18 and pregnant: how a young mom is challenging the stigma of “teen pregnancy”
Posted by Kristen Barton
September 11, 2015
The thought of having a baby has always been difficult for me to grasp and a vision I never really had for myself. I just do not feel like I am the type of person fit to be a mother. Maybe one day I will feel differently, people do change after all, but maybe I won’t, and that’s okay too.
In 2013, there were 26.5 births for every 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19. I never thought I would fit into that statistic.
And when I found out one of my best friends, Liliana Lucio, did the summer after our senior year, I was shocked. We grew up together, we went to school together from the time we were three years old to our high school graduation. We knew everything about each other, but I did not even know she was having a baby. We went through everything together and suddenly it was like she skipped this huge chunk of our lives.
But when I sat down and had an open and honest conversation with her about being a young mom, my whole world shifted and my perspective changed.
I can barely handle school and work as it is, but throw in a baby? Nope. There’s no way. But so many young people are choosing to be young parents and they are challenging the idea that we aren’t fit to be parents and can’t make decisions about our bodies. We can, and we will revolutionize parenthood the same way we will all other aspects of reproductive rights and gender equity.
So here it is, an open and honest discussion with a strong woman who made a decision about her body for herself and felt so free for being able to do so:
When I asked why she carried out the pregnancy, I found out by the time she told anyone she was pregnant it was already too late for an abortion, and that sometimes she really struggled with her decision to have and raise her son.
“I had just started college and there was more I wanted to experience,” she said. “So yeah there were times I considered other options like adoption, even to the day he was born. But being in labor for 22 hours and finally seeing his face I thought ‘there’s no way.’”
She continued school and is still working hard to get a degree and become a nurse, despite the challenges. She finds childcare in friends and family members and continues to raise him while working toward her career.
That was one of the most eye-opening aspects for me: I always thought if I had a baby it would mean sacrificing my career. But here she is doing both everyday.
She told me it’s hard raising a baby and going to school and that if someone is not completely sure they want to commit to having a baby, to stay protected.
“I can’t tell anybody what to do,” she said. “It’s doable, especially if you have a lot of people to support you like I do.”
At the end of the day, she loves being a mom. Even though it is hard, she said, coming home to her baby can always make her day better.
“You can love babies all you want,” she said. “But until you see you in the baby it’s like a completely different story and a totally different feeling. I love being a mom, it’s probably one of the best things to ever happen to me.”
Seeing how much she loves her son gives me so much confidence in young parents and their abilities to raise a child. Liliana is the perfect example of what happens when society gives young people the power to make our own choices about our bodies, beautiful results happen.