A Single Mother at Sixteen
The following story is as true as I can remember it.
It is a true story and one that has been given orally to people I have trusted several times over the last eleven years.
It is true because it is mine.
In the telling of this story for public consumption, I am hoping to give teenage girls and their parents the world over, a warning alongside the knowledge they are not alone, even though it may seem that way.
The warnings are there for those with the eyes to see them.
To know the true depth of the emotions I felt at sixteen when I found out I was pregnant you will need some background.
I was five years old when my biological parents divorced.
I was seven when my dad married my stepmother and I was eight when I and my sister moved to New York. I had met my stepmother several times and I liked her but living with her was so very different than simply seeing her on his visits to see us at our grandmother's. She was strict and I didn't like it, especially since we moved to New York from West Virginia. I did some things I am not proud of, but then everyone has those kinds of things in their closets.
During the first year of living in New York, an uncle of mine died. Now, this wouldn't usually get attention like this, but this uncle had lived with my sister and I at my grandma's and he was the stable father figure in my life because at that time, my dad lived in South Carolina and we hardly saw him except for holidays and maybe birthdays. This uncle dying caused some serious guilt issues for me because I thought it was my fault he died due to the fact I left him behind in West Virginia.
We lived in New York for about five years before we moved to North Carolina in 2001.
North Carolina was where life became ugly and strange. It was where I was raped twice and where I became pregnant due to a rape. It was where I decided to go ahead with a pregnancy that would change my life for the better.
Time jump ahead from 2001 to 2002. Within that space of time nothing interesting in my personal life had really happened. Of course in September of 2001 all hell broke loose but that has no bearing in this particular tale.
How Teens Feel
I was fifteen in 2002 and I would occasionally hang out with this guy who was eighteen and went to a different high school than I did. I only ever knew his first name. I remember he was mostly bone and muscle. He was about my height, I am maybe 5' 1".
He was nice to me, which shouldn't have led to more than friendship, but I had very low self-esteem and I was overweight, not that that has changed over the years. I didn't believe I was pretty, let alone able to turn anyone's head. So the attention of this guy seemed like a good thing.
As you can probably imagine the friendship progressed to flirting, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with flirting so long as that is all it is. The flirting progressed to light touches here and there and then to things I was too naïve to know or understand.
I know what you're probably thinking. Fifteen is the age when sex becomes thought about, wondered about, talked about with friends, etc. But I was a good girl and hardly joined in when the talking moved to those kinds of topics.
Anyway, the changes to the relationship - from friendship to something more - didn't happen all at once, otherwise I would have realized and not done what he asked of me. As it was, I loved the attention and pretty much allowed him to do whatever because I was afraid if I said anything he would stop. Well, one night in November I met him in the playground behind and down the hill from my house. It started off innocent enough with talk, then kisses. It started consensual but he didn't listen when I said no.
Rape isn't a word most people like to hear or deal with. Unfortunately, a lot of us don't have the option to ignore such an ugly word. Rape happens and the consequences aren't always noticeable nor is pregnancy always the outcome but it happens. Shame and fear are always consequences of rape, always.
I became pregnant from that encounter. I didn't know that for sure for roughly five months. I didn't tell my parents (my dad and my stepmom) because I was afraid. I told my grandma I hadn't had a period in three straight months and because I asked her to, she didn't tell my dad. I only threw up twice the whole pregnancy.
After I told my dad I thought I was pregnant he didn't totally flip his wig. He was calm about it. He went to the store and purchased a pregnancy test and made me take it that night. He was upset, seriously upset, don't get me wrong, because I chose to keep my suspicions to myself for so long, which could have harmed the child growing inside me.
First place we went was to a clinic to see how far along I actually was. The clinic we went to was an abortion clinic. Some of you are probably thinking this wasn't a bad thing, but abortions are against my belief, unless the pregnancy poses a hazard to the mother's health as well as the child's, and at the time I thought my parents could force me to get an abortion if the pregnancy fell under the allowable timeline.
The next place we went was to an OB/GYN, an obstetrician and gynecologist. My Ob/Gyn was a good one and going to see him every few weeks caused me to realize that I have a shy bladder which means I cannot pee in a doctor's office unless it is mega early in the morning and I don't go to the bathroom after I wake up.
Then we did the WIC and medicaid thing. WIC stands for women, infants and children. This is a program that offers special supplemental food and nutrition for women, infants and children under the age of five. The medicaid thing was for the child, to cover the costs accrued after it was born for the child.
Ultrasound was next. That was fun because I got to see the child and find out whether it was going to be a boy or a girl. That day we found out I was to have a girl and boy was I glad for that since there would be the biggest chance the child would look like me rather than the biological sperm donor, yes I call my child's biological father a sperm donor because he doesn't have any rights to her at all and I'll get to why that is here in a little while.
And somewhere between all of this, it was decided (read I chose) I would go to live, once again, with my grandma in West Virginia. This decision came about because at some point during this frame of time, my stepmother had paperwork on her desk that had to do with adoption through her work. I freaked when I saw it because I knew she had had issues with conceiving with my dad due to long-term birth control use hence the reason I thought she was trying to take my child from me. This was also the reason for medicaid. At one point of this whole fiasco, my stepmother tried to talk me into giving my daughter up for adoption within the family and I lost my mind because to me, the child was mine and giving her up, even to family, would have destroyed me more than I already was.
After the initial visits, things settled down and became a new type of normal. During one of the initial visits I was told my due date was August 10th and well, we all know babies take their sweet time in joining the world.
In January, 2003 I turned sixteen and on August 13th of that year my beautiful little girl was born. She was all wriggly and beautiful with her mane of thick dark hair and big beautiful eyes which, before they settled into their brown, were a deep violet.
I knew in my heart during those months of pregnancy, I would love my child, no matter what anyone else thought of me. She helped me to grow out of some habits and she saved me by giving me someone to love and care for, who needed me more than she needed anyone else.
Some of you are probably going, "No where in there did you say you told the father."
My answer to you is this: I had not seen nor spoken to the father, or as I call him the biological sperm donor, for months after we had done the deed. He found out from other kids in the neighborhood. He went to my parents' house some time after I left to live with my grandmother and basically told my dad I was a slut. I didn't know about that last part until months later because my dad didn't think it would do me any good to know.
A lot of you, dear readers, are probably trying to figure what the title of this piece has to do with the actual meat of what I have told you.
The truth is, not every situation of teenage pregnancy is the same.
I decided to start with the background, how I came to be pregnant, and the situation with my family because all of these play a part in the mind of young girls. I don't believe my situation back then was as unique as I thought and I figure telling my side of things may help other girls who may or may not be going through kind of the same thing as I did.
There are a lot of stories, tales or articles written by mothers who started out as teenage mothers. I believe those stories, those truths, should be told, no matter how shameful it may seem, for there are girls out there who feel they are alone, if their pregnancy is a product of some trauma or other. Even if the pregnancy is caused by two consenting parties, most of the time the girl is left by the boy who helped get her that way or the parents tell the girl to go or any other variation of the same theme.
Most of the time, society views these girls as something to be looked down on simply because they choose to raise a child at a young age. Society puts a lot of pressure on young people and sometimes it pressures them into making decisions they wouldn't normally make on their own. It is not society's job to raise a child but it does influence them enormously.
Advice for Teens
Teens, if you think for one second you are pregnant, take a test, then if that turns out to be positive talk to your parents. Don't keep it to yourself until you can't anymore. Keeping it to yourself will not help you, it will only hinder you and your parents. Trust in your parents and hopefully they will treat you with the respect and give you the help you will need.
Ultimately, you are in a position to know how your parents will react to the news. If you are in a situation where abuse is prevalent in your home, seek help from centers for abuse and violence. There are programs out there to help. That is what they are around for.
Advice for Parents
Parents, when your child comes to you telling you she is pregnant, I know the majority of you will feel shock, disbelief, pain, fear, and a variation of every other emotion there is. The one emotion that will hurt the most will be anger, because that will only exacerbate the feelings already churning within your daughter. Most important thing I have to say is to talk with your daughter about her thoughts, research together all the options, even if they don't happen to be very viable - at least they are there, talk to the doctors. Talking can help, even if the topics are embarrassing - they must be discussed.
Consequences of Rape
There are many consequences of rape and I even mentioned a few above in the first part of my story of motherhood. The following is a list of physical, psychological, and social consequences of rape:
- Pregnancy: According to the CDC website 32,000 pregnancies every year are the result of rape
Long Term Physical -
- Chronic pelvic pain: pain in the pelvic area which lasts for 6 months or longer; can come and go, or it can be constant; can sometimes follow a regular cycle - i.e. may occur during menstruation
- Premenstrual syndrome: refers to a wide range of symptoms that: A. start during the second half of the menstrual cycle (about 14 days or more after the first day of the last period) or B. go away 1 - 2 days after the menstrual period starts (Also known as PMS)
- Gastrointestinal disorders: digestive disorders that interfere with the workings of the intestine; generally falls into two categories: function and inflammatory.
- Gynecological & pregnancy complications
- Migraines & other frequent headaches
- Back pain
- Facial pain
- Disability that may prevent one from working
- Distrust of others
Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
- Emotional detachment
- Sleep disturbances
- Mental replay of assault
Chronic Psychological -
- Attempted suicide
- Completed suicide
- PTSD symptoms
Social (for the victim) -
- Strained relationships with family, friends, & significant others
- Less emotional support from friends & family
- Less frequent contact with friends & family
- Lower likelihood of marriage (Lower does not mean will never marry)
If your daughter came to you and said she was pregnant, would you...?
For Teen Girls
If you become pregnant would you...?
© 2014 Anastasia Smith