This is a taboo subject, one that is difficult to discuss. We frown down on the teen who gets herself “in trouble”. It feels as though we have become a society that values judgement, more than support. We do not seem to advocate, just allocate blame and shame. If you are a mom who has a daughter who is in this situation, how should you feel? Here is the question dangling on the finality of decisions that rule the future. Do you feel significantly more mortal as you hang onto that vile word, Grandma? How do you process this information? Too many feelings and thoughts to count. Lastly, let us not discount the financial questions arising as well. Cue stress now.
I am this mom. I believed it was imperative to tell our story. I am not here to tell any parent how to feel, nor would I want to. Conversely, I would have hoped for the same consideration while going through our circumstance, but consideration did not come. I would have thought that a life coming into the world would be received in a manner of joy, but no joy came. What I have learned in my life is that life and death which are unexpected are never fully welcomed. Why is that? Life happens, death happens, this is what we do as the human race. People say that you can understand a person’s character better when someone passes on, I believe this to be true for an unexpected pregnancy as well. I have never heard the word “mistake” thrown around more than when my family heard about the pregnancy. Family is extraordinary in their behaviors to break hearts and tear families apart during life or death? These are reasons to rejoice or mourn, not belittle and ridicule.
Here is our story…
Nearly twenty-one years ago I gave birth to my identical twin daughters. Like every mom, I believed my girls to be the most beautiful children on the planet. The first time I held them, was as if I was taking my first breath of life. For a split second the world melted away, and nothing else existed. The day you hold your child for the first time can be the most miraculous moment. I can only think of one other time that would top it, when I held my grandchild. There is an intrinsic feeling when you hold your baby’s baby for the first time. I saw eyes, a nose, toes, and dimples that were familiar. How can this moment ever be a mistake?
Well, here is where it begins. My daughters grew up and earned their right to hormones. Remember all of that wonderful teenage business we all loved so much? Can’t say I would ever want that again, oh too, late here comes menopause. Just a little late night humor, while I relive these rough patches. My eldest twin had been in a relationship with her first love for almost two years. Do you remember your first love? I do. It’s that pure, untainted, and genuine love that every middle aged person tells a teen they can’t have. You know the phrase… “You don’t know what love is yet!” Did it ever occur to us middle aged folk that they just might know what love is? This is the time when baggage and resentment has not yet taken up residency in our hearts.
I watched my daughter and her boyfriend thrive. He was extremely attentive and she was sweetly nurturing. They were the best match I had ever seen in younger people. Their love reminded me of my grandparents, who were happily married for sixty-seven years before my grandfather passed on. The tenderness they shared could make anyone melt. Watching them interact was lovely. Well, there is, that operative word, “was”. Their break up was tragic on many levels. This was a case of, “when mommy dearest doesn’t like the girlfriend taking her baby away”. As good as the young couple was together, his parents were not on board.
His parents did not care for my daughter’s influence and never liked how much he catered to her. His father wanted him to get a heavy machinery Operator’s license, while my daughter encouraged him to follow his dreams. He wanted to become a Marine Biologist, and attend college. His parents wanted him on the fast track to making money. My daughter saw their future possibly ending up like his dad’s, with a broken body, and nothing to show for it. My daughter pushed her boyfriend to follow his passions, and he did. He enrolled in classes and began his first semester. My daughter was still in her junior year of high school. I let her boyfriend use my laptop and any other resources I had, as well as revising his essays. The young man was pumped and ready to begin his life. A few months later, his parents began to threaten him. His parents pushed him harder to become his father. Rebelling, he gave my daughter a promise ring, and continued his plight towards higher-learning.
Unfortunately, the promise ring was the straw that broke the camel’s back (No camels were harmed in the making of this story haha). His mother lost her mind and his parents gave him the ultimate ultimatum, break up with her or become homeless. We attempted to offer him refuge, not that I enjoy getting involved in family disputes, because I even avoid my own family, but because they were both heartbroken. I wanted to alleviate some of their stress, and give them options. In my opinion the ultimatum was a bit extreme, but it was not my life, it was theirs. For me, the issue was the impact on my daughter, and that is why I was compelled to involve myself.
Try as we might, and you may suspect, he chose to break up with my daughter to keep his family together. This was the most selfless act and extremely honorable. Of course, it took a substantial toll on him and my daughter. He was forced to turn his back on the girl he loved, and there was no amount of fight she would be able to put up to keep him. The devastation sent my daughter into a self-destructive pattern of behaviors. As I like to say, she lost her damn mind. I understood her pain, I had been there, but at her age it is different. At sixteen you don’t get to do whatever you please. You don’t get to lose your mind and go to night clubs fishing for attention, or to a bar to see if you still have it, and go on vacation leaving all of your troubles behind seeking out new adventures. Yeah, well, try telling her that.
Her twin had already been pushing the limits with me and began hanging out with a crowd I didn’t approve of. There was plenty of discipline coming her way, but multiple this times two of them and you get Hell on wheels. I mean, what a great idea, take your distraught sister out with you and get her drunk with a great group of twenty-somethings. Sensing my condescension yet? Of course, my other daughter had started “chiilin” with this group of individuals shortly after her break up. My other daughter, twin two, was also in a two year relationship with a boy. I was not as excited about this guy, but he was a decent kid. Bonus… his parents didn’t suck either. Well, what do you get with two broken hearted teens? Troubled times mommy friends, you get troubled times! Oh-yes what a roller coaster we were about to ride.
The roller coaster ride took us around the loopty loop of breaking curfew, the dips and drops of under-age drinking, the corkscrew of sexual deviance without taking our free birth control, and that sudden jerk of brakes where we ran off to dad’s house. Yes, it was an exciting summer of adventure and amusement folks. I had two sixteen year olds running around Las Vegas doing as they pleased because, they did not like my rules of engagement. If you come home past curfew, then you will lose access to the front door of the house. If you do not use your phone to answer my calls you lose that too. Perhaps, you would also like to lie about your whereabouts? By all means do that and you will receive the gift of a phone tracking app. “Try me” was not a threat, but a promise to the punishments that came too late.
A week after this began they learned that calling my bluff would not be to their benefit. They came home two hours past curfew, while drunk. I changed the deadbolt and locked them out. Most parents would find this harsh, most blamed me for what happens next, but I believe in tough love and allowing my kids to feel the consequences of their actions. This, in no way, means I was enjoying it. I sat in my house listening to my children panic. I cried hysterically and held firm. This killed me, and it was only the beginning. That night they walked to their dad’s house (two miles away). I was a mess and followed them without being detected. Of course, I needed to know where they were going and would have stopped them from going with the twenty-somethings in case they reached out to them.
When I saw them enter their dad’s house I walked back home, in tears. I did what I thought was best, not that I was thrilled about them being with their irresponsible father, but it was better than the alternatives. Was I failing? Was I doing the right thing? Should I go back and bring them home? All of these voices in my head pushing to do what was naturally maternal. While my head and heart continued to battle my walk was the longest walk I had ever taken. I was losing my girls and didn’t know how to stop it or turn it around. Love of a boy had caused this, but was my love for my girls enough to yank them out of this rabbit hole they were diving into? The limbo I walked home in was painful. I hurt and still had two younger daughters to worry about as well. How do I explain to them what is going on with their sisters, in a way they could understand? It was not an easy conversation to have with a thirteen and ten year old.
I let them be for the weekend with their father. On Monday I called the pharmacy to see if they had picked up their birth control pills, and they had not. I called their father to let him know and he simply dismissed it. How special, right? I called my eldest twin first and she did not answer, I called her sister next and she did. I let her know that they had both better be home no later than Friday. I was allowing a cooling off period, but that was it. I also let them be aware of the contingency plan. No internet access, no phones, no devices of any sort, and no life until they earned it back. I get their heartbreak, but now it was time to move forward and get them back on track.
My youngest twin came home. She had learned early on in middle school that not coming home was a bad idea. The last time she thought she could tell me she didn’t want to live by my rules, she ended up at her dad’s house for three years, until she learned her lesson. Their dad is great at giving them everything they want until he has them, and then he ignores them. I have always been there to support and advocate for my children, and she knew the difference now. My eldest twin was not ready, and she refused to speak to me. He sister faced the new regime and it was awful for her, but what affected her more was the fact that she couldn’t protect her sister. Her sister is not cut from the same mold. This new found crowd would eat her alive, and it was my youngest twin who kept her close and watched over her.
The first night my eldest went out and partied without her twin was the night she was sucker punched in the eye. They communicated through my thirteen year old’s phone. Later that night my youngest twin lost it, hyperventilating, and crying. I sat down with her and developed a plan. Her concern was that she could not watch over her sister. I allowed her to go with her sister under the guise that they were partying together. Yes, you read that correctly. I let her go with her sister to keep tabs on her under the pretense that she was sneaking out to party. I turned her phone back on to track her. I required my child to text call me every half hour. She had to provide me with her address and location. It would have to match up with the general location on the GPS tracker. If she was calling me every half hour she could not drink or she would lose track of time. This was my way of keeping her honest.
Contrary to popular belief this actually worked. I now had eyes and ears on my child, and although my other child still had to be home by curfew, we traded places. She would come home and I would go out to follow my daughter. What I truly wanted to do was drag my kid physically into my car and bring her home. This is easier said than done in 2018.
Two months later I receive a phone call from my mother, who only just started to speak to my eldest twin again. My daughter had been complaining of pains in her abdominal area. She complained to my mom, and worried, my mom related the message to me. My daughter had battled many gastric issues in past years, so I asked my mom what her symptoms were before she took her to the specialist. As my mom spout out the symptoms, I stopped her. I let her know that I believed my daughter was pregnant. After ten minutes of argument and disbelief from my mom, it dawned on me that my other twin had not asked me to buy her tampons in nearly a month. While I was on the phone, with my mom, I walked upstairs to the girl’s bathroom to find the untouched box of tampons under the counter.
My heart sank and while my mom ranted on and on, I tuned her out and processed the information that flowed through my mind. Both of the girls were pregnant. I knew it, I could feel it, and was sure of it. I interrupted my mom’s ramblings to ask her to go buy two double packs of a specific brand of pregnancy tests. She asked me my why she needed to purchase two packs of two. I told her that I believed they were both pregnant, and because it was nighttime their hormones were not as strong. I told her she could test them immediately, but if the tests came up negative we would need to repeat the test in the morning. She sighed and huffed a bit, but in the end she did it. Yes, I paid for the tests, for those of you thinking I was shrugging the responsibility. About an hour later I received the first phone call, and the first contact I had with my eldest twin daughter in two months. She called thrilled to tell me she wasn’t pregnant. I just shook my head, knowing that she was, and well aware of how her reaction would change in the morning, when she retook the test in the morning.
Both popped negative, and both were relieved. Later on, about 1:00 a.m., my eldest twin’s number came up as an incoming call. I was awake and answered it to a frenzied teenager. She could barely get the words “Mom, I am pregnant” out before I said, I know. She cried, begging to come home. I picked her and her sister up. Her sister had not peed on her second stick, but I knew the results of her test too. It took an act of God to calm my eldest her down when I picked them up, but I knew that the best thing for them was to just be as supportive as I could. Could this have been avoided? Yes! Could I have prevented it? Maybe and maybe not, but I did what I thought was best at the time.
When we got home the eldest cried herself to sleep and the younger twin did not sleep at all. She woke me up at 6:00 a.m. to take her second pregnancy test. She refused to look at the test and wanted me to do it, but I refused. This was up to her to do. She did and it was, in fact, positive. Well, there you have it, two teen pregnancies. I called my medical insurance and the agent confirmed that the girls were covered, so I had them make their appointments. The big question comes now, right? How do you, as the parent, react? I am not sure how you may react, but my reaction was simple. My daughters were alive and not in a drunk driving accident, or any other possible outcomes that might have been possible in the situations they placed themselves in. My reaction was to be grateful to have them home with two new additions to our family. To be completely transparent, I was hoping only two. Twins from twins would have been a lot more to handle, but we would have been the best family to take that on if it happened.
Later, I had a conversation with the twins. The best way that I can explain that chat, and the basic premise, was to not amplify and equate the pregnancies as a measure of how they had ended their lives. I told them that they were not diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, this was a baby, and a blessing. I explained that the heartbreak of a boy led them to where they were. That same heartbreak just led them to the love of their lives. Having a baby does not negate life, it fulfills it. Are there challenges and struggles? Of course there are. Do you find this at any age when becoming a parent? Yes, you can. We discussed every aspect, including termination.
I am pro-choice, but I am also against abortion for myself. I am a logically reasonable individual. I was in a pickle, with one wanting to terminate and the other too afraid to consider it. We discussed adoption, which broke my heart as well, but I shut off my emotions. This was not about me, it was about them and their future, regardless of my beliefs in what they should chose. I did have requirements though. Before either considered termination, they had to watch a full length abortion video from start to finish. This worked two fold. First, it allowed them to see what they would not be able to see if the girls were having the procedure done. Second, it would be a tremendous thing to eventually see later on in life, knowing that had they watched it prior it may have changed the decision to terminate.
My eldest twin became physically ill five minutes into the video, the younger one followed suit after baby parts were torn apart and vacuumed up in the most barbaric way. I was pale white, but sucked it up, knowing this had to be seen. There was no place for ignorance when considering abortion as an option. Even as I write this and relive it, I am sick and had to take a break. It brings back the weeks of anxiety over my daughters and their decision making. The long and the short of it is they decided to keep the babies. Due four days apart I knew we had a long road ahead. Both girls still had to get through their senior year, get their driver’s licenses, go through almost a year’s worth of Obstetrician appointments, get jobs, buy things for the babies, as well as mentally preparing to go back to school pregnant and to be judged harshly.
They did all of these things, including graduating from high school with their diplomas. We went through an early delivery with my eldest. Twenty-nine hours of labor to have a caesarian, and her sister followed ten days later. The babies are two now and life is a struggle, but my daughters will tell you that every day they look into their son and daughter’s eyes, they cannot imagine life without peering into those little souls daily. To the family members who called my grandchildren a mistake, I will say to you, that they are the brightest part of our lives now. They enrich and fulfill our hearts, challenge our minds, and bless our homes.
To the moms out there who would say this is their worst fear, I am here to tell you it is not easy, and you would be faced with holding it together even when you don’t think you can, but do it anyway. Support your children, whether it is your son who got her pregnant or the daughter who is pregnant, love them and encourage them. Empower your children to ignore the nay sayers and live their lives in the best ways possible, no matter what comes their way. Don’t shun your children because, they did it before you were ready. Love them all the same and parent them right through it. Your parenting will not stop because, they become parents but, you can expect that it will be different now. Don’t turn your backs on them, hug them, and let them know you are right there with them. If you do this, you will have a stronger extended family that will forever have each other and thrive through all conditions.
Over three years later we have two adorable little additions, who make every holiday and every occasion better. Here are our loves. This is the mistake we have all been so irrationally judged for. Be cognitive of your words and actions, your judgment and ridicule, your condescension and impracticalities, as they may exclude you from some extraordinary moments in the shaping of a young person’s life.