THE FIRST time I had sex, I was 16 years old, and I was raped! I was so sad because I wasn't planning on having sex until I met the right person. My dream was that my husband would be my first.
At such a tender age, it never really occurred to me that I would be raped, much less get pregnant. I didn't even think about contracting HIV. I didn't know what that was and wasn't interested in knowing. I also never thought I was at risk of rape or HIV in my small rural community. If anyone mentioned AIDS, I would get upset and say things like "Mi cyaa neva catch AIDS".
One thing I have learnt since that day, two years ago, is to 'never say never!' You can never determine how your life is going to be in the split of a second. Sex was never on my mind before I was raped. I used to laugh and say, "condom not for me". But that one time when I needed it, the cold-hearted man never used it.
I had two Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams to sit the June of the next year. I was planning out my career goals - things I wanted to achieve out of life. And my Dad, he had such high expectations for me. It was really hard, I'm telling you, and when I found out my status, I was already seven months pregnant and CSEC was two months away.
To be frank, I almost had a heart attack! My knees got weak. I started to tremble and cry. I thought I was going to die. I felt like I was in a different world. I couldn't see anyone. I was looking, but couldn't see. I thought to myself, "Destiny, your life is coming to an end". There was no hope for me, no reason for living.
Over the last two years, I have learnt that HIV doesn't make a difference in your life. You are the same person that walked through the door to do the test and wasn't thinking of getting a positive result. When I disclosed my status to my family, it was a bit shocking at first to them. My grandmother never wanted me to prepare any meals at all or use any form of cutting implements. She was afraid of me getting cut and blood would spill in whatever it is I was preparing. She was a nurse, but afterwards she came around.
Being a teen mom has really been challenging, especially based on the way I got pregnant, and my status. As a teenage single parent, I really never thought it would be any different because I know once you're not mature and responsible enough it is going to be challenging.
My life has changed a lot since becoming a mother. I have to be more responsible and I realise my future is not just me, but it involves my son. I didn't get the chance to graduate from high school, experience a graduation ball, you know, teenagers' stuff. I never get to party and hang out at the mall with other teenagers, because I am busy taking care of my son.
I never know I would encounter rape in my own home - a safe space. My advice to all teens out there is to concentrate on your studies. You don't want to become a mother too soon. I am not asking you, I am begging you to abstain. Think about it. Education is the key to life. I didn't choose motherhood, motherhood chose me, and it is hard. If you are having sex, please use a condom every time.
My advice to all teen moms out there: I know it's hard, but never give up. When you feel like giving up, look at the child and think of when you were a baby like that child. If your mommy gave up on her life, where would you be now?
Life is the greatest, my friend. Hope will always be there, once you can breathe. Never give up. Be strong and have faith, always think positive and be grateful no matter what the circumstances. Always tell yourself, "I can, I will and I must", and you will reach there.