Author’s note: Teen pregnancy is very common in the United States. About three in 10 teen girls will become pregnant before the age of 20; however, they all have different stories. This story takes place in Lewistown, PA, and is about my mother’s experience of being pregnant at 16 back in 2000 and the difficulties she had to face. Not only is teenage pregnancy difficult, it can be very scary when they do not have anyone to help give them advice or support. Teens often feel isolated and depressed when they are turning into adults, and the stress of a baby can make school, a social life, physical health and mental health a million times worse. My mother described this period to me as an important change in her life and it taught her that life can be altered in the blink of an eye, and you should make choices wisely. The author has chosen to remain anonymous, and all names have been changed to protect the privacy of those in the story.
The year 2000 was an unusual year. Not only was it the turn of the century, and the year that was supposed to be the end of the world, but it was the year that changed Dianna and Kurt’s lives forever. They were high school sweethearts from Lewistown, Pennsylvania who had broken up months before the terrible news was discovered in October of sophomore year.
Dianna sobbed on the cold bathroom floor as she clutched the pregnancy test, trying to think of what she was going to tell people, and what they would all think of her. Her parents extremely disliked Kurt, so they would never approve of her carrying his child. She didn’t believe that Kurt himself would even want to help raise the baby, or worse, he might want her to get an abortion. A million thoughts rattled her skull, unable to process how much of an impact the situation would eventually have on her life. Although she wanted to keep the baby, Dianna knew that she was not prepared physically or mentally to be a mother yet.
She was an absolute mess. Although they were not smudged, she repeatedly wiped her large, round, old-fashioned glasses on her sweater, a habit she had whenever she was nervous. I’m a complete failure, she thought to herself. This can’t be happening. I can’t take any of this back. It’s going to be my life forever now.
Those words stuck with her throughout her entire pregnancy. She wanted to keep the baby, but everything still felt completely unreal. Reality had not fully hit. She didn’t have the courage to tell anyone until a few months passed and she could no longer hide her belly. When her step mom questioned it, Dianna finally admitted that she was pregnant. Just as she had feared, her stepmom and dad were anything but supportive. In response they threatened to kick her out and told her that she had better find a way to support herself and the baby on her own by the time it arrived.
Eventually her oversized sweaters couldn’t hide her secret in school either. As her peers at school started to notice her belly growing throughout the year as well, some seemed to distance themselves from her. A few of her old friends even started spreading rumors and calling her names behind her back. She began to feel isolated, hopeless, and completely alone. Kurt couldn’t even be there by her side; he had a new girlfriend to give his attention to. However, as February rolled around he eventually came to his senses.
Now 6 months pregnant, Dianna sat eating lunch in the cafeteria with her friend Meggie, who was also pregnant. They often went to each other for emotional support since there was no one else who could relate to their situations. They watched the glistening snowfall from the sky outside the window as they chowed down on their PB & J sandwiches.
Suddenly Dianna snapped out of her trance as she felt a tap on her shoulder. To her surprise, she turned to see Kurt, a look of regret in his eyes.
“Listen,” he nervously said, pulling her aside, “I know I’ve been gone but I hope you’ll take me back.” He told her how much she and the baby meant to him. He wanted to try to make things work with her and promised never to leave her side. It was similar to what he had told her in the past before they had broken up in the first place, which made her slightly suspicious of him. However, she decided that he would be a big help and she wanted the baby’s father to be in their life.
May soon arrived and so did the baby, whom they decided to name Aurora Rose. As time went on and sophomore year turned into junior year, Dianna continued to finish her last two years of high school. Unfortunately, Aurora got really sick, leading Dianna to miss too many school days to take care of her. She was eventually kicked out and had to get her GED later on.
Time continued to pass and by the time 2003 came around, Kurt and Dianna already had another baby girl, Brooke, and a baby boy on the way. They had their own apartment and everything had been going extremely well, unlike their rocky start.
While Kurt was away at work, Dianna was a stay at home mom. Although it was not the life that she had pictured for herself in the future, she was still happy nonetheless.
One Sunny August afternoon she had been going about her day and cleaning the apartment as usual when she started to smell smoke coming from nearby. It’s probably someone burning leaves or garbage outside, she assumed. Down the hall she began to hear Aurora’s muffled cries, meaning she had woken up from her nap. Assuming she would fall back asleep any minute, Dianna ignored her wails. She continued to clean until the smell got stronger, and she decided she had better investigate.
Suddenly her heart dropped as she remembered about the candle she had lit in the bedroom.
Running as quickly as possible, she flung the bedroom door open to see the melted candle poured over onto the floor and a bath towel that was indeed on fire. In a panic, she started stomping on the towel to smother the fire before it could catch the carpet too. Even though it went out quickly, she grabbed a water bottle to pour onto what was left just in case.
Aurora was bawling in her bed and baby Brooke was in her crib calm as could be, completely oblivious to what could have possibly occurred. Diana was shaken and began crying as well. Normally she would not light candles in the house because of their cat, but she figured it would be fine anyway. She didn’t even know what had caused it to fall; all she knew was that she never wanted to have a scare like that again in her life. Now she knew that no matter how small of a chance, something bad could always happen at any moment. Life is completely unpredictable, and there is no way to be in control.
When Kurt returned home that night, Dianna ran to the door and hugged him tightly, sobbing to him about what almost happened earlier.
“You’re only human,” he softly said, wiping away her tears and hugging her. “You were able to stop it; that’s all that matters.”
Ever since the event occurred, Dianna is extremely cautious when it comes to the safety of her children. Candles or anything hot in general can be extremely dangerous when left unattended. No matter if they are in a high to reach place, something bad could still occur. This also counts for weapons, chemicals, or any appliance left turned on. It takes a lot of trial and error to become a responsible parent, especially starting out as a teenager without any help or advice.
To this day Kurt and Dianna have five children and are still continuing to learn new things about parenting. No parent will be able to get it a hundred percent right the first time, but all couples go through experiences that help mature them and their understanding of different situations. Becoming a parent as a teenager can have many positive and negative effects on the child and can be extremely stressful. The smallest decisions can alter life in the greatest ways, so it is best to be smart and think about the future at all times.