Fear. Isolation. Worry of the unknown. This is how many would describe the feeling of living in the midst of the COVID-19 – real life as we know it today. It’s a weird time to be living in and has many of us asking ourselves questions like, “Will we have enough money to get us through?”, “Will someone I love get sick?”, “When will I be able to visit my sister again?”, and “When will this all end?”. A pandemic is a crisis that many don’t plan to prepare for ahead of time until it just happens and they find themselves standing in aisle 5 quickly scanning the items on the shelves trying to decide what is essential and what is unnecessary amid a pandemic.

Fear. Isolation. Worry of the unknown. This is also how many would describe the feeling of an unplanned pregnancy – a crisis pregnancy. Unplanned and overwhelming. Over three million women will experience an unplanned pregnancy each year. That’s a pandemic number in terms of cases. Thoughts race through one’s mind like, “How will my parents handle the news?”, “Will I be able to finish college?”, “How will I be able to support a baby financially on a part-time income?”, “My husband and I agreed we wouldn’t have any more children”, “I’m too old to have another child” or “But I’m not married!”. No one completely knows how they will initially handle the news of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy until they find themselves staring back at a positive test. And, even then, many don’t know what steps to take next.

No matter what the precautions are that we find ourselves practicing to avoid an unpleasant situation — whether it be washing our hands and sanitizing everything we touch to avoid getting sick or relying strictly on birth control to avoid pregnancy—the simple fact is that precautions will continue to fail us. Unless you are abstaining from sex completely, the risk of becoming pregnant will always remain and can ultimately happen to anyone. Just remember, pregnancy isn’t a disease and can be overcome; you just need to have a plan. Below, you’ll find some simple steps to take that will help ease the weight of an unplanned pregnancy.

Step 1: Pregnancy Confirmation

If you think you may be pregnant, confirming your pregnancy is the most important step at this point. Here at Cornerstone, we can help. We provide free, on-site pregnancy testing and offer limited OB ultrasound by appointment to help determine how far along you are, which could impact the options that are available to you. We’ll help answer any questions you may have to help determine what your next steps are. We’re now offering virtual appointments and would love to meet you where you are to discuss your needs at this point.

Step 2: Sort Through Your Feelings and Thoughts

A wide variety of emotions will be felt when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, which is totally normal. An unplanned pregnancy that one feels excited and hopeful about will differ from someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant. Know that feelings of anger, denial, shock and even depression are all normal. If you’re finding it difficult to cope with your feelings or process your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We offer decision-making counsel specifically for moments like these. Our counselors can help you determine how you’re going to handle pregnancy going forward and discuss the options that are available to you.

Step 3: Explore Your Options

Anyone facing pregnancy ultimately has three options: parent the child, place the child for adoption, or terminate the pregnancy. What to do if you accidentally get pregnant is a choice only you can make. Read a little more about each of them below.

  • Parenting. It may be the right decision for you and your baby, so you owe it to yourself to think about what that would entail. If you choose to parent, we offer resources and educational incentive program classes that will help you provide the most important things you want for your child. We’re here to make you feel confident and supported if you feel parenting is the best option in your situation.
  • Adoption. An unfortunately common misconception is that women who place their babies for adoption are selfish or irresponsible. Rather, these women make a difficult, loving decision in the best interest of their child while still choosing life. It’s important to remember that you will be in control of the adoption process from beginning to end. If you desire, continued involvement in your child’s life is an option if parenting wasn’t the best choice for your situation. We’re here to fully support you, celebrate with you for choosing life, and offer counsel to you as you navigate through the adoption process as you ensure your baby will thrive long term.
  • Abortion. Many feel this option is their only choice when faced with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy for many different reasons. But it’s important to remember throughout your decision-making that this is an action that cannot be undone. Even though it may be challenging, we encourage you to slow down and think about what is most important to you. Making poorly thought out decisions based on fear have the potential of causing more long-term damage than good. Abortion carries both physical and emotional risks and there’s always a better
    option that is available for both you and your baby. Remember, we are here to talk with you as you make your decision and discuss alternative options.

Step 4: Identify Support Systems

Support systems are crucial in any area of life, especially when facing an unplanned pregnancy. Even though it may be intimidating, reaching out to loved ones who you can trust and lean on during this time is so important. If you’re facing your situation alone, or don’t have supportive family, think about connecting with other single parents or parenting programs that your community may offer. When it comes to support, think “quality over quantity”. Having one close friend or family member for support can be incredibly helpful.

Step 5: Be Honest and Open

As you continue to navigate through decision making, it’s important that you’re honest with everyone around you about your wants, needs, and any issues that you may be facing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends when you need extra help. Set time aside to talk to your boss about the accommodations you need or your plan of action regarding work after you give birth. And don’t be afraid to let people know, including family, when they are being supportive and when they’re overbearing.

Whatever crisis you may be facing – don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you’re pregnant, the next 9 months will have its challenges, both physically and emotionally. Whatever plan you decide to go with, don’t lose sight of the fact that YOU still matter. Treat yourself and schedule a prenatal massage, give yourself an at-home manicure, take a stroll in the park, plan a movie night with your favorite girlfriends, get dressed up and make date night a priority before the baby comes. Or simply, journal the journey. Whatever makes you happy, do it.

And lastly – have a little bit of hope. The contagion of fear may be worse than the virus or unplanned pregnancy itself. Be aware of triggers that cause you worry and anxiety and take control of your thought life. Be sure to cultivate positivity through outlets that bring you joy, extend grace to yourself and those around you, and remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As we continue to take the necessary precautions to help ensure the safety of our clients and community amid COVID-19, we are now offering virtual appointments. Let us meet you where you are and help you today.

Reach us at 717-442-3111 or center@pregnancyresources.org.