‘We found out we were pregnant at 17. We were scared. Soon after, we were having a second.’: Woman shares teen pregnancy, co-parenting story, ‘I’m so grateful for my ex’

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“We met in grade 10, when we were 15. I was with some friends at the mall, and he was there too with his friends. I immediately was drawn to him and developed a huge ‘crush’ on him. Two weeks later, we started dating and were together every single second of the day.

We found out we were pregnant when we were 17. We were both scared but loved each other and knew we would be okay. Noah told me we would get through this and be great.

Teen boyfriend and girlfriend smile in selfie
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager
Teen boyfriend and girlfriend smile in hall of school
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

I gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl. Shortly after, we moved 12 hours away, with a newborn baby, from all of our friends and family, so Noah could pursue a career and make enough money for us. He proposed to me right before moving.

Teen lays in hospital bed holding newborn to her chest
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager
Teen parents hold newborn as they kiss each of her cheek
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

We moved back home after 8 months, as that was a tough time being away from everyone. We got married on August 23, 2014. It was an amazing wedding with everyone we loved there.

Teen bride and groom stand outside beside tree holding their daughter
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

Soon after the wedding, we found out we would be having a second child! We were so thrilled and excited. Now 21, we knew we would be more ready than we were at 17, and that it would be a lot easier this around. We soon found out we were having a baby boy.

When he was born, our family felt complete. Like something I knew was missing, was finally here. We had the ‘million dollar’ family. A boy, a girl, and two high school sweethearts who got married and made it through teen pregnancy.

Young husband and wife stand outside home holding son and daughter
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

When we were about 23, we started to lose the ‘spark’ that we had. It was fading and we didn’t know how to fix it. We tried many things, for over a year. But after trying and trying to make our marriage work, it just wasn’t anymore. So, we decided to split up. Right away, we knew we couldn’t let it affect the kids the way we saw all the splits depicted on TV, and even in real life. We sat down and talked about how we would be different. We decided we would still do everything as a family. Him and I would go out for drinks once a week, to discuss how we can be better parents, and where to take the kids out together next.

We take them to the aquarium, overnight to cabins, out to the movies, to the parks, to the beach, out to the swimming pool, and the kids personal favorite, the cupcake store! It’s very important to us that we keep up with the family outings altogether. And once a month, Noah will take our daughter out on a date to the cake shop on a ‘date.’ That is also very important to him, to show her how she deserves to be treated by a man.

Young husband and wife kneel on either side of their daughter who stands in between them
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

We have been doing this since we split over a year ago. We still do all the same things we used to. The kids know nothing has changed, besides the fact mom and dad don’t live together anymore. Noah still comes to all my family dinners, and vice versa. We still take family pictures, we still do everything as a family. Because no matter what, divorce or not, we are family.

I am so grateful for my ex. I never thought I would say those words. But here I am. So grateful for my ex.

Every day, I see post after post about how awful it is to have split up parents, or to be going through your own custody battle with your kids’ dad’s. My heart goes out to all of you. But I also want to show that it doesn’t have to end all horribly, dramatic, and traumatizing.

My kids’ dad is still one of my best friends.

He needs a babysitter last minute on one of ‘his nights’? I’m there. I need one? He’s there.

Christmas was expensive and he needs a few extra days for child support? No problem.

I need a place to nanny some kids at 5:30 AM on his day off? His door is open, and he happily helps.

He needs someone to help him furniture shop for five hours because he wants a woman’s opinion? I am there. (And after five hours, six stores, and sitting on countless coaches, we found one!)

I need a friend to talk to but everyone’s busy? He is there and will take me for a drink with the kids.

And as for the kids? They know mommy and daddy aren’t together. But they are not suffering. They are fine. They are happy.

My daughter often tells her dad and I how happy she is that her mommy and daddy are friends. She has some friends going through similar things at school, and knows it can and does turn out very different.

Separated couple sit on either side of mall Santa who has their son and daughter on his lap
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

The point to this story is to remind you, and everyone, that if you can have a good relationship with your kids’ father, do it. Because the difference you will notice in your kids, is tremendous.

They will always be my family. Even when a bonus mommy + bonus daddy are in the picture.

Family is forever, remember that. If not for you, for your kids.”

Separated mother and father stand with their daughter in son standing in front of them
Courtesy Caitlin Fladager

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Fladager, 25 of Canada. Follow her on Instagram hereDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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