much that meant to me.
I faced a lot of opposition from people. While some people hesitantly celebrated with me, a great deal of people could not understand why I chose to keep my child. They saw abortion as the easy option, the way out, the simple fix to my problem. Instead, I saw a growing child in my belly, relying on me for absolutely everything. I was terrified, heartbroken, and confused. But ultimately, I loved that little baby from the moment I knew it existed.
Months went by and I settled into being pregnant. At nineteen weeks along, I learned that I was having a boy. I had already chosen a name for him, Grayson, and as I began to feel him kick and stir within me, my love only grew. However, as I fought to find a job and get prepared to provide for my child, I sunk deep into depression. My world as I knew it was coming to an end, and the world ahead of me was full of unknowns. At the back of my mind, I worried over whether any man would ever want me again, if I would ever be worthy to be someone’s wife. I saw myself as damaged, tainted, and worthless.
At six months pregnant, I walked into a group for teen mothers that a high school friend had invited me to. If I’m being honest, it took me several weeks to be willing to go. Because it was held at a church, I was terrified, utterly convinced that I was going to burst into flames when I walked in the doors. I slipped in, said hello to my friend, and went to sit down as far from everyone else as I could. I marveled at the clamor around me, fifteen or so young women all in clusters talking happily with each other. Babies on hips, toddlers gleefully running around, and mentors interspersed throughout. One thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the smiles on their faces. Everyone looked genuinely happy.
After a few moments, one of these mentors made her way to me and introduced herself. As hard as I tried to keep to myself, she was not going to allow it. She peppered me with questions about myself, my baby, and my life. In that moment, I felt celebrated. I felt in that moment that this baby inside of me was a gift, something to rejoice over, something to embrace wholeheartedly. And as I got to know the group, I saw even more how these moms loved their babies, and how these mentors loved the moms. In those moments, within the walls of a church where I felt so out of place, I began to see the hands and feet of Jesus at work.
When the time came for my son to be born, I looked at that sweet, tiny baby and delighted in his fingers and toes. I marveled at his blue eyes and his wrinkly forehead. I kissed him over and over and fell more in love by the minute. As time went on, these moms and mentors showed up over and over in my life, loving me and loving my baby. I felt connected and loved, cared for and cared about. I never really felt alone.
It was one of these mentors who, through faithful pursuit and relentless love, showed me the way to Jesus. At a young adult’s group at a church, which I was lovingly sent to with her daughter, I accepted Christ to the song “Blessed Be Your Name”. Rather than a powerful moment of walking up to an altar, I felt this sense in my soul that God was revealing Himself to me. And in that moment, I said in my heart, “I can no longer deny You, Lord.” And in that moment, I gave my heart over to Jesus.
It wasn’t an easy road, being a single mom. Grayson was only three months old when I was baptized. I fell deep into postpartum depression for a time and struggled against those feelings of worthlessness and defeat. While I knew that I belonged to Christ, much of my shame still haunted me. The enemy worked overtime trying to convince me that I was not worthy of the precious grace I had been given. As I battled against those lies, I was also working and caring for my sweet boy.
That first year was insanely hard, but through it all, God was making Himself known to me more and more. I am ever thankful for that time, as difficult as it was, because that season was truly so sweet. Each day I was learning something new about who God is and what He had done for us. Church history came alive and biblical characters became real. That precious time of coming to know Him was unbelievably sweet to my soul.
But in the midst of it all, I still desperately needed hope. I needed to know that I had worth, that I wasn’t damaged, that God’s love for me overcame any shame that I still carried. Nearly a year after I came to know Christ, a guy friend of mine reminded me of how big God’s love is and how He loves me no matter what I have done. For some reason, that conversation took such a burden off my shoulders. God orchestrated that moment to reach my heart through the words of my friend. And the best part of that story? That man is now my husband!
The last eight years as a believer have been a wild ride. From being a single mom, to a married mom with a toddler, two new babies and two moves. I’ve battled postpartum depression and anxiety, health issues, and chronic pain. I have gone back to school and started working part-time. Our life never seems to stop, but we make memories and enjoy each other, which matters most of all.
In the midst of it all, God has continued to teach me and grow me closer to His heart. As I look back on my life, I am ever so grateful for that catalyst moment in the doctor’s office when I found out that I was going to be a mom. God’s ultimate plan in my life has always prevailed and for that I give Him thanks. As I look around at my life: my amazing husband who adores Jesus and my three sweet boys who light up my world, I rejoice over every bump in the road. He has been my road to hope, and for that hope I will give Him glory all the days of my life.