My Path to Choosing Life
I have never thought that I would ever relate myself to a Kardashian/Jenner, but here we go. If you use social media or watch the news, I'm sure you couldn't help but notice headlines plastered everywhere regarding Kylie Jenner's pregnancy over the last year. The larger majority of those headlines and articles brought to light her age. She's only 20, she shouldn't be having a baby, right? Totally. Except, who are we to decide what she should or shouldn't be doing? I'm sure her pregnancy was unplanned, but why is she suddenly labeled because she chose to step-up and raise her child? Why do I care? I care, because I have been in her shoes. No, not the famous ones, but the young, pregnant excessively-judged shoes. These articles about Kylie Jenner that were circulating exposed a defensive emotion in me I didn't know was there, especially for someone I've never met. I chose life for my son and I'd say he's turning out just fine. Who's to say that she can't do the same just because she's 20? Afterall, I was 20 when I had Noah and he's an outstanding student, gifted in every academic area his school teaches and excels at nearly everything he does. If I had given into pressures from the outside, or listened to what others thought was 'best for me" he wouldn't be here. There has never been a day where I regret my decision, not one.
Now, let me backtrack. I wrote a blog post awhile back on Noah, titled The Kid Who Changed My Life and I received an overwhelming amount of feedback from that post. In light of that and yes, Kylie Jenner, I wanted to dive a little deeper into my decision to be a young mom after I found out I was pregnant.
I always had it in my head that I would be a mom one day. I loved my job as a nanny, I adored kids, and had always been the maternal one in my group of friends. Kids were in my future, I just didn't realize it would happen differently than I always imagined. I was 20 when I found out I was pregnant. My mom actually had a hunch before I did so she came to my apartment with a few pregnancy tests. The first test had the most faint 2nd pink line, defining my test as positive. I thought for sure it was wrong, but my mom informed me false positives are rare. It's usually only wrong with a false negative. So, there we were, in my apartment bathroom in disbelief. My mom had me at a young age. She knew what I would be facing considering she faced it herself and she mourned for me. I don't think things had quite sunk in yet for me, but they did for her.
I knew a positive test meant I would have a baby. There was never a question of whether or not I would go through with the pregnancy. That just didn't occur to me. It was just a matter of how everything would play out. I don't think anything really hit me until I was alone in my apartment days later watching The O.C. It sounds silly, I know, but seeing the kids on the show (fictional and all) made me realize hanging out with friends, being spontaneous with no one to answer to wasn't going to be my future anymore.
Over the next several months I faced a lot of hardships. I kept it private for a little while, but pregnancy isn't something you can really hide for long. Eventually I had to tell people. I'll admit I was embarrassed to bring it up initially. There I was, a kid myself, telling the parents of the children I nannied for that I was expecting. And yes, still single, without a clue as to what was going to happen. They were supportive, however not everyone was.
I received pressure from numerous people to terminate the pregnancy. "That's what is best." "You don't want to ruin your life." "Do you really want to be a single mom?" I lost friends over the course of my pregnancy due to their lack or support or disagreement with the fact that I chose life for my baby. That was ok because the people who really mattered are the ones who stuck around and supported me. They happen to be in my life, still rooting for and supporting me. Sometimes it takes a life-changing situation to realize what people are made of and how strong of a support system you really have.
The months went on and I found myself being pressured from the outside again. Some people made points that seemed so valid they got into my head. I started to think I wasn't cut out for a baby at such a young age. It was a scary time in my life being unsure of what the future would hold. I began to consider giving the baby up for adoption. I wasn't proud I was considering adoption (although a noble decision), because I felt like I should be taking responsibility for my own actions. But I knew there were women (more mature than myself) who weren't able to have their own children and could give the baby a life better than I could. I sat on that feeling for a couple of weeks and ultimately decided against it. I continued to tell myself I could do it. I couldn't guarantee a perfect life, but I could guarantee love because I already felt it so deeply. I went to bed every night rubbing my stomach followed by a promise to love him the best I could for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to February 24th, 2008 to a brand new mother with a beautiful new baby boy. Every insecurity I had prior to this day disappeared immediately and I never looked back. Everything made sense and I was over-the-moon in love with my brand new baby.
Don't get me wrong, everything was lovey dovey, but that didn't mean we didn't face hardships or judgement along the way. Motherhood is damn hard, but truly it's hard whether you have a partner or not. I had a rough go of things for a long time. I was often mistaken for the "nanny" and was given the up and down when I let people know I was actually his mom. Friends didn't understand why I couldn't be spontaneous all the time so some of my friendships suffered. It was disheartening at times, but none of it seemed to matter as time went on because I took so much joy in being a mother. With the help of my family as childcare, I was able to finish college with a bachelor's degree and graduate with Noah by my side. Everything everyone said I couldn't do, I was doing. I was proud of my decision to be a mom. I am proud that I chose life and if I am being wholeheartedly honest with you and myself, I don't know where I would be today if I hadn't gotten pregnant. I was partying too much, not serious about college and on a path to who knows where. I don't suggest getting pregnant as a means to get your life together, but I do want to reiterate that so many great things came from my choice to walk everything out.
Here's what I have found to be true, motherhood is no walk in the park. Ever. Whether you're 20 or 30 or 40 it is HARD. I'm 31 now with my second child (21 months) and it's still hard! Motherhood is going to come with it's challenges regardless of what age we are, whether we're single or married, whether it's a boy or a girl, or twins for that matter. God bless you moms of multiples. There will always be a challenge, but it is so incredibly beautiful and fulfilling that I, personally, think they're challenges worth facing. If you find yourself to be single and pregnant, you DO have options. Kylie Jenner is an example of that. One might argue she's a millionaire, that makes it way easier Christine? And to that you are right and I might say touche, if I hadn't done it myself. You had your family to help with childcare, what about someone who doesn't? You're right, that does make it significantly harder, but not impossible. You STILL have options for that baby to have a beautiful life and I would love to help you look into those.
Now, I will say that getting married and THEN having a baby is the right/easiest/most logical way to do it, but I am walking proof that not everything is planned. In fact, most of life ends up not being planned, even for someone who loves to plan like myself. My hope is that going forward people don't judge someone young or single for getting pregnant. We all make bad choices. ALL.OF.US. Additionally, I hope we can learn by judging someone who is already going through the fire, we're only hurting them. They're likely already dealing with enough internally. Instead, be a friend. Be a shoulder to cry on or a resource for guidance and knowledge of what is to come. We need more of that in the world.
I'll sign off by saying I chose to be vulnerable in this post in hopes that someone else may be able to relate to my story. I know it's not for everyone and I know people believe differently and that's ok. My words are my own, as they relate to me and my life.
If you are in a situation similar to the one I was in and you need someone to talk to or listen to you, I'd like to offer my ear. I am by no means a counselor, but I am who I am today because I walked in those shoes. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get in touch with you. I'll leave you with a few photos of what my life turned into after I chose life for my son.