Being a “Teen Mom” before it was “cool”

I was 17 when I gave birth for the first time. I was a baby having a baby. I had no experience besides babysitting my niece from time to time and even then my mother was there. I can’t even remember changing a diaper before my son’s first diaper. I was young and for the most part extremely ignorant to what the real world was like. I thought I had my life together and like most 17 year olds, I knew it all. I brought my tiny 6lb baby boy home to a tiny 2 bedroom apartment that his father and I shared. He had everything I thought he need, a decorated nursery, the coolest diaper bag and tons of name brand clothes and shoes. He was even gifted a gold necklace and bracelet from a family member. In my tiny mind I thought that’s what made me a good mother. If my son looked adorable and people talked about how cute he was, I was doing my job. I put on a show, I held him close, wiped his little nose and hands, I changed his diaper way more often than was needed, hoping people noticed what a good mother I was. I was trying to prove them all wrong, “see! I can do this! This is easy. I can be a good mother at 17! Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I’ll be a terrible mother!” I wasn’t a terrible mother. The truth is I was a good mother. I loved that child more than I ever thought possible. I cried a lot. I was frustrated a lot. I wished I could be at home, cozy in my bed and have my mother make me dinner and do my laundry. I sat on my faux leather couch that I was years away from paying off, crying while my baby screamed in his Winnie the Pooh decorated room. I remember thinking “so, this is it? This is what I waited all those months for? Why would anyone willing become a mother?” I was mostly alone. I moved an hour away from my mother and sisters for this, for this baby and his father who had never even told me he loved me, he would actually blatantly come out and say he didn’t love me but I didn’t care. I didn’t care of he loved me or not, as long as he stayed. I had enough love for him for the both of us. I saw our future, I just knew that one day he was going to realize that he couldn’t live without me and we’d make our “relationship” last forever. He would leave for days at a time, wouldn’t answer his phone, I would scream and beg for him to love me, or atleast come back home. I  took good care of our son, who was named after his father. My house wasn’t always clean but it wasn’t filthy. I couldn’t cook, I was scared to death to use the stove. I ruined all of my clothes once in our apartment’s laundry room, I bleached everything I owned, which wasn’t much. I didn’t know much about being an adult but I knew I loved my son and I was going to do whatever it took to be the mother that he deserved.

10 months after my son was born I was laying in an operating room preparing for a C-section. I was 18 now, I was an “adult” and I was about to give birth to another child. A daughter, a tiny and very sick daughter. 23 weeks along she came into the world all on her own, no C-section needed, she was born at 1lb 6ozs. I loved this child but I was scared. I had no idea how this was going to end. The doctors didn’t give me much hope that she’d live. I didn’t know how I was going to get to the hospital everyday to visit my child, I didn’t drive, I didn’t even have a license. I had a 10 month old child at home who had an absent father.  I can’t even remember now how it worked out but it did. I don’t even remember being that worried about how it was going to work out, it just did. I brought my sweet girl home 9 months later. She was severely delayed, on oxygen and had chronic lung desease. I worried a lot about her, I wondered if she’d ever catch up to other kids her age. I wondered if she’d ever be “normal”. We had nurses come into our home everyday. We had oxygen tanks and monitors beeping, to be honest I was terrified of her. She was very intimidating to me after we left the hospital, There were nurses there working 24/7, at home there was just me and I was a long way from a medical professional. I was scared to even hold her or to let other people hold her. My biggest fear was that something would happen and I wouldn’t have anyone there to help me save her. I was a child with a very sick child. My biggest fear became reality a couple of times. I saw my poor baby blue and lifeless, both times I was sure she was gone. I dialed 911 screaming that my baby was dead. I remember running down the street away from my house on the phone with the dispatcher screaming back at me to go home and do CPR, I took that class before we were allowed to leave the hospital but it never clicked in my head to do CPR until the 911 operator told me to. I ran back home to start CPR and I swear my child was laying there, playing with her oxygen tube like nothing ever happened.

Now that they are 12 and 13 I look back and wonder “whoa! How did I do that?!” I look at my 17 year old step daughter now and hope and pray better for her. I do the math and realize that in 5 short years that sick, tiny little baby will be 17. I would do anything to keep her from going through all that I went through. There is no part of me that regrets my two older children. They have been my stability, they have been my reason to keep pushing to live a better life. I look at them and I can’t believe how sweet, smart, caring and beautiful they are. We’re a team. They’re my sidekicks. I’m blessed because I’m their mother.

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