The wonderful Kathleen Olinger, mother to Landon (5), Korbin (3), and Fallon (12 months).
Kathleen conceived her first child Landon, in her freshman year of college via a casual relationship with someone back home. Kathleen was raised to believe the worst about women's reproductive rights. Her mother was staunchly pro-life, her father lived over 1,000 miles away and she says, "I was also taught abstinence to be the only form of birth control, among other religious tales". Her parents learned she'd lost her virginity the day she told her mother she was pregnant. "I continued my life as if I was not pregnant, then ultimately decided it would be best to end the pregnancy. I called the abortion clinic for information. They refused to give me information without an appointment and deposit and I broke down and had second thoughts. After I decided to carry the baby to term, I debated putting the baby up for adoption".
Kathleen's parents were divorced before her second birthday, which was painful for her, and as a result, marriage and children, were never a part of her plan. She was only nineteen, but ultimately chose to raise her son with support from select family members and friends.
Kathleen developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) during her pregnancy which made it even more difficult to navigate. Just before her son was born, the relationship with his father turned far more abusive, physically and verbally. After over a year of abuse, she decided it would be best to move to Virginia with her brother and on his first birthday, they did just that. Within a year of their move, she met her husband and within a few months they were engaged, then married the following summer. His son, Korbin, was only five months old when they was introduced to him. Her son's father chose to voluntarily terminate his rights after their wedding and her husband was able to adopt him.
By the end of the following year, they decided to plan for another baby as her schooling came to an end. She had great hopes for an easy second pregnancy, but the HG returned. She was so severely dehydrated that she became delirious at times and passed out when she was home alone with her boys. "HG is the hardest thing I have ever been through, twice. I chose not to medicate this time because the medication was not effective with the first pregnancy. Somehow, we made it through my second battle with HG and to the birth of our daughter".
"I never wanted to be a wife, I never dreamed of being a mother. Whatever the reasons, it seems at a minimum, to be ironic now. Being a mother is the most difficult, yet most beautiful work. Marriage is never easy. In our blended family, raising children who are not biologically yours is incredibly hard, but we are giving it our all and learning daily. We work to have intentional, open and honest conversations with our children. I have been a mother contemplating abortion, a single mother, a stepmother, a working mother and a stay at home mother. I am a survivor of assault and abuse. I am an HG warrior. I have had a medicated birth and an unmedicated birth. I hope that my versatile story can reach women who have walked through similar situations. Motherhood brings forth intense, raw emotion and purpose. It is demanding and tiring, but there is so much love. Somehow, the sun still rises".