I’ll tell you one thing straight. I’m a young black woman. And I got pregnant at 19. And at 17. And at 16. You think once would be enough to let a young chick like me know that protection is important and not something to play with. But the reason why I’m pregnant and so many other girls have fallen into my footsteps is because I had no real dreams for myself.
Grades weren’t a thing in elementary and middle school. You got A’s for dressing out in physical education class and for coming to homeroom on time. I spent a lot of my time in class not really learning anything from teachers who weren’t really teaching anything but more importantly, allowing my hormones to fruition. What middle school guys and girls didn’t talk about sex or giggle at the slides of vaginas in health education class? I know I did. My hips were getting a little wider and I was starting to develop a chest. The boys liked it. And I liked the attention.
I liked the attention so much that I allowed it to become my world and all I knew. School didn’t matter to me anymore. All that mattered were spending countless nights on the phone talking to more than one guy at a time and acting like I was the ish. And dressing like I was the ish. All the paychecks I earned at Subway went towards buying hot clothes and shoes at the mall and making sure I looked sharp from head to toe. I earned enough in class to pass and get promoted to the next grade and I found a little time to be the baddest chick on the step team. However, if you had asked me when I was 16 what my passions were or what ambitions I had, I would have told you nothing but making money, being popular, and boys. Seriously. I was that gone in the head.
I realized how wrong I was a few boys too late. The same year that I bought my first Jordans was the same year that I got pregnant with my first child. I wasn’t in a committed relationship..just having sex with some random guys in my neighborhood. And I was having sex unprotected because I thought it was sexier. I thought it was more attractive. I thought guys were into that. I wanted to be bad. I wanted guys to think that I was the best thing in the world and that no other chick at my high school could touch me. The guy I was with told me I could easily make it all go away. Just have an abortion and be done with it. So I did. And when I got pregnant again the next year with a different guy, I had another abortion. All without my parents knowing.
My parents. They were there, but not really. They worked all the time, day and night shifts so I got away with a lot. They’d yell at me about flunking out of school and trying to make sure I was staying on track to have a future after high school. But the problem was that I had already began to believe that I wouldn’t have a future after high school. That sex, money, and drugs (an unfortunate habit that I picked up from the multitude of guys that I was dating) would become my life and was all I needed. I really believed this. So I would chuck out any information that I got about college, I wouldn’t take the SATs because I was like to hell with it, I’m going to fail it anyways. And I would graduate at the bottom of my class with no passion or motivation to do anything. But work at Subway. And have sex.
It was my third pregnancy that gave me a wake-up call. I was dating a guy that for the first time I had fallen in love with. So much that we had cooed over baby names together before we had even found out I was pregnant. He had gotten me motivated to check out some opportunities at the local community college. He was really trying to change me from the inside out and I was happy about that. After a slew of STD run-ins over the previous three years I had started using protection. But one night I gave him a ratty old condom that I kept in my wallet for years. And it broke. And I got pregnant again. It felt like ill fate. That a image of my past, something that I was slowly trying to move away from, would bring back so much pain.
He wanted me to keep the baby. And in a span of seconds I saw my whole past fly in front of my eyes and out the window. Having a baby meant no more cash spent on shoes and clothes. But money spent on taking care of more than one person now. It was a sad moment in that instance when I knew I was pregnant. But I was happy that I had found a man who was going to support me through it all. Or so I thought. I’m 23 now and my baby girl is my biggest bundle of joy. She honestly saved me from a life of hellish destruction. The guy I was dating at the time ended up walking out on me during my delivery. I’m trekking these roads alone these days with no child support. But I refuse to let my baby girl go down the same path.
I guess other chicks would call me a hoe. A chick that fell down the wrong path. And I can admit that I did. Big time. Why do some black girls get pregnant at a young age? Because we don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t have ambition. We get caught up in the hoop-la of fast cars and the good life. And we let the idea of hard work and success fall to the wayside. We get pregnant because we feel that the only form of love has to be physical. Because our daddies or mommies weren’t in our lives. We get pregnant because we thought he was the one. And because when our friends tried to tell us he was bullshitting we wouldn’t believe them. We get pregnant because unprotected sex is the only way to make sure we aren’t second best. We get pregnant because we have low self-esteem and the only confidence that we can seem to muster is from the feeling of slighted appreciation from some dusty ass guy. We get pregnant because we weren’t acknowledging our own sexual health or don’t comprehend the importance of taking care of ourselves inside and out. We get pregnant because we think condoms are whack and we are trying to grow up a little too fast. We get pregnant because living off of someone else’s money (welfare) is more attractive than getting up of our lazy asses to actually apply our able-bodied selves. We get pregnant because we’re lost and it’s a cry for help. We get pregnant because we don’t know no better. And we need someone smart, wiser, and older to help us know better.
We get pregnant because…well…society told us we would. There are statistics to prove it…right?
To some extent these are excuses and truths. But the real question now is what are we going to do about it? Because we need less ME’s running around in the world adding to the statistic.
This is my story. What’s yours?
Facts about teen pregnancy from Guttmacher Institute:
Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates (126 and 127 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively).
A sexually active teen who does not use a contraceptive has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.
If you or a friend are experiencing emotional or physical difficulties with pregnancy or think it may be a crisis, contact the American Pregnancy Helpline at 1-866-942-6466 for more information or to talk with someone confidentially.
*Name changed for privacy.