Many years ago, what seems like a lifetime, I would hastily roll my eyes and scoff at stories I would hear about women who claimed they did not know they were pregnant. These stories were rare, but always seemed the same to me. The women figured they were just gaining weight or experiencing irregular cycles. Then there was the day in which they awoke with tremendous stomach cramps, and before they knew it, a baby was in their presence.
Up until my twenty-sixth birthday, I did not believe in the power of denial and I certainly did not believe the stories I heard of undiagnosed pregnancies—until it happened to me.
It was 1997. I was living in a new city, no job, no money, in an abusive relationship, and dealing with high levels of stress. Months passed, and I was in survival mode. I didn’t think about what my body was or wasn’t doing. I accounted the severe bouts of nausea, no matter what time of day, to anxiety. Years of yo-yo dieting must explain why my clothes were getting tighter. I couldn’t possibly be pregnant. Not me, a young woman who had always been responsible and very savvy regarding birth control and women’s reproductive rights.
But on my twenty-sixth birthday, I gathered the courage to go to a local clinic and take a pregnancy test. It was positive, no big surprise there, but I was still shocked, scared, embarrassed and desperate. The clinicians were wonderful, patient and kind. They recommended an ultrasound immediately, which revealed I was seven months along in the pregnancy. The power of denial can go on for a long time.
Two months later, I gave birth to a healthy, adorable little girl. The next day, she went home with her adoptive parents.
There was no denying what a significant, life-changing, amazing experience this was for me. It prompted me to look at other areas of my life I was in denial about: my relationship, my erratic college attendance, and years of depression that had affected every aspect of my life.
While I don’t share this part of my life with many, I have learned innumerable lessons about the power of denial. I was in denial that I could ever become pregnant outside of marriage. I was in denial that I would ever be faced with the decision of placing a child up for adoption. I was in denial that I could ever happy.
Now, months away from graduation, with a world of opportunities and options, there is no denying that I have grown.
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