“It took six months of me being stupid to get pregnant,” former Northwood student Ashelyn Hood said about having unprotected sex with her boyfriend at age 15.
Hood is now 18 and has a healthy son named Caden, who was born Nov. 23, 2011 and “was the best baby to be born.”
“[Caden’s birth] brought my family closer, which was surprising. I tell my parents every little thing now, whereas before, I just kept to myself all the time. I think of it as a miracle,” Hood said.
Unlike some teenage mothers, Hood has an overall supportive family.
“[My mom] supported me through the decision I wanted to make. My dad was worse; I had a rough time with him. He wouldn’t talk to me for two months. But throughout the time of not talking to me, he went out and bought baby stuff the entire time,” Hood said.
Hood’s initial thought was abortion, and she says she never considered putting her son up for adoption.
“I believe in abortion more than adoption. For me, I can’t get attached to a baby for nine months just to give it up,” Hood said. “It would be easier to keep him, or get an abortion. That way, he isn’t moving and I wouldn’t get all the feelings for him and then be like, ‘You’re not mine.’”
Even though Hood’s father was angry at first, he was the one who convinced her to keep the baby.
“[He said:] ‘You had a responsibility and you took advantage of it, so you’re going to live with it.’ As months passed, I knew I could do it,” Hood said.
Hood’s parents treat Caden as a son of their own and support Hood emotionally and financially. Hood says without her family’s help, she would most likely be “out on the street.”
Although Hood has had her family throughout her pregnancy, she says Caden’s biological father has not.
“We broke up two months after I got pregnant. He left completely, not talking to me, no texts, no anything, until Caden was born. He said one word: ‘Congratulations.’ I was all alone,” Hood said.
After receiving minimal financial support, Hood says her family requested child support.
“He hasn’t ever gotten a gift for him. [His view of child support] is him saying, ‘Here, I’m giving you money so you can get him something.’ But it just doesn’t work that way.”
Caden’s father was contacted, but would only consent to answer questions through text message. He denied many of Hood’s claims. He says that he sees Caden as often as he can and does pay for things beyond child support.
Hood said she never would have thought that the father would leave her if she got pregnant, but believes everything has turned out for the better.
“I’m a lot happier now. It was really hard to get over. It’s a lot harder when he’s your first love, he’s your first and then he’s your first kid’s dad. All that combined is worse than a typical heartbreak,” Hood said. “A lot of people ask me if I can stand to look at Caden because I can’t stand the father. It actually makes me love him more because I can sit here and be two parents. Every day I have to open my eyes and realize Caden looks like him. And Caden does look just like him, he’s just a cuter version.”
Hood became pregnant February of her freshman year, and decided to try and go back to school after the summer for her sophomore year.
“Some people knew I was pregnant, but most people didn’t. Most people just thought I got fat over the summer. That put me down even more because, okay, they didn’t know, but they were still talking,” Hood said. “Honestly, with having Caden and going through everything now, I wouldn’t care. If you still want to talk, you can talk. But with all my hormones, I was either in a crying mood or a not caring mood, but mostly a crying mood. It would get me down, and make me think well maybe I can’t do it.”
It did not take long for her pregnancy to take a toll on her body.
“It sucked. I went through my hormones, which just [made me] want to cry in the middle of class for just sitting there or wanting to get up and move but you can’t,” Hood said. “I have breasts, they grow, and on top of that, they leak. You sit there, and they start leaking and are so swollen it’s scary. You’re sitting in class and you can’t even wear flats because your feet are bulging out of them. It was the worst.”
Hood’s pregnancy led her to leave Northwood early November 2011, right before report cards came out.
“I was so tired. Even if I would get 12 hours of sleep I would be so tired just from walking five minutes. I was waking up at 4 a.m. to catch the bus so I was falling asleep in all my classes. I took all honors, so it was more and more work that I couldn’t finish,” Hood said. “Both of my parents work and so I was watching my brother, and taking care of him, so I couldn’t go to sleep until he did. I left right before report cards because I knew it was going to be really bad, so I just never got it.”
Hood’s parents were supportive of the decisions she was making, and soon enough she went into labor Nov. 23, 2011.
“I remember that day so clearly. We went into my appointment, and my blood pressure was so high they told me
I had to go into labor right then. I wanted to go the natural way until they induced me,” Hood said. “In the background there were screaming women giving birth. So finally I said I needed an epidural. I was half asleep the whole time and I didn’t feel anything. I would fall asleep after breaking from pushing. It took from seven in the morning to 11 in the morning [until Caden was born].”
After giving birth to Caden, she went back to school six months later. Hood attended CCCC, received her GED, is now in college taking online classes at home and wants to eventually become a pharmacist.
“I want to spoil him. That’s the main thing about my future. It sounds bad, but I want money. It sounds greedy but it’s not greedy at the same time,” Hood said. “I don’t want money for a nice car or a big house, I just want money to be able to spoil Caden.”
Hood was not always so focused on her future. She referred to her teenage pregnancy being “a blessing in disguise.”
“Before [I got pregnant] I had in my mind: I want to go party, I want to drink. I had nothing under control. Basically, I started messing up in school freshman year getting C’s and D’s just because I didn’t want to do my work, I just wanted to party,” Hood said. “That’s another good thing about the pregnancy, I matured a lot, I got my life together. Yes, I dropped out, but I went back to school as soon as I could.”
Hood says that if she could go back, she wouldn’t.
“I wish I knew what I was getting myself into, but I also wish I didn’t know, because I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t be here, I would be partying,” Hood said. “[My pregnancy] changed me in a really good way because I could be partying or have my head on my shoulders.”
Hood says she is a lot happier than she was, and that her son is the source.
“He is definitely my best friend. You hear a lot of people, ‘Oh you don’t want to be best friends with your kid,’ but he has been through thick and thin with me,” Hood said. “You’ll be sitting there and you’ll be in a bad mood and he will come over and pet you because that’s what he thinks is okay. When you’re crying, all he wants to do is wipe your tears. Everything I do for him, he wants to do for me now.”
Hood says her pregnancy has strengthened her family relationships but that she still has missed out on a regular teenage life.
“I don’t really have anybody anymore. I used to be really good friends with a lot of people. When people hear of teen pregnancies they automatically think ‘She’s a pothead’ or ‘She’s sleeping around,’” Hood said. “But you don’t know unless you’re in my shoes. Everyone looks down on you, but if they would have stuck around long enough, they would see I’m going somewhere with my life.”
— Ally Dejong