I have shared the story about how I became a teen mom at sixteen many times, but I have never shared this story before and I feel that today it is time that I do so.
There are a lot of legitimate reasons that I could point to in an effort to explain why I found myself pregnant at sixteen years old.
Lack of parental guidance, being a sexual abuse victim,extreme poverty, absence of a father, and limited sexual education are all touted as acceptable reasons for why a young person allows themselves to end up in such a position of desperation…and that is exactly what any teen pregnancy is.
And I easily fell into every single one of these categories.
I was a statistic.
I was the child of a teen mom myself, so I was born to be a statistic.
It was almost as if I was fulfilling my predestined role as a second generation teen mom, born of a teen mom. After all that is how it is supposed to go right? It’s practically expected.
I waited until I was several months pregnant before I admitted to myself that it was true.
Looking back now, I can’t believe I actually thought I could just wish it away.
At some point, I knew it wasn’t going anywhere on it’s own so I had to do something.
I was barely sixteen years old and more scared than I had ever been in my entire life, which is saying a lot because I had already lived through some very scary realities.
I knew I had a choice to have an abortion and that it would be the best way out of the mess I had found myself in. I also knew it was the easiest way to hide what I had done and get on with my life.
I knew a couple girls who had had abortions before me and it seemed like their lives were better for it, even if they never quite seemed the same as before.
Pregnancy changes everyone.
I had no one to turn to, so I told my younger sister who vowed to help me in any way she could.
Several more days past before I finally decided I needed the help of an adult, so I went to the school counselor. She did not try to talk me out of my plan to have an abortion, and in helping me, she was actually encouraging my decision and reinforcing the idea that I was making the right choice for my life.
I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood. And with the help of a school counselor, I had a ride to the clinic and an excused absence from school. It was all SO easy as everything seemed to be falling into place.
All I needed now was a few hundred dollars and I could take care of my problem and get back to my normal life once again without anyone else knowing.
Between my sister and I, we came up with the money I needed and everything was working out perfectly. All I had to do was show up for the ride my school counselor arranged and it could be done and over with… and no one would even have to know… especially my mom.
There is no way to describe the feeling I had as I entered the office that day, but I knew right away that I could not go through with it. Still I sat in the waiting room for about 5 minutes filling out paperwork and trying to work up some courage to go through with it before I got up and walked back out the door.
I am positive that it was fear that was motivating me before I headed to the clinic that day, and it was fear that continued to motivate me to turn around and walk back out.
But I have never been so thankful to be motivated by fear.
I knew when I walked out that day that I would have to face the shameful glances from my own mom, peers, and even strangers.
One thing I know for sure from being on both sides of things is that it is never an easy choice when you are a pregnant teen.
And in just a matter of mere moments, you can find yourself on one side or the other of a polarizing imaginary line that keeps people from being able to accept one another without judgement.
People can be down right mean, and I received LOTS of rude unsolicited advice from everyone, including strangers, those first few years whenever I went in public.
Why do we feel that we can judge someone else’s shoes?
Over the years I have come to realize one thing. We are a judgmental people regardless of the choice we ultimately decide to go with.
We love to feel like we are superior to one another. So regardless of the choice you made, you subconsciously judge those who chose differently than you did because you feel it makes you a better person.
Pride can be such a subtle and nasty thing.
I spent so many years feeling like a better person because I Chose Life.
I wore my spiritual badge of honor and stood in the Right to Life lines, full of pride with my head held high because I wasn’t like THOSE people.
I made the right choice, they did not….
How is that love?
Especially when I of all people knew exactly what it felt like to feel so desperate.
Just a few moments more in that clinic, and I would have been on the other side of that imaginary line…
Dealing with the shame of knowing… even if no one else did.
Then God pointed out that regardless of the choices we choose to make, we are the same sinners in need of Grace.
It’s so easy to say what you would have done if you were in someone else’s shoes, but reality forces our hand sometimes and all you can do is hope you’ve made the right choice within that eternal moment.
And God loves us in spite of the choices we make.
Today it has been over 25 years since I was that fearful sixteen year old mom without a clue in the world of what I was doing. I have been determined since that day to rise above the statistics and I am so thankful that I didn’t go through with my initial choice.
But it has been very hard. Being a mom is hard work.
Being a mom at sixteen is even harder and I understand all the reasons someone might choose not to.
I now have a beautiful daughter who is beginning a life of her own and I can’t imagine my life without her and I am so very thankful that she has chosen to live the life she was given to its fullest.
The hard stuff happens no matter what and no one gets to go through this life without experiencing the pain and loss of it. Life is hard!
It would be so great if we could get to the point that we love one another regardless of the choices we make, regardless of the differences between us, and stop trying to prove that we are better than someone that chose a different way than we did.
It’s not just pro life or pro choice, we can be pro LOVE.
We are all sinners, even if we sin differently.
Please know that I no longer wear my Pro Life Badge. I believe that all life is valuable, including the teen mom who is making a choice she will carry with her the rest of her life.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
UPDATED: It has been more than 25 years since my whole world changed! A few years ago, when my baby was 22 years old, she gave birth to her first baby.