- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Lydia Brown enjoys life now.
She’s raising her 2-year-old son, Atlas, while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social work at University of Memphis at Lambuth. She’s engaged to Atlas' father, Tacker McCready, preparing for a wedding in November.
But while everything in her life seems to be working out right now, Brown, 20, has had to endure some tough times to get to this point as she grew up in an abusive home, became pregnant while a junior in high school and dealt with the emotional fallout of her own reaction – as well as those of her father and other students at Lexington High School – to her pregnancy before committing to raising Atlas.
“But I wouldn’t trade any of it because of Atlas and Tacker and the family I have with the Sniders and my mom,” Lydia said. “But there were some times where I didn’t know if I would make it … or even if I could make it.
“But things are definitely better now than they were.”
Lydia describes her childhood as “pretty rough” as infidelity was something that had a significant impact on the home she grew up in along with emotional and physical abuse she endured from her father.
“It really derailed my definition of what love was, and I took that thinking into middle school and high school while dealing with my own mental health issues pretty badly,” Lydia said. “Of course, I was doing all the things teenagers do, being promiscuous and experimenting with different things and that got me really going down the wrong path.
“I was using all of those things to fill a hole in my heart not because I thought they were fun, but to numb my own pain. But I was young and didn’t know how else to deal with it and didn’t feel like I had anyone to reach out to.”
Then Lydia met Tacker.
“He was the first boyfriend I had and the first boy that ever acted like he wanted to spend time with me because he cared about me,” Lydia said. “I fell in love with him way too fast.”
Lydia was at work one day in February of 2019. This was one of the times life was not great for her because she’d been more emotional than usual because she and Tacker had broken up the month before, and simply getting up and going to school and work had become a drain on her.
Then a friend at work said she was going to Walmart to get a pregnancy test and asked if Lydia wanted to come just to take a break and get out of work for a few minutes, and she did.
“I’d missed my cycle and just thought it would come back eventually, but something said while I was there with her that maybe just to be sure I should get a pregnancy test too,” Lydia said. “And I took it home and took the test and passed – six times. But I kept thinking, surely it’s wrong. Surely I’m not pregnant.”
It took some time for Lydia to finally realize she was pregnant, but she didn’t know who to turn to, where to go or what to do when she got there.
“I was distraught and didn’t know who to ask for help, and I had a friend, Kaylee (Snider), the next morning before school and just said ‘I think I’m pregnant.’”
Lydia said Kaylee responded asking how she could help and what Lydia needed her to do.
“She set up an appointment for me at Birth Choice Clinic so verify that I was pregnant,” Lydia said.
Lydia met Kaylee at Birth Choice.
“I’d never been there and didn’t know much about it, but Kaylee and the people there were so welcoming and really kind to me because they probably expected me to be scared, which I was, so they knew how to help me, which they did,” Lydia said.
There was another positive pregnant test. Then there was an ultrasound.
“Kaylee was there holding my hand, and I wasn’t looking at the ultrasound, but Kaylee was like, ‘We can see your baby. Do you want to see him or her?’” Lydia said. “The nurse told me I appeared to be about 13 weeks along, which put me in the second trimester.”
At first she didn’t because she said she felt like she’d be looking at a mistake, at something that would mean the end of her life as she knew it. But she went ahead and looked at the ultrasound, but still sure she’d eventually have an abortion.
One reason for that was when she told her father, he didn’t respond as supportive when she told him a couple weeks later after she’d decided not to have an abortion but to put the baby up for adoption.
“I was so nervous because as horrible as he’d been to me, I still wanted his approval for some reason, I guess because there was a part of me that was his little girl and here I was pregnant,” Lydia said. “But I told him we had a plan to adopt, and he said ‘You’d better have a plan because you should’ve already had an abortion.’”
Deciding for adoption, then parenting
Lydia said Kaylee’s mother, Angela Snider, was the one who convinced her not to have an abortion.
“She was texting me and telling me that I was loved and supported and my baby was too and that adoption would give the baby a chance at life and I didn’t have to do this,” Lydia said. “And she said all the right things that made me think, ‘OK, maybe we can make this work.’
“Her husband, Mr. Karl (Snider), offered to let me stay in their bonus room upstairs in their house and raise the child. They were even willing to adopt the baby.”
Later that week, Lydia called Angela and was ready to take the Snider family up on the offer.
Birth Choice continued to support her with counseling and education, providing her with necessary supplies for her pregnancy and taking care of the baby as well.
Lydia became connected with a couple of families that would adopt the baby and chose one. The family and all of Lydia’s close friends and family gathered at her favorite restaurant, Los Portales, for the gender reveal. And when she found out her bay was a boy, her plans began to change.
“I was going to have a son, and I think it really hit me this was a living human baby boy I was growing inside me, and there was no way I could give him up,” Lydia said. “And I just had to tell the family that I was sorry but I felt I needed to be the one to raise him.
“They understood, and it worked out because within a couple of days of our conversation, they found out they were pregnant.”
Reconnecting with Tacker
After Lydia found out she was pregnant, she told Tacker. But having been a month removed from their break-up, the conversation didn’t go well, and Lydia shut Tacker out, leaving him to think at the time she would have an abortion because that was her plan at the time of the conversation.
But after her progression to adoption to raising her son, moving in with the Sniders, she made the tough decision to make contact with Tacker about a month before her due date to give him the opportunity to be a part of his son’s life.
“Looking back, I was immature and overreacted, but in a way it was probably what was needed because I needed to spend time working on me and growing up before I could begin helping my baby grow up,” Lydia said. “So when we had a conversation with my therapist, my mother, Tacker, his mother and Miss Angela, we laid it all out there and had an honest conversation.
“And Tacker wanted to be a part of his life. He wanted to raise his son. And it was so sweet to watch him and his brothers almost every Saturday after that bring over a crib or something else that would be needed for a baby.”
Family coming together
It was on Aug. 8, 2019, that Lydia gave birth to Atlas McCready. He was healthy, and the Snider family was glad to take the baby into their home his mother had moved into a few months before.
“They have been so great and have become my family,” Lydia said. “I had nothing to offer them except my baggage and my problems, and they’ve shown the love of Jesus to me and my son and provided for me with anything I’ve needed.
“I couldn’t have made it through all this without them.”
Tacker was spending a lot of time at the house too, connecting with his son and reconnecting with his baby’s mother. It was during that time Lydia and Tacker decided to give their relationship another try.
That relationship grew to the point they took a family trip to the Smoky Mountains last fall, and Tacker proposed to Lydia while on that trip.
“That was one of the most magical moments of my life that I’ll never forget,” Lydia said. “And looking back, I can see how God has worked all of this out so that we can raise Atlas.
“Tacker works hard everyday to support his f, and the Sniders are supporting me while I go to school and prepare to be able to support a family myself.”
She's learning more and more about being a Godly mother to her son by attending monthly meetings with YoungLives, a program that aims to connect young mothers with mentors to guide them through the stages of raising a family and prepare them for the next steps in parenting.
Since Atlas’ birth came right at the beginning of her senior year of high school and she was living on the opposite end of Madison County from Henderson County, which is where Lexington is, Lydia did miss out on finishing school where she grew up.
“It was rough there for awhile because I had a lot of other kids at school really bully me when they heard I was pregnant and word got out that I might have an abortion in the beginning,” Lydia said. “But the teachers at Lexington High School were great, and so were my friends.
“I hated not being able to go to football games and homecomings and dances and stuff like that because I was raising my son, but it was worth it because I did have my son.”
She did her senior year as a home school student at Home Life Academy and started her college education at Jackson State before moving on to UM-Lambuth.
“I don’t know what all God has planned for me and Tacker and Atlas, but I know He definitely has a plan,” Lydia said. “Just look at what all has happened so far, there has to be a purpose for it, and I’m loving raising my boy and watching that plan unfold as he grows up now.”
Reach Brandon Shields at email@example.com or at 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.
This article originally appeared on Jackson Sun: How a local family's generosity changed a teen mother's outlook on her pregnancy