Guest Column

My daughter was conceived in rape, but she is innocent and deserves a chance at life

(Save the 1) March 3rd, 2016 is the day I learned that not only was I pregnant, but also that I had been raped and a baby had been conceived because of that rape. After a month of being very ill and incredibly exhausted, I sought medical treatment, and that is when I was administered a pregnancy test and given these shocking results.

Without a doubt, I knew I must have been raped on January 30th, because that’s when I had woke up the next morning knowing something wasn’t right. I was naked from the waist down, had a terrible headache like never before, and my body was aching. Nothing made sense. I had no idea how I got home, undressed, or why on earth I felt the way I did. I stayed in bed all day long.

I did nothing “wrong”. I went out with two girlfriends and came home to my own bed. My last memory of the evening is not feeling well — incredibly tired and dizzy. I crawled in bed with my sleeping toddler and went to sleep.

I didn’t dress provocatively. I didn’t drink to excess. I didn’t drink and drive. I did nothing “wrong”. However, a man saw an opportunity to put something in my drink and then proceeded to take something I was not willing to give — my body.

I’m not sure if it would be worse to have a memory of the rape, or to live day after day, as I do, imagining what this man did to me while I laid like a dead person in my own bed, in my own home, with my sleeping toddler in my arms. I haven’t decided if it is a blessing or a curse to not know what was done to me. I am only left to imagine and assume what occurred that night, and everyday is like a nightmare because of that.

Since learning I was pregnant, I have given testimony to six unknown police officers, and had to share my story with nurses, my doctor, my friends, my family, and even my precious innocent children. The best I could muster up or offer as an explanation to my five other children ages 2 to 15 was that “Mommy is going to have a baby. You will have a new sibling. There was a bad man who put a baby in my belly, but we are going to love this baby.”

Next came the questions from my kids: Who is the bad man? Will he try to hurt you? Will he hurt us? Will he try to take our baby away? Mommy, are you going to die because you’re not supposed to have anymore babies? Did the bad man go to jail? Why not?

I ask you — what answers am I to give them?

During my pregnancy, I’d been ill. I spent hundreds on prescription meds to control my nausea and vomiting. I vomited blood. I missed days, weeks, and months of work because of being so severely ill. I am the only one who works in my home as I am a single mother. I fell behind on every single bill. I had yard sales and sold things online in order to put gas in the car and food on the table. When I finally could compose myself and control my vomiting enough to return to work, I was able to catch up on my bills in September.

During my pregnancy, I was asked more than seven times if I wanted to give up my baby for adoption. I have learned that the socially acceptable norm is for women who conceive children through rape to continue with a pregnancy and then proceed to place their child for adoption. It is almost taboo for me to actually want to keep and parent a baby conceived through rape. So, I’ve had to face scrutiny for that as well. In cases such as mine, it is considered a tragedy, rather than an act of love or nobility that I choose to keep my baby.

I had to try to laugh it off when someone asked me, “Don’t you know what causes that yet?” as they pointed to my pregnant belly. I’ve had to feel ashamed and humiliated when I walked around pregnant as an unmarried woman. I’ve had to endure the embarrassment of telling my story. I’ve held tears and rage back when people ask about the dad. I cannot even imagine the embarrassment and pain my children have felt or will feel when asked where or who the baby’s dad is.

I tried to prepare myself for my baby coming. I had broken down and sobbed in the middle of stores when a little onesie that boasts “Daddy’s girl” or “Daddy’s lil princess” was displayed on a rack. I’ve been overcome with disgust and anger and sadness, and in the middle of a store or not, my emotions got the better of me.

Nevertheless, I’ve rubbed my belly countless nights telling my baby how much I love her. I’ve tried to tell her she is beautiful and innocent and is a precious blessing to me and her brothers and sisters. I’ve imagined what words I could possibly ever find or use to explain to her how she came to be. I’ve imagined what I may tell her one day when she asks where and who her daddy is.

Yes, I was pregnant by rape, and yes, I’m thankful for this baby! My first reaction, however, was not that at all! And you know what? That’s OK! No one thinks they’ll ever be raped, let alone conceive a child through it. I sure as heck never did.

I was one of those people who would have said, in cases of rape, I could understand a rape victim wanting an abortion. I never understood how hurtful that statement was until I became pregnant because of rape. My rapist has enjoyed living a life filled with freedom. He’s been able to work and pay his bills. He’s been able to enjoy his family and his life comfortably. So why would my baby not be entitled to enjoy the same luxuries, to enjoy life?

I didn’t want or need an abortion. I wanted and needed real tangible help, and I thank God for my support system who has abundantly blessed me and my baby upon her birth. I want and I need to see some form of justice. I don’t want child support from a rapist who belongs in jail, not free out on the streets and able to work. I want and need to be protected from the rapist having parental rights.

Now, I’m doubtful that my rapist is going to want anything to do with my baby, and I thank GOD for that every day; however, in Wyoming, rapists have rights to babies who they conceive through rape. So my worst nightmare is that one day he will want rights.

Let me help you understand. Every single day is an emotional rollercoaster. Dealing with a rape is a huge emotional trauma. Dealing with a pregnancy because of a rape is even more difficult. But, knowing your rapist is free and out abusing more women while law enforcement sits idly by is infuriating.

I’m proud of the fact that I’m sharing my story. I’ll continue to share it again and again. WHY? Because, most women won’t. I feel like God gave me this big mouth and outspoken attitude for a reason. Maybe it is to be a voice for women who have gone through or will go through something similar.

When I first discovered I was pregnant and the reality that I had been raped set in, I wanted to bury myself in a hole. I wanted someone to knock me out, get this baby out of me, and wake me up like it was all a bad dream. I never thought I’d have the courage to share my story. In fact, when the words first came out of my mouth, I had a hard time believing it. Surreal is an understatement. Like I said, no one thinks this could ever happen to them.

I see this as an opportunity, though. I’m raising daughters and sons. I want my sons to know what happened to me is wrong! It should never be tolerated. I want my daughters to learn from this and be able to take any and all precautions to prevent it from happening to them, as well as to educate their girlfriends and practice a buddy system so neither them nor their friends will have to go through anything like this.

It is an opportunity to inspire other women who have faced similar horrific experiences to know, even though they may be scared or embarrassed, they aren’t in the wrong and it is okay to talk about it.

It is an opportunity to shed light on our failing justice system and law enforcement.

It is an opportunity to show women that it is possible to survive a rape, even to become pregnant by rape, and still choose to carry your baby and love your baby.

So am I happy about the baby? Am I excited? Yes. Am I angry? Am I disgusted? Yes. Am I frustrated with what another baby is going to do to my life and finances? Yep.

At first, I thought, I didn’t want anyone to know my child in my belly was conceived through rape. I didn’t want her to feel any shame. Now, I want everyone who will listen to know. Now, I want her to know. I want her to know she was a choice! Really, it shouldn’t have been my choice to say that her life was worth less, because it wasn’t worth any less than mine. I want her to know I loved her despite how angry I was that she was put inside of me without my knowledge or consent. I want her to know that she has no part in any of the ugliness surrounding her conception and that she should never feel any shame. I want her to grow up knowing and professing that a beautiful life is possible, even through horrible circumstances.

Maybe one day, when a woman who is raped and feels the same feelings I felt when she learns she is pregnant, she will look at my beautiful daughter and know that it is okay to somehow get through a difficult and traumatic pregnancy because she too will be rewarded with a beautiful human being.

So there you have it. I won’t be hushed. I’m not going to stop trying to make people listen and understand. I’ll continue to fight our failed justice system. I’ll continue to be a voice for women. I’ll continue to be a voice for unborn babies conceived through rape. I’ll continue.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at Save the 1, and is reprinted here with permission.

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