‘It’s positive.‘I’m keeping the baby.’: Teen mom judged for age proves stereotypes wrong

“I became a mom really early. I was only a few weeks shy of turning 18 years old when I had the suspicion I may be pregnant. I hesitantly walked to the school nurse’s office, hoping no one would see me. As I sat there quietly waiting for the result of the pregnancy test, I was filled with fear and my mind raced, ‘What if it’s positive? What will I do? How am I going to take care of a baby? It won’t be positive.’ The nurse asked me if I had any idea what I would do if I was in fact pregnant, but I had no clue. She looked down and back up at me. ‘It’s positive,’ she said as she showed me the test with two bright pink lines. ‘Let’s talk about your options.’ I remember sitting there in shock, not fully taking in all the information she gave to me as I tried to process the news I had just been given.

The nurse gave me some paperwork and informed me of my three options: adoption, abortion, or keeping the kid. She was correct when she said that none of the possibilities were simple. I’d never had to make such a difficult decision before in my life. None of the choices were ‘perfect’ for a teenager, none were simple, and each one would alter my life. I tried to hold back tears as I went out of the school nurse’s office and into the library. I took a seat at one of the empty circular tables and texted two of my sisters and friends. They comforted me with their words, but I’d never felt so alone as I did in that library while I contemplated my future.

Two teen pose in matching formal wear for their high school prom

I hadn’t made a concrete decision right away; it was overwhelming to think about. A week had passed when I closed the door to my room and pulled out the papers I was given by the school nurse. I looked down at the number of the abortion clinic, took a breath, and dialed the number. The woman on the other end asked how far along I was. ‘I am not sure. I think eight weeks,’ I replied. She asked when I wanted to schedule the appointment, and I quickly hung up. I cried as I slipped down the side of my bed and onto the floor. I knew there was truly only one thing I could do, and it was to have the baby and become a mother just as I was entering adulthood!

Telling the father, Jordan, was quick and he took it surprisingly well. He was supportive and ready to take on the journey of parenthood with me. A month had already passed when I decided to tell my parents about the baby. I was putting it off out of fear of their reactions, but our siblings had all known. A week before my graduation, I asked if I could speak to my mom alone in the garage, and as we walked out of the door I could feel the fear building up. I sat down across from her awkwardly in silence as I built up the courage to tell her, and then I broke down crying and told her, ‘I’m pregnant.’ I no longer cried out of fear of being a young mother though, I cried because I was scared of disappointing my parents and I felt like I had failed them somehow.

Teen couple take maternity photos in a field while the boy kisses the girl's belly bump

She was calm but quiet about it all. I asked her to tell my dad because I knew I wouldn’t be able to, and she agreed. Shortly after our conversation, my parents went out for dinner and I imagined how my dad would react when she told him. I was the baby of the family and now I would be having a baby before my life even started. My stomach was in knots as I waited for them to get back home when my mom unexpectedly called me. I answered and she told me my dad and she had talked, and they looked online and found an abortion clinic they could take me to. I was shocked and undeniably hurt. ‘I can’t get an abortion, I’m 17 weeks,’ I said defensively. ‘It says they do it until 19 weeks,’ she replied. I told her I was not getting an abortion and I was keeping the baby.

There wasn’t another conversation about it after that. I know they thought they had my best interests in mind because they also had children young and knew the struggles, but I had the right to choose for myself and I was certain about my choice. We expected a similar reaction from Jordan’s parents as my parents had, but they were quickly excited about it. They immediately welcomed me into their family and their eyes gleamed with joy as they talked about their first grandchild. It felt like a huge weight was lifted when everyone knew about the pregnancy,

Teen mom takes a photo of an ultrasound of her first child who was breech

but the difficult things we’d face were just beginning. There wasn’t another conversation about it after that. I know they thought they had my best interests in mind because they also had children young and knew the struggles, but I had the right to choose for myself and I was certain about my choice. We expected a similar reaction from Jordan’s parents as my parents had, but they were quickly excited about it. They immediately welcomed me into their family and their eyes gleamed with joy as they talked about their first grandchild. It felt like a huge weight was lifted when everyone knew about the pregnancy, but the difficult things we’d face were just beginning.

November 9th came and I woke up more nervous and excited than I had ever been in my life. Jordan and I got ready, jumped into the back of my parent’s car, and we all headed to the hospital. When we arrived at 6 a.m. there were forms to fill out and they told me to get in a gown and remove my make-up. I sat on a hospital bed, the fear building up, while I waited for them to tell me it was time.

Teen mom sits in a wheelchair and cries after her C-section birth

When I got to the OR it was cold and unwelcoming. I was told to sit upon the edge of the table and bend inwards as they put the long needle into my back to freeze my body for the surgery. I was more scared than I had ever been as I lay there thinking about all the horrifying things people had said to me about C-sections just weeks before.

I lay there as the doctors talked, getting more and more nervous as each second passed. I started to cry, unable to hold back how scared I was. They finally let Jordan in, and I felt a wave of relief to see a familiar face. I could tell I didn’t look well by the worry I could see on his face when he came into the room. He sat down and held my hand, talking to me to try to calm me down.

Teen mom bottle-feeds her newborn son in the hospital while he wears a white onesie with lions on it

When they held our baby up to show us him, I was in amazement. Our son, Malachi, was finally here. I remember looking up at him, the light shining behind him, and thinking how he looked like an angel. He was already perfect in every way. Suddenly they took him away and into another room. After stitching my stomach up, they wheeled me into the recovery room and I waited for them to bring my son – but they didn’t.

We asked for updates and they told us he had fluid in his lungs and had to be in an incubator. Jordan was allowed to go see him, but I couldn’t as I still wasn’t able to feel or move my legs. Jordan showed me photos of him and I couldn’t wait to hold him in my arms.

Without my son and still unable to move my legs, I was brought into a maternity room. I was so tired that I fell slept for a few hours, expecting that my kid would be able to join me soon. I was eventually able to move my toes and legs when I awoke. A mother with her new baby slept in the same room as me, in the bed next to mine. It was awful to see her holding her baby and hear her baby scream while mine was downstairs alone. My parents came to see us and could tell I was upset since I had to listen to numerous people in the room visit the new baby.

while I still hadn’t seen mine since right after he was born. It was supposed to be a time filled with happiness and visits to welcome our new family member, but instead, it felt sad and empty. That evening, the nurses allowed me to go downstairs to see my baby. I sat in a wheelchair and they wheeled me down the halls and through the cold basement tunnels to where my son was.

Little boy sleeps soundly while swaddled in a blanket

e was laying in an incubator surrounded by white blankets and looked so peaceful and tiny. This was the first time we were told he was actually born premature and only 36 weeks old. The doctor made a preventable mistake with the due dates, which resulted in a premature birth via C-section. I still wasn’t able to hold him, but I felt content just to finally see him in person and not on the screen of a phone. After going back upstairs, my parents paid for me to be moved into a private room so I didn’t have to share a room with a mother and her baby while I was without mine.

My son, Malachi, was doing well and after 30 hours the nurses finally brought him upstairs to be with me. I was finally able to hold him for the first time. I held back tears of happiness and was in awe of the little human I held in my arms. There were still some obstacles though; the nurses would not allow me to breastfeed him and his weight loss was concerning. They said he had to be given formula, and if I wanted I could pump milk to be put into bottles. Malachi’s stomach couldn’t tolerate the formula so he continued to lose weight, and despite our pleas to let me breastfeed him, they continued to force formula. It hurt us to watch him struggle and we felt like we had no control.

Little boy with an infection lays down in a hospital bed with a bunch of stickers next to him

My parents came to visit us the next day and I confided in them about how upset I was about not being allowed to breastfeed, about how Malachi was losing weight, and how if the weight loss didn’t stop they’d have to keep him in the hospital. My dad was angry about this and asked them why there were posters all over the hospital to promote breastfeeding, and yet they were telling me I wasn’t allowed to and had no reason for it. I listened as my dad fought for me to be able to make choices for my own baby because I was young and my voice didn’t matter. This was only the beginning of the struggles we’d face in fighting for our voices to be heard when it came to our son because of our young ages.

I arrived home with my new baby, but it didn’t feel like home anymore. It felt strange bringing my first baby home to my parent’s house. It was not how I pictured this big life event. I had friends stop by and meet my son and congratulate me, and I was thankful to have their support, but it felt weird. Just like that, I was in a different stage of my life. My friends were taking courses in university, and I was taking care of my new baby.

Young mom takes a selfie with her oldest son during Christmastime with a Christmas tree behind them

We went through so many hardships with Malachi; things that would have been difficult even for parents who were older, or had more stability in their lives. The challenges started the moment he was born when he was premature and continued when we brought him home. Malachi had colic, and because Jordan still lived with his parents and I lived with mine, I was alone in taking care of him every night. Jordan had specific hours he was allowed to come visit us, so I was forced to do it on my own from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. every day. I felt lonely, trapped, and like I didn’t belong, but I also felt so much love every time I looked at my baby.

I was still recovering from my C-section, and I was exhausted from the lack of sleep. Malachi cried all the time, and the nights felt extra long. Every couple of weeks we would stay overnight at Jordan’s parent’s house, and while we were there, Jordan’s mom would come into the room and take Malachi for a few hours before going to work in the early morning. It gave me a chance to catch up on some sleep before going back home and preparing for another night of little rest. I was so grateful for those nights and her help.

Young son copies his father shaving in the mirror with a fake razor

After 4 long months of sleep deprivation, the colic slowly went away and I was finally settling into motherhood and really enjoying it. We moved to a different city and into a two-plus-one-bedroom condo when Malachi was 9 months old. It felt amazing to finally be together as a family, every single day and night, in our own home. I was filled with gratitude every day as I played with my little boy, watching him grow and learn new things.

As the years went by, we still had our hardships, such as when Malachi needed surgery for reoccurring ear infections, steroid shots for his lungs when he had croup, the time he was in the hospital for days with a viral infection and bilateral pneumonia and came home almost 10lbs lighter with bruised arms from all the IVs he needed, and his ADHD diagnosis that took five long years because, in one of the doctor’s words, we were ‘getting the runaround.’ Everything we’ve been through with him, we’ve had to fight for our voices to be heard and our judgment has always been questioned.

I’ve had to debunk prejudices as a young mother. I’ve had to struggle to be regarded with the same respect as an older mother, and I’ve had to prove that age doesn’t define a good mother. We called our baby Malachi because it means “my angel/my messenger,” and we believe he has been such in many ways already, despite the difficulties he has faced. Our entire family has matured tremendously over the years. We couldn’t imagine our lives without Malachi and the vivacious energy he brings to them. Everyone loves him, including his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone else. He’s one of the toughest boys we know, and he’s already been through a lot.

When we had him we were just kids who had a lot of growing up to do, and we are who we are today because of him. The challenges we’ve been through have made us stronger and they have bonded our family in a special way. Over the last nine years, he has watched us grow just as much as we’ve watched him grow. He’s taught us just as much as we’ve taught him, and he’s been part of our journey every step of the way.

Just as we were there for his firsts, he was there for all of our firsts as adults. We built our lives together, both with and for him. Our journey wasn’t ideal for two teenagers, but it was ours and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It wasn’t what I had planned for my life, but it was better than what I could have imagined. I feel incredibly grateful when I look over and see the smiling boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, and perfect freckles covering his nose – the boy who made me a mom.”

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