‘You need to get rid of that baby.’ Not even married for a month, my husband stopped coming home.’: Teenager becomes single mom, advocate

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“Hearing the heartbeat of your unborn child can be the most amazing experience of your life…or the scariest. For me, it was both. But this isn’t a story about a tragic, sad teen pregnancy, or a dramatic single mom story; instead, it’s a story about how God can turn a mess into a message to inspire those who may be scared and trembling with uncertainty like I was as a young mom.

I got engaged to my high school boyfriend about a year after I graduated high school. Our relationship was a little rocky, but I never really imagined what the next few years of our lives would bring. We both had pretty promising futures and had planned to live them out together. I had hoped for an end-of-the-year winter wedding, but that winter became much colder than I anticipated.

After getting engaged on January 1, 2009, we discovered we were pregnant on April 5th. Being pregnant at an early age brings many people’s feelings and opinions to the forefront. We had hesitant but partially excited family members, disappointed and embarrassed family members, sort-of-excited-not-sure-what-to-think friends, and a few remarks along the lines of ‘You need to get rid of that baby.’

Pregnant young mom in pink dress holds belly
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

For me, abortion or adoption weren’t really options, even though there were a few voices who rang in my head: ‘Your life is over now,’ ‘You don’t need to keep that,’ ‘You’ve ruined your future.’ I grew up learning what commitment was, how to work hard for what you want, and how to make some really good lemonade out of lemons. So that’s what I did…for a really long time.

After the initial shock of the news wore off, my parents decided we needed to get married as soon as possible. So, after our engagement on the first of January and finding out we were expecting on April 5, we had a wedding planned for us on May 30th. It was a nice, quick little church shotgun wedding; I did get my chocolate fondue fountain at the reception, so that was good. Family and friends chipped in and helped to make everything wonderful. By this point, everyone had their happy faces on and was supportive, for the most part.

My new husband and I moved into a small two-bedroom, one-bath home. We were excited to start this journey together. I still remember how he picked me up and carried me over the threshold of the door. Still both 19, we were very much young and in love, but I guess love can alter when fear begins to drive a wedge into any situation.

Not even married for a month, I began noticing my husband wasn’t coming home at his usual time. Eventually, by the end of June, my husband had stopped coming home and stopped answering the phone.

‘Hey mom, I know it’s late, but can I come home now?’ I forced the words out a little before midnight one night lying in our bed alone. My parents didn’t really understand what was happening, and to be honest, neither did I. All I knew was I had been abandoned. He stopped speaking to me, he stopped living in our home, and I needed to find a new place to live and figure out what to do with this baby.

The next few months were blurry. Although I had moved back in with my parents and my husband had no contact with me at all, we still couldn’t get a divorce because you can’t get a divorce in the state of Mississippi when you’re pregnant. I did, however, hire a lawyer and hoped for the best after the birth of our daughter.

I decided to continue in school and attended a junior college I had taken classes at previously. I was definitely the pregnant girl on campus, bouncing like a pinball in a machine trying to navigate to a desk in the back so I wouldn’t feel like people were staring and talking about me. I knew where every single bathroom was in every building on campus because morning sickness actually has nothing to do with mornings, trust me. I will always be grateful for my incredible friends and the amazing teachers I had—the teachers who graciously worked with me through schoolwork and my due date.

I actually scheduled my finals for the Friday before my due date and set my alarm that morning for 5:00 a.m. to get up, get to campus, and do some last-minute cramming with a friend, but my baby girl had other plans. By 8:00 p.m. that Friday night, December 4th, I was a new mommy…or as some say, just another pregnant teen statistic.

Teen mom holds newborn daughter in hospital
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

Sometimes new mommies share glory stories of how they fell in love the minute they laid eyes on their baby, but honestly, I just saw a potato, and it’s totally okay for me to say that publicly because she knows this story well. I was terrified. Looking at a baby in my arms brought on a whole new perspective of life for me…like what in the world was I going to do with a child? I was still a child! It took a few months for me to get the hang of realizing this was the rest of my life…and that’s okay because, in those few months, I decided what the rest of our life was going to look like, together.

Mom holds baby girl in pool
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams
Mom holds young daughter dressed for Christmas
Courtesy of Lisa Phelps

When I was pregnant and realized I was going to be doing this parenting thing alone, I kept a journal for my baby girl. There were a lot of ‘I’m sorry’s, a whole bunch of ‘I never meant for you to be born into this’s and plenty of ‘I don’t even know what to do’s. But something changed as she continued to grow: I started making goals and planning our future, things we would do together, things I would do or finish to make sure she never knew she wasn’t planned for or so she would never think she was unwanted.

Mom and baby girl sit on couch together
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams
Mom holds her young daughter
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

I think the best part about the story of me and my daughter isn’t the dramatic happening of how we came about. It’s not really about how I became a single mom or a teen mom. I still remember the months and years of stares in the mall, the grocery store, the gas station, the park, everywhere! To be honest, I still get asked if she’s my little sister.

Mom and daughter dressed in Halloween costumes
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams
Mom and daughter at preschool graduation
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

But the best part of our story is the middle part where we grew up together, became best friends and became an amazing little dream-chasing duo. We weren’t always this way, there were years and years of darkness, soul searching, and identity wondering. But day by day, and week by week, somehow, we made it happen; and by the grace of God, we didn’t just survive, we thrived.

Mom and daughter stretch their legs up
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams
Mother and daughter wearing pizza onesies
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

I was a young, single mom from age 19 to 29. In that time frame, I finished my bachelor’s degree, my master’s degree, cheered as an NFL Cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, coached a college dance team, created my dream job at my old high school, started an Embrace Grace Ministry group at my local church for young women or teens with unplanned pregnancies, and so much more. I can’t even write down what all God placed in front of me to conquer with my daughter by my side.

Mom and daughter at graduation
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams
Mom and daughter in cheerleading outfits at football game
Courtesy of Lucas P. Barrios

The year I started celebrating our ten-year anniversary (2019), I found the man of my dreams and the best daddy for my daughter. Now, as a family of three, we’re still sharing our story and still chasing dreams. I am currently Mrs. Mississippi 2020, and I’ve also started my second master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Pageant winner with daughter and husband
Courtesy of Zach Harrison Photography

Everyone’s story is different. My daughter was a gift to me. Sometimes, I refer to her as the life raft God threw me to get me back on track and pull me closer to Him. She didn’t save me, but she surely helped me become the woman I am today and accomplish all the dreams I ever set for myself.

She’s 11 now, and she knows pretty much everything. Most importantly, she knows people are faced with choices and decisions every day—scary ones—and most of the time someone’s choice affects others around them. Sometimes, we don’t always make the right choice, but God paves the way for healing, for redemption, and for love. He writes the best stories. And ours…man, it’s the best story I’ve ever heard.”

Young mother holds daughter up outside
Courtesy of Sarah Sims Williams

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sarah Sims Williams of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You can follow her on Instagram and her websiteSubmit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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