Friday, June 15, 2012

Teen Pregnancy: I Can Relate

Before you read, know that I am not advocating teen pregnancy. I am sharing a personal story of mine. I became pregnant when I was 17-years-old, and I made the decision to stand up and take care of my responsibility. I am defending all young mothers who have to deal with hateful words and ignorant comments regarding the decisions they made when they were younger.

I've read some very hurtful opinions about teenage mothers, including one that said, "[Teens have babies] usually because they are attention seekers, believe they have unloving families, or are so insecure that they think without having a kid, their boyfriend will dump them. And yes, they ARE stupid. They do know exactly what they are doing." This statement is incredibly hurtful. I, and many other young mothers such as myself, know that bringing a child into the world for your own selfish desires is downright wrong. Not all teenagers who end up pregnant are doing it because they want attention, feel unloved, or want to "trap" their boyfriends. And while I agree that becoming pregnant as a teenager is irresponsible and shows a lack of judgment, it doesn't make her stupid. Stupid means incapable of learning, and when you become a mother, you have plenty of learning to do. And you'll continue to learn until the day that you die.

Now, before you get your panties all in a bunch, realize that I am fully aware that my situation may not be typical. Perhaps it doesn't even come close to the statistics regarding teen pregnancy. But you know what it does show? It shows that there are young women out there who, regardless of age, are willing to take responsibility for their actions, do what they've got to do to stand on their own two feet, and better their own lives for the sake of their unborn child. Your life does not end. In fact, it only begins. And while it's different from the life you may have been living had you not become pregnant, you still have the potential to live a fulfilling one.

Yes, you will miss out on events that you could have enjoyed had you not become pregnant. You may even lose friends and feel incredibly lonely at times. But the moment that you gaze into those beautiful eyes of your child, things change. And I mean they really, really change.

I can relate, because I found out that I was pregnant at 17-years-old.

I remember every little detail about that day. I walked upstairs and took the test, being sure to leave a piece of toilet paper on top so that I wouldn't see the results right away. In all honesty, I knew I was pregnant. My periods had been normal---I'd never missed one since I started at the age of 12---until that week. When I removed that sheet of toilet paper, I saw it. Two blue lines, as dark as night, burning into my retinas. And that image shall forever remain.

* * *

The leaves crushed beneath my feet at my parent's house as I paced out front, trying to gather my thoughts. The air was crisp and cool, and the smell of wood burning greeted my nose thanks to the slight breeze. It made me want to vomit.

I was pregnant. And I was only 17-years-old. I didn't have to ask how it happened. That, I already knew. But how was I going to tell my parents? A tear slipped down my cheek and onto my pink sweater. I wiped it away, regained my composure, and walked into my parent's house.

I had talked to my boyfriend the night prior, and we agreed that we would tell my parents when we were together, so that he could step-up, and we could both accept responsibility for our actions. He wanted to reassure them that he would be in the baby's life, and that they needn't worry about him running off like other deadbeat fathers.

But when I walked in and saw my parents, deeply engaged in the Bengals game, oblivious to the life that was growing inside of me---their grandchild---I couldn't wait any longer. I felt horrible. I had let them down. My parents, who had encouraged me to better my life, and warned against my rebellious ways, were about to find out that their 17-year-old daughter was knocked up.

I began to sob. My dad looked at me sympathetically. My mother reached out to comfort me, and before she could ask what was wrong, I blurted it out. "I'm PREGNAAAANT!"

My dad's face immediately became cold. He turned away. He vomited. My cries became more hysterical with every negative reaction from him. He stared out the window for what seemed like an eternity while my mother comforted me and held me close, reassuring me that things would work out. After my father maintained his composure, he expressed is dissatisfaction. It was worse than I expected.

At the time, Justice was living with his mother, and I, being a teenager, was still under my parent's roof. This made the situation much worse, especially from my father's perspective. Justice and I didn't get to see each other much, except for when he would attend my prenatal appointments. My dad just didn't want him around. And rightfully so, considering the circumstances.

I knew from the moment that I found out---devastated or not---that I was going to stand up and take responsibility for the decisions that I had made. My child didn't have a say in whether or not he came into this world, and I was going to make this life worthwhile for him. Justice and I were going to change our lives, to provide our child a stable environment that he could grow in. He would have love, support, and care, and Justice and I were willing to bust our asses if that's what it took. And it did.

Things didn't settle down until after I gave birth (as far as negative emotions were concerned). I remember seeing my dad's expression when he held his first grandson. You could see in his eyes that his heart was melting. He teared up, and from that moment on, my son became his pride and joy. A father of three girls, my dad now had a boy in the family to teach how to love, fish, and work on cars.

I still cannot believe that while my life became more difficult, it also became more fulfilling. My relationship and Justice's relationship with my parents has improved dramatically. Two years after I gave birth, Justice proposed and we were married six months later. Justice and I became stable enough to purchase our first home together, where we currently live today. Things fell into place.

Carter turns 5-years-old this month, and it seems like just yesterday that I had to face the greatest struggle of my life. And while the journey is still difficult at times, it continues to be the best experience of my 23 and a half years. He was the greatest wake-up call and the greatest blessing that I've been fortunate enough to have been given. It didn't seem this way at the time, but your perception is always clearer when you're looking back.

NOTE: I was a mother before I was an adult. I am not advocating teen pregnancy. I know that my situation is not typical, but I still feel the need to defend the young mothers, like myself, who get pregnant, but still take responsibility for their actions, change their lives accordingly, and keep the child's best interest at heart. Teen pregnancy is not always a tragedy.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Emily,
    Your story made me cry. Perhaps I could feel the early fear, and disbelief. Maybe the beauty of a baby is emotional.
    I stumbled on you from Michal Stawicki's site.
    Great blog post. Well done! :)


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