‘I kept my pregnancy a secret. I knew coming home from the war would be tough, but I expected him to be a better father. He started drinking and blaming me.’

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“If I were asked 5 years ago, ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?,’ my response would have been simple. The only thing that comes to mind: ‘Doing whatever it takes to provide for my boys.’ I had no clue where I would be or what I would be doing. I just knew I had two little boys who would be depending on me.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

March 2014, I was 8 months pregnant with a due date quickly approaching, a 2-year-old and no clue how I would get to the hospital or who would watch my son when I went into labor. I had just recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in July for a fresh start, unaware I was pregnant. Their father joined me in October ready for our new journey. It was short lived to say the least, and I ended up on my own with no plan.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

When I first got to Georgia with my son, we stayed with my aunt and uncle. They were so happy to have us and my cousins were ecstatic to have a little cousin with them. My days were spent job searching and house hunting so everything would be in order when my son’s father got there. He had just gone back to Afghanistan to finish his deployment after he spent his leave with us in Kentucky for our son’s second birthday. It was during that time we talked about starting over. Making a home for our family, and I wanted that to be in Atlanta. He said ok and gave me the money to uproot and go.

A few months later I was working out in the backyard, playing with my son, and I felt light headed. I assumed it was the Georgia heat. Over the next few days I started feeling sick. I thought I was coming down with something so I laid around and then felt better. I went back to my usual routine of job searching, house hunting, and working out. The workouts started getting harder for me to finish. That’s when I knew something was up. With everything going on, I wasn’t thinking about missed periods. Especially when I was only with their father once while he was home, and I took a morning after pill.

I remember waiting for everyone to be out of the house to take the test. It was only about 30 seconds before that plus sign became very clear. My initial thought was ‘How??’ Then a few curse words. I saved the test to show their father later on Skype. But that never happened. We didn’t get to talk for almost two weeks. So I sent him a message. Straight to the point. ‘I’m pregnant, I can’t keep it.’ I was not ready for two. We didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a job, he wouldn’t have a job right away when he got back. I put it in my mind I wasn’t having this baby.

Their father did not agree. We had a lot of fights about it. He made me feel like a terrible person for even considering it. So I kept it. I also kept my pregnancy a secret until after their father got there. I wasn’t happy at all. I landed a job without telling my boss I was pregnant because I knew there was no way someone would hire a pregnant girl. I didn’t tell anyone until I was about 5 months pregnant. Then everyone knew because I started showing.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

Life at home was not the best. I was now pregnant, working full time and coming home to a 2-year-old who had been destroying the house all day while his dad played video games. I knew it would be a tough transition for him when he got back from the war, but I expected him to be a better father. He soon started drinking and blaming me for him being unhappy. He regretted moving to Georgia because he didn’t know anyone and couldn’t get a job. We started fighting daily until I didn’t speak to him at all. One day I told him this wasn’t going to work if we continued like this. He said he would stay until after the baby was born, and wouldn’t just leave us. The next week he said he had to go to his unit in Kentucky because he hadn’t transferred yet to a unit in Georgia. I assumed he was going to come back. The day he left, he packed all of his stuff in his car, and was just gone. That was February 2014, and the day I became a single mom of soon-to-be two little boys.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

Being a single mom was hard but nothing I couldn’t manage. I had a job to go back to after maternity leave, family I could hang out with when I felt alone, and my new normal of taking care of EVERYTHING.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean
Courtesy of Whitney Jean

Then as I was getting back on my feet and settled, I lost my job. From there is when my true journey began.

The next 2 years went something like this…

  • September 2014-fired from job, moved in with grandparents
  • December 2014-started working as a personal trainer
  • April 2015- moved in with friends
  • May 2015-quit my job and went back on unemployment and took boys out of daycare
  • June 2015-started new job as fitness specialist
  • July 2015-car engine blew after having it less than a year, drove a rental for 3 months
  • August 2015-friends moved leaving me homeless, stayed in hotel
  • September 2015-rented two rooms in a house
  • October 2015-bought a new car
  • November 2015-moved into our own place
  • May 2016-fired from job
  • July 2016-moved to Kentucky

I had no clue I was going to be fired from my job. There was no warning at all. Later I found out my boss didn’t like me expressing my opinions to staff and members. I was already living with my grandparents because I couldn’t afford rent on my own and I wasn’t getting child support. I always felt like a burden living there with a toddler and baby. They were loud and messy and just boys. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay there very long especially without a job. So I got one. As a personal trainer at the local gym. That job sucked! But I worked hard to get clients and was soon making enough to pay my bills. Then my boss started hitting on me. Saying I had to come in when I didn’t. The boys’ daycare was still by our old house which was 30 minutes away. I wasn’t making it on time and had to leave early. They didn’t like that, so I was ‘let go.’

I ended up moving in with a client who I quickly became friends with. They had a house big enough that we could go unnoticed. It felt good to be out of my grandparent’s house. We had a little more freedom! Now I was back on the job hunt again. Another job came around and I was getting back on my feet. Then my friends tell me they were moving back to California. Now I have a job but nowhere to stay. I just felt like I was taking constant hits and I just couldn’t get everything to align. I needed something good to happen that wasn’t followed by something bad. I stayed in a hotel for two weeks in hopes of getting into a housing program for single mothers. I didn’t.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

During that time I experienced more than I ever thought I would. I grew up, prioritized, and realized my worth. I began working out with the goal of becoming physically stronger than I had ever been. I worked in the fitness industry and I took advantage of that. I worked out every day. I pushed myself and challenged myself physically and mentally. I started competing in bodybuilding competitions to celebrate me, as a strong independent woman. That was my mommy time. Soon my inner strength matched my outer strength.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

I was asked a few times by friends and co-workers how I even managed and I remember telling them ‘I just do.’ I didn’t have a choice. There was no one else I could hand my responsibilities to. If I stopped to think about it, I would become overwhelmed and unable to stay focused on what I had to do. There were days I stayed in bed or on the couch while the boys played and watched TV. I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted for the boys.

I dreamed of a better life for the boys and didn’t think I would be able to give that to them. I lost confidence in my abilities as a mom. After losing my job in May, I decided it was time to go back home. I needed a reboot. There was nothing keeping me in Georgia, and the guy I was dating understood my decision to leave.

When I moved back home, I applied for graduate school to become a teacher. I knew that profession would be best for me and the boys. The schedule didn’t conflict with my time with them and it came with all of the benefits we needed. It was my best step in the right direction towards a better future for my boys.

Since moving back, we have had our ups and downs as a family. That guy I was dating in Georgia is now my boyfriend and we are now living together. Our challenges are ‘normal’ challenges. They are nothing compared to what I have faced. I still have a single mom mentality of being the sole provider for the boys and I still make my decisions for them but now I can think more about what I want.

Courtesy of Whitney Jean

I am now following my dreams of being an entrepreneur. That doesn’t mean I plan on quitting my job any time soon. But it does mean I am finally at a point in my life where I can start working towards that. I have the schedule as a teacher that allows me the time and money to do more. We are in a good place now. Now, if asked where I see myself in 5 years, I have a much different response. ‘In 5 years, I see myself making 6 figures, traveling with my boys during their breaks from school and enjoying life to the fullest.’ If my business allows me to do that, then I will no longer be teaching. If not, then I will be doing both!”

Courtesy of Whitney Jean
Courtesy of Whitney Jean

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Whitney Jean of Louisville, Kentucky. You can follow her journey on InstagramDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more empowering stories from single moms:

‘I found out my marriage was a lie. He was unfaithful. I had been lied to for months. I spewed venomous hate towards him. I was numb. Then, I found out I was having a miscarriage.’

‘I had just gotten in my car when my phone rang. It was my best friend. She sounded serious. ‘What’s wrong?’ She didn’t know how to tell me, but I should get home as soon as I could.’

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