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Forced to Grow Up Too Fast This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

About 750,000 American teenagers will get pregnant every year. This means that every single one of those 750,000 girls had a complete turn around in her life. These girls are probably free, good, even smart girls who just had one mistake. I am one of these girls. Now that I have a baby in my life, my whole world revolves around him. It didn’t used to be like this though.

Before I had a child, I would earn money, but I didn’t need it to survive. I could save it for a rainy day or spend it on pointless snacks, clothes, novelties, and movies. The point is that money was not a necessity in my life before my baby arrived. Worrying about financial help and not having money for a car, college, and bills was low on my priority list. I had worked at a grocery store, but my paycheck often went to frivolous merchandise.

Like any teenager, going out with my friends was always on my to-do list. With the money I made, I could go with my friends to a movie or go shopping. Tired from a long week of school, we would go out to Memorial on a Friday night to sit and talk to other friends. Faithful and encouraging, my friends were always there for me if I needed them and I was always there for them. There wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. I could have gone to the moon and back with my friends if I had wanted to.

I used to be able to hang out with my friends without worrying about the consequences. Going to school and work were the only things I ever worried about. They were the only two things I stressed out about solely because they were the only two things I had to do. True, my life, school, and the knowledge that I could suffer from consequences was very important to me, but it wasn’t my main concern.

Despite my free-spirited approach to living, throwing up and getting sick in general was my biggest fear. I absolutely hated getting sick. It got to the point where I would purposely avoid my mom and dad when they were sick, so I didn’t ever have to be around their germs. Getting sick was never a big thing in my life. I had never been to the hospital for something serious, and I had never had a very bad illness.

At that point in my life, college was the furthest thing from my mind. For some reason, I never thought about it seriously. Sure, I knew I wanted to go to college and major in something I knew I liked, but it was never an “absolutely had to go” situation.

Finally, I never had to mess around with being worried about somebody else. I never had to watch someone 24/7 and make sure that nothing bad happened to him or her. To be honest, I was kind of a spoiled brat and usually got what I wanted. There wasn’t anything that tied me down to anyone or anything and there was no way I ever wanted any part of such a serious responsibility as having a baby.

All of these things changed on December 15, 2009. My life was never going to be the same. While in the birthing room at the hospital, I could tell that my whole life was changing. My expectations were clearly not the same anymore and I had been oblivious to them until that point. Suddenly, I realized that I was never, ever going to be the one always getting what she wanted.

Now, I have hospital bills to pay, and I am constantly worried about them. The bills don’t pay themselves, and I can’t get a job right now while I complete high school. I get by on the money that Tom makes from going to work. There is constantly a fog ahead of me and sometimes I can’t handle it. I have been late paying a couple of bills and have even had a bill sent to a collection agency. I am not financially stable whatsoever, and it will be this way until I can finally have a job that I can keep without something else interfering.

While I might have joined my pals on Friday nights at Memorial for some relaxing chuckles, baby Lukas keeps me from going out with my friends these days. I have no problem staying home with him, but it does get lonely not being able to go out with my girlfriends. The thing is, I cannot go out with friends without having a babysitter and usually nobody wants to watch a baby on a Friday or Saturday night. Besides, a babysitter costs money that I don’t have.

While a year ago I lived a carefree existence, now taking care of myself is my very top priority. I will not let myself do something wreckless so I could get hurt. I have seen firsthand what stupid things a parent does can do to a child. To respect others and myself is my duty now. I feel that if I do something stupid, I will let the little boy who looks up to me down. That baby boy is now my entire life and I would never intentionally do anything to harm him.

Ironically, illness is no longer a problem for me. I have come to terms with getting sick whenever the baby is sick. After all, I can’t stay away from the baby just because he has germs. I have to be there for him and not hand him to some other person because I don’t want to get sick. I enjoy helping the baby when he is sick. I never thought that I would ever be so close to someone that I would never want to let go. When that little boy is so sick he can hardly sleep, I automatically go into “mommy mode” and hold him while he sleeps or cuddle with him. He made me get over my fear of being sick, and I am happy for it.

In addition, schooling is so important to me now that I hope nothing happens to where I can’t graduate from high school. I want my baby to know that I never gave up on anything, even in hard times. Hard times are always going to be in front of me, even if it is just a little hard time. I can’t let these hard times keep me from my dreams of becoming a high school graduate. I also look forward to college and starting my new career instead of not worrying about it.

Coming home to a smiling face and someone who depends on me wholly is the greatest feeling in the world. I have worried about my baby boy since I first realized he was growing inside of me. I remember when we had to go to the hospital three or four times, because I was worried that his heart wasn’t beating. Just recently, I took him to the hospital because he seemed like he was really sick. I am constantly thinking about him during school. He is what I look forward to coming home to.

There have been many changes in my life since I became one of the 750,000 teenage girls whose lives have been turned around by a blessing in a blanket. I am not stupid; I made a mistake that changed my life, but I will never believe that it was a bad one. My life was so different before I had a baby, but I’m not complaining.





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