Submitted by Blaklee Briggs
Editor’s note: This story was a part of the in-depth package of our Jan. 31, 2020 issue, which was named as an honorable mention for online in-depth news/feature package in the ILPC contest.
Former LISD student Blaklee Briggs felt her throat tighten as her mom parked the car.
“You know you don’t have to do this,” LeAnn said. “This is your choice. This secret will stay between us.”
Blaklee sat quietly in the car. She held back tears as they walked inside the building.
As she sat down and began to fill out the papers in her lap, Blaklee was scared and confused, but this felt like her only option.
She walked back to the front desk to finalize the forms. At the bottom of the page, she began her signature but her hands were shaking. She stopped with her name unfinished on the page.
Sobbing uncontrollably, Blaklee ran out of the building. She bent over on the cement steps in front of the clinic, tears streaming down her cheeks. Thoughts raced through her head.
Am I really about to not be able to fit my clothes anymore?
Am I going to have to put somebody before myself?
Am I going to give up nine months of my life?
Blaklee heard the doors open and turned to see her mom standing in front of her.
“What’s wrong?” LeAnn asked.
“I can’t do it,” Blaklee said.
Her mom wrapped her in an embrace.
“You don’t have to do it,” LeAnn said. “I’m going to support you. I’m going to love you and this baby, and we’re going to get through this together.”
• • •
Blaklee stood in the bathroom watching two solid pink lines appear on the stick of her pregnancy test. It was positive. It was her 16th birthday and she was pregnant.
“When I saw the test my jaw dropped,” Blaklee said. “I just didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Blaklee immediately told her mom the news. Hearing that her daughter was pregnant was a shock to her mother, LeAnn Briggs.
“She was still a child,” LeAnn said. “At first I was like she can’t be having a baby because she’s still my baby.”
About a week after finding out she was pregnant, Blaklee and her mom decided to make the drive to El Paso to get Blaklee an abortion. While Blaklee said she was never fully comfortable with the idea of an abortion, she decided to get one to avoid having to tell and disappoint her family.
“I knew that I didn’t want to let anybody down,” Blaklee said. “I didn’t really want to do it, but in a way I did because I just didn’t know what to do.”
The moment Blaklee stepped into the abortion clinic she knew it wasn’t what she wanted. After she left the clinic, Blaklee knew that she had made the right decision. Stepping into that clinic gave Blaklee a new perspective. She felt selfish.
It felt as if God had spoken to her. She now knew that going through with an abortion wasn’t what He had planned for her. She had to go through with the pregnancy.
“I truly began to believe that this was part of God’s plan,” Blaklee said. “God had a calling for me to be a young mom.”
• • •
After she committed to keeping the baby, Blaklee found out that she was three months pregnant and soon began to experience changes to her body. New hormone levels caused her emotions to switch, making her feel out of control. Some days she was so exhausted and upset she could barely get out of bed. She started showing at seven months, making it difficult to put on some of her old clothes. She couldn’t fit into her favorite pair of jeans.
“That’s when it all started to be real,” Blaklee said.
• • •
Aside from the physical obstacles of her pregnancy, Blaklee was met with emotional obstacles as well.
Blaklee had not attended an LISD school since she had moved from Flower Mound after her eighth grade year. However, she still received texts from students at Marcus who had known her once they began to learn about her pregnancy.
Good job. Who’s the daddy?
What a slut.
Not only did others judge her for having a baby, but her friends became angry with her as well for not telling them about the pregnancy.
“It just added a ton of unnecessary stress on me and the baby which wasn’t good,” Blaklee said. “I was already going through a lot.”
Blaklee also struggled at getting her education. She was kicked out of a collegiate school she had been attending once the administration found out she was pregnant, and it was difficult for her to transfer to an online school soon after.
“It was a long time trying to get into school. I missed almost the entire first semester,” Blaklee said.
At first, Blaklee felt embarrassed by how others viewed her. However, rather than let others’ comments get to her, she brushed them aside.
“I realized that being a teen mom does not make somebody a loser,” Blaklee said. “It does not define who I am in a negative way. If anything, it’s made me a better person.”
• • •
Blaklee’s forehead beaded with sweat. She was exhausted. She had been in labor for the past several hours and was finally able to hold her baby girl for the very first time. She smiled as she looked down at her newborn, Bentlee Paige Briggs.
“The feeling when we laid eyes on each other, I can’t even explain how joyful it was,” Blaklee said. “I kept thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually my baby.’”
After nine months, Blaklee knew that it was worth it. She was a mom to a beautiful daughter. Though she didn’t know much about what was to come in the next few years, Blaklee knew that she and Bentlee already had a special bond.
“I feel like I knew her because not only did I give birth to her, but we grew together,” Blaklee said. “For nine months it was me and her.”
• • •
Today when she sees her 1-year-old daughter crawling around as she gets closer to taking her first steps, Blaklee knows there is never a moment where she can give up and quit. She knows she doesn’t get to experience
things that most teens get to experience. She won’t get to go to her senior prom or attend her high school graduation. She attends online school and doesn’t have a job, all so that she can focus her time on raising Bentlee. She knows she’s made a commitment and said that is why so many other young girls are not always able to make the same decision that she has.
“Not everybody can handle it because you have to grow up overnight,” Blaklee said. “You have to mentally and physically prepare yourself that you are about to take on a big responsibility.”
Since her 16th birthday, Blaklee’s life was completely changed. Rather than focus on the obstacles she has faced throughout her pregnancy and raising her daughter, Blaklee chooses to look at the positives of being a young parent.
“A lot of people think that when you’re a teen and you get pregnant, that it’s the end of the world and that your life is over, but it’s not,” Blaklee said. “I feel like my life has actually just begun because I have a little girl and now it’s not just me. It’s her. She’s before me.”