My name is Vanessa, and I'm a 20-year-old single mother of a beautiful two-year-old little boy.

I was 17 when I found out that I was pregnant. Only a few months prior, I broke up with my ex—without knowing there was life growing inside me.

Although I didn't consciously know I was pregnant, looking back now, I realize that there were telltale signs. Even though I was working out all the time with my rugby team, I wasn’t getting fit like everyone else. I also had to go to the bathroom a lot, and I was tired all the time, so I was barely making it to school. I ended up transferring myself out of public school to take online courses.

VanessaSomething didn't feel right

One day while sitting at home doing schoolwork, my stomach felt weird, and I was aware of other small changes that made me worry. I started Googling what might be wrong with me, and all of my searches were saying I was pregnant!

I couldn’t help but freak out. My mom always told my sister and me, “If you ever get pregnant at a young age, I’ll send you to live with your father.” My father never took an interest in me, so living with him was not something I wanted to do.

I tried to make an appointment for an abortion

In a moment of weakness and panic, I began dialing local abortion centers. Somehow, I mistakenly called Birthright's 1-800-550-4900 helpline, and the woman on the other end of the line asked, “Could I give your information to your local Birthright so they can contact you to help you through this?”

I agreed, and that’s when my helpful and meaningful relationship with Mary, the Director of Birthright of Boise, began.

Within 10 minutes of my initial call, Mary phoned me. Her calm and soothing voice helped me get a grip enough to think clearly about what was I going to do if I was pregnant. I was hoping that I might be mistaken.

I spent almost the whole day on the phone with Mary who went the extra mile with helping me.

Three pregnancy tests!

The following day, I went to Birthright and they let me take three pregnancy tests (all of them were free) because I wanted to be extra sure. I still couldn’t believe I was pregnant. I sat and cried for a minute, and then I began talking with Mary about my options.

That same day, a Friday, I made an appointment for the following Monday to get an ultrasound done at Stanton Healthcare, in Boise.

Afraid to disappoint

When Monday rolled around, I still hadn’t told my mom that I was pregnant. That morning before she went to work, I made up some excuse for not feeling well. I mentioned that I was going to the doctor.

Driving to my ultrasound appointment, I couldn’t help but cry. I was so worried about how I would tell my mom and how she’d react. Even with all of my worries, I could feel myself falling in love with my baby—especially after seeing the ultrasound, which made everything so real. I knew whatever happened that I was going to take care of my baby.

After my appointment, I called my best friend and told him what was going on. The disappointment I heard in his voice made me cry. I just knew that everyone would have the same negative reaction, and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. At the end of the conversation, he told me, “Everything is gonna be fine and—no matter what—I have your back. I will help you.”

Breaking the news to mom

I drove to my sister’s house. I planned not to tell anyone else about my pregnancy or so I thought. My mom was at my sister's, and she was talking about how she wanted to take a vacation and travel somewhere, and I started to panic.

“How do I tell her I’m pregnant when she wants to go on a vacation!”

She kept asking me what I thought about vacation destinations, and I kept avoiding her questions. It all got to be too much for me, and I couldn’t hide it anymore. I figured if I just got the truth out in the open, then it would be easier.

I stood up and walked to door—ready to bolt before she could freak out—and I blurted out that I was pregnant.

Initially, she didn’t freak out or yell. She just stared at me and asked, “Are you serious?” Later there was some yelling.

Growing excitement

The next week, I went to another ultrasound appointment where I found out that I was five months along and that I was having a little boy.

As my belly grew, so did my family’s excitement. I was so happy, and I enjoyed how everyone was trying to help with names and buying clothes.

Meeting my baby

On August 5th, 2015, I suddenly awoke at 2:00 a.m. from a dead sleep. I knew my baby was coming, though it wouldn’t happen as soon as I expected. After an epidural and three hours of pushing, nothing was happening.

When both my heart rate and babies started to drop, they took me into surgery for an emergency C-section. When I awoke, my mom brought my baby to me and asked what his name was. I looked at him and then at my mom, and I said, his name is Elijah Seth.

Elijah means everything to me

Elijah's shown me that I am much stronger than I thought.
Because of him, I want to be the best version of me.

"Loving the Unexpected" sums up my life because I honestly didn't think I'd be a mom at this age. I was never a fan of change or risk.

When I saw the two pink lines, I feared what was going happen to me, but I also knew I was a mom and that this baby—my baby—needed me. I didn't know what my future held, but that future would be an adventure that I would share with my baby—Elijah.