In light of all the anti-choice legislation lately, I’ve decided to share the story of my teen pregnancy.
I knew the minute it happened.
Yes, I know scientifically there’s no possible way for that to happen in the middle of sex, but I knew.
I looked at him when he finished and I said “I’m pregnant.”
He shook his head, lit a cigarette and said “god I hope not.”
It was the summer between my Junior and Senior year, I was 17.
He was my boyfriend of almost two years, my best friend prior to that-we used to pass ourselves off as brother and sister…something we laughed about after we got together.
I was spending most nights with him in his trailer, my dad was in Florida for the week with his pregnant girlfriend and her family and I didn’t feel safe in our house by myself.
My boyfriend refused to wear a condom “they’re too tight”, and I was woefully ignorant when it came to sex ed…so it really was inevitable.
I developed what seemed like a bladder infection, and was desperate to get on the birth control pill just in case I wasn’t pregnant afterall.
A friend drove me to the naval clinic where the doctor proceeded to tell me that I was too young to be having sex (at 17 I was old compared to most girls I knew, plus I’d only ever been with my boyfriend-I’d made him wait until we were together a year before I’d have sex with him)…
Then she gave me the news: I had a bladder infection and chlamydia.
I knew my boyfriend had cheated on me twice, but to give me an STD?!?!?!?!
I was told to take the meds and not have sex.
She also gave me the birth control pill and told me I had to wait until I started my period to take it.
I took the chlamydia meds once and stopped.
Something wasn’t right.
My boyfriend swore up one side ad down another that he hadn’t cheated anymore.
I quit smoking pot and had no taste for alcohol.
I started craving pineapple and other citrus juice.
When my period was two weeks late I finally said something to my dad’s girlfriend.
It felt like I had another bladder infection.
My dad took me to his girlfriend’s gyno.
The room they put me in was freezing and super bright white.
I peed in the cup and was left alone for what seemed like forever.
At one point the nurse poked her head in the door and said “Your test came back and it’s positive.”
“For the bladder infection?”
“No sweetheart, you’re pregnant,” she said and closed the door leaving me alone in the freezing overly bright room.
I had just really started entertaining the idea of going to college, I knew I wanted to be an illustrator, I wanted to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.
I wanted to work for Hallmark Greeting Cards.
I suddenly felt very, very small, and I watched as every dream that had just started looking like it might be possible turned to shit right there in that overly bright white, freezing cold room.
I felt trapped, and I was terrified to tell my dad.
“Dear God, please let me have a miscarriage.”
In that moment, I knew that I would never, never ever wish another girl in this position.
In that moment all that “pro-life” crap that I’d been fed, all the brainwashing about “god blessing a woman with a baby” fell to the floor in pieces around me.
I knew deep down that I was still too brainwashed to have an abortion and just get on with my life though I longed to be that girl.
The doctor eventually came in, and he did an ultrasound to see how far along I was.
I told him about the chlamydia diagnosis, and he told me there was no indication that I had ever had chlamydia.
We briefly discussed my options and he handed me some pamphlets, a prescription for prenatal vitamins, and sent me out to the eerily quiet super crowded waiting room where my dad was sitting.
To my ears his voice was incredibly loud as he asked
“So, how’d it go?”
I responded quietly as I tried to hurry him towards the door “as well as can be expected.”
The waiting room was small, and I couldn’t understand why he was walking so damn slowly and being so loud.
“Well what does that mean?”
(Lord dad, must you shout?)
“It’s as well as can be expected dad, please c’mon, let’s go.”
It seemed like forever but the front door finally closed behind him.
I faced him and said “Dad, I’m pregnant.”
And I saw my vision of my life turning to shit replay across his face.
(Unfortunately, 21 years later he still sees my life that way)
When we got in the car he asked me why I hadn’t used a condom, I shot back “why didn’t you?”
His girlfriend was two months along, and he’d told me that at first she’d considered having an abortion.
He asked me what I was going to do.
I said, “well, I could have the baby and keep it, put it up for adoption, or have an abortion.”
He said “Abortion is NOT an option.”
I said “as long as it’s legal it’s an option,”…though deep down in my heart of hearts I was still hoping to miscarry.
At this point my dad and brother were pretty much living with his girlfriend at her house while I was still living in our old house.
That night I stayed at my dad’s girlfriend’s house.
I called my boyfriend and told him “I’m pregnant.”
I was leaning towards adoption and told him that.
He said “I won’t allow it, no child of mine will be put up for adoption. I will fight you, and then I’ll never have anything to do with you again.”
…this from the guy who claimed he never wanted kids.
I also knew that he’d just pounded the final nail in the coffin that was my future.
I knew he was completely irresponsible, and there was no way in hell I’d trust him to take care of a plant, let alone a child.
No abortion, no adoption.
Unless I miscarried I was going to be just another teen mom.
My dad was going to be marrying his girlfriend in about a month, and he’d be clearing out our old house.
I had to decided what I was going to do with my senior year.
Stay at my high school where I had my friends or move in with my dad and begin my senior year at a school where I didn’t know anyone as a pregnant girl.
I knew that despite all his big talk about “my baby” that if I moved in with my dad my boyfriend would never come see me and the baby.
So I moved in with him.
I got sick every morning my first trimester, and the roommate we had (until we moved into our own place)would always ask if I was okay.
No, I really, really wasn’t. But I couldn’t say that.
My boyfriend would yell from the bedroom for me to puke quieter, he was trying to sleep.
I got $200/mo from Social Security after my mom died so I was able to contribute to the bills.
And as I got further along I knew I loved my baby, but I also looked around our crummy trailer, at my boyfriend who always had a case of beer in the fridge and never ran out of cigarettes (no matter how low on food we were), and always had pot…and I knew my child deserved so much better.
I brought up adoption a couple more times to my boyfriend.
I begged him to be realistic, to look at what was important to him and quoted back his own words of never wanting to have a kid.
But his mother wanted a grandchild-this baby would be her first.
Nothing I said would sway him, and I knew he would fight me, I knew his mom who I loved and adored-who filled the empty space since my mom died-would fight me…
and I didn’t want to lose her.
College recruiters who’d been sending me stuff in the mail ignored me when I walked up to their table with my pregnant belly.
The SAT’s came and went and I started thinking about baby names after I’d finished my homework and was in the middle of cooking dinner.
We talked about getting married.
What else was there to do?
We decided on the St. Patrick’s Day after the baby was born (I was due in May).
I started looking at wedding dresses while watching Dr. Penelope Leach’s show “Your Baby and Child”.
When I started showing at school my previous year’s history teacher said to me “I thought you were smarter than that.”
I knew she didn’t mean it to sound harsh, I knew she thought I would make something out of my life.
I knew she was disappointed in me, and truth be told, so was I.
My principal, and the superintendent (who’d been my middle school principal) both told me that if I needed anything to not hesitate to ask either of them.
When it came time for Lamaze classes my boyfriend outright refused.
He wanted absolutely nothing to do with the birthing experience.
He was already pissed off that our trailer’s second bedroom-that he’d been using as his smoking room/guitar room was going to have to be given up and turned into the baby’s room.
Luckily, my friend who’d originally taken me to get birth control was willing to be my Lamaze partner.
Still, I felt the eyes of all the other couples on me in class.
I saw their looks and did my best to ignore them.
I loved my baby, who I now knew was going to be a girl.
I was trying desperately to do what was right for her given the choices I had.
There was a day in my Gov’t/Econ class that I just wasn’t feeling right.
My friend walked me down to the nurse’s office. My dad would be picking me up for a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, so I didn’t see any reason to call my boyfriend (this was 1992/3).
The doctor said it looked like I was just having an anxiety attack.
When I got home my friend had left me flowers and the phone was ringing.
My boyfriend’s brother was in my Gov’t/Econ class, so he’d gone home and told his mom and stepdad that I’d gone to the nurse’s office.
The stepdad was screaming at me through the phone about how worried they’d been and that if my boyfriend yelled at me I better realize that I deserved it.
He was mad when he got home, but he’d bought himself a Sega system so he took his frustration out on Sonic the Hedgehog.
And drank a beer, and smoked some pot.
And wondered aloud why he had to have so much responsibility.
Senior trip came and went.
I was so far along that the school was sending a teacher to work with me at home.
She didn’t realize that I’d been living on my own and going to school all this time.
One night my daughter kicked so hard that the outline of her foot shot up from my stomach.
She caused a high leak in my amniotic fluid.
But I didn’t realize it til the next afternoon.
I made a sure I called everyone involved, and my Lamaze partner came and picked me up.
We were the last of the group to show up.
I got yelled at again…or at least he tried to.
I was scared shitless and asked the doctor how bad it would hurt.
She was pregnant herself, she was actually scheduled for a C-Section in two weeks and I really, really didn’t want her anywhere near me.
She started an epidural before I’d dilated at all-and it only served to stop any labor that wanted to start, then gave me the medication to bring on contractions.
After eight hours my dad left to go home and be with his wife and their newborn-a fact that my (obviously now ex) boyfriend’s family is STILL harping on almost 21 years later.
Frankly, I really wished they’d leave.
The only people I wanted in that room was my boyfriend (who spent most of the time down in the parking lot with his buddies drinking and smoking, poking his head in occasionally then walking back out) and my Lamaze partner who thankfully never left my side.
Around one in the morning they broke my water…
They wheeled me in to have a C-Section giving me no option about staying awake.
I started crying when they put the gas mask on.
My daughter was born at 3:14am, a Saturday.
She was 8lb 9oz
Things got worse between my boyfriend and I after she was born.
The prom was two weeks after, I went stag because he couldn’t be bothered.
His mother watched E.
She was also nice enough to watch her while I finished the final month of my Senior year.
On graduation night my dad watched her so I could go out and have some fun.
Most of the clubs let you in a t 18 and I wanted nothing more than to go dancing, and I had a little money to do so.
My boyfriend drove us home where he and his brother proceeded to get plastered.
I was furious.
At this point, though he’d never done it (he punched a wall above my head) he started threatening to hit me.
He would spend all day at his drug dealer’s house-where I wasn’t welcome, and party leaving me stranded at home with the baby.
When she was 2 mos old she was hospitalized with a bladder infection.
I stayed with her the whole time, he never visited and only called once. We were there for three days.
We were fighting constantly, he was wasted all the time, and I knew there was no way in hell I’d allow my daughter to believe that this was all she was worthy of.
We left him when she was 3 months old, after he told me that if I left him it’d be the last thing I ever did.
I had never listed him on the birth certificate and never officially gave her his last name.
We fled the state and I had to give up everyone I knew.
Looking back, I know I was completely depressed.
My mom wasn’t even dead three years yet, I had a baby, I was living with relatives that I’d only met once when I was 8 and then at my mom’s funeral…
It was a recipe for disaster.
When my daughter was a year and a half I was so completely beaten down that it was easy to believe I really was the worthless piece of shit my Aunt M kept telling me I was.
It was easy to believe that I was completely unworthy of raising my daughter.
That I’d never be better than some minimum wage earning welfare mom.
It was easy to allow her to throw me out and when I was given the choice of my daughter being adopted by a stranger or given to my father and his wife I at least thought that if my father raised her I’d get to see her.
I was 20 years old and praying every night to die so that my life wouldn’t be a burden to anyone anymore.
When people say “If you could go back and change anything in your life”…
I’d never say it out loud, but I know exactly what I’d change if only for the briefest glimpse of what could’ve been…
But here’s the thing, if I did that, I would negate the existence of a human being and undo everything they’ve done, all the lives they’ve touched, all the lives they will touch…
It’s hard for me to think in that “what if” even for a moment, and for my own mental health I have to believe that “everything happens for a purpose”.
But that’s also precisely why I will always defend a woman’s choice.
This is why I’m 100% in favor of a minor having access to birth control with or without parental consent.
That’s why I believe the most unhealthy thing one could ever do to their daughter is make her believe that her body isn’t her own.
This is why I’ve always encouraged my boys to think ahead to the future, and Moose and I have always been very (age appropriately) frank about sex with them.
I don’t ever want another girl to have to sit in that overly white freezing room praying for a miscarriage.