Thirty years ago, I was scared out of my mind. I was young and navigating my way through an unplanned pregnancy. 

I don’t tell many people my story, but I figure after thirty years of keeping it under wraps is long enough. And, if it will help even one person navigating through the same choppy waters, I’m here for you.

I had been dating this guy I liked. Someone I was willing to spend the rest of my life with. After we had been dating for a few months, I found out I was pregnant. I was in college, working a full-time job, and I loved partying. I was busy and doing none of it very well. I had goals, but my life was out of control. I knew who I wanted to be but no idea “how” I was going to get there.  

I remember it like it was yesterday, I wasn’t feeling myself, I was incredibly tired, I thought I was getting sick. Then, the thought that I could be pregnant struck me like a lightning bolt one morning at work. I thought the possibility was slim—we were very careful. 

At lunch, that very same day, I made my way to a free government clinic to get tested. I gave them a fake name, filled out some form, told them I did not have insurance and took the test. 

A stout nurse with squeaky shoes walked into the room and said, “I have good news, you’re pregnant! Congratulations!” I started crying immediately. She sat there waiting for me to get my composure and said, as she handed me a box of tissues, “I guess this wasn’t planned.” I looked at her with mascara stained tears running down my face and nodded. “Would you like a letter confirming your pregnancy to give to the father?”

Today, as I reflect on the last thirty years, I’m reminded of how my daughter changed me—made me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am today without her. She made me into the strong, resilient, loyal, faithful, and determined person I am today. She set me on the right course to becoming who I was meant to be. I wouldn’t change a thing!

If you’re facing the same situation, you’ve got this. Thirty years from now you’ll be celebrating the big 3-0, and you’ll be glad and so grateful for that baby who helped you become who you were meant to be. 

One thing I wished I’d had when I was pregnant, was help. Back then, there weren’t many places to turn to. Today, there are many pregnancy resources centers with counselors ready to help you navigate through an unplanned pregnancy. Many of the counselors have been through an unplanned pregnancy themselves. You’ve got this!

Happy Birthday, Sunshine!

For more information, please visit my website at www.wildchowrecipes.com

You are my Sunshine Cake

Serves 12

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

1 cup whole milk

1 cup boiling water

2 teaspoons lemon extract

Zest & juice from 1 lemon

¼ cup sugar for the topping

2 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour one 9 x 13 baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, and juice. Beat with a hand mixer for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides. Carefully, stir in boiling water. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with the ¼ cup sugar and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Cool and serve with whipped cream. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes by emailing her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com.

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