Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Daughter Changed My Life

I became pregnant with my daughter at 17. I know, gasp away. I was unmarried, a high school dropout, not working, and pregnant- damn it, where was MTV’s Teen Mom when I was one?
The day I found out I was pregnant I remember leaving the local fair and talking to my friend about how August had already come and gone. Wait, what? No. The word “September” meant I went an entire month without a period. What happened to it? Where did it go? Did it break? Then my friend uttered the word… “Pregnant”… and to the store we went. Bloom and Bottom Dollar were still known as Food Lion, which is where we went. I was so anxious I ended up taking the test at the store. No sense in scaring the hell out of my then boyfriend for nothing.  
The “three minute” time frame on the instructions is really just the throw it away point. It’s for the women who stare at the test as it reads “positive” or “negative”, and think “Maybe it needs to sit a little longer.”  I say this because about three seconds after I peed on the little white stick two lines appeared. I put it down anyways, waited and paced.
I dropped my phone and watched the battery pop out on the floor when I realized the test did not change. One of those little lines did not disappear. I was definitely pregnant. My friend was sworn to secrecy as we drove to see our boyfriends (who were relatives of course). I knew I needed to tell him that night if I wanted him to hear it from me and not his brother, neighbor, or cousin.
He and I went for a drive. I handed him the box and the test as it still read “positive”. I explained what he was looking at and how I had no intention of having an abortion. I told him he was more than welcome to walk away because I wasn’t one of “those girls” afraid to do it alone, and I certainly didn’t want him around if he didn’t want to be. He said he’d be there, and that was that.
I got a job at Dippin’Dots (glamorous I know), the same week I found out I was pregnant. I was honest with the manager about my pregnancy, and she was understanding. Lucky for me, Motherhood Maternity was right next to my booth and the women there let me borrow pregnancy books to read during the day. I read everything from “What to Expect When Your Expecting” and Jenny McCarthy’s “Belly Laughs” to “Happiest Baby on the Block” and books for Dads. If it had anything to do with children, parenting, and pregnancy I read it. I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
I went to Borders and picked up the thickest, most interesting looking G.E.D. book I could find, and studied it for months. I remember making flash cards and having friends call out words for me to define. I had my uncle help me with some of the math. I was going to pass the test. I had to pass the test. I signed up to take it in June, 2005. Looking back, I wish I realized before I dropped out of high how important it was for me to have a solid education. Hindsight's 20/20.
 My daughter was born the first week of April 2005; I took and passed the G.E.D. in June, and enrolled at our local community college to begin classes in the fall, thank you GI Bill, Pell Grant, and Student Loans. My neighbor helped me snag an interview at a family owned restaurant in town. They were flexible with my hours and the pay beat Dippin’Dots. I worked at the restaurant until I graduated with my Associates Degree and moved on to obtain my Bachelors Degree at the local university.
My life changed from that moment on. The reckless teeny bopper with no goals or initiative became a different person. Over the course of the nine months pregnancy, I developed a plan for my life and my unborn child’s. I refused to be another sad statistic. It’s one thing to screw up your own life; it’s another to screw up someone else’s. It was a long and bumpy road to get to where I am now, but now that I’m here, I’ll never look back.

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