“It was August 5, 2001. I was 16 years old. My body felt ‘off,’ so I had my mom make me a doctor’s appointment. My mom has always had that mother’s intuition or ‘sixth sense.’ She knew I was pregnant before I did. She basically had the doctor give me a pregnancy test with the urine sample I had just given, and since I was a minor, they did. This specific doctor told me during the appointment I had a uterine infection and was prescribed a certain medication (that could have caused a miscarriage) until my mom secretly asked them to give me a test. It wasn’t a uterine infection at all (faulty doctor at the time) – I was 5 weeks pregnant. They called me back into a room to tell me and my mom was in the next room taking it all in. And that’s when my life changed forever.
I was in shock. I wasn’t sure how to react in the moment. I think I was more concerned that my mom was in the next room probably crying and freaking out. Ultimately, I chose life. Abortion was not even a thought in my mind. Maybe it was the way I was raised, but it just didn’t cross my mind. I knew adoption was probably an option. But in the moment, I was just…frozen. I chose to have my baby and raise her. I’m not sure how I would have done it all had my family disowned me or anything like that! Of course, it was shocking and I’m sure disappointing at the time. They found me a great pregnancy center to go to for counseling and support and it really made the situation for me go a different way.
My mom actually went home without me and I went to my boyfriend’s. It gave my mom a chance to tell the news to my dad, which I was totally okay with. When I got home later that night, I went to my room and shortly after my dad came in. He was silent, but he just hugged me. I think they also needed time to take it all in and accept what was happening. But because of them, I was able to do it the best way for us that I could given the circumstances. Without them, I don’t know if I could have done it.
I was a junior in high school. Just less than two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, the sickness hit and it was awful. I could barely drink water without immediately throwing up. When I would go in for my monthly OB appointment, which I felt judged at some of the time (My first OB I went to was definitely judgmental and we ended up switching doctors.), I was losing weight instead of gaining. I did ‘homebound’ homeschooling during this time.
It was hard to hold friendships from school, specifically when you are going through this and they are being typical kids. My friends I was able to hang out with didn’t mind and we just hung out like usual. Those friends mostly stemmed from my boyfriend and fathers of my baby’s friends that I also became friends with. Of course, this was after I wasn’t so sick anymore. I never got any negative feedback from my family, to my face anyways. Except for this one time, one thing that stood out to me and I remember to this day. Someone in my ‘family’ told me I would probably lose all of my friends because of this. I remember not knowing how to respond, and I’m not so sure I did at all.
I remember getting stares, specifically these stares and whispers from a lady at a local parade. I had just assumed this was the new normal for me. I actually reconnected with a friend towards the very end of my pregnancy and I remember being 3 days past my due date and she asked if I wanted to stay with her for the night. Being 16 and needing a friend, of course I wanted to, but I also figured it wasn’t a great idea being past my due date. And the very next morning, I went into labor.
20 days before my 17th birthday, I went into labor (for 18 hours total) and had my baby girl. I labored at home for about 6 hours before we left for the hospital. My mom was rubbing my back and trying to help; my 16-year-old body was like, ‘Oh. No!’ When we got to the hospital, they didn’t ask me if I wanted drugs or anything. I just remembered I was in a lot of pain and the next thing I knew I had Demerol in my IV and I was high as a kite.
The labor room felt like a community hang-out. I remember there being a basketball game on and some of my family was in there, along with some friends coming in and out. I didn’t mind too much because the pain had gone away and I was literally high. Definitely not something I experienced with my future other two babies. I had no idea what was normal and how it was supposed to be or anything! I just knew I was having a baby that day. When the labor progressed and the pain intensified, everyone cleared, the Demerol didn’t work anymore and I had my baby at 10:06 p.m. that night.
We had to stay an extra day because I developed a fever during delivery and I don’t know much after that, but I do know I didn’t sleep. By the time we did go home, I was delirious. Literally so tired I got upset someone assumed I was hungry and mentioned how tired I was and made me a sandwich so I threw it across the kitchen and cried. It’s funny now. I made them promise to wake me up if I fell asleep and not to take her, just to wake me up. I know they did the right thing and knew I needed sleep so they did the complete opposite. When I did wake up and she wasn’t next to me, I was like, ‘What the heck?’ But thank goodness for that support! I definitely needed it. I’ll never forget.
Her dad and I were still together then – not living together, we both obviously still lived at home. We soon turned 17, and we got married at 18. Our daughter was a year and 3 months old. We even changed her last name to his the same day I did. We were married for 3 years and then divorced. The ‘dad’ (and husband) he had become and continued to be for years and to this day wasn’t what we needed. It wasn’t a ‘normal’ split up and we were never able to co-parent because of him. It impacted her life greatly in a lot of negative ways that eventually required therapy and beyond.
Before kindergarten started, I got into a relationship with a friend of mine, which was actually nice because I knew him. I knew his parents. At the time he was in the Army, and he did not even question taking care of me and my daughter. He just…did. To this day 14 years later, he is still doing the same. He has raised her and everything in between. That real father figure with respect is exactly what he gave her. Through it all. And let me tell you, over the past 14 years, we have been through A LOT. We have always been close, though. Of course, I was typically the youngest mom at every school event, but kids thought I was cool (haha).
She is currently halfway through her junior year at Texas Tech University, and we couldn’t be more proud of her. She actually graduated high school with an Associate’s Degree. So, we had to have done something right!
Going back again, there is obviously a ton of things I missed out on in life. Like a lot. I could have made different decisions and gone on with my life. But I chose her. I knew since I did, I had to make changes and a ton of sacrifices. Nothing about it was easy. And I relied on my family a bunch. Was it ideal? Definitely not. But sometimes, it just takes an entire tribe, my friends. It really does take a village.
I would say to anyone who may find themselves in the situation I did: It’s going to be okay. Find yourself a local pregnancy center. They have so many resources. Trust me, I know it doesn’t feel or seem like it. I also want you to know it’s okay if you know you absolutely cannot give the life your baby deserves and look for a family who can. It’s not being selfish at all. But if you know, you know. And you work hard and make it work. Not everyone has such a supportive family either, and I get it. But you yourself can make anything work for you and your baby. The days are long for sure, but the years are short. Now I’m not quite sure how my 7lb 3oz baby I had back in 2002 will be 20 years old in just 4 short months.”
This story was written by Tera Walter from New Braunfels, Texas. Follow her journey on Instagram here and here. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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