By Sage Nyatsanga
I once came across a picture that said, ‘Dying doesn’t end the pain, it just passes it on to someone else’. To some extent this is true. Dying was the first thing that came across my mind when I found out I was pregnant. It seemed like the best option at the time, followed by abortion. My train of thought was a very dark and bleak one. To most women pregnancy is much celebrated, to most teenage girls, it is not. It is a sign that something went horribly wrong and the only way to fix this wrong is to play God. But what right do we have to play God? The day I found out I had fallen pregnant everything fell apart, well it seemed like it had fallen apart. All the plans I had made for myself seemed to have fallen down the drain. I did not go through the motions very well. I cried and cried and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Slowly, I began withdrawing from the world, shutting people out. I felt ashamed of myself, what I had done and what this meant for my family. For the most part, I thought the ‘curse’ had caught up to me. The ‘curse’ was something my best friend and I nicknamed the constant teenage pregnancy syndrome that seemed to plague my line of the family. My great grandmother had her first child at 17, so did my grandmother and mother.
I was troubled and my family began to notice how withdrawn I had become, they started to enquire more about my life and I resorted to lying each time. After a couple of weeks I told my closest aunt about my predicament. She did not take it very well and made sure I knew the repercussions that were headed my way once my mother found out. Like my boyfriend, she was strongly against the idea of abortion. Did I feel proud of myself? Most certainly not. I was forced to come clean, so I did. My mother did not take it well; my father was the total opposite. She took it harder than I thought she would and I felt even more disappointed in myself. The relationship I had with my mother died in an instant. The first thing she asked me was if I had thought about the possibility of dying during labor due to my anemia.
I was certain in that moment she had already killed me in her head.
I felt more like a failure than I ever did in my life and I thought about ending it once again. At some point I even had a conversation with my then boyfriend about suicide, he was not happy. He asked me what I would stand to gain, how the people left behind would feel, if that decision did not feel remotely selfish. He told me that if I succeeded he would hate me and never ever visit my grave. This hurt me extremely because it was coming from someone I deeply cared for, someone I loved. From that day, I shelved all suicidal plans. As time progressed I slowly began accepting the new reality that was playing before me, I was going to become a mother in 2017, a scary and yet exciting prospect once I began to look at it positively.
My life was progressing at an alarmingly fast rate. Before I knew it I was already showing, people were asking about my due date, the baby shower and baby welcome. I felt overwhelmed, even more so when my boyfriend came to pay roora/lobola (bride price) for me. After everything I had said and done to him in my darkest moments, he still wanted to be with me. So, on the 1st of October we were customarily married, which was a step in a positive direction. The steps in my life plans were happening in a haphazard manner and I quickly had to adjust. Eight months into this pregnancy, I am now in a good space. Happily married, rebuilding relations with my mother, planning for the arrival of my baby girl and planning for my upcoming wedding. In all this I have not forsaken my academic studies, difficult as it had become I continued with my program and successfully finished my first year. Dropping out of school was and is never going to be an option, with or without this blessing that has been given to me.
With the coming of this child I am even more determined to do well in life and thrive to be a better person than I had initially intended to be. The main thing I have learnt this year was that if you dip your feet in water they will get wet. Everything has a consequence and that of being sexually active is eventually falling pregnant by chance or by choice. Being a pregnant teenager is not easy. It happens to the best and worst of us. Those who are strong will live with consequences of their actions and those who are weak will play God. Killing someone will rip away a bit of your soul and humanity; you will never be the same person. Killing yourself may end your pain but it will only increase the pain that those left behind were already feeling.
When things get overwhelming for me, I write letters to no one in particular to help me organize my thoughts and express my feelings. I feel so much better afterwards. This helps me distress, though once in a while I talk to an actual human being to get help and advice. The moment I started seeing my unplanned child as a blessing things became easier. Life did not end because I made a couple huge mistakes, it just changed direction and in it doing so I have to come up with ways to get to where we wanted to go initially. I have started learning to maneuver through life as someone responsible for another being and not as a single entity as I did before. My mother always tells me that the pregnancy will not be easy because people will judge you harshly and call you names, but once the baby comes they will be the first to want to hold it. So what’s a hellish nine months compared to a lifetime of memories with your little human?
Thank you for opening up and sharing your story with us. Too many times we fail to bring purpose to the pain we have endured and one way is by helping others in similar positions. Studies done in the US show that more pregnant women died as the result of suicide than as a result of the major causes of death during pregnancy which are hemorrhage/placenta previa, eclampsia/pre-eclampsia, amniotic fluid embolism, infection, substance abuse and poor general health. Teenage pregnancy is still taboo in most parts of Africa especially in Zimbabwe and difficulties in the economy don’t make it any easier on the people involved. childtrends.org reports that about 1 million teenagers fell pregnant in 2011 and that 43% of those pregnancies ended in abortion. That shows a problem with the amount of sexual activity with teens. Again, we do not have any local studies or statistics because abortions are only legal in cases of rape and even the few that come forward to report rape are not a true representation of the number of girls who are raped and fall pregnant. Some choose to keep silent and most ‘take care of it’ quietly.
Someone might say that this is not news and that it’s been going on for years. WELL THAT’S EXACTLY MY POINT! The fact that it’s been going on for years and being swept under the rug means it’s not being dealt with. In 2016 alone I heard of 5 pregnancies that ended in suicide, 3 of which were actual suicide and 2 which were attempted abortions that ended in death of the mother as well. If you are pregnant and this is the last place you want to be no matter what age you are, you are not alone and you will get through this! The fear, the shame, the disappointment, the pain and confusion and everything else you are feeling will go away! Fight for yourself, fight for your baby even if everyone around you turns their backs on you as long as you still have breath in your lungs and strength in your arms, get up and fight! Work hard, save more, spend less, register yourself at a local clinic and see this pregnancy through and if at the end of it you decide you cannot take care of that baby, talk to someone at the clinic about giving them up for adoption. There are families just waiting for the blessing that you’re carrying. Find support, inbox us, talk to someone. You have options! Keep your head up!
Share your experiences with us and share this with someone who needs to read this. Lets raise awareness, lets save lives!