December 31, 2019
Yes. Yes! YES! The hard part is over now. May the next five minutes breeze by quickly. After I present my senior project to this board of judges, I will officially be finished with all senior year assignments and it will be smooth sailing until the graduation ceremony day. I did it! I really did it! I, yes I, survived the entire eight hour school day with a baby that surely wants to make his entrance into the world at any moment now and a slow, relentless leak that still has yet to let up. Thank God for a little determination… and A LOT of feminine products for the leak.
(2 minutes later) “Tal’Meisha Frontis you’re up in another minute or so. I will come back to help direct you to the room of judges. Get prepared,” stated a teacher serving as one of the many coordinators for the student project presentations.
Now you’re nervous? Are you serious right now, Meisha? This senior project presentation should be the least of your concerns. This is the final assignment before YOUR graduation and you have the nerve to feel embarrassed and afraid right now? What you should be is excited to get the silly project over with. You worked too hard to get here. Is there shame in hard work, now? Who cares about a board of five prestigious community members judging your performance? Who cares if you are 9 months pregnant and ready to pop? Who cares that the topic of your presentation is “teen pregnancy prevention” despite you being a pregnant teen yourself? It’s not your fault that you chose that topic at the beginning of the year. The topic was chosen and approved by your teacher before either of you found out you were pregnant. There was no way to change it. Ironic things happen. It’s life. Go present that project with some confidence and then get your butt on to somebody’s hospital. You do know there’s a 90% chance that your water is slowly breaking, right? Hello! You don’t have time to care about the way you look or those judges’ thoughts on your pregnancy. Santana is clearly on his way...
The next minute of waiting felt like an eternity. My mind was clouded with so many racing thoughts. I knew that I had come too far in my senior year journey to shy away from presenting now. I also knew that if I failed to give this presentation, I wouldn’t be able to graduate on time with the rest of my senior class. Logically, I knew there was no way I could back out at this point but that didn’t stop me from being overwhelmed with unease. Just weeks prior to this day, I had encountered one of the most uncomfortable situations of my life -- my National Technical Honor Society’s ceremony. I didn’t want to relive that feeling of being looked down upon. Imagine what you would feel like being the only one of your race to attend a National Technical Honor Society’s ceremony - - the only pregnant student one too. Imagine yourself feeling the sting of cold stares from all of the parents in the room attending the ceremony. Imagine the parents’ and even the teachers’ facial expressions that blatantly displayed thoughts of disgust and disdain with respect to you being an expecting teen mom. Would you then want to go in front of a board of community leaders, pregnant, and give a presentation on how to reduce the chances of teen pregnancies occurring? More than anything, I felt like a hypocrite. I wanted to hide and cry.
Nonetheless, here I was sitting in a classroom full of senior high school students waiting for the facilitator to come direct me to the separate presentation room full of judges. My project’s letter grade and ability to graduate from high school in a few weeks was at their mercy.. The judges had been specifically chosen by the school’s board to collectively assess how well students knew their topic, how well they could present that information, and how well they highlighted on the different assignments that were required as a part of the project completion process (ie paper analysis). I knew about teen pregnancy pretty D*** well, I’ll tell you that. Mastering the content of my project wasn’t the issue. Aside from personally experiencing what teen pregnancy is like, I had spent many months (just as other seniors had) working on senior exit project tasks. To aid in the comprehensiveness of my project, I took initiative to survey other teen moms, visited local agencies that sponsored teen moms, interviewed the school nurse who had been in contact with many teen moms in her career, reviewed psychological studies on teen pregnancy, and even consulted with my mom about her personal experiences as a teen mom. I combined all of the data I had collected over time to create an informational 7-page analysis. For my presentation, I had to speak about my project experiences with the aid of a power point and tri-fold board. Not to toot my own horn, but I managed to create one of the best power points and tri-fold boards of my academic career. Normally public speaking would’ve been “my thing" until now..
What the heck is that? Come on body. You can’t possibly be acting crazy now. Where are the unbearable cramps coming from?!
Can you and Santana just work together for a little longer? Sweet boy I know you are ready to see the world. It has to be pretty cramped in there, I know. Please, stop kicking mommy for just 20 more minutes though. I’m doing this for us. Please? Mommy needs just one little break.
A scared teen mom.
The cramps worsened. Never before had I felt so much excruciating stomach pain. It felt as if Santana had grabbed hold to every single internal organ in my body and had began twisting them. Still leaking, I mustered up the strength to at least text my mom. At this point I knew there was no way I was going on in this condition for too much longer. I texted my mom to let her know that I would be ready to be picked up from the school and taken to the hospital in the next twenty minutes. That was just enough time to try to finish my presentation. Call it mother’s intuition, but I think my mom knew all along from the nurse’s call earlier that today would be the day. However, she knew I was a fighter and stubborn at the same time so I think she allowed me the choice on what I wanted to do – fight through or leave. I think my mom trusted me enough to know my own limits on what I could bare. The pain worsened by the second and the slow leak felt as if it were flowing just a bit faster. My body told me to leave immediately. Maybe I..
“Tal’Meisha, you’re up. Follow me this way,” chimed the teacher as she held the door open. She showed no concern with regard to my situation as she watched me struggle to carry the tri-fold board over my huge belly. I couldn’t be mad. It wasn’t her job to help me while I waddled along. She was here to move students along quickly from the waiting room to the presentation room. That’s it.
You’re doing great Meisha. See, they aren’t so bad after all. They’re smiling and nodding along with everything you say. I think you have significant passion behind your presentation because you are speaking from the heart. Look at you channeling all of that nervousness into conviction. I’m proud of you! You know firsthand what it is like to experience the financial and emotional hardships of being pregnant before you are truly ready to be a mom. This presentation required courage. This project required thoughtful planning. This senior year required balancing. You did it.
“I would like to close by saying thank you for your generous time and…”
No. This can’t…Tell me this isn’t happening right now.
I dared to looked down mid-sentence and…