The one word that saved an unborn child and changed the life of a college student

By Janice Fritz-Ryken

You never know how deeply one word, one simple thing you say to someone, can impact their life.

In this case, one word—a simple “congratulations”—transformed the fear of a scared, single mother-to-be into joy and quite literally saved the life of her unborn baby.

Briana Odom was a nursing student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville when she found out she was pregnant in November 2014. It stopped her in her tracks.

“In my head, I had a plan. I was going to graduate in 2016, get the ball rolling with my career, find a good man to marry, have a beautiful wedding, and then go on to live this picture-perfect Pinterest life,” said Briana, who shares what it felt like to discover she was pregnant.

“I was scared. My whole picture-perfect plan of a life just kind of fell apart,” said Briana, who found herself wondering if she would be able to graduate at all, let alone when she’d planned to do so. Then there were the issues of her parents. How would they feel? And what about her boyfriend? Was he ready to be a dad? She quickly found out he was not.

“I wanted him to be in our lives because I wanted to at least know that the one person who knows I’m pregnant is going to support me and be excited, but I quickly found out that he wasn’t. He gave me $2,000 and said I needed to find a way to get it taken care of,” she shared.

In the weeks that followed, Briana said she went into seclusion, going to class only, avoiding people and just trying to figure out what she was going to do.

“I knew I needed to take care of myself, but I was scared and confused. I didn’t know where to go or if I could even try to do this on my own,” she recalled.

On Jan. 26, 2015, Briana turned 21, and her family came to Knoxville to celebrate. “My parents still didn’t know I was pregnant, and I knew I had to get serious,” she said.

That night, she decided her birthday present to herself was to get the answers she needed to make a decision. She went on Google, did a search, and decided to go to New Hope Pregnancy Care Center.

The next day, with her best friend, Katie, in tow, Briana went to New Hope, where a blood test confirmed her pregnancy. Next up was a counseling session followed by an ultrasound to confirm the baby’s viability and to determine the gestational age.

“I got to see Addie, and it was so amazing, and then Holly said ‘Congratulations.’ And it was like it all came together…that was the first time that anybody had said that to me since I first discovered I was pregnant,” Briana recalled through her tears.

“It made me so happy. I felt this shift, like a change in my heart, and I realized that this wasn’t the end of my life; it was actually the beginning of a new one, a beautiful one,” she said. “My heart just felt so full, and I felt happy for the first time since November. I smiled and I laughed again for the first time in two months. I celebrated my baby, and I felt like myself again. I just had a completely new outlook on life from after that.”

Briana signed up for parenting classes and started going every week for classes, meals, and fellowship. The support group at New Hope became an extended family, and they helped her gain the courage to tell her parents her news about the baby.

“I realized there would be no ideal time to tell my parents I was about to become a single mom, so I just jumped the gun and told them. I’d already gone this far on my own, and it was time,” she remembered, adding that her mom cried but not because she was having the baby.

“I know they were hurt for me that I had gone this far by myself, but not ashamed because there was a baby. Now I knew I had their support,” she added.

Their only concern now was the fact that Briana was an hour and a half away from them in Knoxville, going to school and nursing clinicals while pregnant, but she said just knowing that New Hope was there and that she had people there who loved her and supported her was reassuring for both her parents and for her.

“Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was so alone, they really supported me the entire time,” she said.

After going just one extra semester in school, Briana was able to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and take her licensure exam. Today she is a registered nurse.

And that picture-perfect Pinterest life Briana once dreamed of? She’s living it after all. After the heartache of anticipating life as a single mom, Mrs. Odom found love again. Now married to Kody, the Odoms welcomed their second child, a healthy baby boy named Duke, last August.

“I can’t imagine my life without Addie and Duke; they’re my whole life. I am so glad I chose life back then, when I was so scared and alone,” Briana said.

“I’m especially glad that I found New Hope. I believe New Hope gives you a new outlook on life. They celebrated with me, they made me feel the joy of being a mom and helped me to get excited about this new unexpected life that was happening. They gave me hope,” she concluded.

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