Smiles bring good fortune
I was born in a very secluded mountain village, and lived with my parents, grandmother, older brother, and two younger siblings, in a family environment that wasn’t so great. After graduating high school, I moved in with my relatives in the city, and got a job. I got paid 350,000 won a month, but since I had to pay for my own living expenses, I couldn’t save much. After three years I moved out.
Then I started seeing someone. I was in a relationship with him for about five years, but I found out that he had been using my personal information to make credit cards in my name. When I found out, my credit was already down the drain, and I was devastated that my boyfriend of so many years had done this to me. Because of the tremendous amount of debt, I declared bankruptcy. Although I was later freed of any debt since there was enough evidence of identity theft, having declared bankruptcy took a toll on my life.
A year later, I met the father of my child. Our relationship went on smoothly for two years, and he became very dear to me, especially after the bad experience with my last boyfriend. I came to love him very much. I became pregnant, and we both wanted to have the baby together and to marry each other. When we went to share the news with his parents, however, they told me to get an abortion. His family was affluent, and his parents did not like that I had become bankrupt due to my last boyfriend. They told me not to ruin the future of their son.
Every day, his mother would come over to my home to try to take me to the hospital. The baby’s father told me that he’ll be able to convince his parents, and that we should wait a bit more, but finally, he wanted to give up. I was into the fifth month of pregnancy.
I couldn't bring myself to get an abortion, when I could feel the baby kicking. When I told the father this, he said that he would like to see me that night. That night, the baby’s father and his mother locked me up in a motel room, saying that they’d already made an appointment at the hospital for the next day. In absolute fright, I escaped, and spent the night at a friend’s place. I moved right away, and had the baby without anyone’s knowledge.
Even though the pregnancy was unexpected, I wanted to do whatever it took to raise the baby myself. It wasn’t as easy as said, however. I couldn’t bring myself to ask my family for help, since they weren’t well off, and I thought that it would unfair to burden them with the consequences of my actions. Because my baby doesn’t adjust well to other people, my plan to start working after a hundred days failed, and I came realize that we were alone in this world.
The apartment we live in now is in terrible condition. Because it’s so old, there is mold everywhere, and it gets very cold inside. I’ve applied for an apartment on lease, and next July I will be moving. Since the baby is now older and able to spend the day in childcare, I have started working again. However, once I started work I stopped receiving welfare checks. After childcare, housing, insurance, and living expenses are paid for, there is nothing left to put into savings.
While I was pregnant, I continued to work into the ninth month of my pregnancy. I had to work, since I had no money saved up, and since I had my own place, I didn’t look for a shelter. At first, I’d quit my former job because I was pregnant, but after parting with the baby’s father, I had to search for a job—everyday I would faint inside a full subway car, trying to find a job. Even after I found a job, I would faint many mornings, but I couldn’t call in sick, since that would mean more than 50,000 won taken away from my paycheck. Because I couldn’t tell anyone, every day I suffered from loneliness and depression. My eyes well up when I try to recall those days.
After I had the baby, I lost contact with my family, and it’s been terribly difficult. Everyone still tells me to send the baby away for adoption, I don't want to even think about that, when my child is the only one left in my life. I’ve thrown everything away for this baby, and during the ten months inside me, it must have been hard for the baby as well.
Thanks to The Millennium Project, I was able to receive diapers, formula and wet tissues for the baby, so I haven’t had to worry about that, but I still think that to raise a baby alone in our country is still extremely hard. I am always exhausted, because I alone have to be the baby’s mother, father, and friend, but when I’m sick or tired, I have no one to talk to about it.
These are my current expenses:
· Monthly rent 150,000 won
· Utilities (Because it is winter, heating costs have multiplied)
o Electricity 50,000 won (After I’ve started using an electric heater at nights because of the cold, the costs have gone up.)
o Heating (gas) 80,000-90,000 won (Last year heating cost up to 180,000 won, but it has gone down after I’ve started using the electric heater.)
· Cell phone 30,000-40,000 won
· Insurance 126,000 won
o My medical insurance which covers hospitalization 57,000 won
o Child’s injury insurance 28,000 won
o Life-long insurance 41,000 won
· Saving for future housing 100,000 won
· Child’s education fund 30,000 won (opened account November 2008)
· Child’s monthly milk supply 24,000 won
· Monthly transportation 40,000-50,000 won
· Food 100,000-150,000 won
· Plus, child’s medical fees
Although I try to spend as little as possible, after the fixed monthly bills are paid, it is hard to even afford a piece of fruit. I wish that I could receive just a bit of aid in living expenses. If I can receive some stipend, only then can I finish my education. I would like to get a college degree and study more, but since I have to work and take care of my child, I will probably have to wait until my child is independent. J
Before I gave birth, the doctor, looking at the ultrasound screen, told me that my baby looked beautiful. I felt very when the doctor said that, but when I had the baby…I was actually a little disappointed to see that the baby looked a lot like the father. Still, my child was the most beautiful baby, and I was in awe of the fact that this baby had been inside my belly for ten months.
My baby is my savior. My child gave me a reason to live, and actually, after the childbirth when I suffered excessive bleeding, my doctor told me that if I had had an abortion at five months, I might have lost my own life due to excessive hemorrhaging. Having the baby saved me.
00, I love you. I hope that you will grow up to be a person with respect for everyone. But most of all, I wish you health, so that you and I can live happily together for a long time. You’ve been sick very often these days, and it pains me.
Although everything hasn't turned out as I planned, I feel happiness as I build my life one by one. First, I’m glad our family was selected for the apartment lease after my applications fail multiple times. We will be able to live in a clean home. And even though we are poor, whenever my child calls me “Mommy,” it puts a smile on my face. I’m glad that I was able to have this lovable, precious child.
People ask me why I smile so much. I don’t smile because of anything special; I began to smile and laugh after I had my baby, and I can’t help smiling. I think that saying, “Smiles bring good fortune,” is right. By the time my child starts elementary school, I’d like to get to a good, steady job position, and become someone who gives aid rather than someone who receives it.
Translated by Yeonsoo Cho, Edited by Hee jung Kwon. for more information, please contact with KUMSN This story is from "collective essays of unwed mothers" published by The Millennium Project in 2008.
Translated by Yeonsoo Cho, Edited by Hee jung Kwon.
for more information, please contact with KUMSN
This story is from "collective essays of unwed mothers" published by The Millennium Project in 2008.