I remember it clearly: November 1992. Puking my guts out. I figured it was the flu. The flu that wouldn't go away.
Wait: when was my last period? August? Or September? The flu is making me delirious.
I told my best friend I didn't remember having my period. Also: this flu wouldn't go away. She asked when I'd had sex with Rick. My birthday - my fucking 14th birthday - September 22, 1992. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. She suggested we stop at the drug store after school for a pregnancy test...just to be sure. Couldn't wait. I took the test at the drug store and in under a minute, it was positive. We bought 12 more and left.
I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm 14. This can NOT be happening,
I took all 12 tests. They all said the same thing - pregnant. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! What the hell was I going to do? I sobbed as my best friend promised it would be okay. We'd figure something out.
(Because 14-year olds have the best ideas.)
We called Rick - he was 16 and surely he'd have a better idea because 16-year olds were much smarter. He came flying over, looked the tests and asked, "Are you sure they aren't defective?"
"Yeah," I said, "Pretty sure."
He flipped out. "Holy shit we're gonna die! Our parents are going to kill us! What the fuck are we going to do?"
Apparently 16-year olds are not smarter. They do not have better ideas.
We went to the free clinic the next day. I'd never been so scared - here Rick and I were, children ourselves and we were about to find out that, without a shadow of a doubt, we were having a child. Of our own. I sobbed. It was all real. I didn't know what to do.
Rick assured me that he would be there for me no matter what.
There was only one choice. I was Catholic; therefore I wouldn't have an abortion. I'm not a good Catholic - the hell and damnation freaked me out. Rick supported my decision.
I shut down. How the fuck did this happen? You don't get pregnant on your birthday! My mother had offered to put me on The Pill. I'd been too afraid to tell her I was thinking about sex. Why didn't I say yes? Why didn't we use a condom?
I proceeded to hide my pregnancy. At 14, it seems like a good idea. If I ignored it, it would go away....right?
At six months pregnant, my mother brought me a pregnancy test. I sobbed: she knew I was pregnant and she wasn't mad. She'd known for awhile. You can't hide a growing belly no matter how baggy your clothes are. She was mostly upset that I didn't trust her enough to tell her when I first found out.
We talked for hours.
She invited Rick's parents over for dinner. I was terrified, but they, too, were understanding. Like my mom, they were just upset that we didn't tell them sooner. We shouldn't have been alone and afraid for so long. We were just babies trying to deal with something far too adult for us. They told us if we decided to keep the baby, they would help while we finished high school and college. They would support us.
It was wonderful but I knew, at 14, I couldn't be a mom. I couldn't take care of myself - how was I going to take care of a baby?
I informed them that I wanted to give the baby up for adoption. I had selfish reasons. How would I go to dances? Or hang out with my friends? How would I date? Rick and I were just best friends - we weren't even dating. We loved each other but we both knew we weren't spending the rest of our lives together. I wanted a life, and babies take that away.
At 14, I wasn't willing to let that go. Everyone was a little disappointed; they wanted to see their first grandchild grow, but they understood.
We explored adoption. I chose a perfect family for the baby. We decided to have a semi-open adoption with pictures and the option of seeing the baby.
Rick and I wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. Our parents, however, wanted pictures. The adoptive parents agreed 100%. They also agreed that when the child was old enough, they would be told of the adoption. If the child wanted to contact us, they would reach out and see how we felt.
Everything was put in motion; we just had to wait. June 14th, my due date, came and went. On June 25th my water broke.
This couldn't be happening. I was having a baby and still in denial.
Exactly six hours after my water broke, she was born, looking exactly like me. 7lb. 90z. and 20" long. I hemorrhaged and passed out. The doctors thought they were going to lose me but I pulled through. Hemorrhage is common among teenage pregnancies. We're not designed to birth babies that young.
(Yeah, tell me about it.)
When I woke up, I wasn't pregnant. It was such a relief. I feel horrible for thinking that. I was asked if I wanted to see her before she left with her parents. I didn't. Rick and my mother convinced me otherwise.
I saw her - my clone. I held her as Rick and I cried. We said goodbye. We explained she deserved the best life possible. She deserved better then two teenagers could offer.
Then we let her go.
Sixteen years later, I received the phone call: she wanted to meet us. Rick, who is still my best friend, told me he'd gotten the call, too. We talked for hours. What do we do? How do we explain this to the children we have now (with other people)? We talked to our spouses. Only one conclusion: it was time.
We met our daughter on her 16th birthday. She's still my clone except she is thin as a rail - probably gets that from Rick.
It was so hard to tell her how we'd moved on with our lives. Rick went to college and had three daughters. I got married and had two daughters, got married again, had another daughter whom I lost. I had a son that came as a packaged deal with my current husband and then we adopted another boy. I felt like such a traitor - hey, I gave you away but I kept them.
Somehow, she understood; we were babies when she was born. She knew she couldn't have a baby at 16. She knows we had our reasons. It wasn't because we didn't want her - the time just wasn't right. And she loves her parents; she just wanted to know where she came from.
I talk to her all the time now. I'm like a cool older sister - I give her advice because hell, I'm only 14 years older than her. I remember being her age way more than her mom does! She and Rick have a close relationship - he's her cool older brother. We will never be her parents; we gave that right away. I don't want to be her parent - her parents are who raised her and they are great people.
We chose well.
I'm so glad she reached out when she did. I now know that she's is happy. I no longer wonder if she hates me or feels like I abandoned her. She knows that it broke my heart to give her away but that she deserved better.
She'll be 18 this year. I can't believe I have a child turning 18. She's in college, on the Dean's list. She skipped a grade. I guess I make 'em smart - not sure how!
I wanted to share my story of my daughter because this is my light. This is one of the things of which I am most proud - not getting pregnant on my 14th birthday (again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me) but making the best choice in a difficult situation. I'm so happy my daughter has the life she has.
I'm even happier to be part of it.30 Comments