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This Is What It's Like to Get Pregnant at 15
Mildly rebellious Catholic schoolgirls are often intrigued by what's forbidden. No way was I waiting until marriage to have sex, I thought. I wasn't casual in my attitude toward sex, nor was I educated, but when I met my then-boyfriend, I fell madly in love. At 15, it didn't take much.
We weren't promiscuous. We were in love. We were naïve.
Sophomore year was almost over, and I turned to my lab partner one day and said, "We used a blue condom yesterday, and it broke."
"Happens all the time," she replied. "I'm sure you're fine."
Of courseI was fine. I had to be fine. Junior year was busy. This was the year of sweet 16s, driving permits, and junior prom. This was the year I'd start visiting colleges. Fantasies of warm-weather universities and wild spring breaks filled my mind.
But I doubted it. What if Iwasn'tfine?
A few months without a period wasn'ttotallyunusual, I thought. My menstrual cycle was immature. Plus, I was still wearing bikinis! There were no physical signs a human was growing inside me – until one morning when my reflection surprised me. Had my fairy godmother come? My boobs looked fantastic.
A lightbulb went off. Suddenly all I could think was,I might be pregnant.
An ad for a clinic that was offering free pregnancy tests grabbed my attention, and I went. It turned out to be a pro-life office. A youth group friend drove me, and we were treated to a fright-inducing pro-life presentation. Then, the woman walked me through the pregnancy test. A tiny plus sign materialized.
At first, I was numb. My world was crumbling. I put on a fake smile and kept moving through the motions of life, trying to appear normal. Petrified and roughly eight weeks pregnant, Istillhadn't told my parents. My days of quiet contemplation were numbered though. It was only a matter of time before my parents figured it out: My breasts were growing; my stomach would soon follow. Once morning sickness kicked in, I was finished. This wasmybody,myfuture — I wanted the decision to be mine. Not telling them was one thing I could control, especially since I wasn't sure how my parents would react.
But I couldn't expect a group of teenagers to keep salacious gossip to themselves. Friends tell friends who tell friends. And while the youth group I was in wasn't overtly religious, things started to happen.
First was the odd call from a friend. She was murmuring about the dangers of abortion. Before I knew it, I had uninvited visitors. Several girls from youth group, one leader, and a crazed parent were in my front yard at 2 a.m. They woke me up with a tap on my bedroom window.
The group preached. They said rumors of an impending abortion flourished among the youth group. They vowed to stop me. I was infuriated! I hadn'tdecidedto have an abortion but their insolence made me want to schedule one. It was none of their damn business.
I'd like to believe they had pure intentions, but I think they craved the drama. One of the mothers associated with the youth group said, "God spoke to me and told me I was supposed to come here tonight and tell your parents that you are pregnant."
How do you argue with a holy decree? Be it real or hallucinated!
So, I told my parents.
They were inevitably distressed about the pregnancy but not shocked. My parents never pressured me. They never told me what to do. Instead, they vowed to support whichever path I chose. And after my boyfriend told his family, his mom called mine. They pledged unwavering support. We would have been lost without all of them.
Even with all that love, life as a pregnant teen sucked. Sixteen was not sweet. Gowns were traded for maternity clothes. Dreams of college dissipated. I was ashamed. I was depressed. September arrived; junior year began without me. I finished the year with home-schooling, tucked away, isolated. Friends visited, but it hurt to hear what I was missing.
By that point, my boyfriend and I didn't like each other very much. Teen relationships are dramatic, especially with the added pregnancy hormones and insane stress levels. We disagreed on everything. We even saw a counselor for help choosing a baby name. When I registered for childbirth class, I didnotwant him there. My mom told me I had to. Grudgingly, I brought him along.
Soon enough, my daughter arrived two weeks early after 23 hours of labor. When my doctor walked in, she turned to my boyfriend and joked, "We don't pick fathers up off the floor, especially not when they're only boyfriends."
I was able to deliver vaginally, and I didn't even have an epidural. I'm not sure how I tolerated it, but my mom, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend's mom were by my side.
Throughout all of this, I realized that pregnant teenagers are absolutely judged. I endured countless double-takes and wide-eyed stares. The day after giving birth my mind and body were ravaged, and I felt like a burden on the world.
I was lucky to have had an unwavering support system. Still, it was difficult. I can't imagine what life is like for girls who are forced into motherhood or embrace it alone.
For me, living costs were always a challenge. We lived with my parents, so they provided childcare, which helped. In time, I pursued my GED and went on to vocational school. Years later, I attended community college and became a nurse.
Two decades now have passed. My boyfriend grew into a wonderful dad. He's there for her, he paid child support on time, and he travels hours to spend time with her. He's someone that could be counted on.
Our relationship fell apart before our daughter was a year old. Sometimes co-parenting was a nightmare. Sometimes it was fun. Eventually, as we became adults, he added a wonderful stepmother to the parenting team. Today, our daughter is now a brilliant and dedicated engineering student.
People often assume that since I had a child as a teen I must be pro-life. I'm not. It was mychoiceto be a mother, not a choice forced upon me. It was a choice that I am grateful I had. I wish I could have done better, but the magic of motherhood is more valuable than any warm-weather university or sweet 16.
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