By Brian Blackwell, editor of the Baptist Message
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Miranda Underwood walked into the CENLA Pregnancy Center scared and in denial that she was pregnant. But she came out with hope and an invigorating state of mind.
“The first day I found out I was pregnant, abortion crossed my mind, but I knew it was never the right thing to do,” Underwood told The Baptist Message. “When I entered the CENLA Pregnancy Center I was at the darkest time of my life. But when I left I knew it would be the greatest time and everything would be fine.
Underwood was told by others that she would struggle to make it as a single mother. Not knowing where to turn, she contacted her family members, who referred her to the CENLA Pregnancy Center.
She said the February 2020 visit changed her life.
The staff encouraged her and gave her a newspaper titled “Hope.”
Above all, they shared a photo of baby Phaelyn which was taken by ultrasound; and she realized in that moment that everything would be fine.
“It was a sign from God that it had to happen,” she said. “Everything happens for a reason.
“I appreciate what every woman has done, from the smiles to the kindness of being there for me in my most vulnerable time,” she continued. “The hugs and the welcoming feeling you get are rare. It’s genuine love here. Here they want to know how you are doing, still 15 months later.
Throughout her pregnancy, the staff continued to contact Underwood. They took her in for motherhood classes, helped her find a pediatrician and obstetrician-gynecologist, and donated items for her unborn child.
For most of the pregnancy, Phaelyn’s father remained uninvolved. However, just before he was born (October 2020), he embraced his role as a father and has remained active in Phaelyn’s life ever since.
Today, Underwood is thriving as a mother. Additionally, she works at the RoyOMartin-Plywood manufacturing plant in Chopin and owns a house and a car.
“I wouldn’t take this experience for anything in the world,” Underwood said. “It’s the best feeling to be a mom. I wish everyone could have a child to have that feeling. It’s more of a blessing than I imagined.
Located on the campus of the Louisiana Baptist Building, 1254 MacArthur Drive, Alexandria since December 2017, the CENLA Pregnancy Center has served 1,064 women through pregnancy decision-making coaching (by trained advocates), free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, information on pregnancy options and other services.
More than 200 churches from multiple Christian denominations have worked together to create the Pregnancy Resource Center, a nonprofit pro-life organization to provide compassionate support to women and men facing difficult pregnancy decisions.
First Baptist Church, Pollock began praying in January 2014 to establish a pregnancy care center in central Louisiana. By December 2016, a nine-person board of directors had been formed, with members from then-Big Creek, Central Louisiana, and North Rapides Baptist Fellowships. Then an annual $1 lease was signed in 2017 for the use of the 5,660 square feet. installation, an annual benefit of $72,000 provided by the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Claire Lemoine, executive director of the CENLA Pregnancy Center, said she is grateful that God has enabled her organization to help women like Underwood choose life.
“Miranda showed great courage when she requested our services in a time of great fear and confusion,” Lemoine said. “Knowing that the ministry was part of his and Phaeyln’s journey is such a gift to all of us who work here.”