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To All Teen Moms:

All of the sudden my life was different. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't terrified. What was I going to do? A single, 16 year old, pregnant, Mormon girl.

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To all the teen moms out there:

First off I want to start with these simple words-you are amazing, and you can do it. This is not an easy thing that we are going through. But being a teen mom doesn't define who we are.

Life comes with its daily challenges and struggles, but we have something/someone to live for now. We have an adventure through life with our little friend/partner/baby.

I wanna start out with sharing a bit of my story. Getting pregnant at 16-a sophomore in high school- is not easy. The thoughts going through my head at the time were daunting and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. "What was I going to do? How was I ever going to accomplish anything? Was I stuck in this town with no future? What are my parents going to say? My siblings? I have disappointed everyone. Will I still have friends? Who is ever going to want to be with me now that I have a child?" These were all questions going through my head at the time. I am going to go through and answer these questions.

What was I gonna do?

I honestly can't even begin to explain the emotion/feelings that I was feeling at this time in my life. I didn't know how I was going to raise a baby. I didn't even know how to cook a meal or properly do laundry. I was concerned that I was not going to be able to put my own teenage selfish desires away and raise a child. I now look back on this time in my life and I smile. I think about how scared I was and I am grateful that I was able to conquer those fears.

2. How was I ever going to accomplish anything?

Of course I would think this, I was 16 years old. I didn't know what my life was going to look like in the next couple years. And now I was going to have another life to look after. How am I going to do anything. I knew what kind of mother that I wanted to be because my mother is such a wonderful example. But how was I going to do it. High School, then College? Without the love and support of my family I wouldn't be able to have accomplished anything. I also have my little girl to be grateful for. She gave me the motivation to keep going. I finished high school online and shortly after we moved to Los Angeles to start my college adventure. For a while I struggled with the fact that I was going to have to leave my baby for long periods during the day to go to school. I was not raised that way. My mom was there for everything. I remember being able to snuggle with her in the mornings while my siblings were getting ready for school. I struggled with the fact that I didn't have that luxury. I had to come to terms with the fact that I have to go to school. I have to be able to provide a future for this sweet baby of mine, and even though it doesn't look like what I am used to, does not mean it is any less beautiful and any less special. I was able to go to school while my amazing sister watched my girl for me. I realize how lucky I am to have had this situation. I knew she was in good hands and I knew that she was loved. It didn't make leaving her any easier though. I knew that everything that I was doing was for her though, and that made it easier.

3. Was I stuck in this town with no future?

This kind of goes hand in hand with the last question. I grew up in a small town in Central California. The type of town where everyone knows everyones business. When I got pregnant I was the talk of the town. There were people that were so kind and so loving, but there were also people that said horrible things about me. Here I was, a 16 year old mormon girl that was pregnant. Not only was it kids saying terrible things, it was also adults. This was one of the darkest times in my life. All I knew was that I had to get out and prove people wrong. At the beginning of my pregnancy my mom and I sat down with an attorney and talked about teen pregnancy. She told us that .1% of teen mothers graduate from high school and even less than that graduate from college by the age of 30. My mom and I were so shocked. I knew in that moment that I was going to make a difference in this world. No matter what I do in my life, I am going to be successful and I am going to do it for my little girl. I don't want to sound so negative about this town that I grew up in. And the question isn't really talking about the town, I'm mainly referring to my state of mind. I had to get out of the "stuck" feeling and know that I was going to be something. I have a future. I no longer allow myself to think negatively about my life. To be successful one has to have the right state of mind. Getting to that state of mind was not easy, but when I first laid eyes on my little girl my whole entire world changed. I was no longer living for myself.

4. What were my parents going to say?

This was my biggest fear. Like I stated in the previous answer, I was a 16 year old mormon girl that was pregnant. My parents never could have dreamed of this happening. Before I told my parents, I was scared. So many emotions were going through me and I was dealing with them all alone. I didn't tell anyone because I was afraid of being judged. When I finally told my parents I couldn't believe the love and support that they gave me. I knew that they would still love me, but I honestly did not know what their reactions were going to be. My mom was out of town at the time with my sister (who was having her first baby) when I told her. I called her and told her a couple days prior that there were rumors going around that I was pregnant. Then a couple days later I called her and told her that the rumors were true. The first thing she said to me was "Everything is going to be okay. I am going to be on the next flight home. I love you sweetie." While I thought my whole world was coming to an end when I called her, I was wrong. I finally had a glimpse of hope. She then told me that I needed to tell my dad. I told her that I couldn't. I couldn't bare to break my dad's heart. So she called him and my dad left work and came home to see me. When he got home he gave me the biggest most meaningful hug a dad could give their daughter, and we sat on the couch and cried for hours. My mom got home shortly after and I am pretty sure that we all cried for weeks. We cried till nothing else would come out. As I am writing this I can't help but feel the raw emotions that I felt in those first couple weeks. These were intense feelings that I never imagined having to ever feel. I honestly have no words to describe the love and appreciation that I have for my parents. They truly are the salt of the earth.

5. My siblings?

I have 1 older and 1 younger sister, and 2 older brothers. I remember talking to my older sister on the phone after I had told my mom and her just telling me all of the things that I needed to hear from my big sister at the time. She has always been one of my heroes. I looked up to her so much growing up. I will always be so grateful for her selflessness at this time in my life. My 2 older brothers were amazing as well. I remember talking to them on the phone (all my older siblings were in Utah at the time) and just feeling their love through the phone. The kindness and compassion that they gave me and showed me at the time is something that I will never be able to thank them enough for. The last sibling to find out was my baby sister. I couldn't bare to tell her. I had let her down. I was supposed to set a good example for her and be there for her when she needed me. At this time she did all of those things for me. At first she was so disappointed, she just cried. But as time went on she was there for me and stood up for me in situations that I probably didn't deserve. I can't even begin to express my gratitude for my siblings. They are truly my best friends and I cherish each and every relationship that I have with them. This situation brought my family together so much and made us all love and appreciate each other more than ever.

6. Will I still have friends?

Of course at 16 years old this was one of my concerns. Before I got pregnant I was such a friend centered person. I always wanted to have fun and honestly didn't have a care in the world. I was truly one of the most oblivious teenagers ever.

Well at this time in my life I truly had to clean out the closet when it came to friends. People that I thought were going to be there for me were not. I was betrayed and let down by some of my closest friends and I had to come to terms with it. While I was dealing with that I was also growing new friendships with people that didn't have to be there for me. I appreciate everyone that showed me their love and support at this time. I truly can't thank you enough.

7. Who is ever going to want to be with me now that I have a child?

At 16 years old this was a really big concern for me. I had always imagined myself growing up and getting married in the LDS temple and then eventually after a long, long time having kids. Little did I know, my story was going to be a completely backwards. Clearly I was still 16 years old so I wasn't thinking about dating too much. I really just tried to focus on my little girl and on myself. It is so easy to lose myself in her, and for a while I just kind of let it happen. Once I was ready to start dating again I really had to find out who I was as a person and not just as a mother. Dating with a child is probably one of the weirdest experiences that I have experienced. Mostly because I am a mom and I feel like that is my identity, but while dating I have to let that person know who I am. Separating the two is tricky, but I have learned it to be so important.

For anyone out there going through something similar to this I want to give you some advice, don't give up. Life is hard and you are going to have to do somethings that you probably didn't think you would have to ever do. But you can do it, and you are not alone. You are worth it, your little one is worth it, and someday everything will fall into place exactly like it is supposed to! You are amazing and beautiful. And now you have a little cheerleader rooting you on from the sidelines. There is nothing more rewarding than being a mother.

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