"Pregnant Teenager to Entrepreneur." - Melissa's story (8 shoots in 8 years)

I hope that you find this story very inspiring; I know it has helped so many young women who have been faced with pregnancy at a young age. I have told my story to so many people, and get the same reaction every time. It brings tears to my eyes, still till this day.

I started out with the odds stacked against me: I dropped out of high school, and when I was just eighteen years old, I found out that I was pregnant. I had only known the man who had gotten me pregnant for four months, and we had actually stopped talking before I found out that I was pregnant, so telling him was something I was not prepared to do. I called him over and over again, but he never returned my calls. I finally told his mother the next time she answered the phone. He called me and the first thing out of his mouth was, “So do you need money for an abortion, or what”? I had no idea what I was going to do, and knew that I was in this alone.

A few weeks went by, which were weeks of confusion and sadness for me. I finally decided that I was going to have an abortion. I didn’t want to do this alone, and didn’t feel that I could. I lived with my parents, and felt like I was still just a child myself.  I didn’t have money for the procedure and did not want to call the man who got me pregnant. I already had harsh feelings towards him, due to the way he had treated me. So, I called my high school sweetheart (my ex). He and I ended things on good terms, as he went off into the military. He understood my position and agreed to lend me money for the procedure. He mailed me a cashier’s check for $460 - which is what the cost was back then. The second I got the money, I made an appointment at the clinic.

The day of my appointment is a day that I will NEVER forget. I got up and got ready. My mother knew where I was headed, and what my intentions were. She was SO against it, and begged me not to go. As I was walking out the door, she fell to her knees in front of me and gripped onto my legs. She begged me to keep this baby, and told me that she would help me raise him/her. I told her that this was MY life and MY decision, and proceeded to walk out the door.

I pulled up for my appointment and was rushed by protestors. They were knocking on my car window and holding up signs at me. I pulled into a parking spot as a protestor ran over and handed me a brochure. I tried to ignore them as I walked into the clinic. I was SO scared and nervous. I will never forget the feeling that I had that day. When the receptionist called my name, I walked up to the window and was handed paperwork to fill out. I also had to pay for the procedure. I handed her the cashier’s check. She told me that she couldn’t take this type of payment. She directed me to the bank down the street, so I left the clinic and drove down to the bank. I pulled up to the bank teller, and was told by the bank that they couldn’t cash it either. I was directed to another bank down the street. I went to that bank, and was told NO again!

River & Pool Shoot (on Location) - September 2013