I was mostly a tease as a teenager. I got into a little trouble here and there, but nothing major. Then when I was 16 years old, I got knocked up during a one night stand with a guy upon whom I'd been crushing for some time. I hadn't even been living with my dad for a full year yet.
My very first reaction was that I had to abort. My best friend helped me research how you would go about it and what sort of legal rights I had as a minor. It turned out that I would have to have my parent's permission. Ooooh, that was not going to happen. My father liked telling people he was a heathen, but he'd turn right around and quote the bible to you. I've never considered him a religious man, but he certainly has a strong sense of morals and abortion would definitely be out of the question!
We figured out that I could pull off getting married without parental consent. Then I wouldn't need parental consent for the abortion. We even had a gay man chosen for the job! However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I just couldn't do it. At that point in my life I was just not capable of terminating a pregnancy.
Eventually I confessed to my father. He insisted I quit my job (he had noticed I'd been very tired) and got me in to see a doctor. He was amazingly supportive, something I hadn't expected. He even offered to break the news to his wife, another thing I was dreading. She wound up being my Lamaze coach for the birth!
Labor and delivery went very smoothly and I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. I felt bonded to her pretty much immediately. Once home, there was some friction between my family and I. They were uncomfortable by my breastfeeding in the living room so I went up to my room to do it. Then they explained they didn't need me to leave, just cover myself. Then my stepmother would get irritated at me for offering my baby the breast before she cried. Any of you that have breastfed a baby know... sometimes you just know it is time to feed the baby!
There were just too many disagreements. I finished my Junior year of high school and then during the Summer I moved out of the house. I did it one day while my stepmother was at work and my dad was out to lunch. Cowardly, I know, but I made the best decision I could at the time.
I moved into a house I would rent from my stepfather for an insanely low amount. There were even renters in the house when I moved into it, but they were forced to accept me (and soon moved out themselves). I actually left on a trip to Louisiana that very afternoon (got the heck out of dodge!).
I had to get on Welfare to support myself and even got Food Stamps. I couldn't find a way to get a job because I had a kid and I couldn't get a sitter or day care because I didn't have a job. I felt pretty stuck. Living alone for the first time in my life, I also felt pretty lonely. Each night I would lie in front of a television with my baby until I fell asleep.
Meanwhile, my mother and her husband very much wanted a child of their own. My mother had difficulties with her pregnancies and had since gotten "fixed." Then I had this heart to heart with my mother. She pointed out how stuck I felt and how much they wanted a baby. Over lunch, I agreed to give up my daughter to them. I later even tried to conceive a surrogate child for them. (It only took one cycle of waiting to know to figure out that this was not the right decision for me.)
There were some difficult times in the following months, including a major falling out with my mother. When my daughter was 5, my mother told her my story - without using any of our names. My daughter knew exactly who was in the story. I think that was a good, timely approach. I've seen many adults get really messed up psychologically from finding out that their sibling was their parent. (This had more to do with the lies they'd been told for their entire lives.)
I floated in and out of my mother and daughter's lives. My mother and my stepfather separated. My mother has recently passed away and my daughter is now almost living on her own for the first time in her life (at 21 years old). My mother was pretty open with me about her parenting decisions and my daughter's development and problems. I can't say that I agree with everything she did and I definitely wonder sometimes how things might have been different for my daughter if I had kept her.
That said, I make a point of having no regrets in my life if I can help it at all. There is one concert (The Swans) I regret skipping. But major life choices? I wouldn't be the woman I am today with the children and life experience and perspective I have now if I hadn't taken the paths I took. I just hope I didn't wrong her in some way. I know she doesn't feel that way at this point in her life, but she has a different perspective on "our" mother than I do.
Giving her up was definitely one of the harder things I've had to do in my life, but I don't know if I would even say it was the hardest. In hindsight I have been convinced that I was manipulated into the decision. (Who decides to give up their child over lunch?!) But I've also considered being a surrogate mother for others. It has been something I've wanted to do for years. And now I fear I'm getting too old for it considering I'm currently pregnant with another of my own children! By the time I'm done nursing, I'll be in my mid-forties! My point, though, is that I've often considered giving up another child, but through surrogacy. It isn't the same thing. I don't know that I ever would have been alright giving her up for adoption to someone I didn't and would never know. At least my daughter has always been available to me.