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My name is Jamie, I am 31 years old, and I was a teen mom.

When I was younger the only ‘talking’ my parents had with me about sex was not to do it until I was married. Not too long after my 17th birthday I found out I was pregnant. I was scared to tell my family and when I did they were not very proud me, or my choices; they stood firm in telling me that this baby was my responsibility, and held me to it. But, my family also provided me with encouragement and love; without their support I don’t know what I would have done.
I developed dangerously high blood pressure while I was pregnant. My doctor scheduled a c-section delivery because going through labor could have risked mine and my baby’s life. The father of my child put me through extreme emotional pain during my pregnancy. He was constantly cheating on me, and because I loved him, and wanted us to be a ‘family’, I forgave him every time. Being 17, pregnant, and ‘in love’, I wasn’t thinking that taking my cheating boyfriend back would be harmful to me, until I found out he gave me a sexually transmitted disease. My doctor prescribed me pills and said I would be fine. He explained that other STD’s could have posed great harm for me and my unborn baby, and how important it was to use protection if I was going to continue to be sexually active. My relationship with my baby’s father pretty much went downhill from there.

Toward the end of my junior year of high school I gave birth to my daughter. My plans to graduate from my high school and then go to college were all put on hold because I had to be a mom first. I did continue my high school education but I had to enroll at an alternative school where they provided child care for students that were parents. I missed out on my senior year at the high school I had attended since 9th grade. I missed all my friends, senior activities, and hanging out. My daughter’s father was around to see her from time to time, but never any dependable help or support. His friends were more important at that time than her. Soon after her first birthday he went to jail. I later found out he was involved with some very serious crimes. I remember his sentencing day as if it were yesterday. I was holding our daughter while sitting on those hard court room benches when the judge spoke those unthinkable words, ‘twenty to forty years’. I was in an unexplainable state of mind and began sobbing. Even though he was not there full time, something was better than nothing, I was devastated. I was 18, a mom, and now facing the reality that my baby girl will never have a normal relationship with her daddy.

My daughter is now 14 and a freshman in high school. She is smart, beautiful, and I couldn’t be more proud. She does have a relationship with her father, although it is through letters and occasional visits. I have made sure that I am very open about sex and healthy relationships with her. We have an understanding that she can come to me with any questions or concerns and talk openly. My daughter knows I was a teen mom, she is aware I had to put college on hold in order to work and provide for her. Now, 14 years later, I am a college student; my daughter sees the struggles I face daily trying to juggle college classes, homework, my job, and motherhood. I continue to express the importance of education and positive decision making so that she will make better choices for her life, and not have to struggle the way I have.

My message to teens is to THINK FIRST! Having sex even one time can alter your life forever. This is your opportunity to enjoy your high school & college years! Have fun but be cautious, and make smart decisions of the kind of ‘fun’ you have. Think First….is sex that important & fun that it’s worth the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases or becoming a teen parent?