‘At 14, my menstrual cycle stopped and my stomach grew. How can I tell my mother?’: Teen mom overcomes grief, addiction to get three degrees and raise daughter

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“I am adopted, and my parents took me in before I was one year old. My mother told me the moment my father saw me, he wanted to keep me. My parents officially adopted me years later, and my father gave me his last name. His last name was a badge of honor because I finally felt like I belonged. Although I did not look like my parents, they still gave me the love I needed. I had a simple childhood growing up until I turned eleven years old. My parents got divorced, and a year later my father passed away. I remember my mother telling me he died and I felt numb. I had never experienced grief that made me feel cold and dark. I remember my mother asking me if I wanted to go to his funeral and I said no. I refused because I had not seen my father since he left the house, and I did not want to see him in a casket. He promised me he would come back and this time he would not.

My mother tried to get me to communicate, but the words and emotions would not come out. I was a brick wall full of confusion and rage. I needed something to fill the void of how empty I felt from my father’s death. Sex was the void and the high I turned to. At the age of thirteen years old, I lost my virginity, and a year later I found out I was pregnant. I knew I was pregnant because my menstrual cycle stopped coming and my stomach grew. I felt sick to my stomach and was panicking. So many questions ran through my head: How could you let this happen? How can I tell my mother? What should I do? I did not feel safe sharing the news with my mother, because I was still angry with her about my father leaving the house. I did not understand at the time he made the choice to leave, but I still blamed her.

I viewed my own mother as my enemy instead of the loving mother she has always been to me. So, I hid my pregnancy for seven months. I was very tiny, but I hid my stomach by wearing oversized hoodies and jackets. My mother found out I was pregnant because there were rumors in church stating I looked pregnant. One day after choir practice, she asked me if was I pregnant and I answered yes. I knew I hurt her because she kept saying, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I kept saying, ‘I do not know,’ but it was not true. She asked me how far along I thought I was, and I said maybe 6 months. She took me to my first doctor’s appointment for an ultrasound. The doctor confirmed I was further along, and I was having a girl. My heart sank when they told me the gender; I did not want my baby to experience life the way I did.

My mother asked, ‘Do you want to keep your baby or give her up for adoption?’ I said I would keep her because I know what it is like to feel as if your own birth mother abandoned you. So, we prepared for my baby girl to come into the world. I did not have many friends, but I told them the situation. They were shocked but supportive. I honestly wanted to hide and not go to school or church. There were parents who would tell their children to stay away from me, like pregnancy was a contagious disease. I could hear people whispering while I walked through the hallways in school. I felt like an outcast and carried a lot of shame. My daughter was due at the end of April, but she would not come out. I had to be induced. I had never been inside of a hospital room before and I was scared.

There were so many needles and blood work being drawn. The nurse was puncturing my cervix with pain medication and trying to break my water. I remember labor going slow. The doctor told me I had to have a C-section due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around my baby’s neck. I called my baby a dancer because she could never stay still in my stomach. My mother prepped me for how the C-section would go, and all I could remember was praying to God to make it through. The anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural and they rolled me to the operation room. I could hear them cutting me open, but I could barely stay awake. My mother said, ‘She is here. Can you see her?’ I saw my sweet girl for a brief second and I woke up in the recovery room.

happy mom hugs daughter
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson

I knew my life had been changed on May 4, 2006, when I looked at my daughter’s face. Once I left the hospital, reality hit me. I had to get acquainted with finishing school and being a parent at the same time. Life was hard due to making bad decisions. I had been in abusive relationships, and I turned to drugs and alcohol. The reality of life was hard to face, so I would find ways to escape. There were moments I would go on a roller coaster of emotions and those addictions would start and stop. I was functioning in my chaos by working multiple jobs and still pursuing school. I received three degrees: Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, and Master of Business Administration. The best part about having my daughter is she could see all my accomplishments, not only in school but in life. I did not plan to be a single mother, but I am grateful to have a village to help me with raising her.

little girl wearing pink ballet attire, tutu and tights.
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson
mother graduates from college and kisses daughter's cheeks while wearing graduation gown and cap
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson

I have invited my daughter into my healing journey, and I am honest with her about it. Today, I no longer feel the need to get high, have sex, or continue the cycle of destruction I was on. Seeking and developing my relationship with God while going to therapy has helped me to see who he has called me to be. I love and value myself for the first time in my life. I am not perfect, but I acknowledge where I could change and grow. I want young moms and people who are going through a hard season to know it is okay to start over. You are not going to get everything right, and there is power in knowing it. You are not weak. It takes more strength to acknowledge where you are and make a change to improve your life.

African American mom and daughter smile
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson
mom and daughter wear crowns and hug
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson

You are the only one who gets to be your authentic self. Affirm and love yourself. At thirty years old, I am just now understanding who I am. I am giving myself permission to change daily. I am not the same woman I was when I was a little girl. I am not looking for people to tell me who I am. I have gotten confused at times because I allowed people to tell me who I was going to be. My question to you is, who are you when no one is around? Are you able to hear your own voice or the voice of others? If you do not know, then it’s a journey worth going on. Release the need to be what everyone expects of you. I pray can you desire more from yourself and find out who you are. I have found my voice and I hope you do as well.”

African American Mother giving a speech on stage and daughter holding flowers
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson
Mom and daughter do kissy faces at the camera while the daughter wears a crown on her birthday
Courtesy of Latrice N. Wilson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Latrice N. Wilson, MBA of Houston, TX. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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