You’re Too Young to Have a Baby, and Other Nonsense
Guest blog post by Aly Jacko
I got pregnant when I was 21 years old. I am not the first, and I am not the last.
I was 5 months away from graduating with a bachelor’s degree from a nationally ranked program. I was five months away from going away to graduate school and finally starting my life. I was five months away from being an adult with freedom.
Abortion was never an option. Adoption was never an option. Being pregnant at 21, was also not an option. As soon as you see the “pregnant” clear as day show up across the clear blue pregnancy test, as soon as you hear “the test is definitely positive” from the doctor, all you want to hear is “everything is going to be okay.” The 6 words I never heard.
You expect to hear whispers from strangers when you walk around with a growing belly and the baby face of a 16 year old. Plenty of people stared, as the majority of adults think I am still in high school. You have to field questions like “how old are you?” “what about adoption, or abortion?” and you hear “You’re too young, think about you, think about your life, this is a time you need to be selfish”
Over the next 9 months, I lost my best friends that I thought would never abandon me. I no longer fit into their 21 year old lives of parties, and going out so they stopped calling. I couldn’t do much, I could only sit and watch the heel of my daughters foot stick out of my stomach and smile because at least I felt someone was in this together with me.
I had to give up my career goals, my dreams I’d had since the 8th grade. My life altered in a way that you can’t understand unless you’ve been through it. You go from the happy-go-lucky girl with her life together, to pregnant at home on your 22nd birthday, with no one to celebrate with but the life inside you. I met with the priest about getting her baptized, only to have him tell me there was a couple looking to adopt, if I was interested.
I had to watch everyone around me have fun with their lives all summer, while I was growing a human inside me, hidden away from others so I didn’t have to answer questions. I had to receive texts asking if it were true and how did I let this happen. I had to hear gossip behind my back. I politely smiled while people would tell me “wow I cant even take care of myself, I could never take care of a child right now.”
All I wanted was someone to say to me “you are amazing for graduating college 6 months pregnant.” All I wanted after she was born was validation that I was doing a great job on my own, that my sacrifices were entirely worth it.
She was 7 lbs 6 oz, 20 inches, and 100% amazing. She had 10 fingers, 10 toes, and my whole entire heart. She was an angel, my angel, that had just grown inside me for the past 41 weeks. She had no name. We were going back and forth for a while on a couple, none that we had fallen in love with, none that seemed worthy of her beautiful little face. For the next two days we lived in bliss at the hospital with our new bundle. I didn’t know how little I would sleep, or how much work motherhood was, or how hard it would be as soon as we left the hospital.
I had limited help. My parents worked, my boyfriends parents worked, and my boyfriend was playing football while finishing his senior year of college. I felt utterly and completely alone. Sometimes I still do. I am exhausted. I haven’t slept since she was born. I will never be the person I was before I found out I was pregnant. I am emotional, I am sensitive, I am anxious, I am a mother, and I am a great one.
My life is different now, but it’s a good different. I feel bad for the friends that left me, because they’ll never know the joy of spending time with my daughter. I feel bad for the people who judged me, because I know they would never want that judgment on their daughter, just as I wouldn’t. I don’t feel bad for me. I don’t feel bad for my daughter. My daughter is amazing. She is so beautiful, she is amazingly smart, she is the brightest part of my life. Her smile stops my heart, her laugh is captivating, I am so in love with her. She has my eyes; she has her daddy’s everything else. She is half of me and half of my best friend and I will never let anything happen to her. She is my biggest blessing. Being 21 and pregnant was not only an option that became reality, but it was the best option I never knew I had.