On August 17, 2013, my life changed forever. I woke up that morning and took a pregnancy test that was positive. I was 17 years old, getting ready to start my senior year of high school and preparing for my future. The whole world was open to me and all I had to do was push myself and work to achieve what I wanted. I had a very good idea of what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go. In one fateful moment all of my plans changed. I had to readjust what I wanted to what would be best for the child I was going to have. Do I regret what happened? No…Not ever… I love Marina with all of my heart. She is such a precious gift and I am so thankful to be trusted with her care and nurturing. Do I think about the what ifs? Occasionally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed… Who doesn’t? I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. What helps me through those moments are a very supportive family that loves me and looking at the beautiful face of my daughter. Unfortunately there are so many teens in my area that do not have that. There aren’t really any places they can turn to and it breaks my heart to see so many teens struggling with this.
I live in a rural county that in 2013, according to KidsCount.org, 56.1 percent of the 439 births in the county where to teenagers between 15 – 19 years of age. 2.2 percent of teen girls between the ages of 14 – 17 became pregnant in 2013. I haven’t found anything on 2014 yet but I have to wonder how accurate the numbers are. Many of the girls that live in my county choose to go to another county with larger hospitals for their prenatal care and childbirth. I can tell you personally that out of a group of me and 6 of my best friends only 2 out of the 7 of us has not had a baby or has not gotten pregnant. In my case, birth control actually failed. When you read that abstinence is the only 100% fool proof method of birth control, believe it. It’s true!
What really bothers me most about the high statistics of pregnancy here is the lack of resources and educational material available to teenagers about teen pregnancy, methods of birth control and their effectiveness and where a teenager can go to find the help they need if they do find themselves in this situation. Most relationships between teenagers do not work out- Let’s face it–Teens are still growing up and we make a LOT of mistakes–The fathers also need to be held accountable. Many do not even bother to participate in their child’s life, much less provide financially, which leaves the brunt of the burden on the mother. We have a United Way that serves 3 counties but there are no programs to help pregnant teens or teen mothers, of course there are government programs like WIC, Medicaid, and SNAP/TANF available but that doesn’t help reduce the problem or assist these mothers in a way that will help them complete their education and find better jobs, nor does it give them the tools to keep them from getting pregnant again. It’s like a never ending cycle that will not stop until there are actual educational programs and support groups in small communities like mine.