Epic Fail. Our plan seemed fail-proof and yet somehow, we botched it and now my mom was on her way home. On her way home to take me to the Health Department. To get a pregnancy test … I was scared out of my mind.
Not that I needed the test. I had been so sick for two days, unable to eat, hardly able to move without getting nauseous, and I had put myself in a very vulnerable position for way too long. It was pretty much inevitable. And mom was on her way home. I took a short shower and then sat nervously waiting for her to pull up. Finally, the car horn went off and I walked out to her livid face sitting in the driver’s seat. She couldn’t even look at me. I got in the passenger’s seat and shut the door, and she pulled off without a word. Then she started asking questions. I don’t remember if I cried or if I just answered her with the same numb monotone I had grown so accustomed to using with people. Why did she all the sudden care? And at the same time, I wanted her to care. I wanted her to care that her daughter had just messed up really bad. And I wanted her to look at me, and tell me it would be okay and that no matter what she loved me. But she couldn’t. And I was dying inside.
We got to the Health Department, signed in and waited. My turn came and I peed in the cup and waited some more. My mom hadn’t said anything since we got there. A few minutes passed and the lady called my name again, and asked me if I wanted my mom to come back too. Did I want my mom?! Yes! I wanted her. Even if she couldn’t look at me or speak to me, I wanted her. I was dying inside.
She pulled us into a small room and explained this paper in her hand. A whole sheet of paper with a lot of words I hardly understood just to tell me I was pregnant. Another pregnant sixteen year old. I was so – – I don’t know what I was … ashamed. Embarrassed. Terrified. Lost. Dying inside.
I don’t remember what my mom said as we went home. We both cried. She said some things to try to help me through the pain of the moment, but I couldn’t hear her over all the other voices in my head. I was imagining what my friends would say. What my ex would say. What my principal, who had become the closest thing to a father to me, would say. What I would say to myself when I finally decided to cope with this life instead of ignoring it or wishing it away. What the heck I was going to do about this baby. How it would change my life. My plans for the future. All my relationships. What was my mom saying to me in that moment? Looking back, I wish I’d have just listened intently to her and soaked up her wisdom and love. It might have helped me through the next few months of my life.
When you tell the right people, word travels faster than the speed of sound itself. I told the right people. My sister and my ex’s best friend, and within an hour, the phone was ringing. “What’s going on,” he said. “Oh, you know, a lot,” I said. And then burst into tears. See, I had just decided I was done with him. I mean really done. We’d been “going out” for several years on and off. On when he was sure he wanted to be with me, and off when he was sure he was too young to be with just one girl. And I was so love-sick and desperate, I let him do whatever. He was saying everything I wanted to hear and although his actions were screaming something else, all my heart would hear was what his lying lips were saying. And finally, I had decided I was done. I started making plans to go to an acting school in California, had filled out the application and was awaiting a phone call to set up an audition when I found out I was pregnant. Right when I had decided to run away from it all, I became bound to it by a child I didn’t even know I wanted.
The next day at school, the whispers started. The shunning. They don’t mean to be so cruel. But kids don’t know what to do with natural curiosity sometimes, and with little thought, they whispered and stared and cut me to pieces in my heart every day for months. And teachers weren’t much better. Everyone has an opinion and no one knows what to do with it. It’s just too good to keep to themselves, so they say what they need to say and feel justified in it. It’s utterly worthless for building others up, and doing damage no one could anticipate. But no one cared. It wasn’t their hearts bleeding.
I don’t remember much from the months of pregnancy. I slept through a large portion of it. Hormones and depression will do that to a person. I do remember a few things. First, there was the day I told me dad. My biological dad. He called me a whore. I stopped talking to him. We were done. I was dying and he’d driven another knife into my already bleeding heart. There was the day my school counselor told me to consider my dreams in light of my circumstances and pretty much “get real.” I didn’t want to. Reality hurt so bad. Reality was killing me slowly. I wanted to believe I could still be somebody and do something great. Get through acting school and move to NYC. Pursue a career on Broadway. Reality was a bunch of painful statistics I didn’t want to face. Like, pregnant teens rarely finish school, don’t go to college, and live off state assistance the rest of their lives. They rely heavily on family. They don’t usually make more than X-amount of money because they usually have several kids at a really young age and life just sweeps them away into a lifelong poverty. No college, no dreams realized. Pregnant teens have very little positive prospects. This was the reality I was supposed to face. No thanks. I hated her at that moment, and for a long time afterward.
There was the time in Wal-Mart when I was about seven months pregnant. I was looking at Shampoo with my mom and called her “mommy.” And suddenly realized how young and vulnerable I felt, and how much of a child I still was inside. With a child inside. It scared the crap out of me.
I also remember the night I wrote a suicide note and hid it in the second drawer of my dresser. I had finally made a plan and decided to stick to it. I had been depressed since I was thirteen, and pregnancy sent me over the edge. I was home alone a lot, and the inner turmoil in me was more than I could bear. I didn’t want a baby. I didn’t want to continue any type of relationship with this stupid boy. I didn’t want to face reality about my future. And finally, I didn’t even care about that future. I just wanted to die. So I wrote the note, determined to end my life after having the baby and before leaving the hospital. I had been cutting myself for a while anyway, and I guess, warming up to it. I figured, just a deeper cut and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So I wrote the note explaining my pain and why I decided to kill myself. I thought maybe that would provide some type of peace of mind for my mom.
I remember the morning I went into labor. It was 4:40 in the morning on the day the doctor said she’d come. No surprise, but the timing was awful. I walked my bedroom floor for two hours until my mom woke up and we went to get my boyfriend (my ex and I reconciled) and headed to the hospital. The rest of the day was a day from hell. They induced me, I went into contractions around noon. I remember laying in the hospital bed looking around at the people in the room: my mom, my sister and my boyfriend, and thinking to myself, “They have no idea I’m going to be gone before tomorrow morning.” I was numb to the idea, and saddened by it all at the same time. The nurses finally came in and told me to push around six in the evening, and by eight, decided this baby should not be born naturally. Maybe could not. The doctor asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, “Well, what are my choices?” He told me we could continue doing what we’re doing or we could do a C-section. I asked his professional advice and he said simply, “Well, if we continue to do what we’re doing … one of you might not make it.” And all the sudden, I cared. I wanted to die. But I didn’t want this innocent baby to die. So I decided on a C-section. A half hour later, I heard the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. A tiny cry pulled me away from the worst physical pain I have ever experienced in my life. The epidural didn’t seem to work all that well and while the doctor was assuring me I’d only feel pressure as he worked, I was feeling the searing hotness of being cut into and organs moved as he delivered my daughter. It was agonizing. Her cries were a welcome relief from the pain, and in that moment that I first heard her cry, I wanted so badly to be her mommy. To love her and be loved by her. I wanted to give her all the love in me that no one else seemed to want. I lost my heart in that moment. She stole it.
True to statistic, I had another baby within a year and a half. I didn’t want him either. Same guy, same lie, same stupid emotional roller coaster. Same ridiculous ending. I was eighteen and pregnant again. My daughter had become my life, and now all the sudden, I was struggling to both continue loving her while simultaneously hating everything else about my life. I messed her up in the months that followed. When my heart shattered this time, there was someone so close to it, she got hurt too. I am still so sorry to her for that. But I had my son because I loved my daughter. And only because I loved my daughter. It took me six months to love him. I prayed everyday, “God, please, I want to love this baby. I don’t just want to care for him out of obligation. I want to love him like I love her. Help me!” I was so desperate for my heart to change toward him. All I felt was a sickening feeling of obligation. I did not adore him. I didn’t want to be his mommy. Until the day I looked at him and he stole my heart too. I don’t’ know what changed. I just remember being flooded one day with every feeling I knew I should have had toward him and never did until that moment. And I cried. I still do. He’s precious. Ten years later, he’s so precious to me.
After that pregnancy, I decided to get well. I walked away from the relationship that was doing nothing but destroying me and I purposed to defy every other statistic I had heard about teen moms. I graduated high school. One down, many more to go. I enrolled in college that fall and finished four years later with a Bachelor’s degree. Took my best friend to my graduation in New York. I decided that since I might not ever act on Broadway like I wanted to, I’d at least go see it. We did. It was four days in New York that thoroughly convinced me I could never live in New York anyway. One more statistic down. That fall, I bought my own home. A friend in the Real Estate business told me she found a perfect house for us. I went with her to look at it, fell in love instantly, and began to walk the land. I prayed over it. I walked the yard praying. I filled out the paperwork and although she warned me that the application process was sometimes a huge hassle, mine was quick and painless. God had opened up a major door in my life, and I walked through it. We’ve lived in that house for almost six years. All this time, I’ve been on government assistance. That’s another one, remember. Another statistic teen mothers live under. I’ve lived it. It’s humiliating. It’s a prophecy I don’t necessarily care for. But I’ve lived it, so what can I say? They weren’t wrong. Just a painful word spoken over way too many girls. A useless utterance. Hopelessness spoken over an already painful reality.
I shared all of this to tell you something super wonderful about my God: He cares about the things we care about. They touch His heart and He knows our pain. Not only does He know, He absolutely cares. Our concerns become His concerns. Every one of those statistics I set out to defy, He has helped me to conquer. Including state assistance. A few months ago, I applied for a position that would pay a salary big enough to get me off of state assistance. I didn’t get the position. What I got was a post-interview in which I was told that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my interview or my skills, but they gave the job to a man who could bring more to the table. He was also a football coach. So I lost out. But I also received such a confident peace from the Lord that I boldly said, “You know, it’s totally okay. I am confident that when God is ready to bless me, nothing and no one can stand in the way of His open door.” And I meant it. And last month, they pulled me into an office adjacent to the classroom I work in and offered me that position. God worked so that not just that guy, but the two or three prospective hires after him, all received better positions until they offered it to me. And so, finally, my two children and I are done with welfare. Praise God! And with that, I am convinced that there is nothing the world can say that will stand when God speaks something in our lives. I may not have ended up on Broadway, but I have a daily stage presence in the lives of area teens both as a teacher and as a youth leader. And I know very well what they are going through. My life as a teenage robot ran the gamut. Been there, done that is such an understatement. And God is using my pain. And I am totally okay with that. He has gone above and beyond for me and I was the world’s refuse. Yes, my God has turned major tests into a magnificent testimony. And He can do it again.
Let me ask this of you: don’t just read this. Don’t. Don’t fill up on my life’s story and think you know me and walk away with just that: a better understanding of my life and where I come from and what God has done. Take it in. Recognize the pain, depression, hopelessness, the slow dying. Notice the determination and complete dependence on God that created my victory. Walk away with a better understanding of hurting girls who give themselves away, desperately seeking love. Love them so they won’t! Speak words of wisdom, not your opinion, into their situations. Pray with them. Pray for them. Pray for these boys that don’t know what they are doing, and don’t yet care. Pray for the media that sells sex like a drug to the sea of hurting, and wonders why promiscuity reigns. Pray for the church to become effective again, so people know where to run to, and about the Father who loves them as desperately as they want to be loved. Pray for mothers who don’t know how to love their kids because they hate themselves. Pray for kids who don’t understand the pain in their mommy, or why their mommy can’t say “I love you” or hug them. Pray for men to become daddies again. To care for their offspring and to care for the women they profess with their mouths to love. Pray for men who will step up in a position of fatherhood they didn’t create so that generations to follow will become healthy and whole again. Pray for those who don’t think they will ever rise above their present circumstances. Pray that they will come to know our amazing God who speaks things that are not as though they were. Pray for change. Please, pray for change.