Nineteen years ago, Mari Gallion was single and pregnant. Today, she’s the author of the self-help book ‘The Single Woman’s Guide to a Happy Pregnancy’ and an advocate for education, empowerment, and support in navigating single parenthood.

Mari Gallion speaks to Daniela from Dreaming of Baby about addressing the challenges of single parenthood and the importance of evaluating exact needs and wants to ensure success in life.

 

Daniela GS:
Good morning Mari, and welcome! I’m looking forward to getting to know more about you and your book ‘The Single Woman’s Guide to a Happy Pregnancy’.

Mari Gallion:
Good morning, and thank you. I’m looking forward to sharing about it.

Daniela GS:
First off, how would you best describe your book?

Mari Gallion:
It is a non-religious, non-political, non-medical, and non-coercive self-help guide for single pregnant women who intend to keep and raise wanted babies. In the US, it is very important to specify that it is non-coercive because there are so many political agendas surrounding pregnancy and childbirth in this country.

Daniela GS:
Thank you for that concise overview. What led you to tackle this subject?

Mari Gallion:
I myself was single while pregnant with my son 19 years ago. At that time, I could not find any productive help. All the “help” available to me either provided information about adoption or abortion. All the parenting information was aimed at couples, not single women. All information that did acknowledge single women assumed I was young, uneducated, desperate, and that my choice to have my child was motivated out of fear or ignorance, and seemed to warn that I would be a terrible parent.

It seemed that the thousands of pregnancy counselors in [the US] knew nothing about child support, custody, co-parenting relations, or even the minimum of baby equipment I would need. I thus decided to write the book that I would have appreciated at that time.

Daniela GS:
The way you have described your experience means that the book addressed a profound need of the time and provided a source of information where it lacks. Would you say that this state of play still exists today? In your view, are single pregnant woman still regarded as they were nineteen years ago? If no, what changed?

Although the social climate is becoming more amenable to single mothers-to-be, there are still social, political, and economic challenges that need to be navigated in order for these women to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and early parenthood experience.

Mari Gallion:
Surprisingly, yes. The majority of information targeted towards single pregnant women remains coercive and unproductive. Some authors and activists have tried to introduce helpful information, but both reproductive rights camps in this country aggressively pursue single pregnant women to discourage parenting. Interestingly the pro-life camp does so more aggressively than the pro-choice camp. This is because their main motivation is not simply to prevent abortion, but to prevent it for the sake of procuring babies for adoption. I must stress that I am not anti-adoption, but am against coercion of any kind–and this is coercion, plain and simple.

Alas, the book does not get into this. It simply provides information to single mothers-to-be in a straighforward and respectful manner.

Although the social climate is becoming more amenable to single mothers-to-be, there are still social, political, and economic challenges that need to be navigated in order for these women to have a happy and healthy pregnancy and early parenthood experience.

It is through education, empowerment, and support that they can be navigated successfully.

Daniela GS:
Indeed; empowering, educating and supporting women is key. Still though, you emphasise that single parenting presents unique challenges. What, in your view, are single mothers and mothers-to-be most unaware of, and how does your work address this?

Chasing hope and dreams regardless

Mari Gallion:
First off, children born to couples are often welcomed and anticipated with excitement. Almost never does a couple experience a lecture or a warning after announcing a pregnancy-but for single mothers-to-be, it is commonplace. Questions like, “How are you going to make it?”, “What about your future?”, “What are you going to do about the father?”, “Do you feel that having this baby is the right thing to do?” These are common questions, and the woman often will internalize these questions and will need answers to them. While looking for those answers, she can often be given the “wrong answers.” Unraveling this initial negativity is key in helping [single women]. What they often need the most help understanding is that having a wanted child is not necessarily going to derail their lives and their plans for education, career, marriage, or any other measure of success they hold dear. They are often told conflicting and untrue things about child support and custody (this is sometimes because the laws vary from state to state). A great many of them at this time are unaware of how venting on social media can cause complications that can even have legal consequences. Sometimes they are unaware of the direct influence their nutrition can have on their state of mind. My work addresses these concerns by helping them to evaluate what exactly it is that they want and working towards it with clarity and with steps to ensure their success in life. I help them to understand that although their progress may be slowed by their undertaking, choosing parenthood will not prevent any good thing from happening to them.

Happily, at this time, I can use my own life as an example. My son has grown up and is in college. While single parenting, I received my master’s degree, bought my dream home, established a career, maintained many hobbies, and traveled extensively. Conversely, I had many challenges. I made many mistakes with my custody and child support arrangements, and clumsily navigated contentious relations with my child’s father’s family. I can prevent my audience from making the mistakes I made.

Although their progress may be slowed by their undertaking, choosing parenthood will not prevent any good thing from happening to them.

Daniela GS:
Indeed, such tips prove helpful and having an example on which to set on gives more hope that dreams can be achieved no matter what. Seeing that unplanned positive on a pregnancy test can be overwhelming and scary. There are also women though who opt to embark on the single motherhood journey purely out of choice. Does your work address their specific needs, concerns, and questions?

Mari Gallion:
Some choice moms may find a lot of what is written helpful, but the main difference between choice moms and surprise moms is that choice moms are prepared for any potential judgment, are normally very financially prepared, and are actively seeking the baby. In contrast, my market consists of women who have to think quickly on their feet: “Surprise, I’m pregnant. I have decided that parenting is the best option for me. What do I do now?” A whole lot of my book is dedicated to bringing the reader down to earth and understanding what needs to be done once that decision has been made. However, there are several other books that expertly address the main concerns of choice moms. There is not much out there for what I call “unsupported” pregnancy, those that are either unplanned, abandoned by the father, or situations in which the mother makes a conscious decision to leave the father out of the picture.

Daniela GS:
That’s very insightful; as you rightly state, the two present distinct realities. As a final question, what is the number one take home message that our readers will acquire from your book?

Mari Gallion:
The number one take-home message is that you have a right to be a mother to your own child. If you want this child, nobody can be this child’s mother better than you. Your pregnancy, while it is the natural consequence of sexual activity, is not a mistake, but is instead a crossroads. Life will change, but it is far from over. Anything you wanted out of life is still yours for the taking. You have to cut out all the negative thinking and shield yourself from other people’s energy and do what is right for you.

Daniela GS:
Thank you Mari, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and may more moms and moms-to be find the support they seek in your work. Thank you!

Mari Gallion:
Thank you, Daniela!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here