I vividly remember finding out I was pregnant for the first time. I was nervous and overwhelmed. I was with two friends in the bathroom of a food lion, I had been suspecting I might be pregnant but was still shocked to see that little plus sign. I know for many people finding out they are expecting is a joyous moment, but not when you’re 15. Yep, that’s right I was a pregnant 15 year old. I gave birth to my son a few weeks before my 16th birthday. I was a sophomore in high school at the time. I was so scared and did not want to tell my mom, who I knew would be devastated. My mom herself had been a teen bride and mother and did not want the same experience for me. I planned to wait and tell her when I started to show and couldn’t hide it anymore but after educating myself on prenatal care I knew that wasn’t an option. After getting home from school I decided “okay, this is it I’ve got to tell her” so I found an almost dry brown marker and scratched out my profession onto a scrap piece of paper. When she got home from work I gave it to her along with a paper bag with a positive pregnancy test inside. She was devastated, she was crying and shouting and went outside and just lost it. The memory of her reaction is seared into my mind. I was so heartbroken that I had done this to her. Once she calmed down she told me it was my choice if I wanted to keep the baby or not, they would support me either way. The caveat to keeping the baby was I had to remain in school and take care of the baby. I decided to keep him, I vowed to do well in school and give my kiddo the life they deserved. I had a fairly normal pregnancy and gave birth to him around 37 weeks. His birth was traumatic, to say the least, and is in part what inspired me to become a birth worker. I had been complaining about swelling and headaches to my OB/GYN explaining that according to my own research my symptoms pointed to PREE. I was laughed off, told not to read webmd and overall ignored. About two weeks later I felt faint and was admitted to the hospital. Turns out I did have PREE, this experience of being ignored was very traumatic and greatly affected me as a mom and person. I was induced and given Pitocin, one intervention lead to another. I wanted to have a medication free delivery but clearly that was not happening. I at least wanted to avoid pain meds but was encouraged to use them, being told I didn’t need to be a hero and would get them eventually. I labored for 22 hours with no pain meds before getting an epidural because my cervix was not dilating. A dip in his heart rate made my OB insist I go for a c-sec, I remember him saying I could carry on with my labor but to do so would be selfish and risking my son’s life. I conceded and was given an “emergency cesarean” I put that in parenthesis because I feel perhaps under other circumstances my birth could have gone differently. I was grateful to have a healthy baby, that’s what they say “at least your baby is healthy” as a way to unwrite and undervalue the trauma of a “bad” birth. It took years for me to fully process what happened during his birth and I’m still working through it ten years and another kiddo later. I developed a keen intertest in childbirth and decided to become a nurse, I just had to finish high school first. I went back to school after 7 weeks at home, my son couldn’t start daycare until 8 weeks so a close family friend watched him for that inbetween week. Returning to school was hard, I was pumping so I could give him breastmilk. I showed up to school that first day with my backpack and pumo ready to see how hard this was going to be. I had arranged with my guidance counselor to pump during my lunch in the drama dressing room. The son of a bitch teacher I had to get the keys for said dressing room from was one of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever met. Everyday I’d go in and ask and he’d make me loudly explain why it was I needed the keys, like he didn’t remember. He’d then slowly remove the keys eating in to my precious 20 minutes of pumping time. I ate my lunch while pumping. I dreaded asking for those keys. I had pretty awful PPD and PPA and asking for “the keys” was a huge trigger. Despite all that I kept trudging on, I pumped the entire year and met my breastfeeding goal of 12 months. I made great grades in school and did what I needed to to secure a seat in a nursing program. My senior year was much better than my junior year. My baby was now a toddler and I was out of the woods with PPD. I was doing very well in school, making a 4.0 GPA for the first time in my academic career. I was on track for starting nursing school, which included getting enrolled in night school to get my CNA certification. I got my first job as well, no easy feat during the recession when many “teen jobs” were being eaten up by folks who needed the work. I was hired as a kitchen helper at Sonic drive in. It was a crappy job and paid shit but it was a job. I was so busy and exhausted but it was nice in it’s own way. Now at 25 I wouldn’t want to be so busy like that, looking back I see how damaging that was to my emotions to be stretched so thin. I received my acceptance letter into nursing school and I was pumped. I moved out on my own a few months before school ended and felt that I had overcame what many would assume to be a damning sentence (having a kid while still a kid myself). Learning to parent, care for myself, care for my son and balancing it all took years. My oldest son just turned 10 yesterday and I felt it appropriate to get this out in writing. Starting my blog out with something so raw and honest felt right. I hope any young moms who read this find some comfort in hearing that while it is hard time passes and you will gain your footing.