When Life Hands You Lemons



Reading Time

December 2007, I was tall, tan, and toned, halfway through my sophomore year of high school and had just gotten myself a brand new boyfriend named Guy.

Guy was goofy looking back then, he was tall and skinny, with long arms and legs, and big ears. He played basketball, and his personality was charming and loud. He was popular, the class clown constantly cracking jokes in class, and if you passed him in the hall between classes, there was no doubt he was making someone laugh.

Somehow, he picked me to be his girlfriend, and we became inseparable. People knew us as ‘Guy and Lauren,’ and those who didn’t know me suddenly knew me as ‘Guy’s girlfriend.’ We made a cute couple and it felt like everyone was rooting for us. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before I became pregnant.

I’ll never forget April 15, 2008 was the day I was supposed to get my period. I remember exactly where Guy and I were standing, outside of Mrs. T’s cooking class, when he asked me if it had come yet. “It’s probably just late,” I told him, “we don’t have anything to worry about.” I think we both knew I was lying. I was too afraid to face the truth.

April went on and my period never showed up. I stupidly believed somehow it just skipped a month and it would come in May. It didn’t, and the reality started to sink in I really was pregnant. Guy knew too, but we didn’t talk about it.

Sophomore year ended, Guy and I still remained inseparable. He would stay over at my house or I would stay at his. We spent the summer swimming at the pool in my apartment complex or hanging out with our friends. In June, I took driver’s ed and got my license. In July, my mom held a Sweet Sixteen party for me at the lake. It was a fun summer overall. I brushed away thoughts of being pregnant, but the morning sickness was quick to remind me. Every. Single. Morning. I remember waking up to walk my dog in the mornings and throwing up in the grass as she did her business. Another vivid memory was puking up M&M’s over my apartment’s balcony. If the morning sickness was especially unbearable, I would stay in bed past noon with my face smooshed into my pillow so I couldn’t smell anything.

By August, it was getting hard to hide my growing belly. Much harder. I was skinny before I got pregnant, so for a while I could just suck in my stomach and you couldn’t tell, but sucking in started to hurt. When school began again, I felt like everyone could tell I was pregnant. It didn’t help Guy actually started telling others. I was so embarrassed, but to my surprise, people were still rooting for us. Everyone who knew was excited I was pregnant and wanted details: what the baby’s gender was, what names we’d picked out, what our plans were. We didn’t know any of those answers. We didn’t have plans yet. Our parents still didn’t know. I still wasn’t comfortable using the word ‘pregnant’ or ‘baby’.

Finally, we had to come clean. There was no way we could hide anymore and one way or another, a baby was going to come out of my body soon, so we needed to start making some plans. After school one night, Guy met at my house and we agreed we’d tell my mom together. We walked into her room and sat on her bed. She was watching TV, but must have been able to smell the fear on us because she immediately clicked it off and said, “What’s wrong?”

“We need to tell you something.”

“Okay well what is it?”

“Um,” I couldn’t say it. Guy couldn’t say it. We were frozen and stupid, very, very stupid. “Guess,” I said.

“Lauren’s pregnant,” my mom said, without skipping a damn beat. We nodded.

Following was the flood of questions I expected: How long have you known? When were you supposed to get your period? A thousand others. And I lied. I told her I had only known for a little while, I didn’t know when I was supposed to get my period, it had only been a month or two maybe. I was VERY pregnant, I had known since the day my period was supposed to come, and it had been way longer than a month.

After we talked, she left. I have no idea where she went, but she didn’t come home til the next day. And she had a plan. We called Planned Parenthood and scheduled an appointment.

I have no idea how long after we told my mom the appointment was, but it scarred me a little and I don’t think I’ve ever actually talked about how truly scared it made me. I think my brain erased some of it from my memory because as I write this, there are parts of the appointment I don’t remember at all.

We arrived at Planned Parenthood and the first thing they did was confirm I was pregnant. Seeing as everyone thought I was only a few weeks pregnant, I was told I would need a vaginal ultrasound. I’d never been to an OB/GYN before, had not even discussed sex or my period with my mom, yet here I was, naked from the waist down with a paper drape covering me, heels in stirrups, and my mom next to me, about to get a vaginal ultrasound for the very first time.

I don’t remember her exact words but I’m sure the nurse said something like, “yup, she’s definitely pregnant.” Twenty-three weeks pregnant, to be exact. I think my mom almost passed out.

Once my pants were back on, we were taken into an office to discuss my options. The first option was the obvious one, where I carry out the pregnancy and have a baby. It was briefly touched on and then we moved on to discuss option two.

Abortion. We were informed I was approaching the cut off in my pregnancy to be able to have one, and after 24 weeks they couldn’t do it. It would be a relatively quick procedure, cost a pretty penny, and I would essentially be off the hook forever.

Every single ounce of my being regrets it now and will always regret it, but I made an appointment to go through with the abortion. After that I was given pamphlets, given a set of instructions, and told it was required by law no less than 24 hours before the procedure, I call an 800 number and listen to the recorded message.

After leaving the appointment, it felt like a timer went off. I made a list of pros and cons for everything: keeping the baby, giving the baby up for adoption, and the abortion. Guy was 100% by my side through everything. He told me he’d support whatever decision I made, and he wouldn’t leave me if I decided to keep the baby or be mad at me if I chose abortion. 

I’m unsure if time was moving faster or slower at this point; looking back now everything is extremely blurred together. I remember around the same time a local news story came out, an anti-abortion group had been driving a bus around town with a large image of an aborted fetus on its side. My mom made me shut my eyes whenever it came on TV. I remember feeling worried what people would think of me at school. And I remember the message on the end of the 800 number awaiting my call haunting me.

I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t know what specifically changed my mind, but I did! I never placed the call to that 800 number, I never listened to what the dreaded message said, and I never went back to Planned Parenthood.

My belly got huge, I gave into my cravings of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and Subway sandwiches every chance I got. I discovered we would welcome a baby boy, Aiden, into the world mid-January.

My fear of judgement and losing friends had disappeared. It was hard at first, especially having to tell my teachers (the ones who hadn’t already put two and two together), but after a while I walked around with confidence.

Christmas break arrived, we had all assumed I wouldn’t return to school after as my due date was January 13th, but the end of break came and it wasn’t looking like labor was coming. So I went back to school. The memory I have of my first day back after Christmas break, people were shocked to see me, and they were shocked to see how much my ginormous belly had grown.

January 13th arrived with no labor, so I went to school like normal and let me tell you, there was MUCH concern about me having the baby at school that day. I don’t know how many times I repeated “it’s just an estimate, I’m not going to have him today” but no one seemed to believe me. By the end of the day though, I was disappointed. I knew it was just an estimate, but I was so ready to have him, even with such little time to prepare. The rest of the week dragged and with each day passing, I grew more impatient. They had given me a date and the date had come and went! I wanted him out of me! I wanted to meet my baby! Finally, I had a checkup with my doctor that Friday and was instructed  if I didn’t go into labor naturally over the weekend, to come in on Sunday and they’d start induction.

I did not go into labor. Sunday evening, at 40+6 weeks and only 16 years old, we checked into the hospital for induction. After a long and painful labor, he was here! I was young, but I knew already how much I loved him from the very first moment I saw him. There is no feeling even close to the amount of love you feel when you meet your child for the first time. All of the fear, all of the hiding and worry, it was gone. Every single moment, good and bad, leading to that moment was completely worth it and nothing else mattered anymore. All I saw was Aiden.

If you’re wondering about Guy, well, we didn’t last. We officially split when Aiden was around six months old. He’s still heavily involved in Aiden’s life, we even threw out all court and child support documents several years ago and made up our own rules, with a schedule that works for all of us because he IS so present.

I have been asked if would do things differently and was 15 again. The honest answer is this: I missed out on so many opportunities by becoming a mom so young. I didn’t go to a university or travel abroad for a semester. I didn’t go to the beach for spring break or pick up my stuff and move to a new city just for the hell of it. My body took a huge toll as I went from a size two to a size 14, then back down to a size four. Stretch marks have covered my body for a decade now and I am only 26. But you know what? I would ride this roller coaster over and over again. I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t ask for this life, but I damn sure don’t want anything else now that I have it!

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I was not the only pregnant girl in my school, but I believe  I had one of the strongest support systems. My relationship with my mom grew as a result, my grandma opened her home to my son and I (she let us stay longer than I care to admit) and babysat him any and every time I needed. From a statistical standpoint, I’m extremely lucky my son’s dad has always been there. Guy and I may have had our differences (so, so many differences), but I will always give credit where it’s due, and let me tell you, no matter what the circumstances, I respect that man because he is a great dad and he has never left our son. He now has a wife he shares a daughter with, and myself a husband and daughter, and Aiden is extremely loved by all! That is all I could ever ask for him.

Today as I write this, I realize it’s January 13th. My heart is heavy knowing in six short days, Aiden will be 10 years old. It’s hard to believe it’s been this long, and  I have transformed from a teen mom without one single clue to a married mom of two with almost 10 years of experience. I am the luckiest woman in the entire world. I thought everything I did wrong and everything I wasn’t would add up and I would be given the worst kid ever. Instead, I was gifted with the smartest, sweetest, funniest, most thoughtful and loving boy I have ever met. I might be a little biased (duh), but he’s also the most handsome kid too! Seriously, not a day goes by I don’t question what I did to deserve him. He’s the kid who makes sarcastic dad jokes and watches himself dance in the reflection of the TV screen, but also the kid who cries when he reads Valentine’s day card you give him. He’s perfect in every way.

Life is funny you guys. But it sure is sweet. And I am so damn lucky.

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