Thursday, May 19, 2011

Confessions of a Teen Mama

© Ama 2011. Ama gives us a look into unexpected, teen pregnancy and birth. She provides perspective on how the surrounding culture can impact a pregnant mama:

“At 16, it only took one night and I found myself pregnant in my sophomore year of high school. I was the first person in my high school class to be pregnant. I was an A/B student, a band geek, and a generally good kid. Thanks to the gossip mill, it was soon all around my school that I was pregnant. I was not treated well. They called me a slut and many other things in the halls. Because of this mistreatment, I switched my homeroom to the daycare center in the basement in my school that I would later use, so I could continue with high school. I had lunch down there every day so I wouldn’t have to handle the taunts in the cafeteria. 

At home, my mother supported me in my decision to keep the baby, but the rest of the family did not. They wanted me to put her up for adoption. Adoption just was not for me. His parents and my other family, besides my mother, would not let us see each other anymore. At six months pregnant, he dumped me. I was alone. I did not hear from him again until a week before my due date.

I had a healthy pregnancy with no complaints besides the standard sciatica and heartburn. But about two weeks before I was due, I stopped attending school because it was too much to handle emotionally and physically. Walking around the school was painful, yes, but I couldn’t handle being around everyone anymore. I was assigned a tutor at home so I could continue in my studies. I was in my junior year.

On my due date, November 19th, I had an ultrasound and they guessed that she was already 9lbs and that my placenta was deteriorating. The doctor said if I did not go into labor on my own I would be induced the day after Thanksgiving. Well Thanksgiving came and went so…

On Friday, I woke up at 6:30am to get ready to go to the hospital and be induced. I was 9 days overdue. I later discovered that I was closer to 20 days overdue when I did my own calculations. I had some cherry cheesecake left over from Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s house the night before. I went to the hospital with my mother. They still made us register even though we had already pre-registered a few days ago when I went in for an NST. We finally made it upstairs where they have me put on a gown and get in bed. At 9am I get an IV and start the Pitocin, saline, and penicillin that were ice cold from the fridge. I was 2cm dilated.

The morning was fairly easy with just a little bit of cramping. We watched some talk shows, mostly the Wayne Brady Show and the Sharon Osborne Show. At 2pm I was almost 4cm and the doctor decided to break my water. Immediately after that the first contraction I received was HELL! I screamed for an epidural. They told me I had to wait until the anesthesiologist got out of surgery.

So I got a shot of nubaine to tide me over. It did nothing. I hated being stuck in bed on my back and wanted to get up and walk around but they told me I was not allowed to except to go to the bathroom. I kept pretending I had to pee just so that I could get off my back. The doctor went on her lunch break, so my nurse got the birth ball for me. We closed the door and were able to get 15 minutes on the ball, which was heaven, but the doctor came back from lunch and we couldn’t sneak it any longer.

At 4pm the anesthesiologist finally came in and gave me the epidural. He placed it in one try and it didn’t hurt, but crouching over on a table hurt more than the huge needle in my back. It kicked in after a few minutes and I was ok again. They checked me again after the epidural kicked in and I was still only 4cm. They also gave me a catheter and an internal monitor on her instead of the belt. They told me it just stuck to her head and it was only later that I found out it screwed into her head!

I had ordered dinner when I arrived just in case she arrived before dinner, but alas she didn’t and they wouldn’t let me eat it so my mom did. I had come in with another woman at 9 and we were both induced at the same time and she already had her boy around 3 that day. I wasn’t happy. I was starving and thirsty but they kept saying nothing but ice. My renegade nurse came through once again and snuck me in some Jell-O and Lipton soup.

I was still at 4cm until 10pm and the Pitocin was as high as they could allow it. Her heart rate was dropping down to the 90’s with every contraction and the doctor was getting concerned and wanted to perform a cesarean section. I refused to give consent to the surgery. She told me that the Pitocin was irritating the baby, and she couldn’t tolerate it. I told her if the Pitocin was bothering her then turn it off now. She agreed, but told me if there were any more signs of distress, or if I made no progress in an hour she would cut me anyways. At 11pm she came back in and checked me and I was 10cm!

My body had taken over and done it. I came in at 2cm, the Pitocin got me to 4cm, and I dilated to 10cm on my own! At this time the epidural had worn off so I could feel the contractions, which was good for the pushing. I didn’t want any more painkillers.

I started to push unsuccessfully for a bit, and then the vomiting arrived. It was not pretty, but luckily vomiting uses the same muscles as pushing so my pushes started to be productive. I pushed on my back, on hands and knees, and on my side anything to get her to move down.

I needed some oxygen because her heart rate was going down a little more. I was wicked hot at this point and had stripped naked. After an hour and a half of pushing, her head finally came through and I heard the doctor say get pediatrics in here now, which freaked me out. Five people came rushing in a minute later. The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and she had meconium all over her. She cut and clamped the cord and I pushed her shoulders out and the rest of her came sliding right out.

The doctor handed her right over to the nurses and I didn’t even get to see her. She was breathing fine and they cleaned her off and took the meconium out of her mouth. She didn’t aspirate anything. All I could see was her cute little button nose between two of the nurses. They handed her over to my mother instead of me while I was stitched for a minor tear.

My mom fed her a bottle of formula before I was even allowed to hold her. Finally, I got to hold her and she was beautiful and I of course cried. She was born at 12:27am after 15 hours of labor, including 1.5 hours of pushing. She weighed 7.2lbs, 10 days after they estimated her to be 9lbs and was 21 inches long.

I never nursed her. My family and my doctor told me that it was not worth breastfeeding. I had to go back to school at 8 weeks postpartum. They said I might as well formula feed.  Two weeks after her birth, I sat crumpled in bed with her, crying my eyes out. I did want to nurse her but thought it was too late to try.

Teen moms may be young, but they are still mothers and deserve to be treated with the same respect and compassion that all moms deserve. I wish someone had been there to educate me when I was younger. I wish I had known what a doula was and what she does for laboring women. My mother was there with me the whole time, but she didn’t do much but watch and hold my leg.

I felt alone except for that one nurse. She was also my nurse for the next two nights stay in the hospital. She was the only person there who did not treat me as if I was a stupid child. She confided in me that she had her first child as a teenager as well, so she understood.

I graduated on time with my class. It was hard being a teen mom but I did it. I do not wish it on anybody, but the moms who are in that situation need support. Five years later, I was pregnant a second time. I had researched more so this time I had a planned homebirth with a midwife. My son was a 48-hour labor, but I would rather take his birth a million times over again than go through that hospital experience again. He was also exclusively breastfed without a drop of formula. I learned better; I did better.”


  1. Im so sorry, I was a teen mom myself, well twice really! I got pregnant at 17 and had my daughter shortly after i turned 20. <3 thank you for sharing. I understand what its like to be taken for a child even though your now the one having children

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, with shows like "16 and preg" I would have thought it would have been easier for you at school. My mom had me a few months after turning 17. I didn’t realize until I had my son how big of a deal it was that she breastfed me! Actually.. I also recently found out that for my birth my dad dropped her off at the hospital and then went home. Even her mother wasn’t there with her!!! She was 17!!!The amazing part is that she still went on to have 4 more girls!

  3. I got pregnant a month after I turned 20 and was 3 months from 21 when I delivered. I have never considered this teen pregnancy, as I was technically out of my teens and out of school 2 years prior to conceiving. Your hospital experience is SO like mine though and maybe that's because I looked 16. I'm not 27 and I still look like I'm in high school. It occurred to me while I was pregnant, that people have me the looks, etc because they thought I was supposed to be in school. It occurred to me after having my son and for a good 2 years after that, that people treated me and reacted towards me the way they did because they thought I was a teenager (and more often than not, my sons babysitter, not his mother!) But it never occurred to me that the hospital mistreatment (an OB mistreatment) could be from the same thing!

  4. I could have been your nurse :-) I had my first when I was 15. I'm so glad to hear that you had a compassionate nurse!

  5. anon was pregnant at 17 and had her daughter after she turned 20...that's yhe longest gestation I have ever heard of

  6. Thank You Ama so much for sharing... I was 17 and 19 when i had my first 2 girls. It was really hard at school, I dropped out and ended up moving out of state. i had a great birth experience with my first due to the fact I had her at a birthing center... My second not so much... she had a birth defect and was in surgery 3 hours after she was born... i did breast feed as long as my body let me and i am very greatful for that. Another thing that i am greatful for is having you be here for me with the common, crazy, and sometimes stupid questions i have.... if i was there you would be my doula for this baby. THANK YOU again for sharing your story!!!!!

  7. I think the first anon is talking about two separate pregnancies, one at 17, the other at 20!