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Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Pregnancy Project.

*Just a warning: this will be long!*

I just got through watching a Lifetime movie called "The Pregnancy Project." If you have never seen it, it is definitely worth watching. It's based on a true story about a girl who does a social experiment for her senior project. She pretends to be pregnant to see how people will treat her. The only people who know the truth are her mom, boyfriend, and best friend. It is a very interesting story!

Watching that movie made me think back to when I was pregnant in high school. I'm not sure that I have ever talked about it much on here. This movie has inspired me to do a little series of my experiences as a pregnant teenager. The first post is going to be my experiences in school. Then, I'll do one about my mom, my dad, my extended family, my friends, strangers, etc.

It was a lot like the experience that the girl in the movie had, except that my experience was real. I didn't get to go home and take my belly off. I didn't get to ignore the comments and stares because the comments and stares were founded. I didn't get to ignore the stereotypes when they were shoved in my face because I was scared to death that I would end up truly falling into those stereotypes.

I was in the middle of my junior year of high school, just barely 17-years-old, and two weeks late on my period. Yes, two whole weeks. I was in denial. Chris finally convinced me to take a test, and sure enough, it was positive. This was in the beginning of March of '09. We told my mom that night, and soon, I was at my first appointment with the Ob/Gyn. I was already 10 weeks pregnant! 1/4th of the way through my pregnancy! I definitely fell into the stereotype of teen mothers not getting adequate pre-natal care up until that point :( But my bean was in there, and growing.

I went to school and told one person. Just one. I thought she was a good friend. I considered her to be one of my best friends. However, I suppose that my juicy bit of information was just too much for her to keep quiet. It was not long before people were asking me if I was pregnant. I wouldn't confirm or deny when people asked, but I know that just confirmed it. I, more or less, felt like it was none of their business, and did not feel the need to confirm their questions about MY private life. But, word spread like wildfire. I eventually confirmed it to most of my friends, and they of course did not hold it in either. At one point, one of my friends brought me a note that she found on the floor of one of her classrooms. It was a note specifically asking if I was pregnant! The other person replied that he/she didn't know, but that he/she had heard I was. I couldn't believe that people were that interested in whether or not I was pregnant!

By the end of the semester, pretty much everyone knew. I remember that we had a day where we could go outside, I don't remember what the day was for, but I remember a friend of mine and her friend, who also happened to be pregnant, coming up to talk to me. They both knew. I didn't tell them. They just knew, and my friend told me that another friend of ours was mad at me for not telling her. Then, a few minutes later, that friend walked up, and she was obviously mad. She bluntly asked, "When were you going to decide to tell me?" Yes, we were friends, but did she honestly have the right to be mad at me for not divulging MY business. It was my right to tell people when I wanted to, but no one else seemed to see it that way.

On the last day of school, one of my teachers stopped me as I was leaving her class and asked, "Don't you have something to tell me?" I knew what she was talking about, so I simply asked her who told her. She said she didn't remember, but it was someone in her second block. I knew who it was then because there were a select few who felt that it was their duty to the school body to make sure that EVERYONE knew I was pregnant, and one of those people were in her second block.
In talking with this teacher, this is where I experience my first negative verbal encounter. One of the first things that she said to me was, "I'm so disappointed in you. I taught you better than this." I will still never understand why she said this to me. Was it to shame me? Make me embarrassed? The deed was already done. There was no going back, so why did she feel the need to ensure that I knew she was disappointed?
I was so thankful that was the last day of school. I hate disappointing anyone, and up until that point, she had been one of my favorite teachers. I didn't even want to go back to school, but I knew I had to.

I didn't really talk to anyone over the summer. I just pretty much shut myself off, and just focused on myself. Then, it was time to go back to school. There was no denying I was pregnant by this time. I was 6 months pregnant, and I was very obviously showing, so if anyone didn't know by that point, then they did then. And you would think no one knew. EVERYONE stared at me. No, actually not at me, at my belly. I am pretty sure that a few people walked into walls, while other peoples' eye balls popped out of their heads lol.

And it wasn't just the stares... the questions were coming in from every angle. Who's the dad? Are you still with the dad? When are you due? Is it a boy or a girl? How much weight have you gained? How bad was your morning sickness? Who is your doctor? What did your parents do? Did you use protection? Did you get pregnant on purpose? Are you going to come back to school after you've had the baby? Oh, what a stressful day that was. Even if some of the questions weren't that invasive, there were just so many questions.

And it didn't end there. There were questions the entire time I was pregnant. I had girls tell me they were jealous that I was pregnant because they wanted a baby. Yes, multiple girls. I even had one guy tell me that he was jealous because he wanted a baby, and another guy tell me that he was mad at me because I was supposed to be having his baby!

I had one teacher that was terrified of me going into labor in her class. She was terrified of pregnancy and labor in general. She was always nice to me, but I could tell that she did not want me in her class. I wasn't able to take one of the courses I wanted to because you were not allowed to be in that class if you were pregnant. I still wish I would have been able to. Other teachers just discounted me. I could tell that they did not think I would do well in their classes because I was pregnant, and pregnant teens are not supposed to be smart.
I did have one teacher though, she was amazing. She was pregnant, and due the same month that I was. Rather than treating me like a newly discovered animal or a disease, she treated me like everyone else. We would even talk about our pregnancies. She went together with 3 other teachers, and they gave me a $40 gift card to Babies-R-Us. It was so touching. I literally cried when she gave it to me. Of course, I was a hormonal wreck anyway, but it was just such a kind gesture among all the negativity I was receiving.

The hallways were the worst. I had one girl stare at me like I was on fire, then as soon as I walked past her (I was literally 2 feet past her), she stopped one of my friends, and asked her if I was pregnant. Another time, a guy had his eyes glued on my belly, then he turned to his friend, and said, "Man, everyone in dis school getting pregnant!" And yes, he said it just like that. Another time, there were two people in front of me, and a girl who had a baby walked by. One of the people in front of me said, "Doesn't she have a baby?" The other person replied, "I don't know, there were like ten of them that popped at once."

There were even times where words like whore, slut, and trash came out of people's mouth. These were people who didn't know me at all, yet they felt the need to act like they did.

I am fortunate that I went to a school that tries to ensure that teen parents graduate. There were monthly meetings for pregnant teens and teen parents, a day care on campus, and schooling options such as homebound, graduating early, half-days, and online courses. I utilized the meetings, homebound (for six weeks), and half days (for my last semester).

Yet, even with a school that helps teen parents, there was no avoiding the judgment and ridicule that I was subject to. Yes, I know, I brought it on myself. I am in no way saying that being a pregnant teen should be praised and condoned. I would never advocate a teen getting pregnant on purpose now. I just simply wonder what happened to, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all? And what happened to minding your own business? How about, not judging people?  Should teens be getting pregnant? No, they shouldn't, but it does happen, and once it does, that girl is going to need all the support she can get to help her succeed in life! Please teach you children that no two people are alike, so judgments are always unfounded, harsh words are unneccesary, and not to be nosey. They are good character traits to have in general, yet so many people seem to be missing them in today's society.

If a teen gets pregnant, that does not make her a whore or unintelligent. She will not be a disease, and you will not catch being pregnant. Also, having a baby belly is not an open invitation to touch or to ask as many questions as you want.
She is still the same girl that she has always been, but nowshe is growing another life. There is no reason to treat her any differently than you would any other person.

2 comments:

  1. I really want to see that movie. I'm pretty sure I saw something about it in a magazine.

    People need to take the time and just stop and think. Maybe if people supported pregnant teens, then teen parents might have a higher graduation and success rate. Instead of shaming and judging them, people need to take the time to support and encourage them. That could be the difference between pregnant teens and teen parents succeeding in school or failing.

    My school didn't have anything for pregnant teens or teen parents... We did have quite a few pregnant girls though. We even had a pregnant 12 year old!

    I wasn't pregnant in high school. I got pregnant the same month I graduated, but even then people were so judgmental. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to go through it in high school like you did.

    Screw everyone who was judgmental and ran their mouths though. You are still with the father of your kids, you live on your own, pay your own bills, and go to college. I bet half of the people who felt the need to comment on your pregnancy and judge you still live with their parents and didn't even attempt college. You have probably done better then them so far in your life and you have 2 babies that you are taking care of!

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  2. It is a really good movie, but of course, I love Lifetime movies lol.

    I cannot imagine being pregnant at 12?!? I was still playing with barbies then. I didn't even have sex until I was 16, and I still think that is too young looking back on it now. There was one girl at my school who got pregnant at 14. She got pregnant the summer after her 8th grade year, and I thought that was young. The youngest person to ever be reported pregnant was only 5 years old though! My heart breaks for that poor child. I heard recently that there was an 8 year old in China that gave birth. So young!

    Thank you though :) That means a lot. I never really thought about it until I watched that movie. I didn't think I experienced that much negativity, but watching that movie kept making me remember different things that happened.

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