I (Anthony Crosby) have known today’s guest, Jamie Richey, personally for quite some time. One might say, she’s like a little sister to me. I asked her to share a bit of her life because here at Anthony Around Town, we truly believe a person’s story is a powerful thing. It can inspire, inform, spark conversation, and subvert expectations and stereotypes. For example, what comes to your mind when you read the words, “teen mom?” Is it someone who’s made poor chooses? Is it an image of one of the over dramatized girls from MTV? What associations come with just those two words? Hearing someone’s story can alter preconceived notions. And I hope by sharing Jamie’s story (a now twenty-year-old mother and wife) will help illuminate this fact in the lives of some. So, we’re not going to be doing much interviewing this time, we’re merely going to let Jamie share.
“I still had my angsty teenage years. I was home schooled, was involved with my church, and had a lot of good friends. But when I was about twelve, I started struggling with depression and anxiety. I lost a lot of friends around that time, and I thought it was just because I wasn’t good enough and maybe I need to change something about myself. I developed an eating disorder; I was anorexic, I was self-harming, I was suicidal, and for years that’s how I lived my life. I was really quiet about it; a lot of my family didn’t even know until I was about sixteen when I really started acting out. However, I started going to a new church around then, Living Stones, and heard about God for who He truly is and how He truly loves me. I realized people were going to love me, despite how I looked, and I began healing from the eating disorder. It was still hard; I still struggled with my depression. I was about seventeen when I stopped self-harming. I finally realized that people could love me for just me.”
“I started attending the church’s college group, and that’s where I met Severin (Jamie’s husband). I was seventeen when he proposed, and we started premarital counseling, which was super important. We got married three days after my eighteenth birthday at the museum; we were actually one of the first weddings ever held at the museum. Our initial plan was to wait three years before having kids; I was on birth control. However, we ended up getting pregnant three months after our wedding. I called my doctor have set up an appointment to have my birth control taken out, but by that time we had already lost our first child.”
“Three months later I got pregnant again; when I found out, I was on vacation with a friend, so I bought this little boat to put in the nursery, and by showing Severin this boat was how I was going to tell him the news. The day before I was going to come home from that vacation, I started bleeding and our second child was lost. I really didn’t know how to talk about it; I felt really ashamed. I lived in this haze and didn’t know what to do. My body was still getting weaker, and I was still losing a lot of blood, even several weeks later. For an entire week, Severin had to help me walk or carry me around the house. Some people didn’t believe me about what was going on; that hurt and again, I felt shamed. I was finally able to get into the doctor and receive, and two months later I decided to get my tattoo-a nest with two eggs representing my lost children. My physical nest may be empty but by spiritual nest is not.”
“This helped me not be so ashamed. It’s in a place that’s really public, and people will ask me about it. And that’s how I told a lot of people. It brought a lot of healing, and I thought a lot of the shame I had been feeling was over. However, about a year later, it seemed like all of my friends starting getting pregnant; it was really hard. I didn’t realize how bitter and jealous I had gotten. After that, we just went through this whole process of hating God. I got to the point where I figured that God didn’t love me anymore if He was going to take away my babies. So, I shut myself off from the world. Furthermore, through the midst of all of this anger, we had a third miscarriage.”
“I tried seeking out answers for why this was happening, but it seemed like a lot of the doctors didn’t want to help us because I was so young (nineteen). I had one doctor look at me and tell me that because I was young, I shouldn’t even be trying to have kids. She didn’t know that I was married, owned a home, and lived in an environment before making that judgment. It hurt. After all of that, Severin and I just had this moment of crying in, what is now, our daughter’s room. That’s where we came to the realization that we couldn’t be in control; we needed to give all of it to God fully. We couldn’t do it on our own strength anymore; it hurt too much.”
“Time went on. We continued to seek out answers and help from other doctors. Then, I just started feeling really weird. I took a pregnancy test, and it was the clearest positive I’ve ever seen. I just started crying. I called my sister, and she calmed me down; right before she hung up the phone, she told me congratulations because she knew we were going to meet this child. We called the doctor. We got in and started some treatments, nine months later, we have a baby girl!”
“When you go through pregnancy hardships, people may think that finally having a kid takes away all of the pain from before. By no means, is my daughter a fix-all; she helps a lot! But my heart still breaks often for her other three siblings and Severin, and I have decided that we’re going to tell her about them. Right after I got my next tattoo, I had a woman grab my arm to look at it and ask me what it meant. I explained it to her, and she recoiled back from me and told me that we don’t talk about “that.” No…we have to talk about this.”
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See you around, Elko!