By Mariel Abanes
The scenario: You’re crying alone in your bed, thinking, counting the weeks since your last period, then you recall that night. Your mind immediately shuts off all thoughts of the possibilities of what-might-be. Of course, you can’t decide—or, rather, accept—that you could. Possibly. Be. Pregnant. Then, you confim your worst suspicions as soon as you exit the bathroom with the results of a pregnancy test in hand, two red lines gleaming on its surface, sealing the deal.
This is the stuff that teenage nightmares are made of.
It’s a hard fact: The absence of sex education makes teens vulnerable; thus, the increasing rate of teenage pregnancy over the years. The statistics, says registered psychologist Ms. Rosario Verdan, is a result of several factors: Lack of communication between parents and their children, repeated exposure to visual portrayal of sex on TV, fim, and the Internet, and peer influence within the barkada. What makes it worse? Verdan says it’s this generation’s attention-seeking, ever-curious character—appropriate hashtag: #KidsTheseDays—that leads to the high probability of teens engaging in premarital sex without thinking of its effects and consequences.
Remember Rosie Dunne from Love, Rosie? She got pregnant after a one-night stand at a high school after-party. She was inexperienced, so you could just imagine what it’s like to be in her place (condom stuck inside her, which, eventually, led to her pregnancy). With a baby on the way, her life changed forever. She canceled all her university plans and, after giving birth, she decided to get a job for her and her daughter’s future.
Paranoia caused by early pregnancy grows fast, says Verdan. Pretty much like Rosie who initially considered giving up her child for adoption, but decided against it, some paranoid teens even resort to what they think is easier: Abortion. Lyn*, for example, decided to terminate her pregnancy despite the risk of womb infections and future miscarriages that came with it. However, this isn’t always the case.
Teens facing #preggoproblems can learn from Bea*, who was determined to keep her life going as normally as possible even after discovering she was with child. She was only in high school. An obvious choice was to quit her studies, but she didn’t. Instead, she opted for home schooling until she gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. Drawing inspiration from her downfall, she went back to her former school two months after, juggling her duties both as mom and as student. She finally graduated, and with flying colors at that. “Gusto kong makapagtapos ng pag-aaral, gusto kong matupad ang mga pangarap ko sa buhay,” Bea declares. After home school, she went on to get her college education and is currently in her third year in university. She hopes to work for a magazine or take a corporate job someday.
*Names have been changed.
BY THE NUMBER
What you need to know, according to the Philippine Human Rights Information Center and Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study.
· About 75% of 15- to 17-year-olds are already looking for romantic partners
· 37% of women have their first sexual encounter at 19
· More than 80% of teens didn’t use protection when they first had sex
· Less than 10% of teens discuss sex at home
· 35.6% of college students think their knowledge about sex is adequate
· There is a 300% to 500% chance that abortion might increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and other complications
Is Abortion Really Safe?
Your biggest concern finally answered.
According to Guttmacher Institute (a website that tackles sexual and reproductive health rights), abortion is safe when performed under proper medical conditions by trained personnel in a hygienic setting. However, when executed by an unskilled person in an environment that is not conducive to safe medical circumstances, it is considered unsafe. The worldwide risk of death associated with unsafe abortion is 30 deaths per 100,000 live births.
TEEN PARENTING 101
Five questions to ask yourself before saying you’re ready to be a teen mom:
1. Does the father of the child know about it? How is he taking it?
2. Does your own family know about it and accept your situation?
3. Are you aware of and ready for the sacrifies that you’ll need to make during your pregnancy? And those after delivery?
4. Are you really physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to become a parent?
5. What are your plans after giving birth? (It would be best to have your plans laid out, so you can still live your life even after birth.)
Just in case, what would you do if you found out you were going to be a teenage father? (It’s not just a problem for the girl, you know!)
“I’ll be shocked and afraid of the reality that I’m going to be a dad, but I’ll soon learn to accept it wholeheartedly with no regrets. That’s life.” —Christian Padilla, Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Manila
“I think I have to plan my life again, set priorities straight, and pray.” —Patrick Yu, University of Santo Tomas
“Syempre, face it. It’ll help me know how man enough I am to take responsibility. I believe that, eventually, this would make me a better person as a whole.”—Bryan Benedict, actor
"I’ll talk to my parents and to her parents. After that, we’ll all discuss how we’d be able to balance our teenage lives with our ‘parental duties.’ Of course, we’d ask for help from [our parents] and sacrifice some major parts of our lives.” —Dane Hipolito, MINT College
“My initial reaction would be to retrace my past months, to try to remember how it could’ve happened. After which, I would have to consult my parents about it, though they may get really upset. My last course of action would be to take full responsibility for my actions by being a man and providing for my child.”—John Carlo Metharam, De La Salle University-Manila
“I’d want to make sure that I’m the father. If the child is really mine, I’d take responsibility.”— Juan Miguel Ramos, University of Santo Tomas
“I’d honestly freak out. I’d probably be in denial. I mean, who wants to be a young dad? Being a father at a young age can completely change my life. It’ll most likely be the end of my career!”—Lance de Ocampo, University of San Carlos
“I’d just tell my parents then ask them to guide me through.”—Aaron Black, Ateneo de Manila University
Hard court hottie and former UP Fighting Maroons captain JR Gallarza opens up about becoming a teen father.
"I met Reinen’s mom when I was 19. She and I never really used protection or took [safe sex] seriously because doctors told her that the possibility of her getting pregnant was very low, going as far as to say she would never have children. Then, she got pregnant a year later. I was actually the one who caught it first when I noticed she hadn’t gotten her period for longer than a month. So, I asked her to take pregnancy tests. She must’ve taken around six to eight, which all came back positive except for the two that we may have done incorrectly. Of course, being 19 years old, still in school with no real financial stability in a 'foreign country' away from my parents, it was some scary stuff. To be honest, I brought up every option regarding the news of the pregnancy. Think about all the options. Yes, I thought of those (Reinen, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. The important thing is I love you with all my heart and you’re alive and healthy today). About two to three weeks after the news, after all the dust had settled, and I had come to terms that Reinen was on the way, I slowly began telling people. First, I started by telling my best friends and got their thoughts on the situation. Everyone was very supportive and happy. Next, I told my parents—which was very difficult. My mom was very happy and excited at first, but, eventually, she realized how hard it was going to be for me. My dad was the one very upset, angry, and disappointed; demonstrating every negative feeling you could possibly feel.
Dealing with all of this was a bit of a special case since I knew I had to finish school in the Philippines [while my family was in Canada]. For Reinen’s first year and a half to two years or so, he stayed with his mom in New York. After that, we decided it would be best that he stayed with my parents. He’s been living in Canada since then, under his grandparents’ care, and they’ve been doing a fantastic job raising my son. Now that I’m all done with school and basketball, I have the blessing of being Reinen’s father full-time while I find work and look for ways to get my feet planted into a career.
Life is tough, especially with the pressure of making something of myself to provide a comfortable lifestyle for my family, myself, especially Reinen. I have faith, however, and I’m staying positive that it’ll all turn out good for us. What I learned from this is, as much of a blessing and joy Reinen is: Don’t do your future children a disservice by bringing them into a world where you can’t provide for them. When you do bring life to another human being, at the end of the day, a newborn child is a gift from God—just know that everything you do with your life, from the moment you hear about the conception to the day you, as a parent, die, everything you do molds your child’s future. Be the change, be the example, and be the parent you needed growing up. Your kid will forever look up to you to provide and to educate. Stay ambitious and motivated so you don’t let him down.
Parenting is honestly one of the best feelings in the world. It’s very taxing, but it’s amazing. I love being a father to my son. He’s everything and more a father could ask for.
Thank you for blessing my life, Reinen!"
ALSO READ: The Six Fix: Keep Calm, Baby Bump Ahead
Image by Mike Gella / Styling Rj Roque / Makeup Mary Ann Sy / Hair Reynard Bonuzo of Triple Luck Brow and Nail Salon. Model Gianna Llanes. Lace dress, Stylist's own.