It wasn’t as though I had my stuff together. Experiencing a pregnancy while living in poverty was not high on my to do list. I was living in a tiny town, in a miniscule studio apartment where my upstairs neighbors were selling methamphetamines, rats crawled up through the burners of my stove and the only window was broken. It had been months since I had eaten anything but ramen and an occasional egg (if you missed my hunger story you can read it here). Sleeping on the floor, with no furniture, no car, nothing but the despair of a love story I feared now had gone horribly wrong. And then I found out I was pregnant….
Talk about kicking me while I was down. I know I should have been far more aware of what causes pregnancy and thus taken steps to prevent it… let’s just say that at 18 with no sexual education of any kind from either my school or my upbringing – birth control was a subject that eluded me. When you don’t know, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Here I was, barely out of high school, living hours away from my parents and trying to pretend that this life I chose was just grand – thank you very much. I remember the moment I saw those two little pink lines and just feeling… numb. I didn’t know what to think, what to do. I wasn’t prepared for any of this.
When life throws you a curveball
Have you ever had something knock the wind out of you? My dear older brother once hit me in the chest (totally accidentally) with a baseball. The feeling of trying to suck in air and getting nothing – that’s what it’s like to find out you are pregnant at 18 when you can’t even feed yourself. You know you need to breathe but you can’t make it happen no matter how hard you try.
Life is like that sometimes isn’t it? You can be going along, thinking you are barely making it and WHAM – something comes along that kicks you farther down that you thought was even possible. And it is what you choose to do in those moments that make or break you. All too often, when faced with something really hard, I’ve pulled inward. Never letting on what it is that is causing me pain, just trying to pretend everything is fine and hold my hurt inside for no one to see. Any one relate? Do you hole up and try and handle everything on your own? It’s been the struggle of my life to break this tendency.
How being pregnant in poverty changed my life
While I always struggle with asking for help, it was that very thing that saved me back then. I threw in the towel on my grand charade and called a close friends parents back home to come and get me. I moved back in with my parents, got a job and got some health insurance so I could safely deliver this baby. It was the most humbling thing I’ve ever done. It was so hard to face my parents, tell them that they were right and that I needed help. But it was worth it! I couldnt’ live out the rest of my pregnancy in the same poverty I was in when I found out about the baby. I wanted better!
Asking for help is super hard! At least it is for me. It can be tough to admit that I don’t have it all together. But asking for help has also presented me with the biggest times of growth and change – and it has made me who I am as a person. At some point, we all need help. You may not be finding out you’re pregnant at a young age but whatever curveball life has thrown at you recently. You are not alone. I take comfort in the quote below by Les Brown and I hope you will too.
“Regardless of what challenge you are facing now, know that it has not come to stay. It has come to pass. During these times, do what you can with what you have, and ask for help if needed. Most importantly, never surrender. Put things in perspective. Take care of yourself. Find ways to replenish your energy, strengthen your faith and fortify yourself from the inside out”Les Brown