Teens Dealing With Pregnancy
Teen Pregnancy: What's Next After the Positive Sign
Briana Furtado, 15
Janel Odigie, 17
When you first find out you're pregnant, you must make a lot of choices -- probably some of the hardest you will ever have to deal with. Abortion? Adoption? Keeping your baby? Sometimes the unexpected happens, like a miscarriage, and sadly, your choice is made for you. Whatever you choose to do, there are always people who understands what you are going through. Meet some people who faced the challenges of being a pregnant teen.
Becoming a Teen Mom
When nineteen-year-old Rebecca Angel first found out she was pregnant, her world was turned upside down. Now 32, a wife, and a mother of two, Rebecca Angel opened up to Teen Voices about what it was like becoming a teen mom. You can also read Rebecca's story "Gift" in Deborah Davis' collection of stories, You Look Too Young to be a Mom.
Teen Voices: In your story "Gift," you wrote that a friend said, "glad it wasn't me," in response to finding out you were pregnant. How did that make you feel? Did you receive a lot of responses like that? Are you still friends with those people?
Rebecca: I don't remember my exact feelings for that instance. That whole time period, I was very self-absorbed because I had so many decisions to make and life-altering events happening in a short period of time, so I blocked out a lot of other people's negativity; it was something else to deal with and I was already stressed. Most of my friends at that time acted supportive and happy, but looking back I'm sure I was a source of much gossip...I have only stayed friends with one person from that time in my life, but it is hard to say if it is because I became a mother, or because I moved far away.
TV: What made you decide to keep the baby?
Rebecca: When my boyfriend and I started to have sex, we did discuss what we would do if I became pregnant. He and I both agreed that an abortion was out of the question, but I said I wasn't ready to become a mom and would give the baby up for adoption. When a pregnancy became a reality I felt very possessive of the little life growing within me and all thoughts of adoption flew out the window. Going through it all, I completely understand other girls' choices to abort or put the baby up for adoption. I think adoption is even harder because it takes such courage to go through all the social issues of being a pregnant teen, but [sacrifice] your chance to be a mother for the benefit of the baby to have a chance at a better life.
TV: How did your family and friends react to the news that you were keeping the baby?
Rebecca: My family and friends were (almost all) encouraging and loving to my face. I have found out later that certain people said things behind my back that I find disrespectful and stupid, but I don't hold any grudges Several years ago my sister became pregnant after a few years of marriage. One of her friends was visiting and I sadly overheard her say, "I'm so happy you're the first of us to have a baby!" My sister replied, "Rebecca's got two!" Then the friend said, "I mean having a baby the right way."
TV: Do you consider your pregnancy and your baby a gift?
Rebecca: Yes, because I choose to look at it that way. My husband and I have talked frankly about what would have happened to us as a couple if we hadn't been "forced" to speed up our relationship, and we both concluded that we might not have lasted. We were not in the same grade and not on the same career path, so at some points we probably would have had to go through a long-distance relationship, which I've learned from watching other people is almost impossible. Becoming a mother made me stronger in spirit because I had to protect this little life. I gained perspective. Family is the most important thing. I had been trying to get away from my family as soon as I was able to, but becoming pregnant made me see how important family is.
TV: Did you have support for your decision to keep the baby?
Rebecca: My boyfriend/husband was the biggest support, though in the beginning I leaned on him too much and he became very stressed out. Our parents were very supportive and helped out financially and emotionally. When my husband and I started college at Cortland, and we were living together (I was pregnant during my last semester), I rarely saw any friends. That was tough. I was lonely. Once he graduated and we moved to Syracuse, I began finding other mothers, I felt supported because we all need to talk about our birth experiences and all the crazy things babies do.
TV: How old is your baby? What's her name?
Rebecca: My baby is now 12 and her name is Lilianna Angel.
TV: Do you have any other kids?
Rebecca: I have a son, Luke Craig. He's nine.
TV: How did your postpartum depression come about? How did you treat it?
Rebecca: Right after Lilianna was born I was really out of it. I could only take care of her, and barely myself, forget about housework, my boyfriend, or anything else. I was unable to focus on anything beyond our small apartment, and my memories of those times look so dark and clouded and downright depressing. I rarely left the apartment in those first few months and slept much of the time. I attributed it to being a teen mother and maybe being unable to cope, but after talking with my mom later and reading more, I realize it was probably postpartum depressionOnce Lilianna was six months old, everything just became brighter. It was like being able to breathe again. My husband really pulled us through and it almost destroyed his own well-being doing it. I am very grateful we all survived that time and even have good memories too.
"Most of my friends at that time acted supportive and happy, but looking back I'm sure I was a source of much gossip."
The Disappointment of a Miscarriage
Tenequa found out she was pregnant at 17. Three months into her pregnancy, she miscarried. Doctors suggested the main cause of her miscarriage was stress. The first trimester of pregnancy is when miscarriage most commonly occurs, and for teens the stress of school, relationships and the prospects of having a baby can play a huge role in miscarrying. Teen Voices talked with Tenequa about her plans for the baby and how she coped with her miscarriage.
TV: When you first found out you were pregnant, how did you react? What were you feeling when you realized you were expecting a baby?
Tenequa: That day, I was happy. I called my wifey* and she was the first person I told. Then I told my boyfriend, and he was even happier. At one point, I was mad nervous and sad because I was still in school and I was still young, so I really didn't know what I was going through. But when I realized I had so much support from my boyfriend and my wifey, it was like, "I can go through this, everything is going to be all right." I have two people that I love and that love me, and all three of us can get through it.
TV: What were your plans for the baby?
Tenequa: I was still going to be in school. I was going to have the baby. It was going to go to my aunt's daycare. My baby was going to go to school and I was going to transfer from my school to a different school that would give me support for me and my child.
TV: What challenges did you face when you had the miscarriage?
Tenequa: I cried and I didn't do my school work. My boyfriend and I had our differences. But mostly, I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't focus, my mind wasn't right.
TV: How did people react to the news of your miscarriage?
Tenequa: Certain people that really didn't know the whole story thought I was lying. They thought it was a joke. But my boyfriend, he was really sad. My wifey, she was really sad. I was sad. Everybody that I told couldn't believe it. They were like, "What are you going to do? Are you going to have another one? How is your boyfriend going to react?" My boyfriend's life was ruined, he couldn't focus, and he couldn't do anything. He stayed in the house crying. Everything felt wrong.
TV: How have you changed physically and mentally since your miscarriage?
Tenequa: I'm still going through it. Step by step, I'm trying to finish school. I have so much support. I have ups and downs, and really downs. I'm trying to start new and trying to bring relationships back. I'm trying to stay focused and not trying to think about it too much. If I think about it too much, I start crying. But right now, I'm trying to focus on school and doing what I have to do for myself.
TV: How has this experience changed you as a person?
Tenequa: It made me stronger than I was before. It made me think how life is too short. I take stuff for granted. I look at my mother and think, "What if she had a miscarriage with my sister, how would she go through it?" And now one of my friends that I went to middle school with just had a miscarriage. I can tell her she can get through it, and give her advice about what happened to me. It can help her get through the same situation.
TV: If you were to get pregnant again, how would you deal with it?
Tenequa: It would be exciting again. I would get the same support from the same people. I know my boyfriend would be there more and on my case more because of what happened with my first child. My wifey would be on my case more too. I would be happy, like I would try to do so much more to not stress and be focused more on myself and my baby.
*Wifey: Best or close friend.
"I cried and didn't do my school work. My boyfriend and I had our differences. But mostly, I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't focus, my mind wasn't right."
Helpful Hotlines and Websites
You may need extra guidance since there is so much to learn about pregnancy. Here are some websites and hotlines we recommend.
Planned Parenthood provides information about sex, pregnancy, and, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. This health center is helpful when you have questions or need advice.
American Pregnancy Hotline
This website and hotline are very helpful in aiding teen moms.
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