Are You Pregnant and Afraid?

What It's Like For Teens Who Have Baby on The Way

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When senior Amy Mancilla first found out she was pregnant, she admitted, “I just couldn’t believe it.” She had been throwing up for two weeks straight, but didn’t know why nor suspected morning sickness. She felt scared and confused. She asked herself, “What is going on?”. That question was quickly answered when she took a pregnancy test and was greeted with a plus sign. Mancilla’s immediate reaction was to throw up again.

According to DoSomething.org, one of the worlds largest global orgs for young people and social change, three in 10 American teen girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before the age of 20. That’s nearly 750,000 teen pregnancies each year. Many girls don’t know how to react to such a drastic matter, but one emotion is definitely present, and that’s fear.

Mancilla admits after her realization that she was pregnant “it wouldn’t sink in, it was like a dream.” After three weeks, she nervously told her mom the news. Her mother was supportive. When she told her boyfriend about the news, “he was so excited that he cried”, Mancilla stated with a huge grin on her face. Her teachers and friends have been supportive as well. Mancilla received help from the local clinic. They gave her important information and news about programs such as WIC, or Woman Infants and Children, which is a federal government program that provides food and nutrition services. She is currently eight months pregnant, and she and her family are very excited for the baby’s arrival. Mancilla, a senior at South Houston High School, plans to finish school and pursue a career as a barber.

It can be shocking for some teens to find out they are pregnant, and they might not know where to turn for help. There are a variety of resources available for girls whom find themselves in this tough situation. Although, the decision will not only affect the mother’s life, but the baby’s too. Essentially, there are three options to consider: continue with the pregnancy and become a parent, continue with the pregnancy and make an adoption plan for the baby, or terminate the pregnancy. It’s a big decision that requires a lot of thought. “Making my decision was the hardest thing of my life. I was so young. I was barely starting high school, but I know that a baby is a blessing,” stated Mercedes Vela, a junior at South Houston High School.

Vela’s life changed during her freshman year. “I was only 15 years old,” she said. “I was really nervous because I thought everybody was going to judge me, and I didn’t want to tell anybody because it’s not easy telling people you’re pregnant.”

Despite Vela’s parents being angry that their daughter was pregnant, the fact that they her parents had her at 17 and 18 enabled them to understand how she was feeling. Her family was shocked when they heard the news because, “I was always the sporty type growing up, and I never wanted a boyfriend. So for them to find out, it left them speechless.”

During the beginning of Vela’s pregnancy she had no desire to eat. “I was scared because I didn’t know if my baby was getting enough nutrition, and about my health. I had such a small body frame. I didn’t know how I would carry a baby, because I’ve never carried so much excessive weight before,” Vela said.

Despite having to face so many obstacles and doubts, Mancilla and Vela have overcome them. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 40 percent of teen mothers finish high school. Fewer than two percent finish college by age 30. Teen mothers are less likely to graduate from high school, and even less likely to go on to college. Mancilla and Vela are beating the odds. Vela plans to graduate high school in 2017 and attend college while her daughter goes to school in the morning. When her daughter is older, she plans to attend a university to upgrade her degree.

The Community Pregnancy Center of Pasadena is a local clinic located on 4230 Vista Rd, Pasadena, TX 77504. The CPC offers free pregnancy tests, proof of pregnancy, professional advice, classes for girls and guys who are planning to keep their baby and above all else 100% confidentiality. The classes offered to those expecting are part of a program called “Points to Success”. The purpose of this program is to better prepare and educate teen girls and guys who are expecting to keep their baby. They have classes to teach teens what to expect, budgeting, how to prepare for the arrival of the baby, etc.

If a person is in a situation in which they have a newborn that they’re unable to care for, they have the option of taking their baby to a designated safe place with no questions asked. The Safe Haven law, also known as the Baby Moses law, gives parents who are unable to care for their child a safe and legal choice to leave their infant with an employee at a designated safe placea��a hospital, fire station, free-standing emergency centers or emergency medical services (EMS) station. The baby will receive medical care it needs and be placed with an emergency provider.

An alternative option for those who have had an unplanned pregnancy would be an abortion. According to The Guttmacher Institute, abortion disproportionately affects black and Hispanic women, and 51% of abortions are performed on women less than 25 years of age.

As of Dec. 1, 2015, in Texas, a woman must receive state-directed counseling and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided. If the teen is legally emancipated, she also does not need a parent’s approval. A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, and the provider must show and describe the image to the woman. If the woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion provider, she must obtain the ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion. An abortion may be performed 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period only if the woman’s life or health is endangered or the pregnancy is medically futile.

Being a teen mom is hard, but it does not mean that life is ‘over’. They’re not alone. There are resources available for young mothers, and young mothers-to-be.

 

 

SIDE BAR RESOURCES:

 

http://cpcpasadena.org/ – The website for the community pregnancy center. Provides information on resources they offer and contact information.

Plannedparenthood.org – trusted health care information service who deliver vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.

Itsyoursexlife.com – Run by MTV, to provide young people information about teen pregnancy and teen health care.