By Alisha Woodall
It was the summer before her senior year in high school when Savannah found out she was pregnant while staying with her older sister in Oregon to help care for her niece and nephew.
“It was bittersweet, because before, my thought was, ‘If I ever get pregnant, I don’t want to keep it,’” Savannah said, remembering how she felt. “But as soon as that moment was right there, I knew I didn’t want to get an abortion.”
She knew telling her mom would be rough because she had also been a teen mom, and she had always been very transparent in warning Savannah that it was not what you wanted to do because it was so hard.
Her mom was shocked to learn that her daughter was sexually active, much less pregnant, but she quickly moved on and became supportive spiritually, emotionally and financially.
Savannah found FirstLook after her sister recommended she find a Pregnancy Help Center back home where she could take parenting classes. Savannah had no idea what to expect but felt at ease at FirstLook from the very beginning when the staff explained who they were and what services they offered. One of the services FirstLook offered Savannah was her very own doula.
Savannah loved the idea of having a doula to support her during pregnancy, birth, and as a brand new mom. She knew immediately it was going to be awesome because when Gayla called to set up their first meeting, she asked when would be a good time for Savannah.
“FirstLook allowed me to meet Ms. Gayla, my doula. She gave me a lot of information and was accommodating to my school schedule. She was very flexible with my schedule so that I could get everything I needed to know about having a baby. It was like a two-for-one, because I got a doula and the parenting classes all in one!” Savannah said with a big smile on her face.
FirstLook was able to offer Savannah private parenting classes after school with Gayla. They covered everything from labor breathing techniques and breastfeeding, to baby language, the importance of bonding, pediatric emergencies, and car seat safety. Gayla was very resourceful outside of class, too. With anything she knew or saw coming up, she would text Savannah all throughout her pregnancy.
“FirstLook was very understanding and helped me with my main goal of staying in school because so many drop out of school when they have babies,” Savannah said with much appreciation. “FirstLook helped me to stay on the right path by helping me stay positive, optimistic, and be the best mother I can be for my baby.”
On the last day of November, Savannah began having contractions and immediately called Gayla to ask what to do. The contractions were not regular nor close together so Gayla recommended to stay home and keep walking around. Gayla continued to check on her every few hours until early the next morning when Savannah decided she wanted to go to the hospital, and Gayla met her there.
The hospital staff checked Savannah and said she still had a while until delivery. They gave her the option of staying at the hospital but said she would need to be admitted and have an IV started.
As Savannah’s doula, Gayla’s main focus was to support her birth plan, which was to have as natural a birth as possible. Savannah decided to go back home and continue laboring there.
On Savannah’s third day of labor, Gayla came to her house in the afternoon prepared to stay and try to help her contractions become more rhythmic and increase to every three minutes by doing different kinds of exercises. Gayla coached Savannah on how to breathe through the contractions, and then they would do an exercise in a different position, take a break to rest, eat a snack and drink plenty of water, then start the process again. This continued until well after midnight.
They were both exhausted, and Gayla wanted Savannah to try to get some sleep before the delivery, so they called it a night and Gayla headed home. Gayla hadn’t been home for more than 15 minutes when she got a call that Savannah’s water broke!
Gayla met Savannah at the hospital where she continued to help Savannah voice her desire for a natural birth. Savannah squeezed Gayla’s hand as the contractions intensified and tried her best to follow Gayla’s instructions on how to breathe.
“Gayla was amazing and went way beyond my expectations,” Savannah said. “After being with me practically all day doing exercises, she turned around and came right back to the hospital where she stayed with me all throughout my delivery and even a couple of hours afterwards to make sure we were doing okay. She’s just awesome!”
Savannah had a natural birth around 8:00 a.m. on December 3rd and welcomed a healthy, beautiful baby boy she named Jacob.
“I was in shock looking at him and holding him,” Savannah said, remembering that first moment vividly as all new moms do. “I saw all of his hair, and he was just so cute. It was definitely love at first sight. We did skin-to-skin, and he was already trying to hold his head up!”
Savannah continued to see Gayla as she made postpartum visits to her home to check on her and little Jacob. Savannah also knew she could reach out to Gayla at any time to ask questions or get parenting advice, and she would respond quickly. Savannah also planned to schedule more parenting classes with Gayla to learn more about baby stages and child development.
When asked how motherhood was going, Savannah answered, “It has changed me for the better. I’m more responsible now and very protective of who holds Jacob. It has changed my focus on life, and now I make decisions based on what’s best for him. My advice to teen moms is to keep pushing. When you feel like giving up, think about what’s best for your baby.”
Note: This is a true FirstLook story. Only the names have been changed to protect client identities.
FirstLook is leading Ellis County to embrace life by promoting best sexual health practices and providing family support in the name of Jesus Christ. We focus on real lives, real stories, and real impacts being made thanks to the positive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion we offer to women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. Learn how you can be part of our Real Lives campaign at https://friendsoffirstlook.org/reallives/.