‘I was 15, pregnant. My principal looked at me. ‘Your mom didn’t graduate. Your dad didn’t graduate. Just drop out.’ I never felt more hopeless.’ Teen keeps pregnancy against all odds, loses son 18 years later

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“At the young age of fifteen, when I had no business being in such an intense, romantic relationship, and definitely shouldn’t have been having sex, I found out I was pregnant.

My boyfriend, Chris, was only sixteen, and as we sat in the dark waiting room of Planned Parenthood, we were both scared to death for the pregnancy test result to reveal what we both already knew in our hearts. As we waited for what felt like a lifetime, I looked around at the young women that were sitting around us. Some were crying, some were completely out of it, some just looked numb. From what I could guess, none of them were as young as me, but all were under twenty.

Finally, we were brought into a small dimly lit office to receive the news that would forever alter our lives. Although we knew, hearing it from a professional made it so much more real. They talked about adoption and abortion with us, assuring me it was definitely still early enough for me to ‘terminate the pregnancy’. They spoke on the option of keeping our baby last and only after I said ‘What if we decide to keep the baby?’ did she say it was a very big commitment. That I only had a small window of time to decide what I was going to do. That was it.

I was uneasy when we walked out, but Chris hugged me tight and told me that everything was going to be okay. I wasn’t so sure. Our relationship was already hanging on by a thread. It was up and down with a lot more breaking up than making up. I barely felt like I was functioning in my personal life, so the thought of bringing another life into my chaotic and unstable world was beyond overwhelming. Chris was petrified, and many of his friends and family were very vocal about their disapproval of me. Trust me, they had their reasons. I wasn’t a great girlfriend — I was clingy, controlling, and a little bit crazy at the time. But, heck, I was only fifteen. What did I really know about love or commitment?

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

The hardest part for me would be telling my mom. She, too, had me as a teenager and had so many dreams and aspirations for me. She also had NO IDEA that Chris and I were even having sex. At least, I thought she didn’t.

One morning, she woke me up bright and early and told me to get dressed. She had made an appointment at the OB/GYN for me. I was literally sick to my stomach the entire ride there. When we arrived, she told the doctor that she wanted a pregnancy test performed on me. He took me into an exam room and asked me to pee in a cup. My head was spinning out of control, as I tried to conjure up a way out of this. When the doctor came back, he confirmed what I already knew. I was one hundred percent pregnant.

I begged and pleaded with him not to tell my mom. I promised that I would tell her when the time was right. Miraculously, he agreed. He even went as far as to give me a free month supply of birth control samples. He handed me the paper bag and said, ‘Here. This will hold you off a bit longer until you are ready to tell your mom. But, do NOT take them. This is just to make her think all is well.’ I guess it was good because the birth control provided my mother with the unspoken knowledge that her daughter was, in fact, having sex. But, after two weeks, she found the pills and noticed I hadn’t used any pads. Upon finding these things, she gripped me up by the arm and hauled me into the backseat of my aunt’s car.

We got about a half a mile down the road when I so insensitively blurted out. ‘Don’t even bother taking me back there. I’m already pregnant!’ She let out a blood curdling scream and demanded that my aunt stop the car. She jumped out and hyperventilated her way back to the house. My aunt took me to her house, and later my mom called and said she didn’t want me back.

Most of my friends and family members didn’t think I should even consider keeping my baby. Ultimatums were given, and the persuasion to abort was intense. Chris had broken up with me about a month after we found out, and I was convinced I could never do this alone. Yet, even with all my doubts and fears and with no religious convictions whatsoever, I still could not go through with aborting my baby. It had nothing to do with God or moral ethics. I didn’t believe in either of those two things back then. It was simply my respect for humanity and motherly instinct. Knowing that there was a life living inside of me changed everything. I lost so much of my support system when I decided to choose life.

The deep loneliness I experienced in that time, along with the intense morning sickness that left me with nothing to vomit except bile, was extremely hard to bear. My mother still wasn’t speaking to me and Chris was doing his own thing. I was barely attending school because I was so sick. When I did attend, Chris would walk by me like he never knew me. My teachers and principal asked me why I even bothered coming. I’ll never forget the day my principal looked at me and said, ‘Your mother didn’t graduate, and your father didn’t graduate. Why don’t you just drop out?’ I never felt more hopeless.

Sometimes, choosing life is hard.

It altars the life of a woman forever. I won’t ever tell you my journey wasn’t difficult. It was actually quite grueling. Being fifteen, pregnant, and alone with severe pregnancy acne and no means whatsoever to buy nutritious food or maternity clothes, while throwing up on the daily and still attending the same high school as your baby daddy who isn’t interested in you is NOT fun. I was lonely, confused, and so, so scared. But it was in those dark moments when I started talking to the child that was growing on the inside of me. I would literally tell him everything… my fears, my insecurities, my hopes, and my dreams. He became my best friend and, ultimately, my very reason for living. Finding out I was having a son made our bond even tighter. Christiano became the love I had been searching for my whole life – love to give and to receive.

After not seeing my mom for quite some time, I asked her to please come to an ultrasound with me. She agreed. Her heart immediately softened when she saw her grandchild on the screen. When the doctor told her that I was underweight and malnourished from all the vomiting, she immediately came to my rescue and asked me to move back home. I could see in her eyes that she’d already grown to love the little life growing inside of me.

Eventually, when I was about 34 weeks pregnant, Chris and I got back together. He expressed his regret and opened up about how scared he had been. I, too, was scared and might have run away if I could have. At 35 weeks, I ended up with severe toxemia due to high blood pressure. I was placed on bedrest for weeks.

As if that wasn’t scary enough, the labor and delivery was even more traumatizing. I lost an excessive amount of blood during my delivery and had to have two blood transfusions. I could have died on that delivery table. I’m so grateful for the doctor who never once tried to pressure me to abort my baby. In fact, he never even asked me if I wanted to keep my baby. He just did his best , he did his job, and he cared for the both of us. Because both of our lives mattered. I wonder if my experience would be different if this this were to happen to me today. Would the doctor tell me that having my baby would ruin my life? Would he tell me I was too young, that I had my whole life ahead of me to ‘try again’?

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

And, even me. If I knew that the child I chose to keep would later pass away in a tragic accident at only eighteen, would I still have chosen life?

The answer is yes. A billion times, yes.

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

My son saved my life. I was indulging in all sorts of things that no fifteen year old should. I partied hard and didn’t think twice about it. I was headed for a life of destruction and addiction. But, Christiano. But, God. The God I had denied my whole life never once denied me or my child. Even in my failures, I believe He pursued me. He poured out His perfect love, His undeserved mercy and His amazing grace. He showed me, through my child, that love has no conditions. It never ends. It’s doesn’t give ultimatums. It doesn’t serve itself over others.

LOVE protects at all costs. LOVE conquers fear. LOVE WINS. Every single time.

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

What else can be said that hasn’t already? There’s no new pictures to see, no recent memories to share, no current experiences to have. After the car accident five years ago, my world came to an abrupt halt. Somehow, someway, the world around me kept turning — but, still today, I’m not yet congruent with the motions of this life. Will I ever be? It’s as if I was scooped up by a tornado and dropped from the sky, left on the ground for dead.

Grief is losing a leg and learning to walk again. It’s regaining your voice when words are all you have left to give your child who was gone to soon. It’s telling your heart to beat again when it’s shattered into a million pieces; and it’s living to tell the story of one of the most incredible young men who ever lived. It’s choosing to walk, to talk, to live and to breathe. Every. Single. Day. When everything in you wants to quit, it’s making a decision to LIVE the life your child was robbed of.

I’ve chosen life every day for five years now. I look back over it all and see the grace and mercy of God so clearly. When I wanted to die, He fought for me. When I wanted to run away, He held me. When I was afraid to love anyone the way I love Christiano for fear of losing all over again, He loved me even harder and loved others through me. When I wanted to isolate myself because ‘no one understood’ he reminded me that He, too, suffered the death of a child… a child He gave so that I could live, so that I could have eternal life and be with my son forever. I thank God for not letting me go. Thank you for carrying me these last five years and for all my life even when I was making beds in hell. Because of you, I have HOPE.

Christiano, I MISS YOU. Now and forever. I LOVE YOU. Now and forever. Five years closer to being with you again, baby boy. You are so loved. Your love continues on through all of us. Being with your friends from high school last night – I can see a part of you in all of them. In their eyes, in their smiles, and in their hearts. Thank you for impacting all of us.

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa
Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

Oh man, what I would give to watch you sleep one more time. I’d give even more to see you wake. It’s been a long and hard road, but I know I will see my sweet boy again some day.”

Courtesy of Shannon Barbosa

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shannon Barbosa, founder of From The Ruins, from Providence, Rhode Island. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email for our best stories.

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