Names have been changed.
Growing up, most of what I knew about sex I learned from TV or heard about from friends. We didn’t know from experience: None of us had had sex. We called ourselves the virgin crew. My Aunt Gina, who I lived with when I was 12, never talked about sex or how to protect myself. She just expected me not to do it.
I didn’t see my mother enough to ever get advice about sex from her. I didn’t dare bring it up with my grandmother in New York because I wouldn’t hear the end of it. I never had anyone I could talk to about any personal problems or ask questions about how my body was developing or what to do if I liked a boy. Even though Aunt Gina and I had a great relationship, I could only talk to her about school, clothes, or to ask permission to hang out with friends or go to games.
It was the last week of June, and school had just ended. I was 13. My friends and I talked about boys from school. I personally did not have a crush on anyone, but my friend’s boyfriend had a friend I ended up hanging out with. I thought we were hanging out just as friends.
One day we were in his house, and his parents were out. We were waiting for our friends to head over to another friend’s pool. We were sitting on his bed talking, then the next thing I knew, he was kissing me. I was nervous, thinking, “Am I a good kisser? Am I kissing right?”
Not What I Wanted
I was not planning to have sex, but suddenly he was over me preparing to do just that. Everything was happening so fast. I didn’t know what to do, so I just let it happen. I was not prepared for this. I was stuck in the moment, lost for words.
I had heard that sex felt good, even magical. That the person you had sex with was supposed to make you feel special. But this was awkward and painful. I wanted it to be over, and, sure enough, it was over pretty soon. I got dressed quickly and so did he, and we did not speak about it. I just wanted to hurry up and get out of there.
We went over to my friend’s house and I tried to enjoy the day at her pool. All I could think about was how much I regretted what had happened. I went home, took a shower, and lay in bed.
I saw the boy again, but we acted as if it had never happened. He and I did not speak much after that.
When fall came, I was excited to return to my regular social life. I was starting the 8th grade in a high school that went from 8th grade to 12th grade. My friends and I were nervous because we did not know how things would go being around older kids. We fit in quickly, however, and made friends with some of the older girls.
I didn’t get my period that fall, but I had only just started it when I turned 13, so I thought it was normal for it to come and go. Then one day in November, my aunt saw me getting dressed. She was always on top of my cousin and me to stay well shaped. She told me to suck my stomach in because I was looking fat. I sucked my stomach in and noticed it was hard to breathe.
A few days later, Aunt Gina came to my room with a plastic container. She said, “Pee in this. The doctor has to check to give you your allergy medication.” I did not think anything of it because I get seasonal allergies.
That night my aunt came in and yelled at me to get dressed. I was scared. I did what she said. We got in her car and she said, “Do you know you are pregnant?”
I thought, “This can not be happening to me.” She asked again. I said, “No, I’m not. I didn’t do it with anyone.” She asked me who I had sex with. I said no one, and she asked me again. I did not know what to say. I was so scared. I did not want to admit I had actually lost my virginity even if she had the proof I was pregnant. I stayed silent in the car while she drove.
Aunt Gina drove me to my grandmother’s house in Manhattan. I felt like my world ended that night. I felt ashamed that I had let my aunt down, but even worse, I would have to hear all the bad things my grandmother had to say. My little brother lived with her, and I was embarrassed for him to know. I wished for a time machine to go back and stop all of it from happening.
As soon as I walked into my grandmother’s house, she handed me a big red T-shirt. She told me to put it on so I wouldn’t show. “How could you do this? How could you let something like that happen?” she yelled. I was tired and just wanted to go to sleep.
The next day they took me to the doctor to see how far along I was. The doctor said I was five months pregnant. My aunt yelled, “How could you not know? You didn’t get your period for five months and you don’t say anything?”
I had no words. I listened as the doctor said to either start getting prenatal care or get an abortion.
Were these the only two options? If I had the abortion, would I go back to Jersey and continue living my life as if nothing happened? Alternatively, if I kept the baby, what would my family say? Would they even support me or help me with the baby? I did not have much time left. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make.
I thought about how I would feel if I went through with the abortion. Would I be OK with myself? How would my family look at me? Then I thought about my life if I did keep the baby. It would no longer just be about me, it would be a newborn and me. I couldn’t think of myself anymore; I would have to worry about diapers and baby clothes.
What made up my mind was that maybe it could be a new start. I would have someone to love who would love me unconditionally. I told myself I would be the best mother I could be, certainly better than my own mother. I rubbed circles around my stomach and said, “It’s just you and me now.” I knew I was going to face my family, keep the baby, and get ready for what was to come.
I was no longer a regular 14-year-old on the volleyball and track teams. I would no longer be able to hang out with friends after school, or go to the pizzeria where the cool kids chilled. Even going to the neighborhood pool wasn’t going to be possible. I had to put fun to the side to prepare myself to be the best mother I could be.
I knew it was going to be a challenge, but things got even worse.
My aunt didn’t want her social circle to know I was pregnant, so she sent me to live with my grandmother. The baby’s father’s family thought the baby was not his so they didn’t want him involved until the baby was born. They didn’t want the talk of the town to be that their son had gotten me pregnant. I didn’t hear from him and I didn’t bother to contact him either. I was mad that I was in it alone.
I gave birth to my son on March 19, 2008, at 7:27 a.m. It was the happiest moment of my life. I named him Stephen. After three days in the hospital, I went back to my grandmother’s house where surprisingly my grandmother and my mother were being helpful with the baby—so helpful I barely had to carry or feed him.
But my mother drifted away again, and I stopped going to school to take care of my son. One day a social worker came to the house and questioned my grandmother about where my mother was, if we lived with her, if my grandmother had custody of my brother and me, and if I was going to school.
I answered for myself, “When my son is six months old, then I’ll return to school.”
I could tell that the worker didn’t care much about what I had to say. She said she needed to get in contact with my mother. My mother had vanished, again, and Child Protective Services (CPS) discovered that my grandmother didn’t have custody of us.
So at ages 14 and 16, my brother and I went into care. I went to a group home, and my son and brother went to a foster home with a foster mother. I was devastated to be separated from Stephen, and my brother constantly complained about how miserable he was. My grandmother went to my aunt’s in New Jersey to avoid dealing with CPS; my mother never showed up to the court hearings to get us back.
I was then placed in a foster home. My grandmother did the training to become a foster parent so my brother and my son were returned back to her house. A couple months later, my son came to live with me in the foster home I was in. I was excited that he was back with me. I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be with me and that I did not abandon him.
What a Kid Needs to Hear
I really wish my mother had been around to speak to me about sex. Even one conversation would have made me more aware and prepared. I wish she’d told me how to use protection, how to deal with a situation where I was about to have sex, and how to avoid it if I wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to have sex that summer I was 13, but I didn’t know how to react at the moment.
I’m more aware and educated now about sex, birth control, and deciding who I want to have sex with. I feel prepared to talk about all this with my son when he gets older, around 12. I will tell him to make sure that he’s ready to have sex, that when the moment comes he should feel comfortable. If he is ready, make sure he uses a condom.
I will let him know it’s OK to take your time and never to give in to pressure to have sex, whether it’s from friends, the person wanting to have sex with you, or society in general. I will tell him to talk to the girl about it first and to make sure she’s ready and comfortable too. I will let him know he can always come talk to me about anything, that I won’t judge him or avoid any topics. I don’t want my son being a father at a young age. I’ll tell him everything I wish I’d heard.