Sixteen and pregnant. It wasn't exactly the dream I'd had while I was in my junior year of high school. I dreamt of moving away to college and living in a dorm. School is important to me, and I had the grades to do it. But when I got the news that I was pregnant, everything changed.
I was with a boy I thought was my best friend -- a boy I saw myself spending my whole life with. He was loving, caring and fun -- he was my first everything. We'd known each other since middle school and our relationship had grown out of a close friendship. When I made the choice to give my virginity to him, I was sure of the decision. I would do anything for him. And I knew that he'd be there for me.
When I told him I was pregnant, I was confident he would be there to support me and our baby. Three weeks after our daughter Tinleigh was born, he was gone.
I felt betrayed, angry and hurt. I'm now a teen mother, and a single mother. I love my daughter more than anything in the world, but the reality is that being a mom at 17 is difficult. There are of course great moments, but it's difficult not to wonder what might have been if I'd made different choices in life.
I won't be going away to school like I'd hoped; I won't be hanging out in a dorm meeting new friends, rushing a sorority or spending late nights studying in the campus library. I've been working hard, though -- juggling school with raising my daughter -- and I'm proud that I'll still graduate high school on time and start college at a local school in the fall. I know that having an education will help me give my daughter the best life possible, so I'm doing everything I can to make that happen. But in addition to worrying about my grades, I'll worry about who can watch Tinleigh while I'm in class, if she's got everything she needs and if I'm going to be able to provide for her. I'm lucky to have an incredibly supportive and loving family, but it's still hard.
I'm sharing my story on MTV's "16 and Pregnant," and I hope that other young women will watch it and think about the potential consequences of unprotected sex. I was like so many other young girls out there -- I didn't think it would happen to me. But it did.
The best advice I could give girls out there is to respect yourself, and never compromise yourself for someone else. If you decide to have sex, use protection every time. If the pill doesn't work for you, then look into other birth control options on sites like itsyoursexlife.com. And, know that sex can complicate relationships -- being a virgin isn't a bad thing! If someone really loves you, they will understand how you feel about sex and protection.