It was my freshman year of college. I was 20 years old and only two months prior, I had packed whatever belongings I could fit into the gold 1998 Honda Accord my mother had left for me when she moved back to her Caribbean home. I had made the brave decision to leave the only family I had nearby, my oldest brother and his family, behind in Oklahoma after having shared living spaces in a house that didn’t fit us all, for more than a year, and set out for a new life waiting for me halfway across the country in Tennessee as a college student.
I had worked really hard to get into university there, leaving with whatever money I had saved from my earnings as a staff writer for a small newspaper in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. I had no job lined up yet in Tennessee, but I was confident that with my work experience, and newly obtained certification to be a nurse’s aide, that it wouldn’t be long before I would find employment.
The summer before my big move I had broken up with my first real love. We had spent a year and a half together making memories, whispering sweet nothings, vowing to keep promises we would only end up breaking. Timing is everything and just a few weeks after our traumatic breakup, I had fallen so hard for a new boy. He was the most charming boy I had ever met and I let whatever worth I felt I had be validated by the attention he gave me. The timing and circumstances were too perfect — in my mind he had been sent to me to heal my broken heart.
Though he was not my first boyfriend or love, he was the first man that I ever kissed. He was the first to hold me close in a way no one else had. He was the one to irreverently take my virginity. He was the first to ever get me pregnant.
For days I walked around campus in a daze, thinking that I must’ve fallen out of reality somewhere and I’d be sure to find my way back again, to the life that I was meant to be living. But there was nothing fake about the life growing inside me. I realized that this wasn’t a product of true love, but I would grow to love it anyway. This life would become our life and we were going to do it alone.
Nothing can prepare you for life as a parent. Being a parent is scary and weird and super expensive. But the weight of knowing you’re going to take it all on without the person who was your partner in this creation is crushing. It’s even more daunting when this major life change happens when you’re unemployed, a college student and lacking valuable life experience.
During my nine months of pregnancy, I had a lot of time to think about and plan what I was going to do next. As [...]