Baby and the Bumps
I DISAPPOINTED MY FAMILY
Clarissa was only 15 when she first suspected she was pregnant. Her hunch was confirmed after five months of not having her period, coupled with weight gain and morning sickness. "I was worried and afraid, because I was too young," she says. "I felt depressed and lonely."
Her mother expressed support, but Clarissa knew she had disappointed her family. Clarissa also felt the stigma of being pregnant as a teenager. "I was ashamed especially around our neighbors. But at the time, I loved the father of my child so much. He was my first boyfriend."
Her 19-year-old boyfriend was actually the first person she told about the pregnancy. Their relationship at the time wasn't good, and the baby didn't make things any better. Clarissa says the child's father wasn't serious with her. "It was like, 'I already have a child with you so I'll go around the block. If I don't find anyone, I'll come home to you.'"
Clarissa admits that an unplanned pregnancy is very difficult and complicated. For her, the first problem was financial—she had no work, no stable source of money. "How can I provide the needs of my baby? Emotionally, I was still so young," she adds. "I was trying to be mature, but it was so hard. I was still playing Chinese garter then!"
She was also on the receiving end of many discouraging words, especially from her family. "There were times when I was told, 'Lumayas ka na nga.' But I couldn't blame them. All I could do was cry in my room and pray."
Now 23, Clarissa says the experience taught her to deal with responsibility, and to move forward in life. "I'm fine now," she says, "but I still face challenges in my life."