When you’re a college student, there are certain expectations of you—expectations that you have of yourself and expectations from those around you. You are intelligent, and your family and friends know it. You are driven and goal-oriented; you are going places in life. You probably know several individuals from school that chose to go straight to work after high school (or may still be stuck in the “party scene”), but you did not. You chose to go to college and make something of yourself and maybe, even, to change the world. You have dreams, ambitions, and the ability to pursue any and all of them. College is the glimmering door to which endless possibilities and experiences are created. For many college students, the glimmering door can inadvertently lead to some rather unexpected experiences—such as pregnancy.
When I found out that I was pregnant during my first year as an undergraduate, I had thought that my glimmering door had just closed. I remember the many tears that followed the discovery. I felt like I had just lost a part of myself—who I was and who I was meant to be was now fading beyond my grasp. My mind became filled with worry and fear. I backed up against the bedroom wall and sank to the floor, head down on my knees. My mind frantically raced with an influx of worrisome thoughts: What would my parents think? After all, I was only 18 years old and still reaping the benefits of graduating high school with a 4.2 GPA. How could I let my family down like this? What about my boyfriend? What will he say and do? What would my peers think if they found out? As an officer for my sorority, what would my “sisters” think of me?
My 19-year-old boyfriend was in immense shock as well, as he was a university student with his own dreams and ambitions. He had the same intense fears and worry that I had. However, we both felt that although many may see our pregnancy as a “mistake.” We knew in our hearts that it would be a much greater mistake to be rid of a life that you can never bring back. At the first doctor’s appointment, I was terrified, embarrassed, and uncertain of what would come from the appointment. It was at this appointment that we discovered that I was not only pregnant with one baby, but two. “You’re having twins!” I could not help but cry. It was not tears of sadness but tears of fear. I was already scared at the thought of having one baby, how could I have two? And then I heard it—the rapid thump, thump, thump of my babies’ combined heartbeats. It was then that I felt my own heart palpitate with the realization of the magnitude of my new purpose in life. At that point, I decided that I was not going to let the societal “stigma” associated with having a baby at my age get in the way of the joys that my new journey would bring.Through this realization, I made peace with myself and my new life path. However, this led to the next concern: what about my education? I had made peace with my new purpose in life, but, could I still become the doctor that I had always envisioned?
When several of my peers suggested that I get an abortion (like many of them have had themselves), I became disenchanted with the low expectations and lack of faith from my peers. I continued with my education and my twin boys were born during my second year at the university. The father of my boys also continued with his education, graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 2010 and his master’s degree in 2012. Through perseverance, hard work, and support from my family, I was able to graduate with my bachelor’s degree on time (2010), within four years after graduating high school. I completed my master’s degree in counseling two years later (2012), received a graduate award for “Outstanding Graduate Student 2011-2012” from my university, and became a full-time PhD student at the age of 24 from an APA- accredited university (2012). I can gratefully proclaim that I will become the doctor that I had always envisioned.
As I reflect upon the tears that I shed from the news of my pregnancy, I now shed tears of guilt—guilt that I ever shed such tears at the news when, ultimately, my pregnancy has been the best gift I could have ever received. I think about how much joy my boys have brought to my life and I cannot picture my life any other way. With pure happiness in my heart, I think about how my son wakes me up with a huge hug and tells me that he loves me. I think about how my other son gives me his favorite stuffed bunny to hold if I am not feeling well. I think of all the flowers, rocks, pennies, and “rollie pollies” that my sons lovingly give to me as gifts. Joyfully reflecting upon the last 6 years as a “mommified” college student, I look down at my homework folder and I see a pastel green piece of paper sticking out. As I pull it from my notebook, I see my son’s adorable writing on the piece of paper. It says “I love MOM”, in uneven, letters of mixed sizes. Every day, I thank God that I have my boys to share in joy, love, happiness, discovery, and laughs. I am thankful that I have been able to pursue this journey with my precious twin boys by my side; I cannot imagine my life any other way.
Through my journey, I have learned a lot about myself and about life. Six years ago, if you would have told me where I would be today, I would not have believed you. But that is the problem—we tend to lack faith in ourselves and in our abilities. As highly unique and valuable individuals, we have the ability to achieve more than we could ever imagine. I wish that I had known from the beginning that despite my changed life path, my life would turn out better than I could have ever imagined or desired it to be.