My teen pregnancy story:
I sat in the poorly lit waiting room in the cold plastic chairs. My mother was next to me. She took me for my routine pre natal visit. I was eight months pregnant and nineteen years old. I was terrified and excited all at the same time. I would be a single mother, a teen mother, a mother that still lived at home with her mommy. I was stuck somewhere between childhood and becoming a woman, and I was about to give birth. Less than a year ago, I was drinking every night and doing things that make me look back now and wonder how I could have been that stupid.
I got dirty looks from many people, and most of my friends were not even allowed to talk to me anymore because I was a bad influence.
This wasn’t me, how did this happen to me? Me, the girl that wore a ring and pledged that I would not have pre marital sex. Me, the girl that went into the military and vowed that her life would be better than all the other girls she grew up with. I was on the high honor roll, in the drama club, tutored kids that needed help, and was the captain of my cheer leading squad. But here I was, with my medical discharge from the service, my memories of high school, and my supportive mother, watching me go right down the path that she never thought I would be on.
They call my name and we follow the receptionist to the office where I take off my clothes and wait to be seen by the midwife. I had had a few complications due to my age. I had four weeks left and was getting anxious. My family threw a great baby shower for me the Saturday before. I was examined and the midwife looked concerned. My mother pointed out that my legs were swollen and mottled, meaning that they were holding a lot of fluid. The pre-eclampsia that I had was getting worse.
I listened to my mother and my midwife talk for a few minutes and then my midwife turned to me and told me that she was going to induce labor that day. I was excited, I was going to see my baby that day! I didn’t have to wait any longer. But then she let me know that this was not all great and the reason for this was because my baby and I were both in danger.
She started the induction by scraping my membranes. Labor would start but not too fast. I should come to the hospital at 6PM.
My mother and I rushed home and called everyone we knew. “Tonight’s the night”, we told everyone. My older sister asked if she could come with her camcorder and I was happy that she wanted to record this momentous occasion for me. I went to lunch with my mother and brother and was complaining that my stomach was starting to hurt me. “You’re in labor”, my mother kept telling me. But it wasn’t too bad yet.
I packed all of my clothes and took a long look at myself in the mirror. This was the last time I was going to see that belly. I would miss feeling the baby. I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl yet, but I was sure it was a boy. I got scared and wondered if I could really do this. I was only nineteen after all. But ready or not, I was going to be a mother in a few hours.
My mother took me to the hospital and they got me all settled in. I told them that the contractions weren’t too bad yet. They started an IV with pitocin, a drug commonly used to induce or speed up labor. My mother talked me through every contraction with patience and understanding that only a mother has. My sister showed up and started the taping, and we were in good spirits.
Labor became more intense and it was more pain than I could have ever imagined. At nineteen years old, this kind of pain is not something that I was prepared to handle, and Lamaze classes did not help me as much as I thought they did. But my mother and sister talked me through every contraction and I got through it. It felt like days, but I was in active labor for 5 hours, after 9 hours of early labor, and then I pushed for forty five minuets and gave birth to a 7 pound 5 ounce, 18 and 1/2 inches long baby girl! WOW, a girl! I held her and felt an intense love that I never knew could have existed. I made this little person, this is who was kicking me, this is the tiny, beautiful creature that was going to change my life.
She was in the incubator for a while but was OK to come home in two days, with her Mommy, Uncle, and Grandma. I was up all night, was sore from childbirth, was leaking milk, and cranky is the understatement of the year. I was going through so much stress, the normal kind of stress that a woman feels after giving birth. But it is overwhelming when you are still just a kid. I got through it and we all went home.
A few months later, I went back to work, in a make up factory for minimum wage. It wasn’t the best, but it was a paycheck. I also went around to schools and taught teens the importance of not having babies or doing drugs.
“Yes, I love my daughter with all my heart and I wouldn’t give her up for anything, but I am only 19”, I would tell them. I wanted to reach kids that were at risk for getting pregnant. I never got to experience the fun things, I never went out drinking with my girlfriends, never got to go to the mall for pretty clothes. I had to go to the consignment shop, and sometimes that was even too expensive.
I am now 28 and my daughter is 9 years old. She is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. She taught me so much about life, about unconditional love, about struggles and perseverance, and about growing up. I owe her many thanks.
So, thank you baby, for making every sacrifice that I made more than worth it, for making me smile every day, and for making me a better person.
This is dedicated to my oldest daughter. I love you “cheeks”.