Teen Stress; Yourself Plus One

“It was like the world stopped for a minute, my mind was fuzzy, my heart seemed to skip a beat, thoughts raced through my mind and then, I felt the tears.”

Senior Brianna Roberge, found out she was pregnant a month before school started back up and she had a hard time  imagining what life was going be like. Before the news, she was an average teen who loved life and enjoyed being around people. She was always smiling and laughing, and loved making others happy.

Things suddenly changed for Roberge, when she learned that she was three months pregnant. She had been living with her boyfriend for the summer and was focused on working and driver’s ed, not baby sizes and diapers. Things like hanging out with friends were all of a sudden out of the question, and going places to just have FUN seemed like history. Her dreams and future plans changed. Brianna changed the way she ate, slept and even her routine of getting up for work or school was interrupted.

“It’s not about you anymore. When you find out you’re going to be having a baby, it’s not about your needs and wants, it’s about the being inside you and what ‘it’ needs and wants. Sacrifices have to be made,” Roberge said.

She said she is judged on a regular basis by her peers, but she chooses to ignore them and move forward with life. She is proud that she is taking responsibility for her actions and tries to think of that instead of other people’s judgement. She feels, “The best thing to do is to face the problem and move forward.” People judge her because she is still in school and they think that she hasn’t yet figured out her life, yet she ignores it, because theres no point in dwelling on the negative. She says she tries to be positive, move on and make the best of what has been handed to her.

She admits that it does get stressful keeping a brave attitude in the face of all the negative comments and rude looks. Sometimes she has a hard time sleeping at night because people don’t fully understand her situation, but in those times, she gets away from the source of the stress and just rests.

She explains that she feels lucky that the people in her life now who are there for her no matter what and always offer help. Her biggest supports have been friends, her grandmother, and her boyfriend. They’re all helpful when it comes to different ideas and tips. For example, when she buys diapers, she’ll ask where the cheapest ones are or which ones would be better for the baby. Each one gives their input and agrees to disagree. She believes it is easier to stock up now for diapers then to have to struggle with money to get diapers once the baby is born.  That way she can spend money on food or clothes, things that will also be needed. They support her decisions and offer her help if needed.

On an average day this fall, Roberge wakes up for school, gets ready, and leaves so she can get there in time to eat a healthy breakfast. After classes, she heads home, does chores, feels her belly as it grows some more, then heads to bed. She said her life is not so fun-filled anymore, but says that it’s not what’s important at this point in time. She is more focused on her doctor’s appointments and school. On top of that, she is looking for a job, which isn’t easy for a pregnant teen. Chores for Roberge would include cleaning the house, doing laundry,  and cooking dinner .

So far it has been the hardest time in her life because she didn’t expect everything to completely turn around and for her to have to grow up so quick.ly It has taken a huge toll on her self-esteem and body. She feels weak and helpless at times .

“It’s not fun, it’s hard to watch all your friends succeed and move forward, like going to college and becoming somebody, while you’re stuck sitting at home,” said Roberge.

Her advice to other teens would be, “to use protection, be smart, think about your actions and what the consequence might be…Focus on yourself and your future…At times life is not fair, but if things do go down hill, always take responsibility, be honest and fix the mistake.”

Once her child is old enough, she wants to go back to school, and work to get a good job to support her family. She wants to live better and to provide more than what she had growing up. Although the pregnancy is a huge curve ball, she said she does not ultimately regret her decisions or choices.

Although being pregnant as a teenager Roberge is not alone, according to US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, the teen birth rate dropped 52% from 1991 to 2011 in the 15-19 age range. The same 2011 data showed that 8% of sexually active teens did not use any form of birth control in their last act of sexual intercourse. So despite an impressive decrease in teen pregnancy, the issue is clearly still relevant to many Maine teens.

-4

Senior Ali Harris with her daughter Leila.

Ali Harris, also a senior can understand perhaps better than anyone what Roberge is going through. She was pregnant last year and had her baby in January. Her daughter, Leila will be turning one in the new year.

She too remembers vividly the second she found out she was pregnant.  “I was upset, surprised, happy, almost every emotion was there.  I couldn’t decide or even think, I was so overwhelmed. My mind was blown and my heart was racing, and then I started to cry. I don’t know whether they were happy tears or sad tears, or even angry tears. I just couldn’t grasp the concept of the word ‘Pregnant’,” said Harris.

Being a mother and student has been a challenge for Ali. She says that she has no time for herself anymore and all her attention is focused on the baby or her boyfriend. She hates the fact that she had to grow up so fast and wasn’t able to do regular teen things. She says she barely has friends, has many sleepless nights, and worries that she will not have enough time to do her school work and make it through school. Those are the things she focuses on the most.

“The stress,” she says, “is what gets to me. I just want to hide in a corner and be alone. I know it is selfish, but having to deal with a baby, on top of school is very difficult, but I still pull through and I still push myself.”

When she gets up and ready for school she has two mouths to feed and has to also save enough time to get her daughter to the babysitter. Once the baby is taken care of, she worries about herself and goes to school. When school ends at 2:00 p.m,  she heads home to do the same things over again, but on top of that, chores are added to her schedule. Dinner, bathing, then off to bed to repeat the same routine the next morning. Though she has the help of her boyfriend, friends and family including her mom, the days can feel lonely.

Despite the hard times, like Roberge, she tries to see the positive in her situation. She loves her little girl so she finds it impossible to say she regrets a single moment of her past which lead her to her future. She said the best day of her life was when she had her baby. Like Brianna, she is proud that she took responsibility for her actions and hopes to become better than her mom and have a place to live and money to support her family. She wants to be successful in school and become something one day. She wants to to give her child the life she didn’t have.

According to a 2011 Maine Health Survey, 55% of high school students report not being sexually active — A percentage that has steadily increased over the past 15 years. Of high school students who reported being sexually active, 64% also reported using a condom at last sexual intercourse. In 2013, Maine had the 6th lowest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S.. Maine’s teen pregnancy rate of 43 (per 1,000 females ages 15-19) is much lower than the U.S. rate of 68. So there is hope that other teens may be able to avoid the emotional roller coaster of juggling school, future goals and starting a family.

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Educating students for more than 200 years.