An early pregnancy almost put an end to actress Jeri Fields’ career before it began.
“I knew I was pregnant almost from the beginning. I wasn’t stupid and recognized the signs right away.
I didn’t know what to do, though. My boyfriend wasn’t really a boyfriend. In fact, I knew that it was possible that he could get in a lot of trouble if I told people about him. I was a minor and he was an adult.
But of course I had to tell him about it. It was his baby. I couldn’t have kept it from him. And I thought he’d help me figure things out.”
Sheldon Steppe, Jeri’s maid and lover, was not happy when he found out the news. He offered to help Jeri get an abortion.
“He didn’t want the baby and didn’t want me to keep it either. He offered me money and said he’d arrange everything.”
But Jeri didn’t want to give up her baby.
“I knew I was making a difficult choice, but I just couldn’t do it. For me it was the wrong decision to have an abortion. It was my choice, and I decided to keep the baby.”
After telling Sheldon, Jeri then had to tell her father.
“I told him about it on a Saturday. I was eating fruit parfait and he was having a salad. I remember because he spit lettuce across the table and started to choke.”
Mickey’s reaction was not as severe as Sheldon’s. He understood his daughter’s decision to keep the baby even though its father didn’t want her to.
“He was more understanding than I expected. I figured he’d freak, but he was pretty calm after he stopped choking. Maybe it was because he had faced the loss of a child. I don’t know. But Daddy was really supportive.”
Before Jeri’s condition became known in town, Mickey decided that it might be best if he and his daughter relocate. They moved to Twinbrook, his family’s home town, and bought a small cottage near the river.
“Daddy thought things would be easier in Twinbrook. He also said he needed a a change for himself, too. I agreed. I secretly hoped that the move would help Daddy curb some of his drinking and maybe alleviate his depression. At least I hoped that it would help him forget Vanessa.”
Mickey decided to retire from being a musician when he returned to Twinbrook. He took up painting instead, a talent he inherited from his mother, Kara Fields, the famous author and illustrator.
“Daddy gave up music and cut back on going out when we got to Twinbrook. We went out together. I spent more time with him than I ever had growing up. He indulged all of my cravings and didn’t make me feel bad for being a teenage mother.”
School was not so easy for Jeri, though. Being new was hard enough, but being pregnant made things a lot worse.
“I’d always liked school. I thought it would be no different, but I hadn’t counted on how people would react to my pregnancy. Everyone wanted to get to know me because I was new and my dad was famous, but then they saw my tummy. I didn’t hide the pregnancy and a lot of people didn’t approve.”
One girl in particular caused a lot of trouble for Jeri. Arianne Kwan-Broker was vocal in her disapproval.
“Arianne was the ‘it’ girl in Twinbrook. She was blond, beautiful. She was the head cheerleader, the whole package. She didn’t like me one bit!
A few times I thought she might want to punch me or something. She was so mean! I tried to avoid her, but she was involved in everything. It was hard not to run into her everyday.”
Jeri didn’t have any really good friends at Twinbrook High, but she did keep in touch with her cousin and best friend, Hannah.
“Hannah came to visit me before the baby was born. I was so happy to see her! We’d kept up through email and IM, but having her in my home was so great. I’d really missed her.”
It was Hannah that Jeri confided in about how terrified she was to have the baby.
“I didn’t know if I’d be a good mother or if I was making the right decision. I thought about adoption, but I couldn’t see myself doing it. Hannah let me talk it all out. She didn’t judge me. She told me that whatever I decided, I’d be a great mother.”
Soon after Hannah’s visit, Jeri went into labor. Mickey took her to the hospital.
“I remember waking up with the pains. They were more intense than the baby books tell you. Daddy got up and got all my stuff. I remember stopping just before going into the hospital. I turned to look at him and he had this odd smile on his face. I was scared, but his smile reassured me.”
Aaron Fields was born 17 hours later. Jeri remembers bringing him home feeling a mixture of triumph and fear. Mickey stuck by her, though, and promised to do all that he could to see that Aaron was a healthy and happy little boy.
“Daddy wouldn’t think of me giving Aaron up. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have done it unless he thought it was the best thing. But I had to think of Aaron growing up with such a young mother. I wasn’t prepared to be a mother; I knew that, but with Daddy’s help, I also knew that I could do it.
Daddy took one look at Aaron and cried. I knew he was remembering Orrin. He promised both me and my son that he’d look out for him and keep him safe.”
Unfortunately, while Mickey tried to keep his promise, being around Aaron was a constant reminder of the son he had lost.
“Daddy tried. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to completely keep his promise when I came home from school and found him mixing drinks at a new wet bar on the patio. Right next to it was a brand new hot tub.”
Mickey swore he wasn’t going to get drunk anymore; he said he bought the bar and hot tub to help him relax.
“He also said his flirtation with our new maid, Lashonda, was a way for him to relax. I came home one day and found them in bed together. They were naked and had obviously had sex.”
Lashonda came over often while Jeri was at school and Mickey was baby sitting. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t last.
“I think Lashonda wanted more than Daddy could give. She started talking about relationships and commitment. Daddy told her he didn’t want to get married again and she accused him of having commitment issues. Eventually she stopped coming to our house to clean or do anything else.”
But Mickey wasn’t content to stay home with little Aaron anymore. Painting also stopped fulfilling him.
“Daddy was the kind of guy who needed to be around people. He just had to be admired. I think that’s why he went out all the time, why he had to party and have fun, why he was always going out with different women. Vanessa liked to party, too, which was why they got along so well, but I don’t know if the relationship would have lasted even if Orrin had lived.”
Jeri saw her father starting to fall into his old habits.
“And then one day Daddy came home all excited. His old agent had called and asked if he’d be interested in doing some acting. Virginia, my aunt, had recommended him for a role as her brother in her latest film. Daddy agreed to the project. Though he had never acted, he had natural star quality that made him very camera friendly.”
Meanwhile, Jeri tried to get on with her life. It was difficult to try being a normal teen when you had a son waiting for you at home.
“No one let me forget that I had had a baby. There were boys that I liked, but they all knew about Aaron. They would say things like, ‘So what’s it like having a kid?’ or ‘Where’s your kid while you’re at school?’
Worse than that, though, were the boys who thought I was a slut because I had had a baby.”
“Thayer was like that. He was a boy I liked at school. He didn’t seem to think I was a leper because I was a mom. He even asked to come to my house to meet my son. But once we were there, all he wanted was to fool around in my hot tub. When I told him no, he brought up his previous girlfriend, whom he said wouldn’t put out. He thought that I might.
Of course I asked him to leave right away!”
Being a parent and being a student was difficult. Jeri had a hard time keeping up her grades.
“I was always tired. I didn’t concentrate as well at school, and it was hard to get my homework done at home.”
There were days when Jeri wished that she had given Aaron up for adoption.
“When he was fussy and Daddy wasn’t around and I had a pile of homework, things were tough.”
There were times that Jeri just had to get away and do things that a typical teen would do.
“I had friends at school. Tamesha Budge and Leanne Williams sometimes invited me out to the Red Rooster.”
Sometimes Hannah would come over for a weekend and the two girls were go out.
“I took Hannah to Morgan’s Ale House once. It was the place that my grandfather Shawn worked when he and my grandma Kara lived in Twinbrook.”
While at Morgan’s, Jeri was confronted by her enemy, Arianne Kwan-Broker. While most of the girls at Twinbrook High tolerated Jeri or had forgotten about her pregnancy, Arianne continued to torment her.
“I remember that Arianne was in my face and being insulting. I think I called her a few names as well. Then she shoved me and I shoved her back. Then she grabbed me and suddenly we were rolling around on the floor fighting.”
The fight didn’t last long, however. Hannah, a brave sim, saw her cousin being abused and jumped in to assist.
“Hannah kicked her ass!”
After that incident, things at school were relatively quite for Jeri. Her home life was not as quiet, but it did develop into a sort of routine.
“Daddy was always gone at the studio, so I had to take care of everything like bills and cooking. Someone had to do it because Daddy never remembered.”
Mickey’s drinking continued as well, but Jeri was used to it.
“There was nothing I could do to stop him. He didn’t get that bad that often, though it still happened occasionally. Mostly he just had one or two drinks to relax at night. He may have had a few at work, too, but I couldn’t tell.”
Meanwhile, Aaron was getting bigger, growing into a toddler before Jeri even graduated.
“He got so big! I didn’t know that babies grew so fast. One minute it seemed that Aaron was an infant and the next he was babbling and crawling and being potty trained!”
Aaron looked a bit like his father, Sheldon Steppe, who had blond hair, but mostly he looked like a Fields.
“He has Daddy’s blue eyes and a subtle amount of red in his hair. The sandy color always reminded me of Uncle Danny. I knew Sheldon was in there somewhere, but he was my son.”
On her birthday, Jeri celebrated with her older cousin, Hannah, who had decided to move to Twinbrook.
“Hannah had moved back to go to medical school, which was totally exciting. I didn’t mind that I didn’t have a party with a lot of guests on my birthday. It would have been nice if Daddy had been there, but he was doing a gig in town. He’d started playing music again. Mostly local pubs. He got free drinks.”
When Mickey saw his daughter, he told her that she looked a lot like her mother.
“He said I was more beautiful, though. My red hair added vibrancy to my face that she lacked. He thought I’d make a killing as an actress. I’d be even better than she was.”
Jeri Fields had never really thought about becoming an actor.
“I liked music like my dad, but I wasn’t as dedicated as he was. I didn’t want to be a musician. I liked painting like grandma and dad, but I wasn’t so good that I thought I could be an artist. I liked cooking, but I was no where near the chef quality of my Aunt Rhonda. I’d never thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I couldn’t make money as a mom, so I decided that I would give acting a try. Daddy liked it. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it. I could always do something else if I didn’t like it.”
And so Jeri headed to the studio to get her first job. It wouldn’t be her last.