“Jay and I met my freshman year of college at Wofford, a small liberal arts school in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was a junior at the time. We didn’t start dating, however, until my sophomore year. It didn’t take me long to realize our love story would end in one of two ways: either we were going to get married and live happily ever after, or he was eventually going to break up with me and leave my standards way too high (because there was no way I was going to break up with him). Luckily, he felt the same way about me that I felt about him, and soon we were talking about all of the important steps. Were we going to get married? Did we want kids? How many kids did we want? You know, all of the things people talk about before committing to each other for life.
Jay’s plan was always to go to law school after he graduated from Wofford. However, before he took the LSAT, he decided he was going to work for a year before going to law school. He was offered an amazing opportunity working for the Governor’s Office in Columbia, SC, which happened to be about 20 minutes from his parents house. This was clearly a God thing, because after he graduated, his mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer which occurs in the brain. He was able to spend a lot of time with her while she was sick, which he might not have been able to if he had gone straight to law school out of college.
As I was entering my senior year of college, Jay was studying for the LSAT again. He was planning on going to law school the fall after I graduated from Wofford, and he wanted me to be able to move with him, wherever it might be. We both had the personal preference of not living together before we were married, and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of picking up my life and moving for someone who only held the title of ‘boyfriend.’
Naturally, we discussed the possibility of getting married before he started law school in a year. When he proposed the day after Thanksgiving 2017, I was over the moon thrilled and began planning my dream wedding for June 30, 2018. There would be 250 people at least. It was going to be a big church wedding with a waterfront reception. There would be a large selection of food, a big band, and lots of dancing, of course.
December was coming to an end, and Jay and I were planning on going to New Orleans with his family for New Years. While we were there, I began to feel really sick and VERY tired. I woke up feeling nauseated every morning, and I knew it wasn’t a hangover, because we were only drinking maybe a beer or two each night at dinner. Even on New Year’s Eve, I had only 2 beers, because I wasn’t feeling well. I also couldn’t walk even a block without feeling like I needed to go back to the house we were staying in and take a full two hour nap. I even threw up once in the middle of the day. Of course, pregnancy crossed my mind, but I ultimately chalked my sickness up to eating a bunch of rich and spicy Cajun food.
Once we got back to South Carolina, I began to feel worse. I had missed my period, and I was beginning to think about the possibility of my being pregnant more and more. I went to visit Jay for the weekend in the beginning of January. I had to go back to school for my last semester of college the following Monday, and Jay had a big meeting at work. I hadn’t told Jay any of my thoughts of being pregnant, or that I hadn’t gotten my period yet because I didn’t want to worry him if there ended up being nothing to worry about.
We went out to a nice dinner on Sunday night and then went to bed early, since I was getting up early to drive back to school the next morning. At 5 a.m, the following morning, I jerked myself awake with the sudden urge to throw up immediately. I ran to the bathroom and luckily made it to the toilet before getting sick. My immediate thoughts were, ‘This is not good. I have got to take a pregnancy test tomorrow.’
The next morning, Jay got up to go to work, and I kissed him goodbye and acted like I was going to be driving home that day. When he walked out of the front door for work that morning, I waited about 5 minutes and then called my mom. I told her everything that was going on and there was a long pause. ‘So… you think you’re pregnant?’ ‘I don’t know mom! I just have to take a test.’ She assured me everything was probably fine and not to worry. It was probably all in my head. It wasn’t until later I found out that immediately after she hung up the phone with me, she turned to my dad and said, ‘Leigh’s pregnant.’
I got up the courage to get in my car and go get a pregnancy test. The drive home from the drugstore felt like the longest of my life. Not only did I have to go to two different gas stations, because I was on E and the first pump didn’t work, but I was also stopped by a train. With each little inconvenience, my anxiety was growing more and more.
When I finally got home, I went straight into Jay’s bathroom and read the test instructions. They said the test could take 3-5 minutes to give results. Well as soon as I put the test in the cup, it immediately showed a ‘+.’ I fell to the floor and burst into tears. I tried the second test I bought, and again, as soon as I put the stick in the cup, a big bold ‘YES’ made its way across the screen.
I wish I could say I was suddenly flooded with the joy of being an expectant mother. I was shocked, for sure. I was scared. I didn’t know how to react. I probably sat on Jay’s bathroom floor for 10 minutes just crying and thinking, ‘This wasn’t part of the plan.’ We were supposed to get married. Jay was supposed to go to law school. I was supposed to work. Maybe down the road in 4 years we would start trying to get pregnant. What did all of this mean for those plans? Could Jay still live out his dream of going to law school? What did throwing a baby into all of this look like?
I finally called my mom again, and this time I was sobbing. She immediately said, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘What do you mean what’s wrong? You know what’s wrong! I’m pregnant!’ Without hesitation, my sweet angel of a mother got in her car and drove the two hours from Beaufort to Columbia, SC to be with me. Every now and then during the drive, she would call to check in on me. She would say, ‘I know you can’t feel it now, Leigh, but every day you’ll feel that baby growing, and your heart will grow right along with it.’
Jay was working late that night in preparation for a press briefing. He knew it would be at least midnight before he got home. I told him I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t end up making the drive back to school that day. He was, of course, concerned about me and asked if I needed him to bring me dinner. I lied and told him my mom was in town visiting a friend (only a partial lie, because she ended up staying with her friend that night in Columbia after she left me at Jay’s apartment). Jay didn’t suspect anything and told me not to hesitate to call him if I needed him.
When my mom got to Columbia, we started out by making an OB appointment in Spartanburg (I didn’t even know how far along I was at this point). Luckily she had some connections and got me into an office the very next day. Then she took me out to a nice dinner. When we got back Jay’s apartment, we spent the rest of the night playing old gender guessing games we looked up online. She didn’t leave that night until 10 p.m., and Jay still wasn’t home. Before she walked out of the door, she turned to me and said, ‘I know this may be impossible, but try to get some sleep tonight.’
I had already decided if Jay came home anytime after midnight I was going to wait until the morning to tell him he was going to be a father. Surprisingly, I was asleep by 10:30 p.m. (again, being pregnant is VERY tiring). When Jay finally came home from work that night, he came into the bedroom and it woke me up. ‘What time is it?’ I asked him. ‘3 a.m.,’ he said. I couldn’t tell him now – not before his big press briefing. I had to let him at least get a little sleep before I rocked his world.
I asked him what time he planned on waking up the next morning and he said 7:30 a.m. So I rolled over and set my alarm for 7 a.m. Note to self and others: when planning on telling an un-expecting male he is going to be a father, allow yourself more than 30 minutes to have that conversation.
It turns out I didn’t need my 7 a.m. alarm, because my eyes shot open at 5:30 a.m. I turned and looked at Jay sleeping so peacefully, not knowing what was about to hit him. When my alarm finally did go off at 7 a.m., I tapped him on the shoulder and told him to wake up. He of course didn’t budge, so I shook him and said, ‘Jay wake up I have to tell you something. Can you turn on that light?’ This got his attention. He turned on the light and looked at me.
He asked what was up. I could tell he was worried. ‘I love you so much. I know we thought we had everything figured out according to plan, but God has a different plan for us. I’ve been feeling so terrible lately. I’m late on my period, and I got sick yesterday. While you were at work, I took two pregnancy tests, and I’m pregnant.’
All Jay said was, ‘Holy Moly.’ He shut his eyes and kept them closed for what felt like a lifetime. When he finally opened them again, they were red, and a tear ran down his cheek. He wrapped me up in his arms and gave me a kiss. ‘I am so relieved to hear you say that. I thought you were going to call off the engagement.’
Jay’s reaction was sweeter than I could have ever imagine. It just further showed me I had picked an amazing man to spend my life with. From that moment on, I realized my mother was right. My heart grew and grew with love and joy over our precious baby.
The next day my mom and I went to my doctors appointment and not only confirmed I was pregnant, but found out I was 9 weeks pregnant! So long, first trimester! We knew I could no longer have my ‘dream wedding’ in June, and would have to move up the date. We settled on March 31st, because my spring break was the following week, and I wanted to go on a real honeymoon after the wedding. I wanted everything to feel as normal as possible.
We told the rest of our families, and they were all thrilled, especially Jay’s mom, who was getting more and more sick as the weeks passed and had always wanted to be a grandmother. Not going through with the pregnancy was never even a thought that crossed my or Jay’s mind. There was also never pressure from anyone else to not go through with it. In fact, all of our friends (who were somewhere between 21 and 25 years old) met us with an abundance of congratulations. Not one person reacted with, ‘Oh shoot. What are y’all going to do?’ which made everything so much easier for us. It felt normal.
Since I was in school still, my mom planned almost my entire wedding. It went from 250 people to 100 people. There wasn’t a giant band, just a guy and his guitar. It was definitely different than the wedding I thought I wanted, but it was also so much more special. It was truly a magical day. We even surprised our guests with a wedding cake that was pink in the middle. We didn’t have to explain what it meant, because as soon as we cut into it, the room erupted with cheers and everyone shouting, ‘It’s a GIRL!!!’ It was everything I had hoped my wedding to be and more.
About two weeks after our wedding, we got terrible news from my mother-in-law’s doctor that the cancer was progressing, and they were out of treatment options. She passed away a month after on May 16th. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. It didn’t take us long to realize if it weren’t for our little miracle surprise baby, Jay’s mom wouldn’t have been at our wedding, which was a blessing in and of itself.
Our sweet Hollingsworth Lee Wolfe made her way into the world on July 27th, 2018. Hollingsworth is my middle name and family name that goes way back on my dad’s side. Lee was Jay’s mom’s name.
Being a mom to Hollings has been the greatest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Motherhood in itself comes with challenges, and being a young mom right out of college has it’s own challenges, too. To this day, almost two years later, none of my friends from high school or college have had kids, let alone have gotten married. Sometimes it’s hard to relate to them on things going on in their lives, and I know it’s hard for them to relate to me and what I’ve gone through. Luckily, I have found an amazing mom tribe in our town now. They are all a good bit older than I am, but I’ve found age doesn’t seem to matter when you are in the same phase of life.
If you are a young mom, or an expecting mom of a baby who was not planned, know you are not alone! Find the people in your life who are supporting you and surround yourself with their positivity, because it really does make a difference in how you are going to feel about the journey. ALWAYS accept help when it is offered to you (something I still struggle with even now). Just know this is going to be the most beautiful and amazing adventure you have ever been on, and I am cheering you on!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leigh Wolfe in Durham, NC. You can follow her journey on Instagram or on her blog. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories like this:
‘As soon as you birth your baby, you’re a different person. Take it and run. You’re now a mama before anything else. There is no higher title than that.’: New mom shares candid reality of first-time motherhood, ‘You’re doing an amazing job’
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.