DIARY OF A TEEN MOM
Interview with LESLIE VALDES-GREEN, 22
My name is Leslie and I am 22 years old. I am the mother of a 4 year old little boy. I became pregnant my senior year in high school. I had many plans for my last year in high school but having a baby was definitely not one of them. It changed everything: friends, college plans and future dreams. I went from being the outgoing 17 year old with many friends, to a pregnant 18 year old who never left the house.
Did it ever occur to you that you might become pregnant as a teen?
It never occurred to me that I would get pregnant in high school. I ended up graduating from an independent studies program rather than the high school I had started at. I hope to get my college degree one day but it will take longer because I have a child to take care of as well.
Were you using protection? If not, Why not?
My boyfriend and I did not use protection because we thought the "pull out" method was safe enough. I had stopped birth control because I was told it made you gain weigh. Instead of gaining a few pounds I gained a baby and the pounds that came with pregnancy. I am not sure why I was to naive, maybe teenage ignorance because since middle school my mother had talked to me about safe sex.
What do you wish you knew before you got pregnant?
I wish I realized how easy it is to get pregnant and it can happen to anyone. Life will change dramatically with a baby and I had to grow up within a matter of days. I wish I had known what a roller coaster I was getting myself and my son into. Although I was fortunate enough to have the support of my parents and family, I had to deal with many people who hurt me and my son has to go through the stress of going from my home and his father's. I never realized how much that would affect him at such a young age.
How is teen parenthood different than you thought it would be?
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I was going to have to go through it by myself and that my son would be raised by his father and me separately. It has been really hard at times not having the father always there but it was the best decision for both of us. I thought I was going to be able to attend college like other people my age. I didn't mind waking up every two hours when my son was a newborn or changing diapers all day long. The hard part was putting my education on hold, having to miss class because he was sick or not having time to study due to not having anyone to watch my son.
Why do you want to share your story with other teens?
I want to share my story with other teens because there are many young people that believe having a baby is easy and fun. Some teens think they are in love or they like the idea of having someone love them. Others just don't have the knowledge of birth control or are scared to get it for fear their parents will find out. These teens have no idea what they are signing up for. Sure having a baby is a blessing, but all in good time, once you have received a college degree, are making your own money and have a stable relationship. Having a child as a teen is stressful no matter what – even if you have family support – and children deserve to be born into the best environment possible.
Do you think shows like Teen Mom and the Secret Life accurately portray teen parenthood?
I think Teen Mom portrays teen pregnancy and parenthood best because it shows different environments. I think every teen mom has related to one of those girls at some point. The show gives us examples of the joys of parenthood but also how hard it is to be a parent and how quickly life.