Disclaimer: This story contains details of suicide and miscarriage that may be upsetting to some.
“I have had what some would consider a really hard life and as I was going through all my trials, I would completely agree. Yet now that I have lived through all of them, I know I am stronger for all I’ve encountered.
I have always tried to be positive and I have always had faith much bigger than my fears. I did not experience real hurt until my adult life. Even when I was younger and scared, I still knew everything would be fine. I hope this story may be an inspiration for others.
I was 16 when I walked into a CVS convenience store after school had ended for the day. It was April, the week after Spring Break. My mom texted me during my 3rd period class and asked me if I had started my period yet.
Confused, I said no and she told me to go buy a pregnancy test as soon as school had ended. My mom knew I was carrying a baby before I even had symptoms; she also knew I had just lost my virginity to my high school boyfriend just four weeks earlier.
I walked into CVS, young and absolutely petrified of what the woman at the cash register may think of my young baby face paying for a pregnancy test. I was too nervous to go home, where I knew my dad would already be.
After buying the most expensive test I could find (the digital one that clearly states pregnant/not pregnant), I walked into the bathroom and peed on the stick.
I made my way out of the CVS bathroom after what felt like an hour, my shirt soaked from my tears, nose swollen and stuffy. I walked out, the cashier watching me probably thinking, ‘Oh, this poor child.’
I drove home and waited for my mom in the garage; I wanted to tell her first, even though she already knew. She pulled into the garage and without hesitation pulled me into her arms, holding me until I was ready to go tell my dad.
I was his little girl, his youngest and only daughter, and I thought he would not love me anymore. The disappointment I expected to see on his face kept me completely silent to the point my mom had to say the words for me. His reaction was priceless.
‘I am going to be a pawpaw?’ It was the first time he ever treated me like an adult and it was fitting considering the growing up I was about to do.
Soon, it felt like everyone knew. My boyfriend, my boyfriend’s parents, my best friends and their parents. I had several people rooting for me and several trying to talk me into an abortion: ‘I will take you to the clinic without telling anyone.’ ‘You are too young and you have your whole life in front of you.’
I appreciated the help and the other side of options, but I’d grown up in a religious household. My mom made it very clear abortion was not an option and if I decided to get have one, she would disown me. Ultimately, my boyfriend Kaleb saved me from the worst mistake I was about to ever make. That is just my personal experience.
I knew I had a good guy when he told me, ‘Please do not get rid of our baby. If you have her, I will raise her as a single father and I will never ask you for anything.’ Kaleb and I had been in a relationship for a year prior to our shenanigans that led to our child growing inside of me.
He was my first real boyfriend, older than me (18), and much more ‘mature.’ Him saying those words led me to reality very fast. We both made this baby, and there was no way in hell he was going to do it with some other woman raising my child. (That mom instinct, right?)
We hopped right in and got married in May of 2013. We luckily are still married and coming up on our 8th anniversary of marriage, 9 years together in all. He has always been the most supportive partner and I love him so very much.
We found out we were having a baby girl and she would be a Christmas baby. She ended up being born on December 18, 2013 and we named her Clara Grace, after both of our grandmothers.
During the time of my pregnancy, my husband joined the U.S. Airforce. He left for basic training a month after our wedding; I saw him one time in between him graduating basic and me having our baby in December.
During Basic we wrote letters to each other, like that old time-y love you see in movies. During his tech school, we talked occasionally on the phone and over text.
Life As A Teen Mom
I spent the whole time I was pregnant taking extra classes in school and working extremely hard so I could graduate the following May. I got pregnant as a sophomore in high school and I graduated high school as a Junior in 2014.
My parents and his parents became the biggest help during our time apart, always making sure I was taken care of and had what I needed. After the baby was born, they babysat for me during school hours and helped me raise Clara for the first six months of her life.
After graduation in May, it didn’t take me more than a week to get packed up and moved to Oklahoma so our family could be together, finally.
We started out in a two-bedroom apartment that had no furniture. Our living consisted of a futon and two folding chairs. We had Clara’s nursery that my mom and many others helped pay for and we had a hand-me-down bed frame and mattress in our room.
Financially, it was difficult to have a family so young. We struggled for a long time to make ends meet; our paychecks just paid our basic bills. But being a mom and a wife was the easiest thing I have ever committed to doing.
I would not have traded that two-bedroom apartment in OKC for a mansion on the beach. It was my new home and the start of a very amazing life we were about to make together.
We eventually moved into a house and acquired some more stuff. We had finally started to really get to know each other as a couple. The honeymoon phase was over and life was just day to day. I babysat on the side for extra income and we had made a few good friends.
When our daughter was about three years old, we wanted to have another baby. I was only twenty, but I felt like I was ready and since I started young; I wanted to get the baby making out of the way. I had already started back at college and I had this nice flow of how I thought life was supposed to go.
Little did we know, it was going to take a lot more time and effort than when we got pregnant with our first.
This was my first encounter where I felt like God had betrayed me. It was month after month of negative pregnancy tests and tons of tears. I did not know it yet, but I was about to encounter the hardest time of my life.
Right after my 21st birthday, I finally got pregnant. We were overjoyed and could not wait to share the news with the world. My birthday is in November, so we decided we would announce to the family we had conceived and was going to be having baby #2 on Christmas by making everybody ornaments.
I rushed right into buying announcement gifts. We got to meet my parents out of town and I was able to tell them the exciting news! I still have the video of them opening our gift and I think of the excitement on their face often.
Now, going further back in time… I grew up with my mom and dad always together. They taught me how to make love work and they stayed married my whole life. Not only did they do that, but they did it with romance.
So, I am not exaggerating when I say they set the expectations HIGH! But anyway, they were and still are my best friends!
Right before my daughter’s 5th birthday and Christmas, I started spotting and we instantly went to the ER, where we were told there was no longer a heartbeat and I had miscarried. I was devastated. The holidays that year were very depressing, to say the least, but having to tell my parents was even worse.
I face-timed them and told them the news. I could just hear my mom in the background sobbing. My mom and dad were my best friends and heroes, so seeing my mom in such a fragile way was hard for me.
Our whole family knew my mom suffered from anxiety, but we did not know just how severe it was. It took us all by surprise when she took her own life in May of 2018, 5 months after my miscarriage and the day after Mother’s Day.
It was especially hard for me because while my siblings and the whole family had seen her earlier that day, I wasn’t there for her. I was in Oklahoma, nearly 600 miles away. That was the worst phone call of my life.
My oldest brother had called me and said, ‘There’s been an accident.’ Confused, I asked, ‘What do you mean?’ He replied, ‘Momma has BEEN shot.’
Knowing my mom and dad rode motorcycles and frequently went out with friends, since they were now seasoned empty nesters, my mind immediately jumped to the idea of them getting involved in some type of bar fight.
For confirmation I asked again, ‘What do you mean she has been shot?’ He replied, ‘Chey, she shot herself and she is dead.’ I received that phone call around 3:30 a.m. and still, nearly three years later, I stay up with my brother’s voice in my head saying those words over and over and over again.
This was the first time I have ever wrote them out and it still stopped me in my tracks, taking my breath away. After losing my baby and my mother in such a short amount of time, my life went downhill so very fast.
At this point in my life, I had moved on from part-time babysitter to full-time waitress and bartender, so it was easy excess to alcohol. In fact, the place I worked for at the time was really lenient on ‘free drinks after work.’
I dug myself so far down in a hole I am surprised to look back and be able to say I came out of it. There are nights I am not sure how I even got home. My marriage was tested; I do not think I have many memories of me and my daughter during that time. For 4 months, my life was just one huge, drunk blur.
I remember one night when I lay on the kitchen floor, so drunk I just kept telling my husband I wanted to go be with my mom. I did not want to feel pain anymore. I remember lying there in my husband’s arms, crying until the tears literally ran out.
I probably blacked out at some point, but I woke up the next morning, my husband and I both covered up and still laying right there in the middle of the kitchen. Another crucial moment in my life, where I knew my husband was one of the good guys.
His mom and dad raised him right and I am so proud to be able to call him mine. He has saved me so many times and he has always led me right back home, no matter where my fears led me.
In August of 2018, four months after my mother passed away, I became pregnant again and I found out the day after my mom’s birthday. I did not tell anyone, not even my husband, but he caught on pretty fast when I stopped drinking abruptly.
We needed something to save me, to save us. I will forever consider this pregnancy a blessing.
We kept it a secret until our second trimester and got to tell our whole family when we went home for Thanksgiving. It was the first Thanksgiving without my mom but finally, we all had a little something to look forward to.
The pregnancy was extremely easy compared to my first. We found out we were having a boy and his due date was going to be the end of May. I ended up having him on May 23rd, a week after my mom’s first death anniversary or the day she gained her wings.
Our rainbow baby came in the perfect timing. We named him Eli Zander.
I spent years trying to get pregnant, going to baby showers that weren’t mine, and congratulating people on my Facebook for getting pregnant all the while wishing it was me. At the time, I hated hearing the words ‘trust the timing.’ But man, it was the best advice I could have been given.
Everything worked out in a way that seemed like my son was sent to save me, and that is exactly what he’s been doing since he took his first breath on this Earth.
My son is about to celebrate his second birthday and we are coming up on our third year without my momma, but I feel her here with me every day. I see her in my son when he scrunches up his nose as he laughs. I see her when his eyes light up at fast cars that drive by and when he falls asleep to old country music.
I know without a shadow of a doubt the second my mom got to heaven, she asked God to send me someone to hold me when I am sad and protect me through this crazy thing we call life.
Prioritizing Mental Health
My life has not always been easy. I was always the girl who looked at the bright side of things, so when I started having to go through all these trials, I was angry and I wanted to know, ‘Why me?’ I am still not sure why, but I do know my story has helped others.
My mental health has become a priority, and I am now raising my kids to know their mental health is the most important thing. It’s my number one goal. I have stopped yelling as much and I try to sincerely think about how my actions affect others.
My marriage is in the best place it has ever been in. We have romance and after every argument, my husband and I dance. We moved to Florida and here I am, the happiest I have been in a very long time.
I work out again, I sing again, and I am now a photographer. I do not know if photography is my purpose or what I am meant to do yet, but I do know God sends each and every one of us here to give our testimony and so that is what I thought I would do here, right now.
If your mental health is declining, please know there are resources. If you are tired of waiting for those two pink lines, just know God is setting up the perfect timing. That rainbow baby will be worth every single tear you shed.
Life is a difficult journey and we are all going through trials. Sometimes you do not know what others are facing, so at the end of the day, when we’re not sure what we are supposed to be doing… at least we can know we aren’t the first or the last person to live through it. Be kind, always.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cheyenne Summerville. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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