Thanks to Leticia for sharing her story. You can also read it here. I only publish names and links with permission.
There I was, a 16 year old junior in High school thinking that I knew everything. I tried not to throw up as I sat there waiting to see whether or not that little stick was going to tell me if I was going to be a mother or not. Not because I was nervous, but because I worked at Long John Silver’s and the smell of fish frying was not working with me that day. Once the stick ended up with two lines it was obvious why: I was pregnant.
I had no idea what the next 16 years of my life were going to involve. In my teenage mind I thought all my wishes had just come true. The picture I had was that I would tell H. I was pregnant, and he would ask me to marry him. Then I would be free from my over controlling mother and live happily ever after. That goes to show just how dumb a 16 year old can be. I avoided telling my mom that I was pregnant for the next few days; in fact I didn’t tell anyone. The only person who knew was my best friend who had been with me when I bought the test and also when I took it. I honestly had no idea who to tell first; in the end I picked my mom. I figured it was the best place to start, so I waited for her to come home from work and I just blurted it out. Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have told her after she had worked a 16 hour shift at the nursing home, and I probably should have given her some kind of warning, but I didn’t and I paid for it. Next I had to tell H., and still believing in my fairytale I headed to his house thinking I would soon be telling my mom good-bye. I should’ve made a plan B. As I sat down in H.’s room I became nervous for the first time since seeing the two little lines on the pregnancy test. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I was pregnant and my mom was very mad. The first words that came out of his mouth were the typical first words, “Are you sure?” followed by “Are you sure it’s mine?” Both of those questions hurt me, but the one that really broke my heart and spirit was “Well I think you should have an abortion”. I never expected him to say that, since his father was a Catholic Deacon, so I was completely shocked, lost and had no plan B. My mom was so disappointed in me, and I felt I had nowhere to turn since she warned me this would happen, and I didn’t listen to her. I thought I knew it all and now what was I going to do? I went back home and cried myself to sleep.
After a few weeks my mom calmed down and made me a Doctor’s appointment to confirm that I was pregnant and to see where we would go from there. That’s when I began my life as a teenage mother. Throughout my pregnancy I began to grow closer to my mom. She took me to the doctor, helped me buy baby clothes, get a crib and set up the baby’s room. For the first time in my life we actually talked to each other. During this time I dropped out of school because I was too far behind, and I thought it was the best option. Luckily for me the principal at the time only agreed to sign me out if I would go get a GED as soon as I turned 17, which I did.
On July 27th 1994 my first son was born. He was the cutest baby, but I had no idea how to take care of him. With the help of my mom, Grandma, and Aunts I got the hang of it though. Even then I don’t think I really realized what a huge responsibility that little human being was. To me he was my baby, and it was fun to have him with me. When he learned how to walk and talk he was even more fun to be with. Nothing about having a baby at 17 was hard for me. I had a great support system, better than I had before the baby was born actually, which seemed backwards to me. Don’t get me wrong, in the 16 years of his life there were some very hard times, and I haven’t been the perfect mother, but I have never regreted the choice to keep him. I told everyone abortion was not an option for me. I have no doubt that it was the Grace of God that made that clear to me.
Anthony was the easiest baby to take care of. He never whined or cried, he was always laughing. The hard part of raising him has come now that my cute, loving, sweet little baby boy is 16. The same age I was when I sat in that bathroom thinking I knew exactly how everything was going to work out, and it was all going to end with happily ever after. Sometimes I see myself in him and I’m at a loss for words. I love him so much and don’t want him to go down the same road I did. I want him to graduate from high school, go to college and experience life, but there he is telling me that I don’t need to worry. He constantly states that he knows what he’s doing: in other words he knows everything just like I thought I did at his age. I really don’t have to worry about feeding or dressing him. I don’t even have to worry about making sure he brushes his teeth and takes a bath. He is perfectly capable of doing all those things on his own, but getting him to realize that school is important is harder than all those things combined. I had to figure out what exactly I needed to do in order to help my son.
I recently have changed my outlook on life in general. I’ve realized that I can’t do everything my way, and I have to know when to ask for help. I no longer see myself as an island. And above all I try to live my life serving others and God. As I started taking a personal inventory on who I had become, I realized that my whole life I have never listened to anybody. I have always done things my way, and refused to listen to anyone’s advice. I didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do, and had a horrible attitude; I was the opposite of everything I was telling my son to be. Slowly I began to change by not drinking, not cussing, and not yelling. (I sometimes still yell but I try my hardest not to.) I’m kind and respectful to everyone, and try to listen to people more. The biggest change is that I enrolled back in college. I just couldn’t see how I could tell him that college was so important if I never even made an effort to go myself. So here I am a 33 year old mother of 4 going to college with 18 year olds.
Anthony was the event that changed my life and how I see things; first when he was born and everyday since then. I believe that the choice to have my child at 16 saved my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for him, there’s no telling what I would be doing or even if I’d be alive. It was the best choice I made for the both of us and I think that if teen girls had more support, education, information and love they might be less likely to end up pregnant in the first place. In my opinion the legality of abortion is not the key issue; the key issue is why are these girls acting out in search of love? I hope that with my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned that I can somehow help as many young girls as possible to give them those things that for whatever reason they are lacking in their homes and lives.