By: Cielo Castaneda
I decided to write this story out of my experience. I don’t encourage teen pregnancy but I advocate that you should make the situation your motivation to push further not an excuse to give up, if you do find yourself in my position. Or the next time you do judge a teen mom about their age and situation, I can tell you with 150 percent confidence she knows what she’s missing out on and knows her life will never be the typically teen life. She doesn’t constantly have to be reminded how she “ruined her life” or “how hard she’s going to have it”. She needs encouragement, love and support. To be reminded about the experience and new journey waiting for her and her child. Love yourself and love the journey that comes with raising a child. Don’t let the stares and whispers win, prove them wrong that you’re not just a statistic about teen pregnancy.
-Cielo Castaneda (Online Editor)
At 17, most girls are thinking about clothes, boys, and the next party. But- I at 17, am pregnant and now focus on raising my son who will be born in February of 2019.
There are some days where I stare at myself in the mirror and try to imagine still fitting into a size 6 dress, not having to wear clothes that are twice my size. Feet that weren’t swollen from pregnancy fluids and eyebags of having to wake up three times a night because I have to pee or I’m hungry. I wish I didn’t have to put up with a back that’s constantly aching, struggling to keep down food and breathe without feeling like there’s not enough air.
Sometimes I wish I could go to a restaurant and eat a shrimp cocktail, not worried about what I’m eating and if it’s going to harm my child. I miss being able to sleep on my stomach and crack my back constantly. I miss being asked to go out with friends. Sometimes, I wish I was just like every girl my age still learning to be responsible for myself, instead of two people. But I instead made the decision to grow up a little faster and put someone else’s life before mine. Something I don’t regret doing.
I miss walking into class and not constantly being stared at. I miss meeting up with my friends early in the morning. I miss being able to have the energy and desire to hang out. I miss walking down the hallways of my school without someone saying “she’s pregnant” under their breath like I didn’t hear it. Now instead of being asked “what college do you want to go to”, or “what do you plan to major in” like any other student. I get asked “do you plan to drop out”, “who’s the father”, or “how do you plan to provide for a child”.
Such moments and there are lots of them make me realize how out of place I feel in high school. I can’t ignore the fact that my life is really different compared with the lives of most kids my age. I just walk around trying to hold my head high and think to myself that people can judge me but I know the deeper meaning to the story. I got used to the stares, the whispering, and the disgusted looks and so on. However, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when you’re alone thinking about it at night.
No one will understand what it’s like to be a teen mom until it happens to them. It’s easy to judge and say that I ruined my life. It’s easy to say that my child is going to feel unwanted, and that I’m always going to struggle to provide. It’s easy to say that I’ll end up working at local McDonalds for the rest of my life. Or that I’ll be one of those parents that sends my child to school without shoes or a lunch, because I’m too busy trying to make up for my “lost” teen years at some weekend party.
Being a teen mom is, still being a teen but I’m focused on growing up because I’m responsible for someone else. It’s hard to grow up so quickly, this is the stage as a teen, you’re busy thinking about what you want to do after high school, studying long nights for that math test, trying to eat healthy because you want a nice body or because you want to be a size 0 instead of an 8. But instead, I think about how nervous I am about going into labor and all the pain that comes with it. I’m busy learning about child development and reading about what to expect. I trying eating healthy because there seems to be a never ending list of foods that can put my child in danger and possibly lead him to a future with problems and difficulties. Instead of worrying if I fit into a size 6 dress, I’m wearing clothes that cover my body because I’m insecure about the stretch marks and my swollen body parts.
Most days it would be so much easier to give up, but the truth is there a life growing inside of me. I’ll be the person he will need at 2 o’clock in the morning when he’s hungry, the person he will need love and affection from, the person that will need to reassure him that everything will be okay. It doesn’t matter if my world is falling apart, there is a life that is relying on me, and no matter who stares, who judges, who talks, the fact that I still manage to wake up every morning and go about my day is a big achievement already.
I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t gotten pregnant but my role in this world has changed and that’s okay. It’s no longer about me, it’s about my beautiful boy who I will be meeting in a few weeks. When he needs changing, I’ll be there. When he cries, I’ll be there. When he needs feeding, I’ll be there. When he takes his first steps, I’ll be there. When he plays his first soccer game, I’ll be the loudest one there. When he gets student of the month, I’ll be there cheering. When he needs a hug, I will be there with my arms wide open. When he graduates, I’ll be there. As hard as this journey is and will be, my son is what I have been living for these last few months. He is the person I have stayed strong for and fought for, and I will continue to do so. My age no longer matters. He needs me and that’s what matters. My son is my biggest motivation to push me to finish school and to do better in life. As well as to still pursue a business career. Just because I’m 17 it doesn’t make me less of a mother and student. Just because I’m pregnant at 17 doesn’t mean I ended my life. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine my life without all the baby clothes, diapers and homework but this is my life for now. All the hard work is preparing my son for a great future because he deserves everything and more.
I plan to do all the things I wanted to do before I got pregnant, I believe that I am still as capable to finish high school, go to college, work and be able to raise a child. I will do it all it’s just that it’s going to take me longer. I thank my parents for being my biggest support, for being the ones that never turned their back on me through this. For all the people that have been supportive through this. At the end of the day, everything I do is for my son and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in this world. And I know I’m bringing him into this world already being loved by many.