Welcome to the fourth and final post in the One Mom series. The aim of this series of four posts is to highlight that even though our journeys to motherhood were different, we are all united in our title of ‘mom’.
At the end of the day, whether you had a C-Section or natural birth, whether you got pregnant easily or had help conceiving, whether you had your baby in a hospital or at home, or whether you were old or young when you became a mom, you’re still a mom.
It doesn’t matter what the particulars of your story are. You’re a mom, I’m a mom, and the woman standing behind you at the grocery store is a mom. We are One Mom. We’re here to share our stories and lift each other up. That’s what matters.
Today’s story hit me right in the feels for a bunch of different reasons. I’m the result of a teenage pregnancy, and I was only one year short of being a pregnant teenage mom myself.
But the real reason why this post was a painful one to put together is that it wasn’t written by a mommy blogger or a faceless stranger on the internet.
It was written by my friend Casey.
I’m Casey, a 25-year-old English teacher and single mama to the best kid ever!
I’ve been living in China for the past five years with my daughter Caylin, who is nine. We love traveling and doing artsy things together like pottery classes and drawing.
Cay is very creative and artistic. She loves being at home in her own company and my work schedule is set out in a way that we get to spend a lot of time together which is amazing!
I found out I was pregnant when I was 15 and gave birth two weeks before my 16th birthday. Of course, it was not in any way part of my life plan to be a mom so young but we made it work.
I had a very supportive family although my story is anything but conventional. Feel free to follow me on Instagram or YouTube if you are interested to see a bit more into our lives. I plan to post more regular updates now that life begins to get back to normal
The Truth About Teenage Pregnancy
1. Let’s jump right into it: Why didn’t you tell anyone about your pregnancy?
Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve spoken about this… Basically, it comes down to a very simple truth. I was scared.
My family was well known in our town and quite highly respected in some circles. My parents were going through an extremely trying time and I didn’t want to hurt them or for people to look down on them as bad parents.
I didn’t want to add extra pressure onto an already — for lack of better words — ‘crazy’ time. We had lost our cars, our home was being taken away, nobody had their heads on straight.
I was so young, I didn’t have the emotional maturity to really fathom what was going on and I just blocked the pregnancy out… Until I went into labour at 32 weeks.
After that, there was no hiding it.
2. What do you feel like you ‘missed out’ on, that is a typical part of a typical pregnancy?
I don’t have a single picture of my belly and I really regret that. I wish I had some kind of token from my pregnancy, even an ultrasound print-out, but I never went for any check-ups or doctor’s visits.
In a way, I guess that also makes it special. Just memories of me and her together.
3. Excluding the beautiful baby you got at the end of it, what were the 3 best parts about your pregnancy?
I don’t think I have three best parts. Again, just the special memories of laying in bed at night, noticing my belly getting bigger, and telling baby to sleep. Singing to her and telling her everything is going to be ok.
I knew it was a girl, even without the ultrasound.
4. What were the 3 most difficult parts about your pregnancy?
I had terrible morning sickness. I remember fainting at school once. The school nurse took my blood pressure and it was super abnormal. They told my dad to take me to the doctor. I talked him out of it of course…
But the blood pressure problems were ultimately what caused me to go into preterm labour which lasted 72 hours. It was the worst pain of my life! Also just not telling anyone and sharing the milestones with my loved ones. Doing it alone… Kind of sucked.
5. If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?
I would tell my parents.
Not for the obvious reasons, but mainly for health-related ones. I think my early labour and problems during delivery could have possibly been avoided if I had the proper care during pregnancy and sought professional help.
It’s a miracle I gave birth to a healthy baby and that we both survived.
6. How has your life changed since becoming a mom? Loaded question, I know!
In all honesty, I don’t think it’s changed that much. I don’t know what it is to be an adult and not be a mother.
It’s not ideal and I definitely think it’s important for people to experience being ‘young and free’ but this is the road I chose to walk down, or the road that chose me.
And looking back wishing things had gone differently will get me absolutely nowhere because I AM a mother and I AM young. But I also AM doing both.
Caylin and I do this life together. The good times and the bad. There are plenty of both.
7. We’re at the age now where our friends are starting to settle down and have kids, while we’re cemented in motherhood already. How does that make you feel?
It’s scary! I am soon going to be the mother of a 10-year-old whereas some of my classmates are pregnant with their first or second kid and I couldn’t imagine having another one right now.
It may sound weird but I feel too young to have a kid.
Now that I know better, I think the older you get the more you think things through.
This stage in my life, where my daughter can make herself a sandwich, wash herself, wash the dishes if need be and she is hilarious, it rocks… But there are moments where I see a little bubba and think ‘another one wouldn’t hurt’ then it cries or needs a diaper change and I snap back to reality.
8. Teenage pregnancy is the storyline for many TV shows and movies. What are the biggest misconceptions about the way young moms are portrayed in these shows? What does the media get wrong?
Kids are expensive! Most countries are not set up like the US or UK where it works to move out on your own when you’re 16 and start your grown-up life.
Those shows are also sometimes filmed over a long period of time and don’t always give insight into the harsh realities of caring for a baby.
You sacrifice a lot when you have a child and that doesn’t change just because your child may be able to walk, go to school, or even drive a car. Your whole life becomes about another person and it will always be that way.
Trying to figure out what you want out of life and finding a way to go for it while struggling to put food on the table for your little one isn’t glamorous or cute.
9. Though it’s not as bad today as it once was, teenage pregnancies are still something of a taboo subject. What can people do to support teenage moms more?
I think finding a way to help girls finish their schooling while still being mommies would be amazing.
Like I said, babies are expensive and education is really important in order for mommies to be able to go out and find good jobs to provide for their little ones. Maybe something like a government subsidy for nursery/creche fees would help.
10. There’s no doubt that your story — and where you are now — is nothing short of an inspiration. What do you hope that your daughter takes away from your story?
I want her to know that she is capable and strong. I also hope that she never forgets how loved she is and even if she makes a mistake, it’s not the end.
Hold onto God and love your family.
Sometimes we cannot do things alone and it’s ok to ask for help.
11. What advice would you offer to young girls who are in a similar situation to the one that you found yourself in?
There is always a way out of a bad situation and fear does not need to control you. I know what it’s like to feel so trapped you don’t know which way to turn. But there are places to go to seek advice, don’t be afraid to look for them.
Don’t be silenced by what other people say you should or shouldn’t do. Things get better. It doesn’t feel like they will right now, but they do. Take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture of what you want for your life. It’s ok to change your mind and it’s ok to want more.
And That’s a Wrap
This post was difficult for me to put together. Heck, it was difficult for me to read. That’s because I knew Casey before, during, and after all this was going on in her life and I wish with all my heart that I had known what you were going through all those years ago.
I couldn’t think of a better way to end off the One Mom series than with Casey’s story. My friend, thank you for sharing a bit of your story with us and for filling us in on what teenage pregnancy is all about.
Maybe someday, somehow, someone will stumble across this blog post and it will feel as though you wrote these words with them in mind.
Maybe a scared teenage girl will find comfort, encouragement, or inspiration in your story.
Maybe someone who is on the parenting end of a teenage pregnancy will find guidance, hope, or strength in your story.
And maybe, just maybe, someone won’t feel so alone anymore.
And that’s good enough for me.