A few weeks ago, I put out a call for guest posts on my facebook page. I was amazed at the response. Many women have amazing stories to tell, though most of them weren’t sure if they should or could share them publicly. I’ve been speaking with these women for weeks, going back and forth with them, reading and listening to their tales and offering support where I could. Many of them found themselves unwilling in the end to share, but some of them have been brave enough to offer up their stories, in their own words.
This one comes from reader Michelle Lee, who has an inspirational yet cautionary tale of teen pregnancy. Her story is brave and heartfelt, and I hope you’ll offer her your support.
Ever have a moment of impact? The moment in which stayed with you forever? At the time it never occurred to you it would stick till the same moment happened to you? I will never forget the day I was using the restroom at a local store when I heard the girl in the stall next to me say, “I am pregnant. No! No! No!” This reaction was followed by loud sobs from the girl. The girl and I exited the stall at the same time. I am walking to the sink wondering if she knew I heard her. Our eyes met in the mirror and I felt the pain in her eyes. I thought to myself this girl is a child; could not be more than 16 years old. I found myself judging her in my mind and could not help to wonder if she had paid for the pregnancy test she used in the stall.
I have heard many times about the controversy of shows like the ones on MTV that supposedly are glorifying teen pregnancy. I have watched a few of the shows from time to time and I have never thought to myself “Geez this is so awesome. I think I need to get pregnant.” Teenage pregnancy is a hot topic with so much to debate however in the end there is this girl and boy experiencing confusion, fear, and the unknown. One of the issues our children face is the unrealistic expectations of “I won’t get pregnant.” We can educate our children however unless the teenager is actually listening or feels comfortable enough to ask for or buy contraceptives the world will continue to have teen pregnancies. Parents should be open and honest with their teenagers about sex, STD’s and pregnancy.
Now with all that said I would like to state I was a teen mom. It is the typical story told by all. Girl meets boy. Girl likes boy. Boy pressures girl to do things girl does not want to do or feel ready for. Boy does not care what girl thinks or feels. Boy does what he wants to girl. Girl refuses to speak to boy until 4 weeks later when girl finds out she is pregnant.
At the time of my pregnancy I was 19 years old. I have just completed my first year of college and was off for the summer. I never imagined the boy I met that summer would be the start of the most challenging time in my life. When I told the boy I was pregnant the first thing out of his mouth was “is it mine? You need to abort that sh*t.” At that moment I knew involving this boy in any part of my pregnancy or unborn child’s life would not be a good idea. I wanted nothing to do with this boy.
I remember sitting there thinking to myself what I was going to do. Do I continue with college? Do I get a job? Do I tell my parents? Do I tell anyone? Do I give this child up for adoption? Do I want to involve the father in any way? I felt mind spinning, spinning, spinning all around. At this very moment I felt utterly alone. I did not know who to talk to or trust. I did not know how to tell my parents I failed them. I did not know what to do about anything.
I thought to myself how will everyone react, how will I react to their reactions, and could I handle everything. I will be up front and admit I am not one of those “this will make me stronger” types of people. I do not believe or feel experiences make someone stronger. I believe or feel experiences educate you and improve your sense of awareness.
I built enough courage to tell my parents I was pregnant. If facial expressions could kill you I would have died that day. I thought my mother was going to hurt me as her hands were flying through the air and other items around my mother were projected at me. My father said nothing however left the room. My father’s reaction is what haunts me till this day. I believe in that moment I lost all respect and pride my father may have felt for me. It would be months later before I would speak to my parents again.
Walking away from my parents that day I had the mindset of “I will not fail. I will show them.” I knew what I had to do. I was going to graduate with my bachelor’s degree. I was going to make a life for this child. I realized in this moment it was not about me anymore however about this child. I was not going to do anything for my parents, myself or anyone else around me. I was going to do all this for that little life growing inside me. I am going to give this child the life it deserves.
I returned to college for the fall semester of my sophomore year. It was hard to keep from my suitemates I was pregnant. Running to the bathroom multiple times of day may have been the most obvious clue however I still was dumbfounded when one of them asked how far along I was. I felt so relieved to have someone else know I was pregnant. I would ask this suitemate to take me to my doctor appointments when it was raining or cold outside. At one of my appointments I was asked if she was my partner. I smiled at the doctor and asked if it mattered.
During this time the father of the unborn would call me from time to time. The father showed up once to my college for a visit and felt it was his place to tell ALL my suitemates I was pregnant. I did not want him there to begin with then he told everyone! I did make the mistake once of asking him to come to the 20 week sonogram appointment. The father said he wanted to be there and would bring me to the appointment. The father did not show up so I had to walk in the rain. I remember laying there watching my unborn move around inside me for the first time. I had tears running down my eyes and asked the tech what the baby’s gender was however the tech said the unborn has its legs crossed so I did not ever find out what the gender of the unborn was till birth. When I returned to my dorm room that day the father had left me 4 messages and his mother had left me 2 messages asking “what is the baby?” I deleted all the messages and did not speak to the father for weeks. Of course the father did not believe me that I did not know what the unborn gender was at that time.
As my tummy grew it became harder and harder to walk around campus. I would be so tired walking from building to building across campus! Not to mention the fact I was starting to not fit in the desks anymore. I had to get a doctor’s note to be exempt from Chemistry Lab as I passed out in the lab 3 times. The chemicals would make me extremely sick plus it was chemicals! Doctor said the unborn is not safe around any form of chemicals. Fortunately I had an awesome professor who gave me a ‘pass’ grade without completing it. The worst thing about college was the night classes. Class would last till 9pm and all I wanted to do was go to sleep. I quickly learned being pregnant was hard.
By the end of the first semester I had witnessed more looks, whispering as I passed, and judgment then I felt was warranted. I was asked on more than one occasion if I was getting married which would be followed by a “oh” response. None of this mattered to me anymore. The only thing that mattered to me was walking forward with stride. The unborn was due in the middle of the spring semester so I decided to take a leave of absence.
At this point I had moved back into my parents’ home. Something I never wanted to do ever in my life. I have never felt welcomed or loved in my parents’ home. Growing up my mother always made me feel worthless and I will not stay long enough for her to have any effect on my child. Laying upstairs in my old bedroom I could hear my mother and sibling speaking to one another about me. The conversation consisted of demeaning remarks basically stating of I will fail, I am worthless, I am stupid, however the best one was “Another welfare mother in the making.” I listened to them laugh at my expense. I did not get upset. I did not cry. I did not acknowledge their presence when I walked down the stairs passed them. I was not letting it sink in.
The birth of the unborn was drawing near. I had nothing for the baby. My mother refused to give me a baby shower because I was not married and it was embarrassing to her. I saved whatever I could to buy items for the baby. I would not even buy maternity clothes because I wanted to use all the money I had for the baby. I made the mistake of telling the father I was saving money for the baby because as soon as he heard money he offered to take me to the store. I was so excited to go shopping for the baby. No one has offered to take me before and I never had the means to go myself. I was sitting by the window watching the road for the father’s car. After he picked me up we went to the bank and I withdrew all of the money I had in the account. The father asked if I was hungry, I am 9 months pregnant yes I am hungry, so we went to eat. He drove us to a local fast food chain and ordered what he wanted then my order. At the window he asked me for the money to pay for the food. I hesitated however handed over the money to pay. I kept thinking to myself that could be diapers or bottles. I thought he was paying for the food. After we ate he asked what kind of stuff I was looking to buy the baby. I said clothes, bottles, diapers, bath stuff, blankets………….however he cut me off. The father stated I was crazy to think I could buy all that with what I had for money. The father said he knows where to get great deals and asked for all the money. He said he will buy it all and bring it to me later. I said I wanted to go but the father insisted he would do it all and bring it later. The father drove me home. I think I called the father 50 times that night however never had any response. I will tell you weeks later when the baby was born I had nothing for it.
At 39 weeks pregnant I woke up at 2am with this unbelievable pain shooting through my entire body. I tried to go back to sleep however it just kept happening. It probably took me over an hour to finally go downstairs to tell my parent’s I think the baby is coming. My father got up to shower and my mother remained in bed till my father was ready. No one was comforting me, talking to me, or even really acknowledging my presence. After 12 hours of labor and learning the baby was in distress so immediate attention was needed I gave birth to a 7lb 3oz baby girl. My parents were the first to hold the baby. The nurse tried to hand the baby to me and I refused to take her. All a sudden I wanted nothing to do with the one thing that kept me going for the past 9 months. Watching my parents fall all over themselves for the baby, listening to them baby talk and seeing my father cry angered me. This is the same father and mother who told me I ended my life when I got pregnant with this baby. At that moment I swore to myself this baby will never feel the pain my parents created throughout my entire life. The pain of not feeling good enough, thin enough, smart enough, and most of all the pain of never hearing “I am proud of you.” I can count on one hand the number of times I remember hearing my parent’s tell me they love me.
Adjusting to a newborn at home was hard. No, hard isn’t the correct word. It was a big smack of reality and challenging to say the least. Babies cry. A LOT. Babies cry at all times of the morning, afternnon, evening and night. Babies cry because it’s diaper is wet, it is hungry, it is to hot, it is to cold, it needs attention or for other unknown reasons to me. I was suffering from post partem depression so every cry upset me to the point where I could not handle the baby. My mother would have to take the baby and do what the baby needed done. I would sit for hours and just stare out the window at nothing. I remember at one point thinking to myself I did not have any connection to the baby. I did not feel the baby needed me and would be better off somewhere else. I noticed for the first time at about 3 weeks later I had stretch marks on my stomach/other areas of my body and oh my goss I lost it. I would stare at myself in the mirror and think to myself how gross and disgusting I looked now. The baby did this to me. The baby destroyed my entire life. I must note I know the baby had absolutely nothing to do with any of my issues at that time however post partem depression is not something to mess with and will make you think crazy things.
Around 5 weeks after the birth of my daughter I received paperwork in the mail from Family Court. The father was petitioning for custody of the baby. This was a moment in my life of impact. There was absolutely no way in hell he was taking custody of this baby. It would be over my dead body. This is when I knew the baby needed me and I needed the baby. I had to protect the baby from that man. My baby would not be safe. There is many things about the father I left out and do not feel need to be exposed. It would only make me look bitter and it is all over now.
My parents hired a lawyer and after the battle in court the father was only awarded visitation of the baby. Till this day I cannot even understand why he wanted anything to do with this baby; why my baby? The father was not around for the pregnancy nor did he care to be around during it. The father wanted me to abort the baby. While I was pregnant I found out the father had more children however did not care to do anything with the children. So again I ask “why my baby?” It would not be till years later I took the father back to court for sole custody and revote his visitation order. I did not have to fight hard as the father signed the papers to give the child to me. I was awarded sole custody and visitation was as agreed upon by mother.
As any situation we view as monstrous the phrase of ‘life goes on’ is deemed correct. I started dating again. I viewed all men as a ‘potential father.’ Many failed and did not get pass the first date. It takes a special man to accept another man’s child. I was fooled by a few along the way however it was nothing I could not handle. It really becomes an eye opener when a child is involved and who we choose to be in not only our lives but the child’s life
Being a teen mom is not what anyone can explain or talk about unless it was experienced personally. My experiences are far different then say the person reading this story and looking for answers. I may not have had a strong support system but I had drive and determination. I knew what I wanted in this life and I was still going to get it. Never allow anyone or anything step in the way of achieving what has been inside of you all along. Having a baby at a young age doesn’t change who you are; it changes what you are……..which is a MOM. I will admit there are times when I wonder what my life would be without the daughter, what I might have done differently, where I might have ended up globally, or how different every aspect would be at this moment. As I wonder this I look over and see my glowing blonde headed now teenage daughter and think to myself this is exactly where I was meant to be. This is the life I was meant to live. I have experienced things so many people have not and to be able to talk about them is extraordinary.
Do not ever think of teenage pregnancy as an end however as a beginning. It is the beginning of a new life you could have not ever imagined. It is not a glorified event however a moment in time. I know my daughter was meant to be my daughter as I was meant to be her mother. I gave birth to a musically talented, athletic, and intelligent little girl. My daughter will do extraordinary things one day and I am beyond proud of the young woman she is growing up to be.
Am I saying teenage pregnancy is a good thing; no. Am I saying it is not a death sentence; yes. It is not the end of the world even if it may feel that way for everyone involved however it is a new beginning no matter what way you approach it.