Having kids while still a kid
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Many teens enjoy sitting down on Tuesday nights to watch MTV's hit reality series "Teen Mom 2," questioning what it's like to be a teen mother. But what's it like to live that reality? To be the mother of two by age 15? That's life for one Putnam County teen.
She didn't plan on her first pregnancy. At age 12, she was a victim of rape.
Despite the circumstances, she chose to have her baby. "Abortion isn't part of my beliefs, and I thought a lot about adoption, but it never felt right to me," she said.
Instead, she spent 36 hours lying on a hospital bed in labor with her son. Imagine giving birth to your first child while only in your first year of middle school, knowing that it's only a matter of time before this little person comes out of you and you are known from now on as "Mommy."
Sounds frightening, right? It was.
"The first pregnancy was stressful, painful and scary," the teen said. "Being pregnant for the first time was an awkward situation because I didn't know what to expect. I was beyond worn out, and it was many sleepless nights."
A few years after giving birth to her first son, she was pregnant again. She'd thought the odds of repeating the same scenario as her first pregnancy were slim to none. She didn't picture being raped again.
"Now that I think about it, I never thought I could get pregnant again," she admitted.
Though she was prepared for her second go round, it wasn't easy. "I at least knew what was going to happen, and labor was much shorter than with the first, but it still lasted over 19 hours."
The teen said her two children have been different people since the moment they were born. She said her first son was every mother's blessing -- calm and quiet, rarely making a peep. Her second son was the polar opposite.
"[He was] always cranky, couldn't sleep or be satisfied, and he still is," she said. "He was underdeveloped, which makes things harder for him and always will. Even if he's small and puny and a slower learner, he will always be my goofy, wild child."
On TV, some of these teen moms just drop their children off at their parents' house, so they can go out and be "normal teens," but that's not the case with this young mom. She knows she doesn't have a normal teen life anymore, and she is OK with that.
"I think about it every day and wonder what life would be like without [my kids], but now I can't see it," she said.
The only childcare she has is from her aunt, who is her legal guardian and who owns a daycare. Her sons spend the mornings there until she comes home from school and returns to her role as a mother.
"I had support from my family, but I didn't take it," she said. "My children, my responsibility."
Surprisingly, given the circumstances, she has contact with both of the fathers. "I do talk to them, actually," she said. "They get [the boys] every other week/weekend. They take good care of them.
"We have some communication problems like every other teen couple," she admitted. "We try."
When it comes to communicating with her children about their fathers and how they were born, the teen plans to be honest with her sons, even though she said it will be a difficult thing to explain.
"If they ever ask about how they got here or why they aren't that many years apart, I'll tell them the truth. I don't believe in lying to them," she said.
"They have the right to know, but how they react is something I just can't imagine," she added. "I couldn't imagine the heartbreak if I decided not to tell them and they found out the hard way. I love them too much to keep it from them."
When asked if she regretted anything after looking back on her decisions, the teen said, "Not a darn thing! I love my kids, and I wouldn't think of them as being a burden in my life.
"Unlike how most parents treat their kids, mine won't be spoiled. They have everything they need. They will learn to appreciate the gift of life I gave them and accept that it's the specialist gift ever received."