I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to start offering volunteer services for expectant teens. All I knew was that teens are amongst those who may be lacking support from friends and family, and thus may benefit the most from having a doula. I also knew that I like young people and have made hard choices in my own life, always with support. Myths are abundant when it comes to teen pregnancy and only serve to promote isolation from support and education. I was, and still am, determined to do some small but significant part to change that.
Many people think that teen parents are too young and too naive to make decisions. Yes, they ARE young, but some of these families have seen and lived harder truths than many, many adults I know. Some have already been parents by proxy to their siblings, cousins, and friends’ children. Some have lived in shelters, some involved with gangs. They may have some naivety as to how much their lives are about to change when the baby comes but don’t we all?
Some of these parents have made the difficult decision to keep their babies, some have made the difficult decision to not- but they have all MADE that decision, and so many other decisions in just the short time that I have been their witness. No one is perfect and no one knows whether the choices we make are the right ones. But, I can’t tell you how amazing it has been for me to see these teens become self-advocating, empowered, decision-making… adults!
These experiences have also justified my belief that an empowered birth can be life-altering, regardless of what your life was like prior to giving birth.