I met Jessica Watson of Four Plus an Angel at a BlogHer conference last year and I was amazed that at a conference of over 500 women, I was led to find this awesome writer who is not only a young mom, but lives only an hour away from me. I’ve enjoyed
stalking following Jessica’s blog since last summer and she some of the most breathtaking writing I’ve ever come across, along with some of the wittiest Facebook updates on her kids that you will ever find. I love how she can bring you to tears in a moment with her stories and make you laugh the next. Jessica is 30-something former teen mom to five babies, four in her arms and one in her heart. Read more of Jessica’s story below.
Can you tell us the story of your “two lines”?
I found out I was pregnant my junior year of high school. Thinking back on it now I can’t even believe I was so young. I remember I had plans to go to our high school’s hockey game that night and planned to take a test at my boyfriend’s house just to make sure I wasn’t pregnant and then head out with my friends. Needless to say, the test came back positive and my life forever changed from that moment.
How did you make it as a young mom? What kept you motivated?
Before I found out I was pregnant I was a good student. I had plans to go to college and possibly law school. My parents were, understandably, very disappointed when they found out that I was pregnant but promised that I could live with them until I finished my education. As I got older I think I was more determined to finish college and get my degree than most of my friends. I wanted to be independent and live on my own with my daughter. I’ve always been stubbornly convinced I can do things that others say I cannot so I think that may have worked in my favor :).
Can you share the story of your littlest angel?
When Ashlyn was 12 I found out I was pregnant with triplets. After a pregnancy full of complications and hospital stays I delivered my triplets at 28 weeks. On their third day of life, our daughter Hadley passed away. You can read the story of our journey through loss here.
You have faced an enormous amount of challenges in your life–how do you stay positive?
I always try to stay focused on the present, I try not to look too far into the future and just get through today. Sometimes thinking about tomorrow or the day after is just too overwhelming. After my daughter passed away I remember telling myself often “one step at a time, one step at a time.” Looking back I’ve been doing that for many years. My oldest daughter has autism and, as I began working through her diagnosis, thinking too far into the future was hard to do in that situation as well so I just concentrated on the day and what needed to be done. That mentality has stuck with me and keeps me going on the days when I think I might just lose my mind.
Do you have any advice for young mothers who may feel like they are struggling?
I think every young mother feels like she is struggling at one time or another. It is hard because, as a young mom, you are generally in the minority and the odds are stacked against you. My best advice is to remember that this time will pass. No matter how tough it is right now, this is just one more phase in your life. It will be behind you before you know it and you will be wondering how you made it. The saying “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is so true of being a young mom. After I made it through eight years of single parenthood I truly felt like I could do anything. Now that I am married, I feel much more empowered as a woman and a mother because I was on my own for so many years. I know I can do pretty much anything to keep our household running and I’m that much more thankful that there is someone else who can take out the garbage after having to do it myself for so many years.
Did you ever feel you had to overcome the stereotype of the young, unmarried mom?
Absolutely, sometimes I think I still do. I remember when Ashlyn was young and she began school I never felt like I fit in with the moms and I’m not sure I ever have. Over the years I became more and more confident in my role as her mom and I began to care less about what others thought. I still dread the “you’re her MOM??” and “you two must be sisters” comments but I don’t take them personally in the same way that I used to do.
Your piece on Mamalode was one of the most beautiful things I have ever read in my life. I realize this is not a question, but from all the mothers I out there, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for enduring what you have endured and sharing your words with us.
Thank you so much, I have tried really hard, as I write through my grief, to share something about what I have learned that can be universally understood. The Mamalode piece was exactly that. After losing a child I look at my days so much differently than I did in the past. The little things I used to worry about are not even on my radar anymore and I will forever be grateful to Hadley for making me a better mother to her siblings.