‘You guys are no good.’ I fell pregnant at 15. The world was against us and things got worse.’: Teen mom shares beautiful relationship, ‘We are stronger together’

“‘Pay attention to school.’ It’s only puppy love, and it won’t last long.’ ‘You’re not good for each other,’ says the narrator. ‘You have no idea what love is.’

As a 14-year-old who had just discovered a love for the first time, these were just a few things I heard. The circumstances surrounding my meeting with Tony were not ideal. I was 14, and he was 16, so I sneaked out to meet him. My buddy was dating his brother and invited me to their place because she thought Tony and I would get along. I knew I would get in trouble, but something inside me told me to go, so I did. I don’t know where I would be right now if I hadn’t done so.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

We clicked right away. We talked for hours about everything from our siblings and childhoods to dream occupations and places we wanted to see. We were inseparable from the start, and no one else seemed to care. However, we were unconcerned with what others had to say. We were head over heels in love and didn’t damn what anyone said. We realized we had something great in our hands.

We clicked right away. We talked for hours about everything from our siblings and childhoods to dream occupations and places we wanted to see. We were inseparable from the start, and no one else seemed to care. However, we were unconcerned with what others had to say. We were head over heels in love and didn’t damn what anyone said. We realized we had something great in our hands.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

I wasn’t sure how I felt. I was deafeningly loud. I knew I would retain my child, but I had no idea what parenting entailed (doesn’t anyone?). Tony agreed with me and said we’d sort it out together, but it felt like the universe was conspiring against us. Our friends gradually ceased communicating with us. My distant father drove from Maryland to New York to persuade me to abort the pregnancy. My mother constantly threatened to cancel my sessions. Despite everything, we persisted, and nine months later, I gave birth to a healthy 7lb 5oz baby boy.

This is where I’d want to say that everything went perfectly and that we all lived happily ever after, but that was far from the case. We spent our son’s first year of life as most teens do… immaturely. Both of our mothers babysat for us regularly, and they would disappear for hours at a time to go out and party. We both struggled to find a way to fit school into our schedules, and we both dropped out.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

Motherhood was not at all what I had anticipated. You have all these ideas about what kind of parent you want to be, what you’ll do, and how you’ll raise your children before you have children… However, nothing ever goes as planned. At one year old, my son had a febrile seizure, and I honestly believe that’s when I realized I needed to do better. Nothing else mattered as I held him in the hospital, and that was the day I realized my world revolved around him and that I needed to stand up to be the greatest mother I could be for him.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

Tony and I married a few months later, with a $1,500 wedding budget. We lived in a modest apartment and did our best to make ends meet. Tony worked 12-hour hours seven days a week, and I took a minimum-wage job at a neighborhood deli. There was never a time when it seemed like it was enough. We had a $60 weekly grocery budget, I walked to work to save money on transportation, and we only bought used clothes for our son and ourselves. I was genuinely embarrassed. I felt as if I was putting in so much effort for so little reward. Tony worked a lot of overtime to maintain our small family, and it didn’t seem like it was enough. When my son was sick, I had to borrow a $3 bottle of medicine from the shelf at work because we couldn’t afford anything else.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz
Courtesy of Katie Muntz

We could never get ahead, and we had fights virtually every day as things continued to deteriorate. Tony and I began to drift apart as we juggled work and children and attempted to maintain normalcy. We were so preoccupied with creating a life that we neglected to live it. We were separated for a few months, but we always treated our son respectfully. We both worked to support our son, but he lived with his brother while I alternated between our apartment and staying with friends.

Do you remember the ancient adage, “If you love someone, let them leave, and it was meant to be if they come back?” It’s true, and I’m here to tell you so. When you’re missing someone you know you’re destined to spend your life with; there’s no way to convey the anguish in your heart. We become enraged, upset, and frustrated, and it’s simple to act on these feelings, but we recognize we were wrong. We could only overcome anything if we did it together once more. By this time, we’d gotten quite good at it.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

Tony accepted a position at his workplace shortly after, which paid for his schooling to enhance his career. I was able to stay at home with our son because he was bringing in more money for our household. It was a dream come true, and three months later, I was pregnant with our second son, who arrived in the world almost as swiftly as he can today, the sprint from top to bottom of this house.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

Everything seemed ideal for our family for a brief period, but then postpartum depression crept in. I recall feeling completely defeated. I just had a new baby, so I should be pleased. I should have savored every moment with my children and reveled in our shared life, but I couldn’t. Everyone seemed to be a long way away from me. Almost every day, I had to fight myself to get off the couch and get dressed. I couldn’t stop crying. Nobody seemed to hear my secret calls for aid, but I mean it when I say Tony saved my life.

I recall him coming into the bathroom one day and finding me crying on the floor, telling him repeatedly that I didn’t want to be there any longer. I couldn’t even be a decent mother to my children. Therefore I didn’t have a purpose. Thankfully, we have a family friend, Joanie, a social worker, and Tony encouraged me to phone her to work through my thoughts. She knows me better than anyone else and has saved me more than I can remember.

During that time, Tony went to every one of our older son’s baseball games, volunteered to assist with the newborn as much as he could, kept the house tidy, and did his hardest to make dinner. I overcame most of those feelings after months of counseling, and while life continues to throw us challenges, we have learned enough from our experience to know that we are stronger as a unit. We are more powerful when we work together. We’re here for a reason. Every one of us was put on this planet for a reason, and we must keep that reason in mind. It doesn’t always feel that way, but I’ve realized how accurate it is.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz

We welcomed our daughter only 15 months after our second son, and she has Tony wrapped around her little fingers. We bought our first home together, have the opportunity to travel around the world frequently, give back to people who have battled in the same way we have, and encourage our children every day to never give up on what you know in their hearts is right for you. I have the opportunity to support and inspire other young mothers who are dealing with anxiety and sadness. I get to use my social media presence by speaking up for individuals who are frightened to speak up for themselves. I encourage folks to tell their truths every day, even if their voice shakes.

Courtesy of Katie Muntz
Courtesy of Katie Muntz

More than a decade later, I get to see 12 years of love, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, and understanding in my spouse every day. I see a man who made a promise to his wife and meant it for better or worse. I’m not flawless, and I’m not going to pretend to be. He’s a rock for me. He’s the reason our family is what it is now, and all I want is that he understands how important he is to me. I’m grateful we followed our hearts instead of listening to the surrounding noise every day. My husband and I have a relationship that I can’t picture my life without.”

Courtesy of Katie Muntz
Courtesy of Katie Muntz
Courtesy of Katie Muntz

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