NEWS

Elizabeth Davies: Pregnancy not to be taken lightly

Elizabeth Davies

I could hardly believe it when that plus sign began to form on the pregnancy test. A baby, I thought. Cribs and bottles, onesies and teddy bears. My home — my world — was about to change.

To some degree, that must be what most women think when they find out they are pregnant. But for teenage girls, I can only imagine the fear.

That apparently was not the case for a group of girls at a Gloucester, Mass., high school. While details are not clear, Time magazine reported that the girls high-fived one another and talked of baby showers when the school nurse confirmed their pregnancies. Word began to spread that perhaps the girls made a pact to become pregnant together.

Unfortunately, they won’t be alone: About 750,000 American teens will become pregnant this year, most unplanned, according to Planned Parenthood. The U.S. has more teen pregnancies than any developed nation.

Regardless of what is happening in Gloucester, teen pregnancies are problematic across the U.S. Aside from these girls going up against a myriad of stereotypes and discrimination, they’ll fight an uphill battle to provide everything from financial stability to emotional maturity for their unexpected family.

Clearly, some teen parents manage to win the fight. They show remarkable courage and stamina as they raise extraordinary children in loving homes.

They are, unfortunately, the exception to the rule. Far more teen parents will find themselves in unhappy relationships, dead-end jobs and relying on the assistance of others far too often.

Some teen girls — perhaps those in Gloucester — want to become pregnant. They do it on purpose. They see that child as a symbol of adulthood, as someone they can rely on for love and devotion.

The primary fault in that reasoning is that babies aren’t capable of looking out for anyone but themselves. They are inherently selfish and incomplete. Only an unselfish mother can effectively care for a child around-the-clock. That kind of emotional and mental security is hard to come by without some life experience behind you.

Besides, babies aren’t all frills and giggles. They’re messy, defiant, frustrating and exhausting. Since I’ve become a mother, I’ve learned a few things about having a baby. Motherhood means:

Never sleeping in. Babies don’t know it’s Saturday.

Cleaning up vomit on your birthday.

Eating cold spaghetti, because you didn’t have time to eat while it was warm.

Staying in on New Year’s Eve, because only parents who booked their babysitters in

July could get out of the house that evening.

Dressing your tyke in designer duds, while shopping the clearance rack for yourself.

Speaking in a sing-song voice, even when you’re talking to an adult.

Cutting everyone’s food — including your own — into teeny-tiny pieces.

Trying in vain to get your skinny jeans to fit again.

Waking up at 5 a.m. if that’s the time your little angel decides her day will begin.         

The thing about kids is you don’t spend a whole lot of time being actively loved. You spend much of your day being needed: kissing battle scars, soothing hurts, filling bellies, fixing toys, driving the car and washing clothes.

There are, of course, hugs and kisses and giant, sloppy grins. To a mother who has the time, energy and maturity to appreciate them, those are priceless.

But if you’re doing it right, motherhood is about giving 100 times more than you can ever receive in return. Once your children are grown, the pride of raising quality adults is payment enough.

Getting pregnant isn’t really about wearing maternity clothes and having a baby shower. It’s not even about nursing a baby or shaking a rattle. It’s about demonstrating honor, modeling love, teaching patience, building compassion.

It’s about raising someone who can change the world.

Elizabeth Davies’ column runs in the Rockford Register Star.