To the single woman on the day you find out you’re pregnant:

You’re sitting on the cold bathroom floor, eyes wide, heart pounding, hands trembling with a positive test bearing two pink lines indicating that yes, in fact, you are pregnant. Unwed and unexpectedly, you are pregnant.

These two lines have changed your life forever and you’re in shock.

This is TOTALLY OK.  Let me tell you, the night I found out I was going to be a mom before a wife (or college graduate for that matter),  I was in such a shock that I went straight into denial. I hid the test in the back of my medicine cabinet, went to dance class, came home, carb-loaded on Kraft mac and cheese while watching MTV’s “The Real World”, then crashed…hard…. because…hello! I was stressed, I just modern danced my bum off, and I happened to be making a human—all at the same time!

Three hours later, I woke up to Kylie Minogue’s video,  “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and I honestly thought I dreamed the whole thing. I thought it was finally cracking under the pressure of my stressful ballet choreography project due the next week. My mouth tasted like cotton balls  so, I stumbled into the bathroom to brush my teeth and saw the test behind my toothpaste tube.  Then it all became very, very real.

This was my “Real world: University of North Texas” edition.  I was 20, a junior in college, a dance major, and according to EPT—pregnant.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid woman”, I muttered repeatedly.

Maybe this is what you’re thinking right now, that you’re stupid.  How many times had you practiced safe sex, and heeded the warning that there is no reliable reigning “Pull Out King,” and if you ran in Christian circles like me you generally avoided pre-marital sex because “true love waits” and yet, you let yourself get pregnant?

Let me tell you this as a former unwed and unexpectedly pregnant woman: you are not stupid. 

You are human and this happens.  Hormones and hot boys and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” making you feel all sexy and invincible, happened.   Or maybe it was Jason Derulo’s, “Talk Dirty”, good Lord, I’m sure some of your babies are Queen Bey’s fault.  Whatever. Mommy brain tangents on baby-making bump and grind music aside, this is me, crouching down with you on your bathroom floor to look in your eyes and tell you this ultimate truth: you are braver than you think, more extraordinary than you know, and stronger than you give yourself credit for.

You need all the positivity right now, so STOP BLAMING AND SHAMING YOURSELF. 

Blame and Shame are fugly stepsisters and you’ve got better things to do than let them keep you from the ball of enjoying your life—because yes, even though you are pregnant way before you ever planned to be, your life is not over, so don’t let Shame and Blame keep you from living it.

It’s true, honey, when you get off this bathroom floor, you’ve got things to do. Things like decide if you want to keep the baby, give it up for adoption, or get an abortion.  Things like find an OB, write a birth plan, meet potential adoptive parents, start taking prenatal vitamins, lean into your community for post-delivery care, and, of course, figure out your 3am cravings.

Exhausting, right?  See how you don’t have time for shame?

As your pregnancy progresses, shame will keep coming at you like a beast.  I know you’re not showing yet and you can probably pass off your exhaustion to whatever crazy you’ve got going in on your life.  Maybe you’re a student or a career-driven professional. Maybe you’re a cashier at CVS and your jerky boss keeps you on the late night shift.  Whatever your situation, you’ll use this as a plausible excuse for why you’re so tired all the time. When the morning sickness (which, I hate to break it to you is a misnomer, you’re going to be sick ALL DAY LONG) hits and you’re puking every hour, you’ll try to pass it off as your immune system compromised by stress.

Eventually though, you’ll start showing and everyone will know. People will start asking questions.  Eyes will narrow and pearls will be clutched.  Before you want to, you’ll have to announce your pregnancy.

Listen: People are going to say some truly horrible things to you about your “condition” and your choices. It’s going to happen.  If you’re dating the father and you decide to get married, at the reception, busybodies are going to talk about your “shotgun wedding” savoring your red velvet wedding cake on their tongues and red-hot judgment in their hearts.

It’s just ignorance, sweetie.  Haters are going to hate and gossips will gossip.  You keep your head up high knowing that no matter what—you are amazing.  At this very second you are nurturing life. Selfless, stunningly selfless, are you.

This truth is what Shame doesn’t want you to know or realize.

Let me tell you that when I came to terms with my status of unwed and pregnant, I felt like God wanted me to pray for the girls in my church’s youth group to make good choices about sex and to find their value apart from their bodies.  One day after months of praying, a teenager from the youth group came up to me and told me she was scared. She missed her period and she had no one to talk to, but since I kept coming to church, all big and pregnant she thought I was someone who would understand. I barely knew the girl but I loved her so much.  I loved her bravery and I was honored to harbor hope for her.

When I prayed with that girl, I felt something I thought I lost when I had sex outside “the covenant of marriage”—God’s pleasure.  Oh I knew I loved me and I knew he forgave me, but pleased with me?  Oh come, on.  But when I chose to love even in my season of need, God showed up because God is love and Jesus is all about championing those in need.

Little did I know, as we sat off the side praying and talking, the pastor’s wife was savoring her own judgment.

One afternoon that week, she sat across from me in her shag-carpeted sitting room and asked me to “refrain from interacting with the girls of the youth, as they are impressionable and you are sinfully in the family way.”

This is Shame at her finest, she loves to short-circuit love by dousing it with scarcity.  Shame wanted me to believe that because I chose to have my baby before getting married, I wasn’t holy enough to love the youth with prayers and honest encouragement.

Choose now to live bravely and love fiercely through this pregnancy.

Before you get off this bathroom floor, I want to send you out with one more piece of advice.  You are braver than you know, yes.  You are selflessly stunning, yes it’s true.  You will get through this—of that I’m sure.  But one more thing you need to know: even though you don’t have a husband and even though your parents may disown you, you are not alone.

When you step out into the world with your round belly and ring-less left hand, remember this: there is a God who sees us and deeply, deeply loves us.

In the bible, there is a story about a servant girl named, Hagar who had an illegitimate baby.  In the house where Hagar served, the master and mistress were desperate for an heir. In spite of their old age and proven barrenness, God promised them a son—so they waited.  In their waiting they got impatient and Sarai, Hagar’s mistress gave her to her husband to make an heir.

Soon Hagar became an unwed woman.  Like me and like you.

When Sarai found out her servant was going to have what she always wanted—a baby— she mistreated Hagar.  Fed up with her mistress spiteful treatment, Hagar, pregnant and scared, ran to the desert.

Hagar was not alone, though. Chasing behind her was a God who knew her name, saw her pain, and heard her cries.

The same is true for you, sweetie.  You are seen, known, heard, and loved by God.  He will not leave you through your pregnancy.  He won’t even leave you if you get an abortion. He’s just that crazy in love with you. No matter what you decide to do in the aftermath two pink lines, do not forget this. You unwed and pregnant woman are known, heard, seen, and wildly loved.

Now, splash some cold water on your face, Google search for an OB or crisis pregnancy center near you, and call a friend over to sit with you while you cry a bit.  It’s ok.  Cry all you want. You’re shocked and you’ve got ALLTHEHORMONES messing you up.  Just make sure your friend brings carbs and chocolate and an Emma Stone rom-com.

You can do this, Mama. You are not alone.  I am so proud of you.