Patricia works at the South Texas Women’s Health Center Teen Clinic as a Certified Nurse Midwife. Her clients are very young women, many still children. Their ages range from eleven to seventeen years old. Most are from lower income Hispanic families, with about 25% Caucasians and 5% African-Americans.
One night recently Patricia was watching over her daughter who had the chicken-pox and she had the thoughts that follow.
This article does not advocate teen-age pregnancy, but rather shares the insights of one individual who works with it on a daily basis
I often wonder about all these willful young people coming into our clinic, and I search for the answer as to why there is so much tion – it is a brand new thing.
In my time, many people would have said, “Oh, isn’t it terrible, these girls won’t make anything of their lives, they are giving up their childhood too soon…how irresponsible!” But surprisingly, I have found that these mothers and fathers are happy, very happy. Some say, “Yes I am young”, but I don’t want to give my child up.” Or they say, “Yes the fathers aren’t around, but do you know how high the divorce rate is among adults in the U.S.?
Responsibility is not age related. Most of these teens accept and embrace the pregnancy and when the child is born they prove themselves to be very responsible and amazingly wise. They are not as rebellious as we were.
In my time we were coddled, expected to go to college, compete and get a job; and we put off raising children. Then, when teenage women got pregnant, most of them had an abortion, or if they had babies they were horrified and ill prepared, and had to struggle with the reality of it. My generation did drugs , and parties, and were very self-involved. It took them twenty years to get on their feet.. I don’t know that it was such a wonderful thing. It is hard to acknowledge the courage of this new generation and how willing they are to accept the challenges of bringing a new life into the world, and easy to say that young people should have an ideal childhood and go to university. From my experience many of these young people don’t have those options. They come from poor families, but most do go on to finish school. Perhaps in a different area of the country it would not be so, but most of my clients are Hispanic and have very warm, loving families to help them with parenting skills. I can’t speak for the whole nation, but I think there is something happening here.
A lovely, young couple, she was fifteen years old and he just turned sixteen, lost a baby. The baby was born very premature, only two pounds. It was not her fault. It was just one of those things. The father was in the room. He watched it being born, and watched it die. I went to see them a day later and they had given the child the name Reuben IV, because the father’s name was Reuben III. They knew the father would not use that name again for another baby. All of us were overwhelmed. It was so profound. This baby was such an individual. People say that teenagers don’t know what they’re doing, that they don’t care or don’t understand, and then they do these amazingly heroic things. It would have been easy to discard this pregnancy but it was wonderful how they supported each other. They were inseparable.
I have a l6-year prospective father. The mother (15) and her young sister had been abused, molested by a stepfather for many years. The mother was incapable of handling the situation. It is unbelievable but the l6-year old father quit school and took a job in a warehouse to support her and her little sister, working so that they can have a different life. The baby will be born soon.
A 14-year old girl, pregnant, came to me. Dirty, disheveled, angry. She didn’t want to talk. But she decided she wanted to keep the baby. I was very proud of her. She had twins. Everyone got interested in her when they found out she was pregnant and the church started helping her out. When she came back for her post-partum appointment I did not recognize her. She was beautiful. The babies were neat as a pin. She was doing great – she was calm, loving, and attentive. This transformation would probably never have happened otherwise. She would have gone on as she had. Of course it was a community who supported her instead of ostracizing her.
Taking on the parenting of an unexpected child, at a young age, when it is not the most convenient time, takes enormous courage. People always say that it just happens, an accident, by fault, but I really see it as more intentional . I think here, and perhaps in other places, there is less of a tendency to have abortions.
After the baby is born it is often a big shock. The young mothers have been up all night with baby and come back for their postpartum visit. They are tired and say, “It is much worse than I thought, much harder.” But they are joyful about the baby, not sorry, and most of them do an excellent job. They have much more regard for children, childhood and life. This is an exciting new thing.
Yes, I think it is a very different generation. They need big challenges to overcome, big things to do because the will-force and the focus is there. And what is a more wonderful task than being a parent?