I remember hearing of the show "The Secret Life of an American Teenager" on ABC Family. I thought how could people have a baby as teenagers? They are so young! They are still in school. I was amazed at the fact that it even happened.
I never thought it would ever affect me or my family. I was raised in a strong, Christian home, with protective parents. We had curfews and had to always update our parents on where we were and who we were with at all times. I never thought it could happen to someone I knew.
Then it did.
It was a shock, obviously. I couldn't believe it. I was just entering my freshman year of high school, and my older brother was just finishing up his freshman year in college. He was 19. NINETEEN. Like, what?
It was on the down low for a long time. Then, people started finding out. I heard people talking at school, and out in public places. It was never anything bad, well at least of what I heard. It was always the same.
"Wow. I just can't believe it. They ruined their college years."
Eventually, the talking went away, and then the preparation and readiness of welcoming their baby into the world came.
I learned a lot in that process of awaiting that baby and then caring for the baby when she finally was born.
Babies cost A LOT. Baby clothes, toys, accessories, food, diapers, and things I didn't even know existed were bought. How many clothes can one baby have, honestly? There was so much more to this whole baby thing than I thought.
You give up a lot. You shouldn't have a baby until you're ready, that is pretty obvious. My brother and his girlfriend at the time were both in college. They were beginning their lives out in the world and then they both gave up their spots in great colleges to take on the role of parenting their daughter.
You also gave up socializing. Instead of going out every weekend with friends, you were home, taking care of your child. The young years you thought you were going to spend going out and partying, are now filled with diapers and reruns of "Barney" and "Elmo."
Nothing can prepare you for how hard it actually is.
No matter how many people give you tips or try to prepare you for parenthood you will never know until you actually do it. There is an emotional roller coaster, lack of sleep, baby vomit, poop, pee and lots of tears, but there is also nothing greater than loving someone as much as you love your baby. And I see that in the way my brother and niece's mother care for and love her.
It adds stress to those around you. If you aren't prepared, you might still be living at home. That means other people other than you and your baby are living with you. My brother was living with his three siblings and mom and dad. I didn't realize the amount of stress it would cause all of us in the house.
We had places to go and things to do, but now we also had our brother and his child. We had to be careful of what we said and what we had on TV. We had to be quiet at night and during nap times. We had to help out in taking care of her.
But, it brings an amazing amount of love. I realize that the last few things I talked about were more negative, but being the sibling of a teen parent isn't a bad thing. Yeah, it has its up and downs, but it is so rewarding. I got to bond with my niece in a way that I won't ever with any other nieces or nephews I will have.
I got to take care of her when she was sick, and watch her after school when both her parents were working. My entire family and I got to bond with her and love her all the time and make sure she knew how much she was loved.
Being the sibling of a teen parent has truly shown me how love conquers all. Through all the ups and the downs this journey has brought my brother and our family, it has brought this beautiful little girl into our lives who lights up the room whenever she is around.