The Pregnant Soldier
By Dr. Molly Barrow
The news that you are expecting a baby
can be glorious or worrisome depending on the parent’s age,
financial situation or disposition to be a parent. Pregnancy can
bring opportunity for great happiness and/or serious problems like
birth defects, stress on relationships and strain on budgets. Here
is how one young soldier found a solution through counseling.
Confidentiality requires identifiers to be changed.
Becky was in the Army. She was a
dedicated young career officer in training and looking forward to
her opportunity to serve in Iraq. She was considering moving in with
her boyfriend who served in the National Guard. However, her
boyfriend had begun to micro manage her recently and she was getting
tired of it. They had a terrible fight and she discovered she was
glad to be out of the relationship. After her break-up with her
boyfriend, Becky moved in with her mother who was divorced and
supporting a teen-age son. Becky promised her mother that the living
situation would be temporary as she expected the call to go to Iraq
in the next few months.
A few weeks later, she went to her doctor
because she was so fatigued she was having trouble with her duties.
The smiling nurse told Becky that she was pregnant. The reality of
what a pregnancy would do to her military career was devastating.
She left the office in a daze. She regretted the nights she had a
few drinks and blew off birth control.
Becky’s doctor had suggested she seek
counseling because she was so upset. At home, she was drinking too
much and her mother thought Becky was worried about the risk of
deployment. It was just the opposite. Becky was afraid she would not
be deployed. Her mother insisted that she get some counseling, too.
Becky decided she would get some help
with her options, but she was almost sure what she was going to do.
Becky believed she could not have a military opportunity and raise a
baby. Although the military has counselors, she was trying to hide
her pregnancy from her superiors. She said she had trained to kill
an enemy, but she did not know how to handle terminating her
pregnancy. Therefore, she was stuck, unable to make a decision and
had no one to talk to that she could trust. Becky said that she had
not told anyone that she was pregnant and was trying to make this
life decision alone. She did not want to marry the father. His
behavior had become more outlandish and threatening since they broke
up and she no longer could imagine a future with him. She was
certain the Army would not send a pregnant officer to serve
overseas. Tearfully, she explained that she had made up her mind to
abort the fetus.
During her first counseling session,
Becky revealed that her mother had been a terrific mom and that she
had aspired to be the same to her future children. She hated herself
for drinking so much knowing that she was pregnant. After several
sessions, because Becky was so young and very close to her mother,
Becky agreed that the right approach was to confide in her family.
Becky decided on her own that if she were
going to tell her family that she should also tell the father of the
baby. However, her boyfriend was unwilling to change his career path
to be a full time father, but he said he wanted Becky to have the
baby, anyway. Becky expected his response and his lack of sacrifice.
Somehow, she thought he would help her and now she felt even worse.
She was reluctant to tell her mother who might hurt her feelings or
criticize her more. Nevertheless, she bravely sat down with her
Surprisingly, rather than scolding Becky
for being careless, her mother did not hesitate to present a third
workable option. Her mother was dreading the empty nest loneliness
she expected when her son left for college in a few years. She saw
the baby as a gift and offered to adopt the baby while Becky
continued her military career. Becky was relieved beyond words. She
began to eat right and stopped drinking alcohol completely. She took
a leave and delivered a beautiful, healthy child. For several years,
Becky and her mother have shared a happy toddler, who even has
regular visits from his father and paternal grandparents.
Becky was extremely fortunate that her
mother was capable of raising another child. An overwhelming problem
in one person’s life became the solution to loneliness in another’s.
If a difficult decision worries you, seek help from a trained
therapist and the people who love you. Together, you just may find a
creative solution to your impossible problem.
Read other articles and learn more
about Dr. Molly Barrow.
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