WATERLOO (KWWL) -- An unplanned pregnancy can signal shock, even panic. But one single mother says there is help for expectant moms, and plenty of hope for a bright future.
Today 25-year-old Cassi Ubben's life looks a little different than she planned.
"It was a tough decision, but we thought it had to be right thing," she said.
Now Ubben can't see her life without her 4-1/2-year old daughter Ella.
"Our hearts led us to keeping Ella, and being able to have this amazing experience, I wouldn't change it for the world."
Back at the start of her junior year at University of Northern Iowa, Ubben found herself at Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Waterloo.
"I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to find out alone," she said.
After seeing a coupon for a free pregnancy test, Ubben decided she needed support, and she found it.
"We don't lecture, we discuss alternatives for pregnancy," executive director Janet Lyons said. "Keeping the baby, putting the baby up for adoption, is there a relative who can raise the baby, how can we help you? You are not alone. God is with you and so are we."
Advocates from Alternatives meet with expectant moms every two weeks until their baby is six-months-old. They listen, teach life skills, parenting and financial skills, and provide free ultrasounds.
"Some say, 'Mmm, I don't want this,' and they leave the woman. And she's stressed, scared and lonely. We provide her a support system," Lyons said.
Every two weeks, expecting and new moms can come to the Caring Connections Closet at Alternatives and choose from a variety of donated items like gently-used or new baby clothes.
The center helps about 800 women each year, usually between ages 16 and 32, seeking to prevent these mothers from a life of poverty and stress.
Fortunately for Ubben, she had a supportive family, and currently shares custody of Ella with Ella's father.
"I've seen other examples of people through Alternatives who'd gone to college and got a degree, gotten a great job, all the while being a mother," she said.
With the help of her family and her advocate, Ubben gave birth to a healthy baby, graduated with the best grades of her college career, found a job as a communications director at Van G. Miller and Associates in Waterloo, and if all goes as planned, before little Ella enters kindergarten, Ubben will have purchased her own home.
"I thought I had a promising future, and you really don't know that you still have a promising future," she said.
Cassi Ubben says one of the most helpful services Alternatives provided was educating her about grants and programs.
She found grants to help pay college bills, even food and daycare while she was a student.
Alternatives works with both single and married moms-to-be.
Online Anchor: Sunny Layne