How do you know you're pregnant?
The first thing Becky did when she suspected she was pregnant was ask her classmates that question. It had been four months already since her last period, and she could have sworn her tummy was beginning to grow. Becky, a high school junior then, had been seeing Jonas for nearly six months already and had started having sex with him just a couple of months after dating him.
"At that time, I didn't know any better," Becky says. "I was certain I couldn't have gotten pregnant because Jonas and I had only done it a couple of times. But at the same time, because I hadn't been menstruating for four months in a row, there was that nagging suspicion I may be pregnant after all."
Becky and her friends got their hands on a home-pregnancy test kit. Sure enough, the results came out positive: she was pregnant! "My head reeled," she says. "My three friends who were with me were yakking out all these suggestions: tell Jonas, see a doctor, etcetera, etcetera. It all felt so surreal because I couldn't believe it was happening. What was bothering me wasn't exactly the fact that I was pregnant or that I had just steered my future towards a different direction. The question in my mind that time was, ‘What am I going to do now?'"
What Becky finally did was tell Jonas. "Namutla siya," recalls Becky. "He's not a jerk so he didn't break up with me. I know some guys do that to their girlfriends. But I could tell he was scared. We both were. We didn't know where to go from there. He was a senior and was about to graduate from high school. I was still in third year. We didn't really say it, but I guess we were scared of telling our parents about it."
But there was no escaping it; they had to come clean. Becky told her parents, Jonas told his.
"My dad was angry," says Becky. "And I guess sad too, because I was the only girl in the family. I really felt bad. It was like I let my family down. I knew this meant the end of my studies-at least while the baby was still young. So my parents' hopes of me becoming successful in any career were dashed. My mom reacted in somewhat the same way. She was more practical, however, and said we had to decide what to do immediately. She said we had to take care of the baby and me. Our health was important."
Eventually, the two sets of parents came together to decide what to do: Becky and Jonas would get married after Jonas graduates from high school and after Becky gives birth. Becky would have to drop out of school. Jonas would continue on to college. As they were still minors-Becky was 16 and Jonas, 17-they needed the consent of their parents to be able to get married. After which, the married couple would stay with Jonas' parents, in the duplex unit beside his parents' home.
With all that settled, it was then time to take care of the real, and most immediate, matter: the baby and Becky.
Pregnant teenagers carry a bigger health risk than older girls. Studies have shown that pregnancy can be four times more dangerous to most teens than to 25- to 29-year-olds. The younger a girl is, the less developed her body is, and therefore not sufficiently ready to take on the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth.
Some teen moms-to-be, especially those with less access to health care, may give birth to infants that are too small too soon, making the baby prone to illness, mental retardation and, in some cases, death. Some mothers also run the risk of developing complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Some babies born to teen moms suffer from poor nutrition and tend to have slow physical and mental or intellectual development.
Something's Growing Inside Me
One of the first things Becky's parents did was to bring her to an obstetrician. They wanted to get her started on a pre-natal care program to make sure the baby was getting enough care and nutrition as he was growing.
"It's a weird feeling, you know," says Becky. "Both weird and nice. It's hard to describe. There's this person growing inside you, kicking and breathing, and, somehow, eating. He's alive. It's difficult to fathom. However, with all those doctor visits and my mom's eagle-eye supervision of me, I felt that being pregnant was such a great responsibility rin pala, and that the bulk of the responsibility lay with me."
Becky wasn't having an easy time. Her pregnancy was wrought with most of the symptoms brought about by the first three months of pregnancy: nausea, irritability, moodiness, a craving for certain types of foods, and a disgust for others. Some, but not all, expectant moms exhibit these symptoms.
"Apparently, my mom experienced the same thing when she was pregnant with my sister," relates Becky. "That's why she had been so concerned about taking care of me right away."
What happens after you give birth? Click onto the next page to read more.