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I Now Look Back At How I Reacted When My Teen Daughter Told Me She Was Pregnant

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MyBodyMyChoice logoEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #MyBodyMyChoice, a campaign by Global Health Strategies and Youth Ki Awaaz to create awareness around access to safe abortion and women's right to reproductive justice. Join the conversation by publishing a story here.

“How could Lavi and Rohit be so careless!” Lavanya’s teenage pregnancy had shocked her mother, Shobita. She didn’t know whether to punish her daughter or take her to a doctor. What would you do? Kya doge saath?

*Shobita, 48, works in the IT sector in Mumbai.

Typical Teenager

My daughter Lavanya is probably like most teenagers you’ve met. High on life, confused about career choices and petrified of pimples. She and Rohit have been classmates for years, but recently she started dating him. I have known Rohit since his childhood and was happy to see them together. They went for movies, ate out and attended parties with only one condition that Lavi kept me informed about her whereabouts.

Lavi and I have always been close. She would share all her date stories and sought my advice on dressing up, buying gifts and where to go. I was happy to see her with Rohit but would occasionally send out the mom advice of ‘keeping the distance’, and she would always shrug it with a laugh or ‘c’mon mom’!

A Lovers’ Tiff?

Last few days, Lavi was not herself. She skipped college saying she wasn’t feeling well and needed rest. I let her rest and went to my office as usual – leaving food for her. When I came back, the food was untouched, and Lavi was still in bed, sleeping.

“Is everything alright?” I asked her, and she nodded a yes. I touched her. She had no fever but looked tired – so I let her rest. Next day she looked weak but went to her college. I decided to work from home and saw Lavi return home after one hour. She went to her room and slept again saying she was feeling sick.

I decided to call Rohit to check what was wrong with her. He did not pick my calls. I tried his number several times but could only get an SMS saying, ‘Aunty can I call you later?’ The first thought that crossed my mind was that Lavi and Rohit must have fought or worse – had a break-up. I asked my daughter, “Are you feeling low because of Rohit?” She replied yes, cried and slept – without saying a word.

Three Weeks Late

It was Friday when Lavi slept, and over the weekend she came out of her room only to eat – that too in tiny quantities. On Monday, I decided I’d had enough and that Lavi needed to get back to her schedule. I went to her room and saw her in the bathroom – throwing up. I let her and waited. She came out and broke down.

When she calmed down a bit, she told me, “Mom I have missed my period, am three weeks late now. Your cabinet had a pregnancy testing kit, which I snuck out and used.” To my horror, she said the three words, ‘I am pregnant!’

A Sea Of Emotions

I did not know how to react. To be honest, I wanted to slap her on the face, but I counted to ten and maintained my cool somehow. Lavi was trusting me as a friend and not as a mother. I did not want to let her down even if she had.

She continued, “I told Rohit, and he was equally stunned. He couldn’t say anything and didn’t know what I should do. Telling my friends didn’t help either, they looked at me with pity and disgust all at the same time. A few wanted to help, but maybe they just didn’t know how.”

I listened to her patiently and wanted to pinch myself. I was in total shock when Lavi said, “I was determined to get an abortion. I looked online and went through the clinics and prices. I mustered up the courage to go to a clinic, an hour’s drive from home, but as soon as I stepped in I felt everyone was staring, judging me, and I quickly ran out. It’s then I realised I needed to talk to you.”

A Sense Of Relief

I went through a gamut of emotions from shock, disbelief, anger, and disappointment. After ten minutes of hearing her say sorry and saying she needed my help, all I could say was, “Lavi, what if you’d gone to one of those shady clinics where they don’t even sterilise the equipment. You could have gotten infected or bled to death!”

But after a while, I calmed down and looked at her in the eye and said, “It will probably take a long time for me to forgive you or trust you again but a part of me is relieved that you came to me before going through an abortion.”

We both decided to sleep over this news, but I could not grab a wink. I had these questions in mind – Should I tell my husband? He is in the US and won’t be able to help us but may only blame me for being a ‘bad mom’. Am I a bad mom? Was it a bad idea to let Lavi date Rohit? I had no answers to these questions yet.

I took leave from work and searched for a clinic that would be discreet, was far from home and reputed. I told Lavi to get dressed and drove her there. “Your womb will be cleaned out so you may feel cramps, but you’ll be under anaesthesia so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure itself.”

Head Out Of Sand

We went to the clinic together, and although I was as scared as Lavi, I was glad it was me who was with her and that she was not alone in her tough time. She had never had an injection without me. How could I leave her alone now, when she was surrounded by unfamiliar faces going through a medical procedure.

The abortion itself took very little time, and she was fine to go home the same day. We didn’t tell anyone else about the abortion. Lavi felt a sense of loss, which I explained was completely normal and understandable.

“Don’t worry Lavi, you’ll have kids of your own someday, but now isn’t the time,” I gently whispered. And she couldn’t agree more. Soon life was back to normal.

Though I must admit I am a little stricter now, I know Lavi and Rohit are teenagers, and they need the right information on safe sex. I wish I had talked to them before Lavi had to go through this experience. As parents, there is no point in keeping our heads in the sand. Our children are going to have sex, more often without telling us. So it’s better we prepare them or make sure they are prepared and make the right choices.

Names have been changed. This article was first published on June 9, 2014

Could you expect your parents’ support in a similar situation? Share your experiences and thoughts with us by commenting below or starting a discussion on Facebook. If you have questions on abortion, please consult our experts on our discussion forum.

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