WESTFIELD, NJ — Fifteen-year-old Bronte Healey’s world was turned upside down last year when she discovered that she was pregnant after getting routine blood work. She was already 20 weeks along.
Healey, now a Westfield High School junior, was terrified.
“My initial reaction was pure fear,” Healey said. “I didn’t know how people would react — mainly my parents. I was so scared of what they would do.”
To her surprise, Healey was met with instant support from her mother.
“My mom, since the first day, has had my back,” Healey said, adding that her father, though initially shocked, eventually supported her fully, as well.
Though she is pro-choice, Healy said that abortion was not a viable option for her.
“I was very far along,” she said. “Abortion would have been very dangerous.”
She did, however, seriously consider adoption. That is, until she had her first sonogram.
“Once I heard his heartbeat, adoption never crossed my mind again,” Healey said.
Nearly everyone at WHS, from teachers to students, have been supportive and helpful, she said.
“The teachers and the whole community of WHS were absolutely amazing,” Healey said. “The teachers were accommodating and understanding and so were the students.”
The baby’s father, a WHS senior, was also supportive and chose to be part of the baby’s life.
On May 24, 2015, Bronte gave birth to a healthy boy named Liam. For Bronte, motherhood was solidified upon holding Liam for the first time.
“Holding Liam for the first time was a huge wake-up call. In my head, I was like, ‘Holy crap, I’m a mother!’ But the bond and love I felt for him were so pure and so strong,” she said. “Honestly, nothing compares to it.”
Healey attended school right up until her due date, May 20, and was homeschooled for the remaining month of school. Now 8-month-old Liam lives with Healey, Healey’s mother, stepfather and sister. Liam sleeps in Healey’s room with her.
Healey is finishing her time at Westfield High School, which forces her to balance all of the stress already associated with junior year with the stress of being a mom.
“The most difficult thing about being a mom and a student is that some nights, when Liam won’t go to bed, I’ll be up until two a.m. doing homework and then I’m up at five to give him a bottle and then up at 6:30 to get ready for school,” Healey said.
This high-intensity lifestyle has created some strain on relationships in Healey’s life.
“I’ll be stressed and I’ll snap at my mom,” she admitted. These outbursts cause her to reflect on how supportive her mother has been throughout this whole process, she said, which is not always the case for many teen moms.
“So many moms would have made their daughters feel weak,” she said. “But my mom has made me feel so strong and powerful.”
Healey’s social life also took a drastic turn after becoming a mother.
“I lost many friends from this whole experience,” she said. “I’m not ‘fun Bronte’ anymore. However, many people who I never thought I would ever be friends with are now some of my very good friends.”
“My social life isn’t as exciting as it was,” she added, “but I still manage to go out quite often when I feel up for it because I have such a strong support behind me. Someone is always more than willing to watch Liam.”
A babysitter typically watches Liam while Healey is at school, and Grant’s mother watches him once a week.
Financially, Healey’s mother is primarily taking care of Liam.
“My mom pays primarily for Liam’s things, but I do work and some of that money goes towards Liam,” Healey said. “My mom is very generous about buying Liam diapers, formula, food, clothes and paying for the babysitter.”
Healey plans to attend a local college.
“I want to become an animal defense lawyer,” she said. “I will live at home with my mom and Liam, who’ll be in school by then.”
Healey offered some words of encouragement and advice for other girls who find themselves in her situation.
“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of who you are as a person and as a mom,” Healey said. “Show off your baby. Show off your parenting.”
And, she added, “Stay in school. You need to be able to provide for your child. If you’re struggling, ask someone for help. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. Think smartly when it comes to legal issues. Take everything day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.”
And, she said, “Enjoy your precious baby. They are blessings.”
Sarah Boyle is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.