Living with a pregnant teen changes everything

Guest post by Raggedy Ang

My family has recently discovered that my 16-year-old sister is pregnant. This has made life interesting to say the least. I live at home with her, my mom, and my boyfriend of five years. We all have a lot of questions and almost no answers. Every day, I feel pity for her, but I also feel anger and some form of resentment that I am often ashamed of. I constantly ask myself, “How could she do this?” But, I know that it’s too late for that sort of thinking. Now, we need to focus on what to do.

I’m 22 and have spent the past few years of my life defining who I am, getting to know myself, and getting to know and love my boyfriend. Family is extremely important to me, yet I am not excited about what’s happening around me. I feel confused about what I am supposed to do and where I’m supposed to go. We live in a small house that’s already bursting at the seams and adding in more people and more stuff is a stressful thought to me. My mom is upset, but being that this will be her first grandchild she’s also trying to hide her excitement. I feel like such a downer because I’m trying to be realistic.

I confided in my mom the fears that I have about having the baby around — the fear that my room will be needed and this little birdie will have to leave mom’s nest way ahead of schedule. I’m terrified. We all had plans that are being thrown out of the window. My mom retires in a few months and was supposed to move back in with her aging mother to take care of her. In turn, my boyfriend and I would rent the house from her and take care of my sister while she went through school. I would stay here in my home, with my herd of animals that I love and would have to give up if I had to move. Now, everyone is staying. No space is being added and more is being taken away and I feel that I am suffocating with stress and worry.

I told my mom that I didn’t think I could live here with my little sister and help her raise her child. I don’t feel that either of us is ready for that kind of responsibility — after all, I’m still trying to start up my career life. My mom also told me that if she had to choose a child to tend to the family and its subsequent children it would be me.

I’m not ready for a baby, nor those responsibilities, and I am certainly not prepared to raise my sister’s child. But what can I do? I have responsibilities as a sister. I can’t imagine trying to watch my little sister — who is much more interested in maternity clothes than baby supplies — try to do this on her own. I can’t even imagine the fear that she is feeling: sixteen years old and she’s about to become a single parent.

I watched my mom struggle to raise us without my dad around and I knew I never wanted to face that burden. I never wanted to have children with “Mr. Wrong.” Being a big sister is tough stuff, especially when you’re terrified yourself. So I’m trying to bring my household to my level. I keep bringing in baby toys and putting them in my sister’s room. I ask her where she’s going to put the crib. And I was horrified to hear “In Mom’s room” as her reply. I don’t feel like it’s fair. My mom deserves a break. My little sister deserves the time she needs to mature and grow without it directly affecting another being. I feel that she needs to have the chance to make a few more mistakes in her life before having to devote it to caring for a child.

With every week that goes by I fear seeing my little sister like I used to see my mom, alone in an uphill battle against the odds of the world. My mother is an incredible woman with an amazing balance between strength and heart, but it took years of being the “underdog” to become that way. Is that the road my baby sister faces? Will I again stand to the side unable to offer much help at all?

The more I think about it, the more I feel like she won’t. My mom was alone with no one on her side. My little sister is not alone. Because, no matter how scared I am that even I am not ready, I will always be here for her. This tiny home will fit one more and when she needs help, I’ll be one door over. And while she’s trying on maternity clothes I will be stocking up on toys and baby supplies because I know that in the end, being an aunt is going to be the best job ever.

Comments on Living with a pregnant teen changes everything

  1. Sounds like your mom and sister have some decisions to make. Your mother is still her guardian, and is therefore responsible.
    Only offer yourself if you truly want to help out, otherwise you end up resenting your sister and your new niece or nephew, and no kid deserves that. However if you want to stay in the house you will have to accept that it comes with a new resident.

    My sister also got pregnant at 16, when I was 24. I had already moved out by then so other than having an adorable nephew to buy stuff for, my life didn’t change.

    My mother’s life absolutely did change. My family’s religious beliefs didn’t give the option of termination, adoption was discussed as a viable option, but eventually my sister decided she wanted to keep the baby.

    My mom spent time, that would have been her free time, helping my sister, entertaining the baby when she had homework. My mother made the decision that it was important to her that her youngest daughter have the opportunity to finish high school and go on to college.
    Both things my sister did, she did distance learning to finish off the year after he was born, then transferred to a high school that had a daycare facility. She graduated on time. She then went on to college and was given subsidized childcare and even got grants to pay for school (which made me absolutely green with jealousy as I sat there trying to figure out how to pay for school). She moved out to family housing during college, and my mom was able to go on with her life as before. That first 2 years, though, amy mom made sacrifices to make sure my sister could support her child later.
    My sister is now a professional who is respected in her field and has a wonderful 13 year old son. (married, with a 3 year old now too)

  2. I don’t think that you are selfish or that it is unfair of you to feel this way. But maybe you shouldn’t be angry at her for being a teen mom… It is okay to be angry at her for not taking responsibility for her own choices in life… BUT It is already a very scary situation for her to be in, and she needs support. She is young and will definitely not think of all the motherly things like what she needs etc. She is only 16… I do agree with most of the posts that she should not be allowed to push the responsibility onto your mother. She should be raising this baby no matter how hard it may be. In the end it is her child, and she is that baby’s mommy. Any child will want to be raised by their own mother. I believe that our love for our babies is what in the end gives us the ability to look after them. It is okay to be angry at her for not taking responsibility (I think it is very unfair for the crib to be in your mother’s room), but don’t be angry at her for being a teen mom. She is going through something that only a teen mom can explain. Initially it may seem a little exciting etc. But there is going to be a moment where she realizes she is going to be a mother for life… and that is the scariest realization at 16 I think.

  3. When I got pregnant at sixteen, I WAS the younger sister. While all my siblings were long out of the house, I got a very thorough dose of “how could you do this to us?”. When I considered adoption, everyone told me things like “You’re going to give my nephew away? He belongs to us too.”. Yet, when I decided to keep him, I was told “And do you think we’re going to help you?”.

    I know this is not your situation, but look at it realistically. If she said she would give the baby up, many people might say she should take responsibility and raise it. No matter what she does at this point, someone will think it’s the wrong decision.

    I don’t have a single happy memory of being pregnant, because every time I felt happy, someone would decide they needed to remind me about how OMGAWFUL being a teen mum is.

    She knows. Believe me she does. Hug her, let her enjoy it. She will never get to be pregnant with this child again. She knows you’re disappointed. She knows you’re probably angry. But that’s not what she needs to hear. Just tell her it will be okay, and try to find a way to help.

    As for space, set up the baby’s things in her room, or suggest cosleeping. If she has a large closet, perhaps that could be converted. Take her to garagesales. Suggest cloth diapers. Etc. Even if all you can do is to take her to an appointment, or find her a pregnancy centre that offers practical supports, do it.

    • This. So much. I got pregnant when I was 15 and my entire pregnancy I was miserable because of everyone projecting their disappointment/disapproval of the situation.

      • Exactly. Plus, she will get comments and looks from strangers and aquaintences for the rest of her life. Even once she’s no longer a teen, people can add. She needs her sister to support her through that, not add to it.

  4. Life changes, and those changes can always be scary. When you’re living at home, you’re living in space that belongs to someone else. Sometimes, it’s worth it for security, more time for education or savings etc, but it’s a trade off. Maybe it’s not fair that your sister as a minor and her baby are going to require and receive more space/help than you will. Maybe you can sit down with mom and the boyfriend to create a budget and plan a timeline for moving out? Give yourself enough time to find a place that will allow your pets. Pets are just as much a lifetime commitment as any other family member. I think it’s okay to be upset by a change you didn’t create, but going with it will be smoother than railing against it.

  5. While everyone talks about how this young woman needs to accept the “consequences of her actions”, there doesn’t seem to be much talk about the young man that is equally responsible stepping up and accepting the consequences of his actions. Even if he chooses not to be involved in the child’s life, he is financially responsible for the little one until they reach the age of maturity. I hope that she pursues whatever avenues she needs to do to receive child support.

  6. I work as a Family Educator for an Early Head Start program that serves teen parents. My job is amazing. One of the advantages of working with teen parents is that they are frequently more open to learning new parenting skills than their older peers. I simply want to add that I highly recommend helping young parents get in contact with local support agencies.

  7. This reminds me of my own little sister. She was 19 when my neice was born. Only a year after my own daughter. I’m still not sure if she knows who the father is. I am half way across the country so I couldn’t help but my mother stepped right in. While sister tweeted and facebooked about not being able to drink or fit in clothes, my mom made her prenatal appointments and bought baby clothes. I sent hand me downs of my daughters when we found out she was having a girl, in spite of her telling me not to because she didn’t want her baby wearing cast offs. The baby bed went right into my moms room after she was born. Less than 48 hours after having the baby she was at the bar trying to party. That was 6 years ago. Since then she has moved out of my moms house and not lived with her daughter for almost 3 years. My neice knows me better than her mother and I still live halfway across the country.

    I still resent my sister very much for the burden she put on our mother and how little she cares for her daughter. But I am also angry with my mom for enabling her.

    No advice, just commiseration.

  8. Ok so I already agree with most of what has been said, about your sister needing you but also about her needing to take charge of her life and you not having to be ‘responsible’ for her. Practical solutions have also been suggested, including you moving out which at 22 and in a stable relationship would seem to me personally the right decision (without feeling guilty, again in my opinion listening to and helping out your sister can be your responsibility, not raising her child while resenting her), but of course we’re not in your family so maybe that’s not a solution for you.

    But, being 9 months pregnant myself with our 2nd child, I would also like to add that pregnancy (especially the first one and under these conditions) may not be the best time to really take whatever view of the future your sister has as definite. Yes she said she wanted to put the crib in your mom’s room and a lot of people read this as her not shouldering her responsibilities but honestly I’m not sure it is the case.
    When you’re pregnant with your first baby, you have a whole set of ideas on how things are going to go, and very often once the baby is born, he/she is his/her own person and things end up being different than what you thought.
    Not even considering the ‘teen mom’ aspect which makes it even more difficult for your sister to think ahead or to have a clear view of the future, I’m sure every 30yo new mom could tell you she had imagined such or such arrangements for her baby and after birth she ended up doing something she had not considered (ex : co sleeping when you swore you wouldn’t but then your baby WON’T sleep without you).
    It can also be very difficult for many women to see their bodies change so much during pregnancy, even when it was very much wanted, so I can’t imagine when you’re a teen and your changing body is already difficult to accept, so I wouldn’t judge a 16yo (or indeed any pregnant woman) for being very interested in maternity clothes, it may be her own way of accepting her body and making peace with it. I know this isn’t about me but I was a married 25yo when I was pregnant with my first baby, and having been plus size all of my adult life I had a very complicated relationship with my body, even more so now that it was growing so much and leaking in weird places and finding maternity clothes that fit and made me feel beautiful really “healed” my relationship with my body.
    Finally, emotions run high during pregnancy, you’re tired, nauseous, full of hormones, so not having a clear and rational idea of what you’re going to do isn’t a sign that you’re going to let others take your responsibilities, it might just be a sign that you need more time to process. It also makes it a very difficult time to be criticized or resented so while I would never argue to let pregnant women get away with everything I would also recommend any serious discussion/explanation on why you resent her to take place after she has given birth and gone through the first sleep deprived months. You’re always going to be connected, she’s your sister so I think even though you might need to have a ‘tough’ talk with her in the future, now is not the time you could seriously damage your relationship.

    Again, these are just my thoughts as a heavily pregnant woman, they might be out of place but I thought another point of view might help 🙂 Also English isn’t my first language so I hope I make sense !

  9. So has anyone asked this teen if she wants to keep this baby I know that it is a scary question but I know that no one asked me and I came to the idea on my own I had a family friend that had been trying for years and now she is 16 and loves her life a life that I would have never been able to give her she knows everything about me and understood that it was because I love her so much that I had to do it for her and my family had a hard time letting go because of what they wanted ! I’m now 35 and have my own family and still have times when my family gets upset about my choices

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