Surprise Motherhood, Shame, and Men’s Influence on a Woman’s Decision: A Life Chat Interview w/ Alexa Hyman

The following article is a synopsis of an episode from our Life Chat Podcast series. To listen to the full episode, click here.

For many women, the joy of life often overshadows the fear and doubts that arise from an unplanned pregnancy. Such was the case for Alexa Hyman, a 26-year-old single mother who chose life for her now two-year-old, Renley Jane. Alexa is the founder of Back in February, a blog that ministers to women experiencing “surprise” pregnancies. 

Hyman was living in Los Angeles at–what many would consider–a high point in her life. She was in between college at her forever job as a communications job at the local diocese. She loved her job, loved life, and had an on-and-off boyfriend. During one of their “off” times of dating, she found out that she was pregnant. Hyman explained that this came completely out of left field, as she had recently ended the relationship and was ready to move forward. It was, as she describes it, one of the worst days of her life. “It seemed to me that all my life was ahead of me at that moment, and at that moment my life had stopped.”

She took a week to decide whether or not to get an abortion and was almost sure she would go through with the abortion. However, she explains, “There was just this tiny little pit in my stomach that said don’t shut down, don’t turn off, there’s something happening to your body that is completely natural.” This something was pregnancy, and a baby growing inside of her. Hyman beautifully illustrates the amazing changes in her body that occurred when she first became pregnant, even before she knew it was a pregnancy that was causing these changes.

One change was the crimp in her hair. Hyman said she noticed a crimp in the bottom of her hairline, the same one that her mother had. Hyman explains that she remembers her mother explaining to her as a child that she had gotten a crimp in her hair when she became pregnant with Hyman. These little natural signs that her body was going through a change made her realize that whatever is going on is natural and beautiful, and made her put off getting the abortion a little bit longer.

Just a few days before her scheduled abortion appointment, she happened to get together with a guy friend of hers. She hadn’t told him about her pregnancy dilemma, but somehow he knew. The first words that came out of his mouth were: “Alexa, I know that you’re pregnant, and you can do this.” Hyman started sobbing at that moment and describes that “it was just this incredible movement where someone said to me, ‘you can do this.’”

She describes the beauty and strength his words brought out in her, and said that the fact this was a man telling her she could do this, and that he would help her, it made it all the more meaningful. He went on to announce, “If you don’t want to do this, I’ll adopt your baby.” Hyman felt empowered to want to choose life even more, but she still wasn’t sure. 

She decided to meet with her counselor, whose response also shocked and uplifted her. When she announced her pregnancy to him, waiting to see what his reaction would be, he said,  “Oh my gosh Alexa, there’s a baby inside of you!” It was the first time someone was really happy about this news, Hyman remembers, and this made her think even more that she could actually do it. 

A few days later, Hyman cancelled her abortion appointment and never looked back. She recalls this time and pleas with her audience to tell every woman they meet who is considering abortion that you support them. She says that it’s more important to tell them that you support them in choosing life then that you support them no matter what decision they make, because by supporting them in choosing life you are affirming to them that you know they are strong enough.

In talking about what she considered leading up to this decision, Hyman notes that she is not a typical candidate for an abortion. She wasn’t poor by any stretch of the word, had her whole life and career lined up, and had a loving family. On top of all this, she was working a Catholic diocese. Hyman remembers how she definitely thought hard about how this would affect her job. Would people be scandalized? Would she, an unmarried, pregnant woman even be allowed to work for them anymore? 

In the end, Hyman reflected on how strange it was that this really didn’t affect her decision at all. At first, she said,  “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh this is a huge scandal.’” But as time went on, she realized that she really didn’t care what people thought, which was extra strange for Hyman because she had struggled with being a people pleaser her whole life. She says, looking back on it, she was “Letting go of my selfishness because I could no longer live for myself.” This is truly profound, especially when her livelihood was potentially on the line. 

However, when she did decided to keep the baby, the people of the diocese that she worked with really came through for her, proving how pro-life they really were. Hyman explained, “I was so surprised how much love I was given, how embraced I was.” How pro-life a person is really tested in a situation such as this–a situation to decide whether to embrace a pregnant woman or shame her. 

“She’s the best thing that ever came into my life,” Hyman says about her daughter and explains how she’s had moments when she has wondered what her life would be like without her little girl. “I saw myself in LA, continuing that life I was living. It felt so empty… I could just feel the emptiness that I would have felt.” 

The moral of the story, Hyman wants listeners to know, is that women truly need to be empowered to choose life. They need to be empowered by other women, but also by  men, as this truly makes a drastic difference in if they will choose life or death. “Women are inherently very empathetic and nurturing,” she explains, and, “Women want to look at men… like they are protectors.” That’s the natural order! She explains that the pro-life movement needs to, “Empower men, give men the words in the moment to step in and support women.” Men who decide to abandon a woman that they impregnated seems to Hyman as, “The purest form of rejection.” If the man won’t protect his girlfriend and his child, why would the woman think he’s willing to sacrifice anything for her now, or later in their lives? Women need to be empowered by men to choose life, and the pro-life movement must now, more than ever, encourage and empower men to speak up and take their place as protector and provider.