“You could say I grew up in a low-income home.” Born and raised in Detroit, Ashley’s parents divorced when she was 18. “My past wasn’t so bad, but I always felt like I wanted to have the opposite.” As she spoke, Ashley expressed a resolute desire to change the culture in her family as far as wealth and peace. For years she felt like the black sheep in her home. In high school, Ashley involved herself in numerous extracurricular activities, among which was marching band. She loved music. Playing instruments was an outlet for her to get away from what she was used to. Determined to build a career and a better life for her future, Ashley worked her way through high school and went on to attend Michigan State University, where she studied Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics. With hard work and perseverance, Ashley became the first person on her dad’s side to graduate from college, and the second on her mom’s side of the family.
Post-graduation, Ashley set out to begin her career, but the recession posed significant challenges to her search. She worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and it took nearly four years before she was able to land a stable position with benefits. Unfortunately, due to an unwelcome encounter with a co-worker, Ashley chose to leave that toxic situation and left the company. Out of work again, she took a filler job in retail and began personal styling for photo shoots to support herself.
In time, Ashley started dating a young man she went to school with, but felt it wasn’t a good fit. Just one month after ending the relationship, she discovered she was pregnant. “As far as my family, I didn’t have any support,” she shared. “I was shocked because I was 32 years old with a degree. I thought their reaction would’ve been different than if I was a young girl.” Ashley’s mom told her to visit the pregnancy clinic across the street from their house because she thought they did abortions. Despite a lack of support, feelings of denial about the pregnancy, and conviction that abortion was not the answer, Ashley decided to visit the clinic to at least confirm her pregnancy.
“That was the first time I came to AWPC and met Christine.” Ashley told Christine about her situation - difficulty finding a good job, the pregnancy, the pressure from her family to abort... Christine was encouraging and supportive. She brought Ashley and her mom in for Ashley’s ultrasound, where they witnessed the baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Ashley was amazed: “I saw a little figure of a human and said, ‘Wow, this is my baby girl!’ I felt it before I found out the gender.” Ashley mentioned how eye-opening this experience was for her: “I just didn’t know it was life that early. I have friends that have had abortions, but they made it seem like it was no big deal.” She explained that society doesn’t give the impression that abortion is ending a life. Many women are simply uninformed. Ashley continued, “I was so emotional. I kept telling Christine, ‘I had no idea...I had no idea...heck no I’m not having an abortion.’” Midway through the ultrasound, Ashley’s mom left the room because her daughter wanted to keep the baby. “I guess my mom wanted to break the cycle of divorce, single moms, and poverty in our family. I understand that - I didn’t plan for this either,” Ashley acknowledged, “but I felt like everything happens for a reason.”
After the ultrasound, Christine went through Ashley’s options, provided her with helpful resources, and ended with a tour of AWPC’s Baby Boutique. She later tried to convince the father of her child to come to the program, but he did not want to participate. The center was a tremendous blessing for her during this time.
Five months into her pregnancy, Ashley finally found a good job. She feared telling her new employer about her pregnancy, but they were incredibly supportive when she did. Ashley was thrilled to be back at work, pushing herself to excel in her career. Everything was going well until, one day, Ashley learned there were complications with her pregnancy. She had Placenta Previa, a condition where the placenta lies low in the uterus and partially (or completely) covers the cervix. The placenta can separate from the uterine wall as the cervix begins to dilate during labor. On two occasions, Ashley found herself bleeding at work and coworkers rushed her to the hospital. The doctor informed her that with this condition, once bleeding started, it would be possible for her baby to bleed out in five minutes. Both times, the nearest hospitals (qualified to treat Ashley) were 30 minutes away. It was a miracle that her daughter survived. Ashley firmly believes that God protected her baby. “No one else could have controlled that situation,” she affirmed. After the second episode of bleeding, Ashley spent two weeks at the hospital until she delivered a healthy baby girl. At 31 weeks, her beautiful daughter, Alena, weighed 3 lbs., 9 oz. “They told me her stomach was the size of an almond,” Ashley said. “She was a preemie, but she did so well. The doctors have been happy with her growth and development.”
Today, Alena and Ashley are doing well. Reflecting on the past few years, Ashley reflected that her life has become even better since the day she left AWPC. She and her daughter now live in West Bloomfield and Alena is 2½. Ashley adores her baby girl and works hard to provide for her. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has absolutely been worth it. Ashley is determined to set her daughter up well for the future: “There are a lot of things I want for Alena that I didn’t have. I want her to be exposed to and able to try new things.” Recently, Ashley set up a college fund for Alena. She is grateful that she’s able to do more for her daughter. And not only does this devoted mom want the best for her little one, but for other young people as well. “Any time I meet a young person and they ask me questions, I am open and willing to give them everything I know. Maya Angelou said, ‘when you know better, you do better.’” Ashley firmly stands by that truth. She wants to help others to know better so they can do better for their lives.
This resilient young woman has repeatedly put one foot in front of the other. Amidst adverse circumstances, Ashley has been richly blessed by her decision to choose life for her sweet Alena.