By Wes Annac, Openhearted Rebellion
When I was 16, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant.
I will never forget how it felt to get the news. We decided we would look at the pregnancy test together and, sure enough, it was positive. I’d never been more terrified. I crossed a line I had no business being anywhere near, and there were real consequences.
I was an immature teenager who didn’t know the first thing about parenting or the real world, and I was going to be a father. How would we tell our parents? What would the kids at school think? I can’t recall another time that I felt so lost and unprepared for what was happening.
We made our first prenatal appointment without our parents’ knowledge, hoping the doctor’s test would come back negative and we could avoid telling them about this little scare. We got a ride to the appointment from a friend, only to run into someone in my family who happened to work at that doctor’s office as a nurse.
You’ll never guess the patient she was assigned to.
I can still remember hearing my girlfriend’s name called, then hearing, “WESLEY!” I looked up to see my sister-in-law standing there holding a clipboard. I was busted. She took us back to a room where we told her everything. Then, she administered the test that confirmed the pregnancy.
After that, we knew it was time to come clean. We were having a baby, and we couldn’t hide it for long. We had to own up to it and prepare for our new life as young parents.
At first, I only had the courage to tell an older brother, who told my parents, who then gave me the chance to confess. That was an emotional night, but given the circumstances, my parents were as calm and rational as they could be. This was new territory for us all, and they knew I was just as freaked out as them.
I had to confront some tough questions. Can my girlfriend and I build this kind of life together? Am I ready to work to support a family? Am I prepared to sacrifice my social life to take care of a baby? I would have to grow up a lot faster than I expected.
It didn’t help that I was a scared, selfish kid with a bad attitude dealing with something on a scale I couldn’t fathom. Between lashing out and being generally combative, I caused a lot of drama and upset a few people.
It was childish, but my drama paled in comparison to the medical problems that plagued my girlfriend’s pregnancy. Especially for a teenager (she was also 16), her pregnancy was rough.
At 29 weeks, our son was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Basically, he was having problems growing. The pregnancy was considered high-risk, and at one point, doctors suspected my girlfriend had preeclampsia – a common condition in pregnant women that can cause high blood pressure.
The baby’s condition didn’t improve much over time. At 32 weeks, we found out he wasn’t taking enough “practice breaths”, an indication his lungs were not growing properly.
We were sent to a hospital with doctors more qualified to treat this problem, and their solution was to administer two separate steroid shots 24 hours apart. The shots were, of course, meant to help his lungs grow. They worked, but it only bought us a little more time.
Out of necessity, our appointments then increased to two-three a week. This meant we were constantly driving back and forth from the city the hospital is in.
It was a stressful time – not least of all on our parents, who were working every day and taking us to these appointments. I was incapable of grasping the seriousness of the situation; all I could do was show up at the appointments and hope for the best.
At 36 weeks, the doctors discovered the baby was not getting enough blood flow to his umbilical cord. Along with his other IUGR-related problems, this left us with one option: induced premature birth. It was our best chance, but it was not a guarantee things would be alright.
I was visiting with some friends who came to the hospital to see us when I found out the baby was about to arrive. We had waited all night and all day, but even though I only stepped away momentarily, things were in full swing by the time I returned.
Before I knew it, I was holding my girlfriend’s hand as she brought our son into the world.
I have never since felt the rush of love that washed over me when I saw his little face for the first time. After all those months we spent waiting for his arrival and being terrified something would go wrong, he was here, staring up at us. For the most part, he was healthy.
There is a difference between seeing an ultrasound image of your baby and meeting him or her for the first time. For me, at that moment, it became real. I helped make a life. This child will rely on me to show him how to survive in this world. It was time to step up, and I was ready.
Our son wasn’t quite out of the woods after he was born. His trouble growing, premature birth, and unstable body temperature meant he would have to spend nearly two weeks in an incubator. Since he was also underweight, he required a feeding tube through his nose.
Making the trip to the hospital to see our baby every day was… not easy. We lived outside of the city, which meant we had to drive up there from town continuously. We were used to going up there often, but after he was born, we were there every day until he got to come home two weeks later.
After seeing him in the incubator for all that time and wondering when this extended hospital stay would end, it was incredibly relieving to get to strap him into his car seat and bring him home. Finally, after all the complications, we could start the next phase of this journey together as a family.
At times, we felt like we would never get to leave that hospital. But we had faith in the doctors and nurses, who were amazing every step of the way.
One reason I share this story is to point out that medical professionals are just the best. Back then, they were the heroes who brought my son safely into the world and continued to help him grow after he was born. Now, they are sacrificing their health to keep the rest of us safe during this pandemic.
We are lucky to have these selfless people on the front lines every day – not just during a time when more of us notice their sacrifice, but all the time. We should be grateful to live in an age of advanced medical care and professionals who are devoted to saving lives.
At countless times throughout this journey, bad things happened that made us worry the baby would not be okay. My girlfriend and I were given so much more adversity than we thought we could handle, and the stress our families had to endure was painful.
It was a dramatic time in my life. Looking back, I could have easily sunk into depression or hopelessness. Those destructive feelings were present quite often, but despite how terrifying the whole ordeal was, we persevered.
After our son was born, we lived with my girlfriend’s mother in her basement. I had no job, no direction, and no idea where to start.
Now, ten years later, I have two jobs and a definite plan for my life. My girlfriend is now my wife, and our baby is an active 10-year-old with a big imagination. We own a home, and I get to write cool stuff like this for a living.
If I hadn’t become a parent at a young age – which I would not otherwise recommend – things could have turned out much worse for me.
I began this journey as a clueless kid, but I turned my life around to become a proud father, husband, and homeowner with a moderately successful writing/blogging “career” and another job to make ends meet. I’m no perfect example of success, but I have a good life.
If I was able to build a decent existence from a seemingly bad situation, there is no doubt you can too. It might not be the life you planned, but it will be exactly what was meant for you.
To anyone who is anxious or struggling with some unimaginable changes in your life: please don’t give up hope. Keep going, keep learning from your mistakes, and keep evolving. If you persevere, then in time, doors will open where there were none before.
There is a power that responds when you make a consistent effort to improve your life. It’s as if you activate some force that connects you with people and opportunities you would have otherwise missed.
Call it what you want – the universe, the law of attraction, the higher self – if you’re serious about improving yourself, it will support you.
However hopeless it can feel to live in this world, your future is in your hands. You can let all the bad stuff weigh you down, or you can use your short time here to pursue meaningful things and live a good life with the people you love.
I recommend the latter, as it has made my time here so much more worthwhile.
Wes Annac 🙂
About the author:
I’m a twenty-something writer & blogger with an interest in spirituality, love, awareness, activism, and other crazy stuff. I run Openhearted Rebellion – a blog dedicated to sharing wisdom and encouraging a revolution that begins in the heart.
I also run Canna Words – a blog in which I share some of my research and opinions on cannabis. There, I write about everything from legalization to hemp and the various ways people use the cannabis plant.
I’ve contributed to a few awesome websites that include Waking Times, Wake Up World, Golden Age of Gaia, and The Master Shift. I can be found on Facebook (facebook.com/wesannac, facebook.com/cultureofawareness) and Twitter (twitter.com/Wes_Annac, https://twitter.com/love rebellion)
If you enjoyed this post and want to support my work, consider donating via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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