When I first thought I was pregnant, my first reaction was to consider abortion, not because I didn’t want to keep the child, I just felt I was not prepared. I thought a child would sidetrack me from the dreams I had for my life; music, dancing, going to college and more. I was also nervous about judgment from my family, disappointment from people who looked up to me and falling into the teen mom stereotype. I did not look at it from a positive point of view, only a negative view and it took me getting out of denial before I could see the positive side.
One day I went online and searched for free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. I knew I first needed to find out if I was really pregnant. Since I did not want my parents to know, they couldn’t take me to the appointment. So, I researched questions about parental consent with hospitals and medical care.
While searching, the very first ad link that popped up was from Alpha Women’s Center (then ICU Mobile Twin Cities). It said they give free pregnancy tests and free ultrasounds, and that I could know all results the same day. I clicked on the link, still unsure about my thoughts on abortion and still in disbelief about being pregnant. I hesitated for days, which turned into weeks, and as time went by, I didn’t know how far along I was in my pregnancy.
When I finally called the Alpha Women’s Center number, I left a message on the center’s confidential line and I heard from Alpha’s nurse Jessica the next day. She introduced herself, explained her role and asked what I needed. I told her I wanted to know for sure if I was pregnant. Jessica answered my questions and explained that they offer information for people thinking about adoption or how to start prenatal care. We set up an appointment for a pregnancy test.
Leading up to the appointment day, I did not know how to keep it secret or how to even get to there, since I didn’t have a driver’s license. I finally asked a friend for a ride. She drove me there but did not know I might be pregnant. I expected an actual building and thought it would be easy to get dropped off and just go inside and my friend wouldn’t t know what I was doing. But when we got there, I saw the Alpha Women’s Center mobile truck and realize that is where I should go. I had my friend drive around in the lot as though I couldn’t find my appointment, but eventually, I had no choice but to have her drop me off in front of the truck. Then she asked me if there was something I wanted to tell her. She had a son of her own from a teen pregnancy, so I knew I could trust her, but I wasn’t ready to discuss it before my appointment.
Once I went into the mobile center, Julie and Jessica asked to get to know me and let me know they would support me. Jessica explained the details of taking the pregnancy test very well, but I was still shaking, out of my mind, while taking the test. She showed me the results right away to say, yes, I was pregnant. First, I started crying, because this was reality, and my denial was coming to the surface. Jessica explained that we could do the ultrasound next if I wanted to, and not to worry, to not be scared. And then with the wand on my stomach we found my baby!
Even though I was scared and nervous and didn’t really want to be pregnant, the moment I saw my baby on the screen my whole perspective changed! Seeing life inside me moving, I could not let him go, I could not go through an abortion. I was ready to put my whole life on hold. I was crying and it was happy tears. It was a lot for me as a 16-year-old who hadn’t told anyone I may be pregnant and had not even believed it myself. Jessica printed off the ultrasound pictures of Darrell and gave me lots of information about different types of adoptions, where to go for prenatal care, and she gave me prenatal vitamins. She told me I was five months pregnant, further along than I had been thinking. Now I immediately wanted to keep my child and no longer wanted to consider an abortion.
About a month or so later my dad walked in my room one day and asked how I was feeling. I had been dropping hints about my pregnancy but still had not told him. We talked about how I was doing and school, and then he confronted me, and I had all those same feelings about telling him that I had earlier. I know he’d had a lot of trust in me and it would be hardest to tell him. Once he knew, I was relieved and scared at the same time. I knew he was trying to be supportive of me, yet he was also upset and disappointed. I was seven months along by then.
I needed to figure out a plan if I wanted to parent my son. I wanted to finish high school and go to college, but this would mean so much work, so I started to wonder, “How could I do all this?” My dad asked how I would support my child and go to high school at the same time, and lots of other questions. I thought if I made sure that I was going to be ok, then I was going to be able to help my child be ok. I knew things were not the best with our relationship and I was losing my best friend in my dad, and it made me start questioning whether I could really do this, and whether adoption was the way I needed to go. But it hit me that I wanted to be there for the milestones in my son’s life, like starting to talk and walk, and all those things.
As my family and I drifted apart, I grew closer to my son and felt less lonely. Sometimes distance helps people come back together, so I started thinking of living on my own. Instead, I went to live with another. My dad and my new family and I had a meeting along with Alpha Women’s Center nurse Jessica and Annie the director, creating a written plan for how to make it work. I moved in with Wendy and Miles and was welcomed into the family with open arms, without judgment or questions. I felt like I did not have to change who I was because of this gift they had given me. I have been getting to know a lot of how their family lives and their traditions, and it opened my eyes to how to teach my own son and it’s made it easier. I missed my family, but sometimes times being apart is better. Wendy and Miles really pushed me to get my summer school done, and start my drivers-ed classroom instruction and helped me get rides everywhere, and to get a plan for the final two months before my son was born.
Suddenly it was time for the big day of Darrell’s birth. My short-term goals were met, like finishing summer school. And I passed my driver’s permit test just two days before I went into labor. I didn’t know how I would do all that, yet I was able to with Wendy and Miles pushing me on, and it made me feel accomplished like if I keep doing this I am going to be able to make it, and how I can push myself after I have my son.
Being in the labor room gave me time to connect with the main people who pushed me to accomplish what I needed to do: my parents, my best friend, my new family, and Jessica. Being able to share that special moment with those who had pushed and supported me, made it so special. The pictures after Darrell’s birth will be great in the future for when he will get to see who was there with me to help bring him into this world. It meant the world to me. When I was able to see my parents there, regardless of our ups and downs, it helped me see what family is. Family is there regardless of arguments and disagreements, and family is always there for each other. I will teach my son, all those people around you that are who you call when you need help, and you can’t make it without your family.
Now looking at it from starting the journey to taking care in raising my own child, now I see my parents’ view about how kids do grow up fast. And Darrell will soon have his own story too, but it started with how he got here. Then he can think, “My mom did it and followed her dreams, regardless of the obstacles in her way, and those who did not think she could do it. She stuck to true to who she is.” You make it as far as you push yourself. You can’t do it if you don’t believe in yourself. And it matters who you spend time with, so seek out those who will support you.
Being a teen mom does not mean my story has to end, it means it is just beginning. Now I feel like my life is starting, as I live my life for my son. I want my story to be heard so other girls will not feel alone. Hard things might happen but let them teach you to get back up and be even stronger.