‘The hardest part was losing my freedom before I ever had it. I went from being a child to raising a child.’: Teen mom shares happy, successful family life despite stigma

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“My name is Kailey Pool, I had a baby at 16, graduated high school at 16, and got married at 17, and that’s just the beginning. To understand my story, you have to go back to when I was growing up. Growing up I was constantly moving back-and-forth from different places because my dad was in the military. You’re probably thinking, ‘What does this have to do with teen pregnancy?’ I would move to random places and then always move back to my mom’s every six months for about 4/5 years, which ended up with me trying to make friends very quickly and then leaving, not knowing if I was ever going to see them again. I met my now-husband, Nathan, when I was 13 and he was 15, through a mutual friend.

selfie of couple
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

We met because my best friend was ‘dating’ him. Well, about as much as you can date when you’re in middle school. That ran its course, like most young relationships do, and lasted about a month. However, when I was around him, we became really good friends. When I moved overseas that year, I didn’t talk to anybody from Alabama. Nathan and I went about a year without any interaction with each other. After moving more and more, I ended up moving for what I didn’t know was the final time. When I first got back to America, Nathan and I ended up reconnecting randomly. We started to hang out more and more. In August of 2019, I started my junior year back at the high school I went to previously. However, a few weeks into the first semester, my life was completely turned around.

I randomly had a feeling something was off and I had a few dreams I was pregnant, but I blew it off at first. I’d been told by a doctor recently that due to hormone issues, I would never be able to have a baby. I never thought this was 100% accurate because I was so young and doctors can always be wrong. However, this was very hard to hear. I always knew I wanted a family of my own. Of course, not until later in life.

One day, I finally decided to take the test. It was mostly a joke with one of my friends to get complete peace of mind. When I took the test, it was immediately positive, and I was in absolute shock. The first thing I did when I got home was look up teen moms on YouTube. The stigma behind teen parents is pretty much all the same, where everybody dropped out of high school and there’s nothing with their life. I was looking for some proof it’s not always true. This is another reason why I started my YouTube channel now, so people can see the good and the bad and help girls who are in the same situation I was in.

pregnancy test confirming teen pregnnacy
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

It took me over a week to tell Nathan, because we hadn’t been together very long. My first thought was he was gonna leave. We were so happy together and I was afraid to tell him because of the fear it would change. I ended up waiting so long that my friend told me if I didn’t say something, he would. I told Nathan a few weeks later. I took another test with him and it was positive. We both just sort of sat in silence for a minute. Although scared, Nathan was initially happy at the thought of having a family and was doing everything he could to assure me everything was going to be okay. I was still in complete denial, even weeks later. We set up an appointment later that day for an ultrasound. At this point, we were still the only ones who knew besides my friend Cory.

Because of my age, the reason for a doctor’s visit was still shown on the insurance, so my dad could see it. I wasn’t ready to tell my dad yet and didn’t want him to figure it out that way. So, ironically, I called saying I needed a birth control check-up. Nathan and I both went into the appointment and they said they needed to take a pregnancy test. Once they left the room, I told Nathan to come into the room with me because I knew what they were going to say when they came back. I remember the nurse’s face when she looked at both of us and said, ‘Well, you are pregnant. But I’m assuming you guys already knew about this, didn’t you?’ She told me about all of my options and I scheduled another appointment for an ultrasound with her for later that week.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, abortion was never really an option for me personally. I knew pregnancy is always a risk when you’re sexually active, and I wanted to own up to it. At the next appointment a few weeks later, I found out I was a little past 8 weeks pregnant. At this point, I knew I needed to tell my family, and Nathan needed to tell his.

selfie of couple
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

Nathan told his family first. Nathan was 18 at the time and I was 16. His family took it a lot better than mine did. They were all shocked and somewhat disappointed, but no one was super angry. I feel like this is because he was older and also because he’s a guy.

Telling my family was a little bit more complicated because my mom kind of knew Nathan and I were dating, but I was very private about everything. I wasn’t sure how serious Nathan and I were at the beginning, and I didn’t want to start telling all my family we were together if it wasn’t going to last very long.

selfie of couple
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

I almost told my mom about five different times before I had enough courage to tell her. I sat her down and told her doctors had told me I was infertile and how hard it was to hear that because I always wanted a family. I told her I was pregnant and Nathan was the father, and I was keeping the baby. She was shocked and disappointed, but her main concern was that I had to tell my dad. A week passed and then my mom said I had to tell him at that point.

I was the most scared to tell my dad because I valued his opinion a lot. I never made the best decisions as a teenager (obviously) and I didn’t want to disappoint him any more than I already did. I remember calling him in my bedroom one night and something in the tone of his voice made it seem like he was already upset over something. I immediately made up an excuse and hung up the phone. After that, I just started bawling my eyes out and telling my mom I couldn’t tell him. I was begging her to help me tell him. Looking back, it wasn’t the right decision, but at the time, this is how everything went down.

My mom called him and told him when I was next to her, and I could hear him screaming through the phone. He was really angry and also in shock, along with everybody else. He had no idea who the father was because I hadn’t even mentioned Nathan to him at this point. After a few months, everyone accepted reality and became mostly supportive.

early pregnancy bell of teen
Courtesy of Kailey Pool
ultrasound
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

I kept absolutely everything a secret at school. Rumors began to start but I didn’t have many friends besides maybe one or two people. I didn’t talk to anybody in my classes. I never had a big bump until later on, so it wasn’t super hard until November/December time frame. I wore hoodies and baggy clothes to try and cover my small bump. I thought I was hiding it perfectly, but looking back on pictures, it was pretty obvious. I finished the semester and went online at the start of 2020, during the second semester.

I did online school for about half my life, so it was pretty normal for me. I ended up testing out of a bunch of classes and I was able to graduate two months before I turned 17. The pregnancy was very hard for me emotionally. Physically it wasn’t too bad, I just struggled with a lot of back pain. I stayed inside most of my pregnancy and I hated going out, especially in my town, because everybody knew everybody.

maternity pic
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

Nathan and I took a trip to the beach on March 12th, a little less than a month before Avery’s due date. The beach is about an hour and a half from our old house, so it was a day trip. I remember having horrible back pain while we were there, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was going to bring it up at our doctor’s appointment the next day. The next day came and the doctors checked to see if I was dilated. They found out I was 4 cm and in active labor.

mom and dad in hospital waiting for birth
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

After about 21 hours, Avery was born on March 13, 2020. I have a video explaining the details of the delivery on my YouTube channel. Postpartum was especially hard at the beginning because that’s when COVID started. We were scared of the world around us. Unfortunately, my dad was still overseas at the time, so he didn’t get to meet her until she was about six months old. From the moment that baby was born, she was wrapped around everybody’s finger.

mom and dad with daughter after birth
Courtesy of Kailey Pool
baby girl being in the world
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made was when I decided to start my own YouTube channel. I got a lot of mean remarks and comments from people when I initially started it, mostly from people in my town. I ignored them and I kept going with it. I use my platform to show the reality, not just the teen mom shows that make everything more dramatic, or the fake social media posts. I didn’t want to act like my life is picture perfect and I didn’t want to make my life seem like a hot mess. I just wanted to show what being a teen mom is for some people. I truly wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Avery. Avery is now almost 2 years old.

I started college when I was 17 and I am pursuing a career in film. YouTube also allowed me to find my passion for film and edit their work, which is something I never would’ve thought to do. I’m on course to have my bachelor’s degree in digital cinematography before I’m 20. Life with Avery and Nathan is certainly way better than I ever could’ve asked for. When Avery was seven months old, Nathan was enlisted in the military and left the day before Thanksgiving in 2020. After a lot of letters and a lot of calls, he got back in April 2021.

mom with baby on her chest
Courtesy of Kailey Pool
mom daughter and dad in a sunflower field
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

We moved from Alabama/Florida to Nebraska and started our life on our own. It was so hard when I was living with my mom because I felt, even though I was taking care of my child, that I was still a kid. Now that we’re physically and financially independent, it’s been amazing. Of course, some challenges come along the way, but nothing we can’t learn from. We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. We both had to sacrifice the ‘college experience’ and the ability to be independent on our own. The hardest part for me was losing my freedom before I ever had it.

I went from being a child with no independence to raising a child. My mentality had to completely switch and I had to grow up extremely fast. It was all worth it. If I could give a piece of advice to a teen mom it would be that it is what you make it. When I got pregnant, I thought my life was over and that was pretty much it for me. I was just going to be stuck with a child. That’s honestly the farthest thing from the truth. There will be sacrifices you have to make. Don’t let some random person dictate how you feel about your life or the choices you make.

If I could give a piece of advice to the families of a teen mom or teen parents, it would be to please ignore the stigma. Try to be as supportive as you can. A lot of parents of teen parents turn to anger and get mad about something that has already been done. I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason, and my family is a prime example of that. My life didn’t play out the way I thought it would, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you want to hear more of our story, check out my YouTube for our daily adventures!”

young family all together smiling and happy
Courtesy of Kailey Pool

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kailey Pool from Omaha, Nebraska. You can follow her journey on Instagram and YouTube. 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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Celebrating your teen pregnancy is not sticking a neon sign to your head saying ‘HUGE TEEN PREGNANCY ADVOCATE RIGHT HERE.’ No. She’s judged. Frowned upon. 

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