I remember it like it was yesterday: staring down in disbelief as I sat on (what felt like) the coldest toilet in the Target restroom. What happens now? Can I handle this? Can it be true? I questioned myself as I looked at the positive pregnancy test between my two shaky fingers. I was only 17 years old, and I was holding a tiny piece of plastic that would forever change my life.
Let me digress back to the beginning. My name is Alex, and I am now 25 years old. I am a mother, fiancée, and a student who is one semester away from graduating with my nursing degree. I was raised in Chicago, Illinois by my amazing momma, who prayed for my success and did everything she could to prepare me for excellence. As one can imagine, it is difficult for a single mom to raise a child independently and manage to complete all activities of daily living (as we nurses call it) for herself and a child. With my mom working a 9-5 schedule, I quickly learned to care for myself; I knew she couldn’t afford a daily babysitter, and quite honestly, I loved being a “little adult,” so to speak. My independence formed early on, and along with it came sharp-witted intelligence. My mom used to say I was “sharp like a whip,” and not much has changed.
Early in life, I learned to adapt to the ever-changing situations I was presented with. We would often move from one apartment to another; schools would also change quite often because that’s the unfortunate truth of living a lifestyle where my mom had to just “make ends meet.” While growing up, I had a lot of friends, but most of them did not live the same lifestyle as we did. They lived in houses with two-parent families and were gifted some of the nicest clothes, shoes, and games that money could buy. For me, that wasn’t really an option; I only got what we could afford, but I was grateful nonetheless. And unlike my friends, I didn’t have two parents in my house; in fact, my dad just kind of vanished. Regardless of my situation, I never was ungrateful and always appreciated all the friends I had; I admired their perfect families.
When I was about seven years old, my mom began to date a man who soon ended up becoming my stepfather. This sudden change was difficult to accept since it had only been “Anna and Alex” for almost a decade. Fast-forward to about 6 years later, when we all moved to Las Vegas and my mom was welcoming my first sibling, my baby brother Colin. By 2008, my mom had a total of four babies, and I was just a teenager in high school – a senior, to be exact. I was a very independent, miss-know-it-all, grab-life-by-the-horns type of teenager. I wouldn’t say I was a “bad” teen, but I was definitely in control of my life and didn’t want people telling me what to do; quite honestly, I’m that same person, just eight years older now. I managed to graduate high school one year early with a 4.0 GPA and an honors diploma. I was basically all set up for success in my future, or so I thought.
After graduation, I began working at a local car wash while attending cosmetology school. I was 17 at the time, and my life was turning out exactly how I had pictured. It was then that I happened to meet a guy who I genuinely liked. One day, he was standing on a huge ladder fixing some part of the car wash and I thought to myself, “I could totally marry this man, he is perfect,” but I barely even knew him. Just staring at him gave me butterflies. Now, the only thing that gives me butterflies is hitting an IV on the first stick. That same day, I asked him for his number and we began to talk. I knew right away he was not like any other guy I had ever met. He was respectful, honest, and a genuinely nice person. He was so thoughtful that he put other people’s needs before his own. He helped those who were less fortunate and never expected anything in return. He was, for lack of better terms, absolutely perfect – and I knew right away that he was “the one.”
Three months later, we did a little something that would forever change our lives. I had missed my period two months in a row and at first, I had attributed it to my ever-changing cycle. Then, I started experiencing other signs and symptoms I had never had before. My breasts felt heavy, I was always exhausted, and I would get up in the middle of the night to pee. Finally, while on a lunch break from school, I decided to run to the Target across the street and just figure out the truth. As I stood in line to purchase the pregnancy test my hands began to sweat. I started feeling such severe symptoms of anxiety that even a dose of Ativan wouldn’t have been able to control it. I was only 17 years old, in the middle of completing my cosmetology program, and had just signed up for college as well – there was no way I could’ve been pregnant, I kept thinking. Life had other plans for me, however, when that little pink positive sign popped up on that stick.