When I was in grade 10 last year, I skipped a week of school. I was too scared, too humiliated, too sick and weak to leave my house. NA week away from school earned me two weeks of "in-school suspension." Ten full school days I had to sit in a boxed-in desk, in a 6-by-20-foot room.
Yellowing posters of needles and bottles of beer proclaiming "JUST SAY NO!" hung crookedly on the walls. I was allowed to go to the bathroom only twice daily, for 15 minutes.
When you're five weeks pregnant, 30 minutes a day is hardly adequate for throwing up.
I wrote furiously in my blue-velvet-covered journal. Fantasies of virgin-white wedding dresses and sponge-painted nurseries unfolded on those blank pages in the brief moments after bathroom breaks when my fears were purged and flushed away.
Teen burden I remembered facts I had learned as a new student in "sex education" about teenage pregnancy. Teenage mothers are a burden to society. The children of teenage mothers inevitably become crack-addicted gang members. I had become garbage, worthy only to sit at my isolated desk and cry to myself and throw up in a dirty bathroom stall.
School was dismissed during my 16th week of pregnancy. There was no turning back. I watched a fuzzy little worm of a baby dance across a television screen as I lay on a long sheet of wax paper getting an ultrasound, my stomach exposed and covered in chilled jelly.
It was a baby boy.
It was assumed my son would be given up for adoption, just as a few weeks earlier it had been assumed he would be aborted. I am not sure who made this decision. But it was not me.
My beautiful, fuzzy black-and-white son, who swam inside of me like a fish, deserved only the best.
No mother under that magical age of 18 could provide that, and since I was only 15 I would have to let somebody else raise him. That was the "right" thing to do.
Lovely couple My boyfriend and I met with a lovely couple. A very rich, childless couple. While I enjoyed their company at dinner, I did not want them to be the parents of my son. I wanted my boyfriend and me to be his parents.
The boyfriend and I left dinner that night walking ahead of the lovely couple and my parents. "We can call your lawyer and work out the rest of the details this week," my mom cooed to the lovely wife.
"I guess we made our decision," my boyfriend whispered. I was trapped.
I wanted desperately to be a mother, not simply a baby machine for this couple. The lovely wife, I learned one night after Lamaze class, was pregnant. Relief flooded my swelling body.
"I can keep my baby!" I silently rejoiced. "I have diapers to buy, clothes to wash, car seats to find, nursing bras and slings to sew!"
"We still want to adopt, though. You know our history of miscarriage."
I was deflated.
Sure enough, the lovely wife miscarried at 12 weeks. She called me nightly, crying and thanking me for giving her my son. She gave me weekly reports of how the nursery was coming along (complete with a $2,000 classic Pooh mural), the hundreds of dollars they were spending on clothes and how much they loved "our baby" already.
The hole got deeper. I couldn't crawl, scratch or shovel my way out.
But how could I be so selfish? Pregnant teens are garbage.
Once the baby is born, the mother becomes even smellier garbage, dependent on her parents and society's tax dollars to support her children. I had to do something to hoist my son above the metaphorical garbage bin. I had to give him to this lovely couple. They were not garbage, like I was.
Baby decision I grew during those weeks, not only physically (60 pounds!) but emotionally and spiritually. I meditated, prayed, screamed, cried, slept, wrote, read and thought.
I made my decision, 38 weeks into my pregnancy. I informed my boyfriend of this decision. "I am keeping the baby. I don't care what anyone says or feels."
The baby came the next morning at 8:02 on November 20, 1998. My labour was natural, painful and beautiful. I held my tiny infant son in my shaking arms, tears running off my face and onto his still-purple hands.
My father told the lovely couple I'd decided to keep my son. The lovely husband cursed at him, cursed my boyfriend, told my father I was a piece of trash and hung up. The lovely wife called a few days after I brought the baby home to say that when I "changed my mind and things got too hard," I could always call them to adopt him. We never spoke again.
Cade Mackenzie is now a happy 24-pound 8-month-old. I have received the "Teen Mom Look" from anonymous strangers more times than I can count, but have learned not to be offended.
I am graduating a semester early, and attend a wonderful homeschool program that allows me to spend my days at home, raising my son.
And contrary to what fear-based sex education classes, lovely couples and wonderful counsellors had led me to believe, I am not garbage. I may not have blown out 18 candles on a birthday cake, but I am an excellent mother.
From Girl-Mom (at From Girl-Mom (at http://girlmom.com/)