19, Unwed and Pregnant: Bringing Baby Home | A Journey to Motherhood


Bringing home a baby is supposed to be one of the best experiences of your life. But what if you’re barely 20, in a negative relationship, unwed, and pregnant all while living at your parents’ house?

I grew up in an extremely Christian household with very conservative values. I went to a Lutheran school through eighth grade, church every Sunday since I can remember, and confirmation classes in seventh and eighth grade. While this sounds like an ideal upbringing to many, it can create quite a negative family environment when you choose a different path than you were raised to follow. Like many teens, I was rebellious. In high school, I found myself in trouble often despite how sneaky I thought I was. After graduation, I started college, but only a few months in, I decided to end my college education. I chose to move out of the house and in with a boy (gasp!). In my mind, I was on top of the world; I was an adult, I could do whatever I wanted. 

About eight months after moving out and starting my new “adult” life, that carefree time came to an abrupt halt when two pink lines appeared on a pregnancy test. While I was incredibly nervous to tell my parents and extended family, I was also on top of the world. I was grown; I had an apartment, a car, and a job. What could be so terrible about having a bundle to love? (Ohhhh, what I wish I knew then!)

I told my boyfriend the news, and while it wasn’t overly well-received, it went better than I anticipated. I told my parents through a letter that I regret to this very day. I don’t remember all that it said, but I know it was hurtful and in extremely poor taste. After leaving the letter at their house, it was quite a while before I heard from my parents…weeks maybe. Within those few weeks, my great-wonderful-fantastic adult life started to crumble around me. I was without a job. I was starting to realize that I was in a terrible relationship but was too young to realize how unhealthy it truly was. I was pregnant with parents who were completely disappointed in me, and a lease that was coming to an end.

I don’t recall how it all happened, but I ended up back at my parents’ house. My dad built a bedroom in the basement for the baby and me to share. I found a job working in collections, and I barely saw my boyfriend…we were together but living separate lives. I woke up at the crack of dawn, drove an hour to work, worked eight hours, drove an hour home, ate dinner, and passed out. That was my life at 19 until I went to an ultrasound (alone) and heard the words “the baby isn’t growing” as much as she should…blood was not getting to the placenta as much as it needed to. I was terrified. I ended up having to take a leave from my job and ended up on full bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy (about four months). I spent my days in my basement bedroom with the TV, the family dog, and my belly. Every other week I was in the doctor’s office for an ultrasound and stress test, and soon it became every week. It was a very lonely time for me. 

At my appointment three weeks before my due date, the doctor told me they were going to induce me the following week. The baby was still not growing at the rate they needed, and they felt she would thrive more outside the womb. The night I went in, I was packing my bag, and my dad came into my room. He told me that he was proud of me and that it all was going to be okay. We hugged, and both cried. It was a pivotal moment for me. I had disappointed them and felt it deep within during my entire pregnancy. I was ashamed and felt like a burden bringing another burden into the world. But that night, I truly felt like it WOULD all be okay.

I arrived at MoBap to be induced at midnight. Labor was lonely. Yes, the boyfriend was there, but he wasn’t truly present. He was young, likely terrified, and in a world of his own. My mom sat with me for a while that afternoon, and the rest of my family was in the waiting room. Thankfully, I slept through a lot of the day, which made it easier for a newly 20-year-old with barely any life experience. Then, at 4:34 p.m. that day, my beautiful girl entered this world. She was 5 lbs and 15 oz of tiny joy…over a pound a teenage mom with her newborn baby after nine months of being unwed and pregnantbigger than she was estimated to be. My precious Madison. Maddie, Mad, Maddie-girl.

A couple of days later, we made our way home…to my parents’ house. I bottle-fed because I was young and embarrassed at the idea of breastfeeding under my parents’ roof. Over time, I became less ashamed of the decisions I had made as I watched my parents love this tiny baby unconditionally. They borrowed a bassinet from friends of theirs, and every night that we ate dinner together, my dad would pull the bassinet close to him at the table. My mom was the one that helped me give Maddie her first bath. My mom was the one that I yelled up the steps for when I just didn’t know what to do. ❤️ 

Together, we watched a little girl grow up before our eyes.

Ultimately, Maddie’s dad and I did not end up together despite our best {young} efforts. But we ended up with a fantastic man in our lives that legally adopted her in 2017…they picked each other in front of a judge and several witnesses. Maddie and I spent years together…just the two of us. In a sense, we grew up together. Today, she’s 15, and I am so proud to be her mama. 

As for my parents, they still live in the house that I brought that little baby home to. The house where we disagreed a lot. The house that, at one point in life, I so desperately wanted out of. The home where we came together on some common ground to love a little girl more than I ever imagined the three of us could. 

a grandpa holding his newborn baby granddaughter
My dad and baby Maddie.
after welcoming her unwed and pregnant daughter home, a grandma welcomes her newborn baby granddaughter
My mom and baby Maddie.


Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Thanks for being a shining example to me. 


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