Edited by lalloronita - 11/2/13 at 10:20am
I don't know that I have any suggestions. This sounds like an agonizing decision. I feel for you. This pregnancy is my third and unplanned and it is logistically throwing my life for a loop. I waiver between excitement for the child I know I will love and sadness over the life that I thought was to be. I hope that you can find the clarity and peace you seek for this decision.
Sometimes when we're entering something new, the present seems so much better and safer because we know exactly what it is like. You KNOW what you are leaving behind when you have the baby (schooling, greater financial stability, a good relationship between the three children and you, etc.), but you don't know yet what you'll be gaining. It's a leap of faith to move forward into the unknown.
Maybe try to think of some of the good things that might come out of this: the last child you always hoped for, that you may not have otherwise had if you were just leaving a relationship and not even close to starting a new one, greater motivation to strive for financial independence via school or another job, or even motivation to build a support network of friends or others who can help you through this difficult time, what else?
You know that the infant/toddler years are temporary, and can draw on this wisdom from your experience of your other children. You may have to put school or a larger house on hold for a few years, but hopefully once they are in preschool or kindergarten you will find more time for those pursuits, meaning it's not FOREVER even if it hurts to put those things on hold for now.
If you're like me, you've also realized that babies do not need as much STUFF as you once thought they did. I'm pg with baby #3 and I do not intend to buy 75% of the stuff I had in the house when I had the other two kids (we weren't planning on having more and got rid of all our baby stuff). So that might help simplify things for you.
Maybe you can find a local La Leche League meeting to go to while you're pregnant, to share concerns and build a support network of women who can support you emotionally once the baby comes. My best friends were made through La Leche League.
You have several months to prepare for what's to come, you've done it 3 other times and there aren't as many surprises with respect to pregnancy/birth/parenting. You've already learned that where there's a will there's a way, and found the strength to start over after your divorce.
Just try to figure out what you need (emotionally, financially, physically) to make this work, and spend the next several months developing a plan for filling those needs.
I'm so sorry you are going through such a rough circumstance. It's not entirely selfish to want to keep this baby, in many ways it's selfless as only a mother can be. This is your child you're carrying, it's already there and relies on you right now, and you are looking out for him or her. You are strong, you can and will move mountains for all your children. I agree you might have to put school on hold to earn a living, or go part time if you can schedule the childcare and tuition isn't an obstacle. That's not so unthinkable really. And ask around for baby gear you don't have, every baby I had people overwhelmed me with hand-me-downs. There was always stuff I thought I needed, never got, I put it off and put it off then the baby outgrew that phase where it would have been useful. People have had babies since the dawn of humanity and often had next to nothing yet thrived. To build a support network ask around here at the finding your tribe forum, or join LLL, or join a church (UU if you aren't into anything fundamentalist or religiously specific). I think if you let the need be known and be open to help many women around would love to be there for you.
I have also found myself in a situation where I ended up pregnant, and lacked the funds and support to have another child. It wasn't that I didn't want another child, just at that time I could barely put food in my current DD's mouth, let alone provide for a second. I did end up terminating that pregnancy, and though I don't regret it, it was a very hard thing to do. In fact, it was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made.
I wont say that because that is how I handled my situation , that you should then do the same. Every woman and every situation is different. I think you know your situation better than anyone, and I think you know what you are going to do.
Because of that situation though, it made me determined to get my life in order. I wanted another baby, and though at the time I was able to care for another child, I was determined to get to a place where I could. I got my money situation figured out, bought a nice three bedroom home, and now I am pregnant again. This time 100% planned.
It boils down to this...What is best for you and your kids, physically and emotionally? Only you can give the answer. I wish I could reach through the screen and hug you, because I know what a difficult thing it is to try and decided that.
I have a question though. If you knew that at a later point (say after you get your degree) that you would have a chance to have another child, would you terminate this pregnancy?
I'm moved to tears by all of your thoughtful, caring responses. Thank you all for your kind words. I have a lot of thinking to do and a very difficult decision to make, but at least now I don't feel so alone. You've given me a supportive place to vent, and some good words of advice. Thank you again.
I don't think there's anything I can add that these wonderful people before me haven't, but I wanted to send my good thoughts. More importantly I wanted to say that I was a single mama at 18 and have experience as a parent student, and a lot of knowledge in what public assistance is available and I would be happy to answer any questions or help, if I could.
If I had to hazard a guess I would bet that you could get on Medicaid. All they can say is no, so it cant hurt to apply. You will need all your income info (child-support, etc) and a Doctors note proving your pregnant. Plus, the usual SS card, drivers license, proof of address and what not. Where I am, if you have food stamps or Medicaid you automatically qualify for WIC.
Thanks again for the caring responses. I appreciate that the majority of you have been nonjudgmental as I really need that at this incredibly difficult time. I am still considering my options and processing my emotions so that I can make what I feel is the best decision. This is one of the hardest things, if not THE hardest thing, I've ever had to do.
(((((HUGS))))) I am in similar shoes to you - unexpectedly pregnant with my 4th child and my BF and I had just decided to be more on a friend level than a significant others level. I am 39 and have wanted another baby for years. Never expecting that I would have another, I am very pleased with this chance even though financially, people will think I am insane. I have been divorced for two years and I know what it is like to have a completely empty bank account at the end of every month.
I am sure you qualify for WIC. The income limits for a family of 5 are over $50,000 a year. http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/howtoapply/incomeguidelines.htm And your and the baby inside you do count as 2 for WIC income guidelines. You would get WIC for you as well as your youngest child. Believe me, the amount of milk you will get is a HUGE help (I get over 4 gallons a month just based on being pregnant as I don't have any other children in the home under 5 yrs old.)
Also, check out Medicaid and food stamps. It can be very hard to apply for government support sometimes but it is well worth it to know that you will be able to put food in your children's mouths. Apply for them, they can take a lot of stress off your shoulders.
I second joining a church, LLL or other support network. They will support your children as well as yourself.
I am living in a small 2 BR 1/2 bath apartment. (My oldest child is out of the house now so it is only me and my two younger sons living here now.) Living quarters are tight but my boys share a room and the new baby will be in my room for a while, no need for a third bedroom for a while. I plan to move to a 3 BR home in about a year and am getting my finances in order to be able to make that happen. I don't plan to buy a lot of equipment for the new baby. So much is really nice to have but not necessary. I will be checking out thrift shops and craigs list over the coming months so hope I won't be out of pocket by too much.
My heart aches for you. You said you would ache forever for the child if you gave it up. I am afraid that you will ache forever for the child if you have an abortion as well. This is in no way a slight on women who do make that choice, it just sounds from your post that you love and want this baby already. Some of the best decisions we can make are based on our hearts not on what may or may not be logical.