That's My Boy
Once upon a time, there was a girl who thought that no one in the entire world loved her and no
one would ever love her unconditionally. Everyone she grew close to always turned their back on
her and left. The abandonment made her heart grow cold and she would do anything to avoid the
feeling of loneliness.
She had a rocky life with more than a few empty relationships because she was so desperate for
love. Unfortunately, she still couldn't find that unconditional love that she craved. That was when
she figured out that the only people who would ever love her unconditionally and never leave
would be the children she would call her own some day. At a very young age, she wanted a baby
more than you could ever imagine. She tried in an incredibly reckless way to get pregnant for
over two years and on August 26th, 2013 at approximately 8:20 PM, she became pregnant with
her first baby.
That girl was me and even when I look back on it, I could never regret any of the decisions I
made. I remember waking up on the first day of my senior year and I didn't have a clue what I
wanted to do in the next 180 days. A month later, on September 10th, 2013, I had to get my shit
together and figure out because I was going to become a mom. I was completely shocked. I
always had the thought in the back of my mind that I wasn't able to have children (when you're
having sex in your teens, that thought crosses your mind all the time).
Being pregnant in high school was one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced. It wasn't the
fact that I had to climb four flights of stairs every single day or puke my brains out between
every class. People treated me differently and by that I mean they treated me like absolute shit.
Some of my family members did too. I heard everything between "you should get it taken care
of," or "you shouldn't have gotten pregnant," and my favorite "babies raising babies." That alone
was exhausting (if I had a dollar for every time I told someone to go fuck themselves when they
commented on my pregnancy, I would've never had to work again).
People were set on the fact that I would just be another statistic, sitting on my ass waiting for
a check every month. They thought I'd keep cranking out kids for the state or my mom to take
care of. They told me I wasn't going to get out of McDowell County and I would be stuck working
fast food like my mom did for so many years.
The only thing I was truly afraid of was being stuck with my sperm donor and wasting time with
him when I could be making my life better. His family was comfortable with living off of the
state. Drugs also controlled most of them and I always knew that I didn't want to raise a baby
around any of it.
I always stood strong when people had something negative to say about me or my pregnancy.
After a while I got tired of wasting my breath telling them how I was going to take care of him in
the best way possible.
I continued to cheer for the first 5 months. My doctor said it was okay but I couldn't flip or stunt
and that was perfectly fine with me. The days flew by and as my belly got bigger and my due
date got closer, so did graduation. My original due date was May 22nd. Imagine the panic attack
I had on a daily basis when I found out that graduation was the 24th. Eventually my due date was
recalculated to the 19th which gave me an incredible amount of relief.
I did everything I could in school like I did when I wasn't pregnant (except for stand in the lunch
lines. They were always packed like sardines and I didn't want to take the chance of someone's
elbow connecting with my belly). I was thankful when I got to pass up dissecting cats in AP
Biology. I continued with my HSTA my scholarship to go to college (on our way to the annual
symposium, I got car sick and instead of my mom packing my bottle of Zofran, she packed her
bottle of muscle relaxers. Luckily I looked at the bottle before taking anything. My uncle had
some extra Zofran to get me through the day while Momma freaked out the entire time she was
at work when she realized she put the wrong bottle in my bag).
That first summer being a mom was unlike any other. It was one of the best summers of my life. I spent a lot of time during my pregnancy worrying that he wouldn't like me. I would actually cry for hours about that. I was afraid that I would regret being a mom. I was scared of feeling overwhelmed and feeling like I was a failure. I spent 6 months after graduating high school at home taking care of Draven. I didn't know it back then, but those first 6 months of my entire world revolving around him gave us the bond that we have today. I would sit and lose hours of sleep just so I could cherish every single breath he took. I did the same thing when I gave birth to Devin and brought him home.
Draven is so much like me. He can come along and start a conversation with me and feel like I'm talking to a younger version of myself. When I hug him, I feel a warmth that I can't describe. All I can say is that it feels like I'm finally loving myself even when I never thought I would.
I've been having really mixed emotions about him having so much anxiety. I can handle it on a day to day basis, but if I think about him being exactly like me and ending up feeling everything that I felt and doing everything I did because no one paid attention to him when he was depressed or anxious. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I were to find out that he was mutilating himself or contemplating suicide. I'm pretty sure I would feel like a failure. I went through all of that and I want to do everything in my power to keep him from feeling as much pain as possible.
Every other time, my claws are out. I'm like that anyway with both of my boys, but there are people that have had me and Draven fucked up by acting like he can't do anything. He's had trouble in school and all along I thought it was ADHD. All of the things he was doing that his teacher told me about fell right into the source of the problem being anxiety. I struggled a lot to remember things and try to find the motivation to get things done because of my anxiety. Sometimes I'm angry with myself because even though it needed to happen, introducing him to Austin had a hand in his concentration and his mood. I blame myself for that. When Thomas and I were split up, he was falling even further behind because there was so much chaos going on at home. I blame myself for that too.
I have to face the harsh reality that you can't protect your babies from absolutely everything and when you realize that you can't, you shouldn't break down and fall apart. I was absolutely crushed and it's been hard for me to wrap my head around it.
I can only pay more attention to his behaviors and look deeper into why he's behaving a certain way. I have to be careful about the environments that he's in because those will only make it all worse. I can only comfort him and reassure him that it's okay to be nervous, but being nervous can't consume you. I can only tell him that it's okay for him to cry if he feels like he needs to cry. I can try to answer every question he has about anything the best way that I can. Just like always, I can only remind him and Devin every chance that I get that they are loved and they are important and show them that I'm being honest.
I've finally reached a point where I'm going to be okay because Draven understands and he's okay with it. He's actually excited about going back to see the doctor to talk about what he does in school or what he likes to do for fun. I know that he's going to benefit from actually sitting down and telling someone how he feels. I didn't get that opportunity when I was his age. The first time I sat down to talk to a therapist was when I was 19 years old. I refuse to let Draven or Devin struggle with something like that through their entire lives.
I'm not upset with my own mother for not taking the same steps to make sure I was in a good place with my mental health at a young age. Black people don't believe that anything involving mental health exists. She knew nothing about depression or anxiety until after I had experienced the worst of it and brought it to her attention. Since she's lived in Huntington, she's been able to open up and reveal pieces of her mental health that is thrown off and how certain situations made her feel like she wasn't good enough and how deeply depressed she was after Paw Paw Rodney died. I didn't see her being truly happy enough for her face to light up and sporting more smiles until Draven came along and then with Devin being born. I 100% believe that my boys were sent to us to fill the hole in her heart that was created when Paw Paw died. She was prescribed medication for her anxiety and I always ask her on a daily basis if she's been taking it. I wouldn't wish anxiety and depression on anyone, especially my own mother. She's definitely making progress to express the kind of happiness that I've never seen her express before.
When I found out how my race reacted to different illnesses, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. When I wanted to kill myself, the only responses I would get was that I was going to Hell or that I was being ungrateful because of the material things that surrounded me. Not once did anyone ask if anything was bothering me. No one ever noticed my puffy eyes from crying all night or the loss of my voice because I would bury my face into a pillow and scream as loud as I could. I was just a shadow. Neither of my babies will ever have to go through that. It's a curse that I'm stopping. If they're struggling, I'm going to pay as much attention to them as possible. Hell I'll even do the same thing even if they aren't struggling. I want them to know that I will always be there for them no matter what. And when they reach the point where they start to question different emotions they're feeling, I will do the best that I can to feed them the broad spectrum of mental health that no one ever offered me.
I always said that I was going to live and breath for my kids and move Heaven and Earth for them if I needed to. This is the beginning of a better and healthier future and I'm going to remain positive.