“Sometimes the smallest things, take up the most room in your heart.” – Winnie the Pooh

When you walk into their clinic there are potted plants. There are cushioned chairs and a pretty women smiling from the lobby. There may be brochures in holders about various topics of interest. And on the walls may be pictures of young women, like yourself, looking happy, relieved, worried. There may be a women with a smile in powder blue scrubs who takes you back down a quiet hall. Another women with a smile sits across from you and you talk. You talk about what to do next with your pregnancy.

When you come into Next Step Pregnancy Center there is a lobby. A smiling women behind the desk asks you to sign in. There is a jar full of funny green pens you thought was a plant. Cushy brown chairs in a corner and a rather nice painting hanging above you. It has red flowers but the paint seems to stand away from the canvas. Before you can touch it you are ushered into another room by another women who smiles, this one in scrubs. You sit across from each other and you talk about next steps.

In there office you’ll fill out paperwork and the woman in the scrubs will smile and explain your options. You may be taken to an exam room for an Ultrasound depending on what stage of pregnancy you are in. It will be a low lit room and quiet. Nothing seems soft in here and there are no pictures. The nurse may administer some cold gel on your belly and there may be pressure. She may or may not talk to you. But she will smile. She will be looking at a screen and perhaps typing. You cannot see this screen and you may not be told what she is seeing. You don’t know if you can or should ask about it. You’ll clean off the gel with tissue and she’ll lead you back out to the lobby to set up your next step.

At Next Step you’ll fill out paperwork and the woman in the scrubs will smile and you’ll talk together about how you feel. She’ll listen and answer your questions about each of your options. She’ll ask if you’re ready for the ultrasound. You’ll be taken to another room. It’s rather low lit but there is a painting on wall of the ocean. You lie down and she administers cold gel on your belly. She smiles reassuringly and explains what she is doing. You notice there are two screens. One is facing her and the other is on the wall and is facing you. It’s very quiet. She explains things she is seeing as she moves the ultrasound wand around your belly. You can see the image on the screen on the wall. A lot of black and gray. Some white. A blinking spot she tells you is your baby’s heartbeat.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is baby-ultrasound-london.jpg

It may be a nice office, clean and the staff may smile. And they may be qualified to counsel you, to listen and perform an ultrasound. The most important difference between us and them is this. You will see your baby, small though he or she is, and know that they are there, within you.

O.k. so you’ve think you might be pregnant. What next? When you think about what comes next after realizing you may be pregnant – what comes to mind? Your family? Money? Housing? Your partner? Your plans? Medical Insurance? Diapers? Giving birth?! The list goes on and on. So what’s next?

What can a Pregnancy Center do for you? A lot! A pregnancy center is here for you. Listening, sharing, encouraging. A pregnancy center is made up of individuals who are here to serve. To serve with accurate pregnancy testing, counseling, and early OB ultrasounds. Ultrasounds you are able and encouraged to look at.

A pregnancy center is here to give. Give you help, services, resources, and contacts. It can be an overwhelming and scary time. The mission of a pregnancy service center like Next Step is to care for women and families who need help. Not for money, or to preach. Not to demand things of you. It does not matter if you are married, single, or ‘it’s complicated’. Whether your a first time mom or it’s old hat. Whether you are alone or with support. Whether you attend church or do not. Whether you were born here or have come here from another home. Whether you move forward with parenting or choose another option.

We are here to help women and families who need us. Period.