Zulay Hall Maggs

I clearly remember the moment I was told I was pregnant. I was eating breakfast with my boyfriend and my mother. My mother made me my favorite gallo pinto, a common Costa Rican dish that you eat with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I took a bite, stood up, and ran to the bathroom to throw up. When I returned from the bathroom my mother looked at me and said, “Zulay you’re pregnant!” I looked at my mother and told her, “No way. You are absolutely  wrong.”

I was a wild and out-of-control teen and had been living a fast life for quite some time. I had been sexually active for years. But there was no way I was pregnant. Two positive tests later, I still refused to believe it. The reason for my disbelief was that when I was 12, I had two cysts the size of softballs removed. One of the cysts was on my fallopian tube, which was removed as well. I was told I could only get pregnant every other month. However, I assumed the doctors were wrong since I had not gotten pregnant in all that time. I had no clue. 

Finally I went to the doctor and took a blood test. This was the same doctor who put the shots in my butt when I was five years old so I could attend elementary school. Two days later, I got the call from Dr. King. He said these words, which I will never forget until the day I die, “Well Zulay, we got your results and your blood test came back 99.87 percent positive.” I responded with, “Okay. Well Dr. King, how accurate are those blood tests?” Dr. King said, “Zulay you are pregnant.” The moment I listened to his words and realized I was pregnant was the most shocking moment of my life. I was 17 years old. 

I was not actually pregnant in high school because I had dropped out. As a teenager I made many poor choices, but I did get my GED and even walked with my cap and gown at Clackamas Community College when I was five months pregnant with my daughter.

When I was pregnant, people treated me like a naive little girl. But who am I kidding? I was, in fact, naive. I knew nothing about life, having a child, or being a parent. I remember the opening day of the MAX train going to Hillsboro in September 1998. It was supposed to be a wonderful family day, full of excitement. The MAX was packed: no seats were available. I was nine months pregnant and there was absolutely no mistaking it. Not one person stood to give me a seat. I got looks filled with disgust that said, “Well, you are the idiot who got knocked up.” 

While my mother and I do not always see eye to eye, she was the person who was always helpful and supportive, no matter what, during my pregnancy. At one point I ran away from the girls’ home where I was living. My mother was worried that if the police caught me I would not have proper health care while I was pregnant, so she hid me at her house until Isabelle was born. It was amazing to see my mother so protective of me and her unborn grandchild. It was the first time in my life that I felt my mother actually cared about my well-being. 

My dream for myself is to be successful. I have spent way too much time trying to come out of the black-sheep darkness. I am most definitely at an age where I could not care less what anyone thinks of me. I want the family members who turned their backs on me to understand that I am a warrior and have survived the depths of hell to get where I am now. I am standing tall and proud. 

I am currently a barber and I absolutely love what I do. I seek to continue my education and become a dental hygienists as a fall back for when standing cutting hair becomes too hard on my body.  I dream about sitting on a wraparound porch someday, watching my grandchildren play in my yard. My dream is to have it all: to be financially comfortable and spend summers with my family going camping and traveling. I guess in a sense the American Dream. I want my children to have it all as well. They are my world and I want them to be happy and to do great things in life. I want them to live their lives to the fullest and know that they can, in fact, accomplish anything they want or dream of achieving. They are the deciding factors on what their lives will be like. I hope that each and every word they hated hearing me say at the time, they will heed as they get older. My wish for my children is that they live happy, full lives. 

I think it is important for everyone to support young families. Treating them as inferior to others because they got pregnant at a young age does no good for anyone. This is when they need the most help of all. They need guidance through one of the scariest, toughest times of their life.