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Op-ed

Commentary: Becoming a teen mom was the best thing that ever happened to me

Not having my baby was never an option

BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law last week a bill that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Earlier this week, British actress Jameela Jamil took to Twitter and boasted of her own abortion and declared it was the "best decision" she had ever made.

"I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn't want, and wasn't ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel," Jamil tweeted on Monday.

I literally felt sick to my stomach after reading Jamil's tweet.

Let me explain.

I was a teenager when I became pregnant with my oldest son.

The news surprised me, mostly. I'd recently graduated from high school and had been married for about a month.

And at 18, I was not prepared emotionally, psychologically or financially for parenthood. My now ex-husband was also 18 at the time.

I'll never forget that day.

My mother-in-law drove me to the store where we purchased an at-home pregnancy test. We went back to her house and I took the test. It was positive.

Now, at this point, I didn't even have a gynecologist/obstetrician. So, my mother-in-law made me an appointment with her doctor who later confirmed I was indeed pregnant.

I remember feeling so excited and terrified at the same time.

My circumstances weren't ideal by any stretch. I was young. I didn't have a job. I wasn't in college. My husband at the time worked for his dad and we lived in a mobile home on his parents' land. We had health insurance but not maternity coverage.

But the idea of not having the baby never was a consideration for me. Ever. My parents instilled in me Christian values and morals.

I understood that this precious life was a gift from God. Although my pregnancy wasn't planned or expected, I understood this child was my responsibility.

It was my job to care for this baby and do everything possible to bring into the world a child who was healthy and loved. So, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and parenting.

At 26 weeks, I started bleeding and having pains in my stomach so I went to my mother-in-law's house and asked her to call the doctor.

Did I mention we lived in the country and didn't even have a phone in our home?

I ended up in the hospital that afternoon where doctors determined I was in premature labor. My white blood count was also extremely high and they believed I had appendicitis.

I'll never forget the words my doctor said that night.

"If it comes down to you or the baby, we will save you," she said.

"No! I want you to save my baby!" I told her.

They decided to remove my appendix and take the baby, but less than an hour before the surgery, the pain stopped and my white count dropped. The surgery was canceled and I was admitted to the hospital for the long haul.

It was June 8 and my baby wasn't due until Sept. 15.

Two days later, I went into labor again. Two hours later, my son was born. He weighed in at a hefty two pounds, 12 1/2 ounces.

The doctors showed him to me briefly then whisked him away. I didn't see him until the next morning.

He was so tiny. His little hands were the size of my thumbnail.

I felt so grateful for him and still do.

Some argue that a woman should not be "forced" to continue an unplanned pregnancy because of costs or career or because it's her body.

I disagree. I believe if a woman doesn't want to have a baby, there are plenty of ways to avoid becoming pregnant including abstinence.

But what about abortions in the case of rape or incest? Statistics show that less than 1.5 percent of all abortions are performed for those reasons, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Adoption is a loving option for women who don't want to raise a child. Plus, there are many couples who can't have a child and would love to adopt.

Now, I can't tell you how my life would have gone if I had not become pregnant when I was young, but I truly believe my son changed the course of my life – for the better.

He was seven weeks old when he finally came home from the hospital. Later, I had two more sons.

They are all grown now. Two are married and one has a girlfriend. And I'm looking forward to being a grandmother some day.

I have no regrets about becoming a teenage mom. Life is the greatest gift. And the best thing that ever happened to me was having my three sons.

One last thing…
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