A year ago her thoughts were focused on what to wear out on a Friday night. Now her thoughts are focused on what the baby needs and what bills need to be paid when she gets that paycheck on Friday. Yet, somehow she knows everything will be okay. Having this baby was the wake-up call she needed. She was getting bored of going to house parties and running into the same drama she did in high school. It came at perfect timing, right? Being a mother now is not as frightening now as when that pregnancy test strip turned pink and she first realized her life was about to change.
Debbie was an 18 year old with three brothers. A daddy's girl, she was terrified of his reaction to her being unmarried and pregnant. Her thoughts were, "My father's going to kill me...what am I going to do?" So first, she told Mike, the father. Abortion never crossed her mind. "I'm not against it; I think it depends on the situation and the individual," she says. She and Mike discussed what to do and Debbie told her parents. "They actually took it very well," she says. "I'm sure they would have wished I was older, but they were happy."
Debbie was happy, too. "I was mature for my age and I felt prepared. I was not afraid, and I wouldn't have known more later than I did then." She looked forward to the time she'd have one-on-one with her child. She also had an adjusted mind-set on life. "My whole life changed. My life was all about my child; no longer was it about me. Things that once seemed important were no longer crucial. Taking care of my child came before anything else, and everything I did revolved around her schedule."
Being a mother made Debbie feel very proud and special. So, what about the importance of a father figure? "He was very, very important. It's only fair. The baby is his just as much as mine. He should not be deprived, and neither should my child," Debbie says strongly.
Debbie and the father, Mike, who eventually got married, got a divorce when their child was very young. "I wasn't scared because we had been separated for three years. I was used to doing things myself." But, Debbie's parents were sad about the split. "They hoped it would've worked out, but they weren't angry." When raising a child, fears are normal. "Was I doing everything right? Was she eating the right foods? Was I picking up on things that were important?"
So how did Debbie afford all of her and her daughter's needs? "I worked part time until the separation. Then, I switched to full time and my parents babysat." The ways of the world were different when Debbie was a young mom. Her advice to others in the same situation is, "If you don't have to work, be a stay at home mom because there is so much in those years you don't want to miss." That's what Debbie would change, given the chance. "I hated that someone else had that time."
Marci is a 22 year old with a sweet baby girl who turned one last year. Upon learning of her pregnancy, abortion ran through her mind. "I even went twice to have it done and both times I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I couldn't even take care of myself, let alone another life I was bringing into the world that I would be totally responsible for." Yet, she thinks abortion shouldn't be banned. "If you cannot provide for your child, then don't even consider having a baby. But don't get an abortion for selfish reasons. When I considered it, I was thinking of myself and that wasn't fair."
When Marci's parents found out, her mom was surprised at first. "But she stood beside me the entire time and couldn't be happier," Marci says. Her father, on the other hand, hasn't spoken to her in two years. "He's totally against me having a baby. I'm disappointed and can't believe he could turn his back (on me)."
Now, Marci says the hardest part of being a young mom is the responsibility. She doesn't get to go out with her friends often and experience being young. But, she's very excited about watching her child grow up and "go through the fun stages." Being a young mother has forced Marci to take things more seriously. "Angeline comes first over everything. If I have a little bit of money, instead of buying something for myself, I have to make sure I get everything she needs first. Even if I'm sick, anything - she has to come first, no matter what, over everybody, everything."
Despite Debbie's thoughts on fatherhood, Marci feels differently. The father of her baby is not in the picture. "It's not as important as I thought it was going to be. I think maybe because she's a girl. It's going to be hard though, but I have Matt (her fiance); otherwise, it would be hard because I'd have to someday explain to her why there is no father, and that would be pretty hard. Now, she doesn't understand, but if there were nobody around, somewhere down the line it would be difficult because I'd have to explain it to her and I think it would end up hurting her. She'd see other fathers and daughters doing things that she wouldn't be able to do."
Kelly is a future mom-to-be. After discovering her pregnancy, she felt shock. "After the initial denial and disbelief, I started to cry. This was the scariest thing ever. I thought the only thing to do was go to an abortion clinic." Still at college, Kelly was sure the pregnancy was going to end. She sat with her friends while they gave support. "They gave me enough courage to realize that everything happens for a reason, even this. It was my friend Joni's 21st birthday, and I'll always remember that day. That night, I called Zach (the father) and we talked and I cried."
She too considered abortion. "When I asked for advice, most agreed that I should get an abortion, even Zach. I think the only real reason I considered it was out of fear and what my family would think of me. Then I realized I wasn't 16 and in high school. Abortion would have just been an easy way out." Kelly is pro choice but says, "I just found out that at this time it was the wrong choice for me."
Kelly was three months pregnant by the time she told her parents. "My mother told me to calm down. My dad was shocked. I was his 'little girl' having a little girl, but eventually he was okay. I'm glad I have their support. Now they are thrilled with the idea of being grandparents. Zach's parents reacted about the same." Kelly told me that the grandparents are all "anxiously awaiting Cailin's arrival."
Kelly feels that being a mother would "definitely" be easier if she were older. "Granted, I am an adult, but just because I'm not 16, being a mother at 21 (to me) just does not seem like the normal way to do it. When you're older, you have settled into a routine. You have a consistent income and you have the ability to have things that me being 21 would not have. But who knows, being young might work out just as well. I'll just have to wait and see." Kelly is ecstatic for her baby's arrival. "I'm just excited to meet the girl! Zach and I have made a person and we are solely responsible for her existence! And together we are going to, well, make or break her. I can't wait to dress her up, watch her sleep, and talk to her about friends and boys."
Kelly's standpoint on life has redirected itself. "Life seems like more of a miracle. I just want to be happy and healthy, and I want the same for everyone around me. I don't stress about the little things, they seem so insignificant. There's a quote, 'Babies are the last perfect things left in the world.' I'm growing a life inside of me and she'll be perfect, at least to me, no matter what. I view the world as more of a terrible place though. I'm scared to let this baby see what people are like and how they treat each other."
As you can see, all three of these mothers have similarities as well as differences. But the day that Marci and Debbie held their tiny newborn in their arms, they understood that it's all worth it. Soon, Kelly will discover the same thing.