Kennedy first visited Cochrane Pregnancy Care Centre in Cochrane, Alberta a few weeks after graduating high school in 2016. She was six weeks pregnant at the time. Wanting to celebrate her eighteenth birthday and high school graduation, Kennedy was in no mindset to be a new mom.
“All my plans came crashing down around me when I found out I was pregnant,” Kennedy said.
With wisdom beyond her years, Kennedy knew that having an abortion would not be beneficial in the long run.
“I knew for myself the guilt of abortion would be worse than having to raise a baby, and it would catch up whether it was now or in 30 years,” Kennedy said. “It eventually catches up to everyone.”
Tweet This: “I knew for myself the guilt of #abortion would be worse than having to raise a baby." #prolife
When Kennedy told her boyfriend about the baby, she made one thing clear: Abortion was not an option. She would either place the baby in a loving adoptive family or raise the child herself. Her mind made up, she told him if he did not want to be involved with her pregnancy, he could leave. And he did.
Kennedy’s father suggested they go to the Cochrane Pregnancy Care Centre to see what resources they offer. That’s when Kennedy met Laurel Pedersen, the center’s executive director.
“I just know that whenever I sat down with Laurel, I always came out better,” Kennedy said. “She always gave me such sound advice that helped me move onto the next day.”
In addition to receiving counseling from Pedersen, Kennedy took the center’s trauma-informed infant parenting class, as well as a prenatal one-on-one class with a volunteer nurse. Through the center’s Earn While You Learn program, she received gift cards for diapers and groceries, and “shopped” at the center’s Baby Boutique for baby and maternity clothes, food, wipes, and formula.
But the center didn’t just give her material assistance; they gave her the emotional support she desperately needed. Not only had Kennedy’s boyfriend left her, her high school friends were now in a different stage of life than her, getting ready for college and enjoying summer vacation. Since Kennedy could no longer relate to them, they stopped spending time with her.
The staff of the Cochrane Pregnancy Care Center were friends to Kennedy when she felt like she didn’t have any others.
“They offered me a shoulder to lean on during that time,” Kennedy said. “I went into such a little depression mode and they really were like my saving grace or that safe haven I could go to when I was having a bad day or just needed a distraction.”
Along with receiving counseling, classes, and resources, Kennedy assisted Cochrane Pregnancy Care Centre with administrative tasks, such as organizing the website, helping prepare the center’s newsletter, and arranging and sorting items around the office.
While being a single teen mother took a toll on Kennedy’s confidence and self-esteem, having the opportunity to volunteer at the center empowered her.
“Volunteering at the center helped me to realize that just because you’re in that circumstance doesn’t mean you have to stop working and going to school and doing all that,” Kennedy said. “It gave me a sense of hope and realization that life doesn’t end just because there’s a baby in the picture. It just means you have another body to carry along on the journey.”
According to Pedersen, this sense of accomplishment and giving back can be helpful to developing a client’s self-worth.
“It’s important to affirm what clients have to give and if they have nothing to give, that’s okay too because later in life or during another chapter they’ll have something to give,” Pedersen said. “It’s not required, but we’re open to clients giving back as a way of empowering or helping them feel good about themselves and we need the help around the center.”
Since her pregnancy, Kennedy and her boyfriend have gotten back together. Now, with their daughter Paisley, they live together on a farm 20 minutes outside of Cochrane. Kennedy does bookkeeping for a local company, and Paisley is now 14 months old and just started walking.
“Paisley is just a happy, healthy little girl, she loves everything, not much makes her upset,” Kennedy said, “and we’re doing really well.”