Defying the odds to embrace motherhood

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, November 19th. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It, and we’re glad you are! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next, one college student mom’s decision to choose life

According to the research group Planned Parenthood got started back in 1968, the Guttmacher Institute, unintended pregnancy rates are highest among women who fall into these categories: low income, between the ages of 18 and 24, a member of a minority group, and cohabitating with a partner. 

Carolyn Wilder was a college student who could check all of the boxes.

REICHARD: But despite her background and upbringing, Wilder is thriving. She says the birth of her son is the best thing to happen to her. 

We go now to South Carolina where WORLD Radio Intern Michelle Schlavin has her story.

MICHELLE SCHLAVIN: At the end of a quiet neighborhood sits a long brick house. Carolyn Wilder stands in front of the garage. She waves and gives a wide smile.

AUDIO: [Car door shuts] WILDER: Hey girl…How are you? 

Wilder is wearing a grey and black patterned blazer and black high heels. She had an interview earlier. Like most twenty year olds, She’s going to school and applying for internships. But before everything else, she’s a mother. 

Inside the house it’s dinner time. Princeton, Wilder’s 14 month old son, is anxious for his momma to feed him. 

WILDER: Hungry, hungry? Eat, eat, eat. I know, mommy wash her hands.

Wilder opens the double door fridge and pulls out a homemade chicken pot pie. After warming it up in the microwave, she tests the temperature before feeding Princeton. His lips smack in approval.

AUDIO: [Princeton eating]

The mother and son live with Jana and Bob Dailey. She calls them Nana Jana and Pop Pop Bob. They met at church. 

WILDER: She’s just like a mom. She treats me no different than her kids. So, I love her. Especially ‘cause I never really knew what that was like.

Wilder was born in New Orleans. She was taken from her biological family at four and placed into foster care. She moved from home to home. 

WILDER: I had a pretty rough childhood…I was raped at 5, so by the time I was 10 or 11, I didn’t really have a sense of identity…

At age 10, Wilder was adopted by a woman in South Carolina. Her new mom provided every material need, but she could be abusive. Wilder remembers being hit across the face with things like pot holders or extension cords. 

WILDER: I actually tried to kill myself. I overdosed on pills…it was pills of Tylenol…I was tired of going through what I was going through, you know, not even her, but my whole life.

During recovery, Wilder lived in a short-term hospital. It was a free place to stay and eat, and safe from abuse. 

While there, she met another troubled patient.

WILDER: I was broken and he was broken and I had him and he had me and that was all we had.

They became engaged and started living together. At 18, Wilder discovered she was pregnant. A local Christian pregnancy center advertised “Free Baby Clothes” so she stopped in. Women watch videos to learn about their pregnancy. In exchange they get to pick out baby necessities.

She also began reading the Bible. Convicted, Wilder explained to her fiancé they could no longer sleep together. Looking at her growing belly, he failed to see the point in stopping now. Wilder held firm, and he left.

WILDER: Everything that I knew was attached to him. I didn’t know anything about God. I wasn’t trying to either…I was trying to figure out what I’m going to do with this baby. 

Wilder felt alone and afraid. And she didn’t think she could raise a child on her own.

WILDER: So, my first thought was abortion, this is prime time. You know, I’d never thought about aborting the baby, but I have no money. I’m like basically homeless without him. 

Planned Parenthood was willing to “take care of the problem.” Friends and family also doubted her ability to be a mother.

WILDER: I watched my brother say, you’re not going to be anything but like your mom. You need to give your baby away because you’re going to be just like your mother, you’re going to be an unfit mother just just like your mom was. 

The last thing Wilder wanted to be was “like her mother.” Or mothers. She was close to making a deadly decision. 

But Wilder began looking back on her life with new eyes. She started attending meetings at the clinic and going to church.  

WILDER: It’s really crazy how God works because that church family, you know, grew to be my church, my support system. 

With their encouragement and help, she is figuring out the daunting load of school, work, and being a mother. 

WILDER: Everything in life that’s worth doing or worth having is always going to be hard…A lot of people, they give these like statistics of college students and they get these statistics of people that come from poor neighborhoods. But instead of…letting that define us, we can be defined by children of God…

Wilder sees the pain of her past as a blessing. She shares her story without hesitation. Speaking up is her way of honoring the Lord and the miracle of being a mom.

WILDER: Hey, I did it… And let me tell you how it, God brought me out. He needs more people like that in this world because you can’t be open, if you can’t be relatable, nobody is going to be touched.

Wilder recently accepted an internship with A Moment of Hope, a pro-life ministry in Columbia. She shares her testimony with girls who are in a similar life situation and considering abortion. 

WILDER: I’m young, I’m black..But like I’m a mom, you know, I care for my baby just like any other 30 or 40 year old mom…it’s hard, but every time I wake up, like every single time I wake up, every time I do it all over again. And I wouldn’t change it…if, if like I was only supposed to be in this world to be a mom. I love that. That’s a pretty darn good job.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Michelle Schlavin reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Defying the odds to embrace motherhood

  1. Kelly says:

    I love this sooo much!

  2. david edwards says:

    Wow! And my wife and I have the privilege of being in a bi-weekly bible study/life group with this beautiful work of God. Amazing to see Carolyn, Princeton, and the Daley’s up close… super encouraging!

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