The synopsis for the reality show, Teen Mom, is that a camera crew records the highs and lows of young motherhood. The show has been heavily criticized throughout its tenure as one could argue that it does not effectively reflect the actuality of what teenage mothers experience on a daily basis. After all, not every teen mum has a slew of T.V. producers to consult, nor camera crews perched in their houses every day.
So what is it really like being a teen mum? You’re about to find out while reading this interview excerpt with a teenager who found out she was pregnant at a time when most teens are thinking about what they should do to celebrate their sweet 16. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic and to protect her identity, her name was adapted for this article. Please note that Abigail is still a teenager, however, her story is intended to be a teaching experience for teenagers everywhere.
SMS: How old were you when you found out you were pregnant?
I was sixteen years old.
SMS: How did you find out you were pregnant?
I found out I was pregnant when I went to the clinic because I was not feeling well. I was in a lot of pain and had no chance to go to the health centre.
SMS: What were your initial feelings after finding out? And why did you feel that way?
When the doctor told me I was pregnant, I was scared. I was scared to face my family.
SMS: Did you share the news with your parents/other family members and what was their initial response?
I told my mum the same time I found out. I waited until closer to the due date of the baby to tell the rest of my family. They were disappointed in me. My father never spoke to me and the rest of my family distanced themselves from me a bit.
SMS: Are your parents/family members currently supportive of you and your baby?
My parents are not really supportive, but my aunt and other close relatives are supportive.
SMS: How did you share the news with the baby’s father and what was his initial reaction?
When the baby’s father found out, he was upset. He did not want to keep the baby. He wanted me to have an abortion.
SMS: Is he currently supporting the child in any way?
He is not financially or emotionally supporting the child right now. I do not want him in our child’s life because he is not a good person.
SMS: Did you complete secondary school?
Yes, I did complete secondary school.
SMS: Did you have to attend school while pregnant?
Yes, I had to go to school while I was pregnant.
SMS: What were the reactions of your peers, and are any of your school friends involved in your life currently?
My friends were shocked, but they were okay after a while, and none of my school friends are currently in my life.
SMS: How are you coping with being a teenage mum?
Being a teenage mum is a bit difficult because it means I have way more responsibilities than a regular teenager. I miss out on a few teenaged things like hanging out with friends etc. but I have the support of my aunts and uncles so I am doing just fine with being a mum.
SMS: As time passed during the pregnancy, how did you prepare to be a mum?
I prepared to be a mum by learning things through reading books and watching movies; also asking questions to people who are parents.
SMS: What are some things you would like to do for yourself?
I would like to go back out to school because I didn’t do well in CSEC exams and I want to do good in order to get an education so I could better myself and be a better parent for my son.
SMS: What advice would you give to teenagers?
Do not rush to have sex at a young age because you are not prepared to be a parent. Your life is going to change once you have a child and many young persons are not ready. If you do have sex and you do become pregnant, you need to physically and mentally prepare yourself to be a parent. If you do not prepare yourself, things are not going to be good or get easier for you.
SMS: What are 5 lessons you learned as a teen mum?
The five lessons I’ve learned are: Do not rush to have sex (before marriage); Do not allow negative people around you or your child; Having a baby at a young age is not easy; You will have way more responsibilities than a normal teenager; Your life will change completely.
According to the World Health Organization, “at least 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year among adolescent girls aged 15–19 years in the developing world”.
Every year, that’s 10 million lives, changing completely.
Adolescent pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved November 02, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-pregnancy