I went into labor with B on my due date. I was only in labor for 12 hours and really only 3 hours of intense, miserable contractions. I got an epidural when I was dilated to 7cm and it was 6am. B was born at 9:45am, on May 1, 2000, after only 45 minutes of pushing. Honestly my labor went really well and was actually less difficult than I expected it to be. It was relatively complication free. I did have to have an episiotomy and B did have to be taken to the nursery to be observed for an hour or so due to rapid breathing but all and all things went well. I had difficulty nursing but I continued to pump and try to get B to latch on.
We headed home from the hospital 36 hours after B was born and settled into life as a new mom. I wasn't the typical teen mom, I didn't have my mom or grandma or other family members there to take care of my baby. It was me, B, and my boyfriend. B was an easy baby and there were only a handful of times where he cried inconsolably. At two weeks old he was sleeping from 11pm-5am and always was a great sleeper. We even had to wake him to feed him at night during his first few days home.
My work offered 6 weeks paid maternity leave, a benefit I know most workplaces do not provide. In addition to those 6 weeks I took all my vacation time for the year, 8 weeks in all to be home with my new baby boy. It was nice to have all this bonding time with B and to not have to worry about the financial hardships of not having a paycheck.
Three weeks after B was born was my high school graduation. I was proud that despite my circumstances, I was walking with my class, graduating on time, and earned a 3.4 GPA, while at it. I really loved my job and didn't consider going to college right after high school. I knew I would go to college someday but I focused on being a mom and good employee.
B's dad continued to hop from job to job, 3 months here, 6 months there. Always bringing in income, never bringing much stability to our family. When B was 4 months old my boyfriend insisted he wanted a house for our family, not an apartment. We found a house to rent in the mountains. It was cute but far away and over-priced. Honestly I would've been happy staying in the apartment but I went along with what he wanted.
When B was a baby, his dad was really a great dad to him, very involved. He is a chef and restaurant manager so his hours were opposite of mine and B was with him a lot while I was at work. My boyfriend's mom watched B in the afternoons between when my boyfriend went to work until I got off of work.
I settled into being a mom quite quickly and things with my boyfriend were pretty good. I loved being a mom and was genuinely happy. I thought my boyfriend had changed and his bad decisions were in the past. When B was 8 months old he proposed and when B was 9 months old we were legally married, no ceremony, no dress, no hoopla. I didn't even change my name, because he promised a "real wedding" ceremony when we could save up enough money. So there I was, 19 years old, mom to a 9 month old, and now married. I thought things had turned around and everything would be ok.
When B was 14 months old, the sh*t really hit the fan. My husband's bad legal decisions came back to haunt him in a bad way. From this point on, I began raising B on my own, as a single mom. It was really, really hard. I cried a lot, I struggled a lot, but honestly more than anything I loved my baby boy more than life itself and I was going to do everything in my power to keep him happy and safe.
My husband and my relationship went back and forth for another 3 years. During those 3 years he wasn't really involved in B's life and we never lived together again. Looking back I should've cut the ties and moved on with my life when B was 14 months old. I kept holding out hope that my husband could change, that he could stop the lying and cheating and legal troubles and get himself back on the straight and narrow. When B was 4 I finally filed for divorce. It was almost a year before the divorce was finalized but after that last split I didn't look back. My heart was hurt, my little family had been destroyed, but I was beginning to realize B and I never really had a future with his dad. I attended a divorce recovery class at my church that allowed me to grieve the end of this relationship and truly helped me move on. At 22, I was by far the youngest member but it was so helpful to me.
B continued to grow and learn and change. He is a smart boy and always kept me on my toes. I kept working at the bank. When B was 1 I started attending community college part time to be a paralegal. After a year and a half I graduated with my paralegal certificate and started looking for jobs. After searching I decided it was better for me and B to stay at my current job. I was very interested in legal studies and thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I met with a career counselor at the community college and she advised that most people that go to law school receive their undergraduate degree in political science. University of Colorado had a guaranteed transfer agreement and if I took a certain sequence of courses I could graduated with my Associate degree from community college and be guaranteed to finish my Bachelor degree with only another 60 credits. When B was 2 1/2 I started on my Associate degree and graduated in 3 years, mainly going part-time. I also started working part-time in the church nursery for extra money. At one point I was both working full-time and going to school full-time, as a single mom. Yes, I am crazy, plus very determined. I was sure getting a college education was my ticket to success both for me and B.
After I graduated with my Associate degree I transferred to the University of Colorado. I decided to leave my job and focus on school full-time. I juggled four part-time jobs, one as a nanny, two as church child care worker, and I provided child care for one of my son's classmates. I wanted to be successful at the University level, as well as complete my Bachelor's degree quickly so I could move on to law school. I went into a lot of debt because of this. My entire education was paid for with a combination of grants, scholarships, and loans, but no family help. During this time I was able to spend more time with B. I went to school while he was at school but was done in time to pick him up each afternoon. All my jobs allowed me to bring B to work with me. My sister and I had been renting a 3 bedroom townhome for several years together and around this time she moved out and found a place of her own. It was just me and B and we were pretty happy.
For months after that final split I was not interested in dating. Of course I wanted to find someone great but I was hurt, jaded, and not sure I even knew how to date anymore. My last experience in dating took place when I was still in high school. I was now an adult, a mom, a college student, and a professional. I was not even sure where to begin.
A friend set me up on a blind date, that didn't work out. I ran into a guy from high school at a bar, that only lasted a couple dates. I went out with my friends, I met guys, but they were all the same, hot guys who were only looking for one thing (if you know what I mean) and that wasn't a relationship. I started to get frustrated. I read the book, He's Just Not That Into You and convinced myself I wasn't going to settle. Not all guys were jerks and I should not settle for less than stellar treatment. More than a year had passed since the break up and I was approaching 24 years old.
The same friend convinced me to try Match.com, her friend met her fiance there. I figured it couldn't hurt. At first it was exciting to be dating again. I knew these things took time. I winked and emailed back and forth with a couple of guys but nothing really progressed. After about 3 weeks, there was this one guy, he seemed cute and sweet and even had two girls of his own. He had raised both his girls completely on his own since his youngest was 3 months old, almost 3 years ago. That said a lot about him. His oldest daughter was 6 months younger than B and our kids gave us lots to talk about. We both were in college, both at University of Colorado, me at Boulder studying Political Science, he was at Denver studying Mechanical Engineering. We talked on the phone for hours, the conversation flowed easily. After a few days and a couple phone calls he asked me on a date. A first date, that would change my life forever...
More to come in Part 4: My Happily Ever After.
If you missed it:
Part 1: How I Became a Teen Mom
Part 2: Pregnancy