Belly Bump is a series where we compare the pregnancy experiences of two women: Delsie, a prevention advocate and UNC student who became a mom at age 17, and Mary, APPCNC’s Community Programs Manager who decided to have a baby with her husband Anthony. See previous Belly Bump entries.
Seventeen and pregnant. It sounds pretty close to a TV show, but this was my new reality.
I had often times fantasied about the day that I would have a child. I had picked out names and everything. But this was nothing like my fantasies. My fantasies had included a degree, a nice stable job, and a loving and supporting husband. So far I didn’t have any of these things. I didn’t have a basic high school diploma, a job, and I was in a relationship that was subject to the whims and fancies of teenage hormones. Needless to say, my new reality wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. It was more along the lines of those really big horse pills, the ones that no matter how much water you try to chug back, it remains lodged in your throat. I was pregnant, alone, and worried about my future. Though I had taken on adult responsibilities with the conception of my child, I wasn’t ready to take on the role of an adult. Reality kept on knocking on my door, and like a stubborn child, I refused to answer.
It is amazing how quickly your dreams can change, how quickly the certainty fades. The excitement of my senior year of high school vanished with a positive pregnancy test. The little things that I had once taken for granted and accepted as the norm now came into question. Would I be able to march this year, perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? What about attend my senior prom or, more importantly, go to college? The things that I had once viewed as being a sure thing now came into question and with that simple fact; my reality began to sink in. The door that I had fought desperately to keep closed, began to slowly creep open and with it came my daunting reality; one that I was not prepared to cope with.
Twenty-seven and pregnant. That’s about average nationwide I guess, but still I felt like an outsider. I was the first of my friends to be pregnant. Would they still want to be friends with us? What would our parents say? How would our jobs react? When do we tell people? We were planning on having kids, but babies are easy to glamorize in your mind.
Two weeks after finding out about “Nugget”, we moved into our first home and I started to experience the horror that is the first trimester of pregnancy. For days all I could do was lay on the couch, try to keep food down, and make lists of things to do: find doctor (or midwife!), look into day care, research my office’s maternity leave policy, find prenatal vitamins, buy baby books, even learn about babies in general! It quickly became overwhelming. Thinking about “baby” stuff can turn into a vortex; it can suck you in if you aren’t careful.
Once we were done moving and I started feeling well enough to rip myself off the couch, it was a relief to come back into work and feel like a normal person again. I started to understand that people are pregnant for nine months for a reason: there is a lot to do! But nine months is time to do it all.
Slowly we started to tell the people closest to us, which made me feel better. It felt good to be honest about what we were going through. I soon realized what a great support system both of us had in friends, family, and work. Suddenly it all seemed like we would be ok. Perhaps we had over-glamorized having a baby, but after a few weeks to let it all sink in and a few conversations with very supportive friends, bringing a small human into the world certainly seemed more than just attainable, but down right doable.