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My daughter, then 15, started dating a boy in December 2009. She and I had had many conversations about values, protection and abstinence. She assured me that no, she was not having sex, nor did she want to. Girls who did were "sluts," she said. She was a good student, read all the time, didn't go out and party, and had a nice group of friends. So I believed her.
The Wednesday after her 16th birthday, I get a text from my daughter, who is in her bedroom. "Mom, I need to talk to you," it reads. I find her sitting on her bed, crying. "He broke up with you," I say. "No," she answers. "You're pregnant," I say. "Yes."
I feel sick. I sit down next to her, and ask if she is sure. Yes, she is. I ask if she has thought about her options. She is adamant about keeping her child. So I respect her decision. Then I make her call her dad (we're divorced). He can't even speak with her. I don't yell. I know she is scared. She knows she messed up. I tell her we will help her in every way possible. I give her a big hug, tell her to try to get some sleep.
The next morning, a blood test confirms the pregnancy. I call my husband at work and he says don't worry, we'll deal with it. My 13-year-old son is upset by all the drama, so in the next weeks I make sure to give him plenty of one-on-one time. At school, some of my daughter's friends are supportive. Others—including several she knows to be sexually active—call her names. That hurts.
Three months into the pregnancy the boyfriend breaks up with her. I comfort her and say that she will be an amazing mom and that the baby will be loved by more people than she can imagine, including my parents and my sister. Her father, by then, has come around.
On October 13, 2010, she delivers a healthy 9-pound baby boy. She does most of his care herself, and is finding out infants are not all toys and cute clothes. She has kept up with her homework online, is starting a Certified Nursing Assistant course, and plans to follow it with a nursing degree. Her ex-boyfriend has not been in touch at all. She's met a nice boy at church—and says she doesn't want to have sex until she is married. However, I know I cannot bank on that and insist she go over birth control options with her doctor.
My daughter has taken a part-time job and pays for as much as she can. She has a game plan for her life, and she will succeed.
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.