“It was the summer of 2019, 2 months after my daughter Ava’s 14th birthday, and the word Coronavirus had yet to plague our daily lives. I noticed Ava hadn’t asked me for feminine products for well over 6 weeks. I walked into Ava’s room, handed her a pregnancy test and said, ‘Ava, take this test in front of me now!’ It was the longest 3 minutes of my life, and probably hers, as we waited for the results.
At the time, we were a happy blended family of 8 and it was a new dynamic I think all of us were growing accustomed to. I, after being a single hard working mom of 4 girls for many years, had met a single father of 5-year-old twin girls. We knew immediately we wanted our lives to become one and so we dove in headfirst trying to make this new family dynamic work for all of us. It is no easy task trying to raise 6 girls, to say the least! I know my two oldest girls, Taylor and Ava, seemed especially open to welcoming a new dad figure into their lives. It had been just 2 years since their dad, my ex-husband, had passed away tragically.
Life was going well! We were all growing into our roles in this blended family. I know Marques, my partner, and I had big plans and high hopes for each of our girls’ futures. Then everything came to a screeching halt. Our lives were turned upside down when we learned my 14-year-old became pregnant. I was devastated, to put it mildly. I was angry and I felt guilty. I felt guilty for all the long hours I spent at work. I questioned myself as a mother. I was angry at Ava’s dad for dying and leaving me to play both mom and dad.
Ava’s sisters took the news hard, especially her older sister Taylor who cried and said, ‘Why does the bad stuff always happen to us?’ I tried to reassure her and my other children this was not the end of the world. Secretly inside, I felt it was at the time. I thought for sure this would be too much for Marques and he would head for the hills. Then I struggled with how to explain this to my family and friends. I knew everyone would label me a bad mother and label Ava even worse things. Sadly, this was proven to be somewhat true.
Shortly before Ava became pregnant, I had offered her and her older sister the option to start birth control if they were at all thinking about sex. They both had boys they really liked from their school. Ava was still not allowed to date, as my rule for dating was you had to be 15, but I wasn’t naïve into thinking this would stop her from sneaking around behind my back if I made it impossible for her to spend time with this boy. So, I had the rule of yes your ‘guy friends’ can come over to our home as long as an adult is here. I had standing rules such as 1. no boys in bedrooms, 2. no laying horizontal together anywhere, and 3. no being under the same blanket. I taught all my girls from a young age the importance of safe sex and even saving yourself for marriage.
I was raised in the church and raised my girls in church. They knew the moral and social implications and dangers of having unsafe sex. Yet at the same time, I also didn’t want to shame them if they did ever have sex before marriage to the point they hid it from me or felt they couldn’t talk to me. I felt this way with my mother. In fact, my first child was born when I was 21, engaged and living with my future husband. When my mother found out she cried and said she hoped better for my life. It was bizarre to me to shame someone who is grown and out of the house. I never wanted to be this way with my kids. So, here I felt I was doing everything right…yet it didn’t work!
Ava and I discussed abortion but she ultimately decided against it. I then offered Ava the option of adoption. I even went as far as to offer to adopt the baby myself. I even told Ava if she wanted we could hide her pregnancy and we will tell everyone I was the one who had the baby.
I know Ava gave all these options a serious thought. Eventually, Ava came to me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Mom, I can do this, I want to keep my baby and be its mom.’ Ava then looked more scared than any child ever should and said, ‘Mom, will you help me?’ I cried and hugged her and said, ‘I’m here every step of the way, baby girl.’
There was one main thing I feel changed both our minds and gave us the courage to accept our circumstances, to welcome and love this little baby into our family as Ava being the mom with no lying or hiding our story, and that was Marques! Marques was the first to support Ava and me. It was such a huge relief on me and gave us the courage we needed to tell the world, ‘Ava is having a baby!’ Marques made us feel okay to even go a step further and be excited for this new little life coming into ours. For that, I will be forever grateful to him.
Many ask, ‘What did the dad think about all of this?’ Many assume he took off, and still do. It is odd to me how people assume without even asking. The father told Ava from day one he supports whatever decision she makes. He has stood by that. He and his family have been a huge and even daily role in raising and caring for both Ava and his babies. Yes, you read that right, I said ‘both babies,’ and no, Ava did not have twins.
So here we all were having thrown a baby shower for the arrival of a little BOY! After having 6 girls in the house, a boy was the most exciting news ever! We made it through the birth and we all were growing accustomed to our role in helping Ava and JK (the babies’ dad) learn to be teen parents. I was determined not to take over the role of caring for this sweet little grandson of mine. I know the other grandmother felt exactly as I did.
I immediately had Ava start oral birth control. Even though she was now parenting a child with someone, the same rules applied to boys as before. I in fact caught JK in her room with her baby only caring for the baby. But I didn’t care, I was furious and took her door off her hinges for 2 weeks. So here I was once again feeling as if I was on top of making sure she never got pregnant again and felt I made it almost impossible to even be alone with a boy. Yet it happened again!
The second time Ava conceived on birth control I monitored closely. Ava hid the pregnancy from me for some time. She was petrified and in her words she was ‘hoping it would just go away.’ Again I noticed Ava not asking me for feminine products and her body started to change like it did the first pregnancy. I made her take a test and she cried because she already knew. Ava wanted to get an abortion, but ultimately decided she was too far along to go through with it.
So, we planned for baby number two! This time Ava had a little girl. The sweetest little girl ever created. Now I have to figure out how to not only teach and help Ava be a teen mom, but a teen mom of two! I think the whole family, by family I mean us and the father’s side, have done a remarkable job of adjusting and growing into this new life. It’s our new normal even though there is nothing normal about it.
With the second baby, I’ve been way less hands-on during the first few weeks home from the hospital. Ava and Jk have grown so much in their parenting skills, and as I tell them, ‘This is not my job, this is yours!’ I make Ava find sitters for almost everything she wants to do. I also let Ava know not finishing school is not an option. I often remind Ava I went to and finished nursing school when she and her sister were just babies. I still get tired sometimes and think how much easier life would be if this never happened. When I hold my grandbabies or hear their little giggles, it makes all the hard work and any shame or cruel comments we receive from strangers all worth it!
Ava and I decided to share her/our story with the world knowing we would get tons of backlash, but also knowing our story will hopefully inspire others to love and support teen moms. Nobody glorifies this life, but to spread hate and to turn our back on these young, scared girls when they and their unborn babies need us the most is beyond wrong to me. I will never glorify or normalize teen pregnancy, but I will glorify and normalize loving and supporting our young girls during a time when they need us the most.”
This story was written by Tiffany King from Marion, Indiana. Follow her journey on Instagram and TikTok. 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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