It has been 30 years since I was 16 and pregnant but I remember it like it was yesterday. It doesn’t even seem possible to me that my baby girl is 30 years old and a mother herself. Reflecting back on that time in my life, so many emotions come rushing back. I now realize that one single moment in time had changed my future and my life forever.
At 16 I had the world at my fingertips with endless possibilities for my future. Life was about boys, friends and weekend plans. I was shy, awkward and reserved with a small group of close friends. I wasn’t popular, athletic or brilliant. For the most part, I was happy but totally oblivious to what I wanted to do with my life. I lived for today and believed that life was about having fun and finding love. Boy, did I have a lot to learn!
I worked part time in food service at our local community hospital; I made just enough money to pay for my car, insurance and some new clothes here and there. One afternoon my parents received a call that I was in the ER. I had gotten sick at work, not the first time they had received this call. Scared, I lay there in the hospital bed wondering what was wrong. My parents were by my side and seemed to know something I didn’t. Finally, a doctor walked into the room and blurted out “she’s fine… she’s pregnant”. It felt the air leave the room and I immediately noticed the disappointment in my parent’s eyes. I honestly can’t recall what happened over the next couple of days, but what I do know is that I was completely terrified and had no idea what I was going to do!
I was now about to become a teen mom. 16 and pregnant; I was going to be judged by strangers and hear whispers from my friends and classmates. Ashamed, embarrassed and feeling completely alone. But I wasn’t alone at all, I had a baby growing inside of me. My parents and others close to me began to talk to me about what my options were and what would be best for me and my future. There was only one option that I knew in my heart that I could live with. I was keeping my baby. It did not matter how many sacrifices I would have to make or how hard things would get, I knew that this baby was mine and that is all that mattered. My life story had been changed forever.
I Already Loved Her
My pregnancy was not easy to say the least. Besides being 16 and pregnant and living with that stigma I dealt with 9 months of constantly being sick and nauseous. In addition, I lived with the judgement and the loss of almost every friend I had. I missed school dances, football games, weekend parties and hanging out with my friends. I cried more times than I can count until I had no more tears left to cry. There were times that I felt like I could not bear one more day, another snide remark or one more finger pointing at me.
Then I began to wonder who this little one would be, who she was going to look like and if she would love me like I already loved her. The first time I felt my baby move was the day that I knew I had made the right decision. The day that I knew that my life was going to change and that I was OK with it.
It’s a Girl
On July 29, 1988, I delivered a beautiful and healthy baby girl named Nikole. At that moment, she had become my entire life. I am not going to pretend that it was easy, that I was a great mom, or that I even knew what I was doing. There were times that I failed her. I always tried my very best to be the best mom for her and always loved her unconditionally. And, I never walked away when things got tough. We had some very difficult years, unbearable circumstances and I often had no idea how I was going to make it. But, we did make it!
Today I have two beautiful daughters and two amazing granddaughters and I couldn’t be more proud of all of them. I’ve managed to make something out of myself and I have learned that I am stronger than I ever believed I could be.
Being a teen mom changed my life forever – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.