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My Easy Way Out: A Guest Post by Mel Walters

7 Oct

This is a guest post by Mel Walters. Originally from Nova Scotia, she moved to Ontario in 1997 for work and has lived there for over 15 years. She attended Mount Saint Vincent University where she studied public relations and communications. She is a Federal public servant, and has worked for over 13 years as a policy advisor for Aboriginal Affairs. A firm believer in the importance of addressing all sides of a controversial subject, no matter how hard it is to read or share.  She  lives in Ottawa with her three  daughters.

 

The decision for me was made sitting on the toilet bowl that morning staring down at the double lines of the pregnancy test, it was never about what if I did this, or that or would I keep the baby. I was simply not prepared at 37 and a newly single parent of 3 children, to take on more financial responsibility.

I went to a women’s health centre near where I worked first to determine how far along I was, I was sure I was only a few weeks, in truth, I didn’t feel pregnant, I look the same, no morning sickness that I had with the previous two. I was pretty shocked at the positive result. As I sat in the waiting room, it was the longest wait of my life, I watched the staff and patients all with their own situations and stories…I could not believe I was sitting there, when I think about that day I always feel as though I was looking at someone else, not me, but some stranger sitting there, and I am watching them at a distance.

The results of the ultra sound revealed that I was 24 weeks pregnant, which in Canada means you cannot have an abortion in this country at all. (23 weeks is the cut off) Holding back tears, I remember sitting in the parking lot and trying to figure out what to do next, I called all the clinics in Ontario that might be willing to perform the procedure given how far along I was, one of the places I got in touch with was the Women’s Health Science Centre, I was told to go to Morgentaler Clinic in Ottawa to talk to someone about what my options were and next steps, they had connections to out of country facilities that might be able to help. Both of these clinics helped to guide and confirm my decision. It might surprise people to know that late term abortions done outside of Canada for residents of Ontario referred through the Morgentaler

Clinic are paid for by the Province of Ontario. Until you are faced with the decision you can never fully appreciate the stress and shame you feel. I don’t think that there is any way to mentally prepare yourself for what is involved with a late term abortion, no amount of brochures and literature can capture what is your about to go through, I guess if they shared everything right up front you would never go through with it. Ihave thought about this often since and maybe the reality is your own denial that it’s not going to be all that bad, as for me, I thought I was going to be asleep throughout the whole thing; they said I would be drugged,  right? I was headed to Colorado. My flight was paid for by the Women’s Health Science Centre, they are remarkable and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I think few people know what goes on in these situations, but there is good support and guidance through the whole process. The journey I was headed on is that which you see on the news, headlines of murdered abortion doctors, patients or staff by radical activists directly to the dark horse of Dr. Warren Hern. He is in his 70’s and runs and owns abortion clinic in Colorado, there are no pre-tenses or sugar coated names on his sign,it is very obvious what the clinic is and what happens within it.

Unlike a typical D&C abortion, this is a 3 day procedure, 2 and 3rd trimester abortions take 3 days to prepare and ultimately expel the fetus at the end, you are basically giving birth, you are not drugged or asleep, you are fully awake and lucid. There are risks here for something to go wrong only no one tells you that when you’re trying to make a decision to have a late term abortion. You get the risks are very minor speech, but the reality, is that the procedure itself, what is it is…is awful. I can offer this piece of advice; this is not a decision for the faint of heart or for someone who is not sure they want to end their pregnancy. This procedure will rock the core of your moral compass and test every level of your humanity.

The short medical version of what occurs is this: the fetal heart is stopped the first day; you get an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the baby. Then, with the aid of the ultrasound to guide a lethal dose Digoxin is injected into the baby’s heart directly through the abdomen. Digoxin gives the baby a fatal heart attack. After the Digoxin injection, the woman’s cervix is packed with laminaria, thin tampon-like sticks made of seaweed that expand the cervix gradually over the next day. In the meantime, you are walking around with a dead baby in your stomach, I am not sure if one can imagine what that must be like, and I am not sure if I can clearly explain it, but it is the most horrible feeling, you feel very guilty and relieved and the same time, but it’s like a dream and a nightmare. I now know why you sign to ensure you will be back, that first day, that injection is so traumatic you r just want to go home and never return. You think, if that was the first day can you imagine what will happen on days 2 and 3? 1st day and the last day are the worst of the 3 days. The 3rd day is mentally confusing and it is very very painful. Once I was done, I went to the recovery room for observation, but this is when things went horribly wrong.

Everything that happens in the extreme case of this procedure basically happened to me, I became the minority statistic of the worst thing that could happen… I was hemorrhaging and I was slowly losing consciousness. When I awoke, I was in the inside of an ambulance with a paramedic asking me questions: ”Was this voluntary abortion?” What does that even mean,  I was thinking, but couldn’t quite get the words out. I managed to croak out a feeble “yes” and the paramedic’s face went odd, as though the game had changed, but I wasn’t sure what game I was a part of.

I was on my way to a nearby hospital, there was a lot of confusion in that first 15-20 minutes I got to the emergency room, but what I remember distinctly was one of the nurses asking “why did you do this to yourself?” I just couldn’t get my mind and my mouth to work at the same time, but right from that moment, I knew that I would need to be on my guard and that I would be telling my story a lot before this nightmare was over!

I was given a mild pain killer to ease the pain I was in, the gynecologist assigned to my case, finally came in wearing an amused look on her face, resembling something that looked a lot like “I told you so” directed at Dr. Hern, there was a clear lack of disrespect for Dr. Hern and in my hazy drugged up self, even I could see how horrible he is treated by his own peers. She seemed to be insinuating that he was the cause of what had happened. The conclusion in their minds was that he had cut/torn something in the walls of my cervix or uterus and this was causing the hemorrhaging. It was later discovered that it was an issue with my uterus; it would not contract as it is supposed to after labour, it fully dilated and remained that way, and the blood clots that formed from loss of blood were now blocking its ability to retract properly. Fully awake at this point, the gynecologist decided she would remedy this by reaching up inside my very raw/sore uterus; pull out blood clots, one after the other! The pain was excruciating and when it was all said and done, I lost over 5 units of blood! The bottom line is that I could have died from this procedure that day. It took me over a year to get my hemoglobin and iron levels back; I was off work for over 5 weeks!

I was transferred to the cancer ward, not gynaecology, to the maternity ward with cheery walls adorned with teddy bears and pastel colors, but to white stale walls similar to most hospital decor. I was told it was to protect me from all of the babies I would be able to hear on the ward, nursing mothers and all of that. I would later learn it was because of the head nurse on the maternity ward would not allow me on the floor, a volunteer counsellor who came to talk to me informed me of what was going on, a direct quote…” I don’t want her on my floor, or any patient of Dr. Hern, I don’t care if she bleeds to death!” I now realized the game I was a part of, I was caught up in the medical controversy, in which I was the pawn.

At this point I was exhausted, and just wanted to close my eyes, but not before the nurse assigned to my case, would ask why I came all the way from Canada for this kind of procedure. So as I had done several times that day, I repeated my tale. She was nice enough and seemed sympathetic…except for her last comment, “Yes it is a difficult situation, my daughter had a similar situation, but she kept her baby.”

The next morning, Dr. Hern tried to convince me to stay another night before heading home. I told him that there was no way I was spending any more time here. I did not feel safe or welcome and I would take the risk and head back to Canada. The gynecologist, who had de-clotted me the evening before, came into the room to check on me, provide take home meds and let me know that I could and should get a blood transfusion. I refused, and against medical advice, I headed to the airport, I could barely walk, and it was an hour drive to the airport followed by two plane changes to finally get home to Ottawa.

It was a long physical recovery; the mental scars have been a longer journey, and after 4 years I am still working through it. I can’t close my eyes at night without reliving the whole thing again, I still have nightmares! This is experience is truly a two edged sword. However, despite how hard this was for me and the after effects that still linger today, it was still the right decision for me, and I regret nothing. In fact, I would do it again if presented with the same situation, but there is no denying that this was a life changing event! I would’ve been better informed, as I didn’t have much time for soul searching and fact finding. I do feel that clinics need to give patients more informed information, more explanation is needed on late term abortions and what is involved and the possible mental implications that remain years after it is over.

This is not a simple D&C where you are done in 15 minutes and have cramping for a day and you can head back to work the next. The mental feelings after those procedures are raw and emotional to be sure, and although I don’t want to diminish the after effects that come from theD&C procedure, it is in no way close to what occurs in a late term abortion. I think that this is the common misconception; you think it’s going to be similar to a D&C, only its 3 days instead of just one. You get a little lamina and you’re done!

My hope is others will read my story and realize that although this may appear to be a simple solution and I certainly know there are pro-life believers that would like to think that those of us who make the decision to have an abortion are taking the easy way out! I think my story proves quite the contrary. Any abortion and in particular a late term abortion at its basic level requires a lot courage and forgiveness of the human spirit. I hope one day I can be at peace, tell my girls about it when they are ready, but mostly look in the mirror and be able to look at the reflection staring back at me.

 

My Well Being: A Poem by Audrey Voorhees

6 Oct

This is a guest post by Audrey Voorhees. In her words: 

“This piece exemplifies a painful journey with a profound conclusion. Certain our greatest challenges lead us to our deepest questions, I am grateful for the emerging variety of free voices speaking out about abortion and its layers in women’s lives. Having chosen to live openly as an adult survivor of childhood rape and sexual abuse, I now choose to live openly about my abortion, knowing there is connection to be found in our honestly disclosed healing. Thank you for your company in this journey of collective understanding.”

 

My Well Being 

Seems silly, you

interested in my

well- being.

Like asking a pedestrian

you hit

at a cross walk

how she

feels,

late, ill-placed,

How can I take

your concern seriously?

 

When before,

you slowly corroded my boundaries,

cohersion stripping common sense.

“Your rules are causing your confusion,”

you said.

And once close enough

to penetrate,

my unseen wounds-

lenses coloring

all i could see-

we danced

as perpetrator,

as victim.

 

Complimenting my courage,

ignoring my requests,

your mask kept changing.

Divergent public and private faces, advances.

left me wanting,

put you in control,

muffled my intuition.

Employed a naive hope for love

through submission.

 

Longed to be special

enough.

Make you feel about me

a way where you

chase me

into significance,

replace fear with safety,

self doubt with affirmation.

I will be whatever

version of me necessary

to protect the illusion

that no one will

love

all of me.

 

Unqualified you,

unprotected me,

aching lies erupted

unveiling hidden truths

about why I run, resist, most recently invite

men,

building momentum

spinning buzzing numbness

accented with puncture hits.

Awakened to the reality:

 

My first intercourse-

unconsentual,

unneccessary,

bewildered child

unknowingly

a victim.

Uncovered

by you,

replicating

unconsentual,

uneccessery,

bewildered woman

unknowingly

a victim.

Funny how you

seem interested in my well-

being.

 

When you entered without asking,

ejaculated,

bewildered child woman’s supressed thoughts

flooded the scene without warning.

 

When you

suggested we have sex

after I told you

I was pregnant

and scheduled the abortion,

I still

didn’t see

you really standing

in front of me.

 

I didn’t believe any of it was

happening to me

happened to me

you, him…

 

Couldn’t look into the mirror

knowing

I didn’t want the pain of satisfaction for the hungry

who steal and eat the flesh

of others.

Yet somehow

I needed to face the only half

of the story

I had any control over-

Me.

 

What about denial, Audrey?

What about destruction

do I find comfort in?

What about abuse feels more familiar than love?

Big questions

tug at my core,

and not until you evoked

all that muck,

like stirring settled pond water,

did I see the need

to let them rise

to the surface.

 

2 weeks anticipating my misfortune.

2 weeks inhabiting a body carrying life that I never wanted connected to mine.

1 day of relief, and

4 weeks of leaking your stain to rebuild a purified, clarified me.

 

Your version of sex never accounted for my consent

 

While I carry the consequences,

their weight anchors awareness

of my past.

 

And I

don’t know

how to answer

any questions about

My

well- being.

Book Review: ‘One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories’

22 Aug

I was so happy and excited to receonekindwordive a copy of One Kind Word in the mail. I had not heard much about it so was doubly excited to see the faces (and stories) of a few people I knew included in the collection. How lovely to see my wonderful friends’ choices validated – celebrated! – in such a beautiful collection.

One Kind Word is the product of arts4choice, an artistic project by Martha Solomon and Kathryn Palmateer in response to a 2007 Ottawa Citizen article about abortion wait times. The goal is to collect stories of people who access abortion in Canada as part of the ongoing efforts to share stories and in so doing, to combat stigma and normalize abortion as a healthcare choice.

Canada is viewed by much of the world as a progressive haven in regards to abortion access, because we do not have a law governing it and so are therefore seen as having ‘no limits’ on abortion. However, the reality is more complicated: healthcare is provincially mandated, so services are determined more by the political bent of the provincial government than by the lack of federal law. Added to the economic disparity of the provinces are additional barriers that limit access: regional disparity in services, long wait times, long travel times, and systemic inequality and indifference to issues of reproductive health. Canadians are subject to the same stigma and alienation around abortion as are Americans and others around the world; the work of making abortion accessible – and contextualizing it as healthcare – is still important here.

Arts4choice approached the project in an artistic way, illustrating each of the 30+ people’s stories with a black and white photograph of the story teller. The result is a bold, brave, unapologetic presentation similar to the attitude behind imnotsorry.net. Each story teller has different feelings and ideas about her abortion, but even those with ambivalence look straight into the camera as if to say, I am not ashamed of this.

Palmateer’s photography is gorgeous, challenging, and definitely the highlight of the book and what sets it apart from other compilations of this nature. I believe this project would be a compelling visual art exhibit as well, which would perhaps make it accessible to a different demographic. Meanwhile, many of the portraits (and stories) are available to be viewed at arts4choice.com.

In the right context, abortion story-telling can be a powerful tool for activism. This book provides a space for that in a beautiful and stylish way that I greatly appreciated – and will be a great conversation starter on your coffee table!

You can buy the book from Three O’Clock Press.

16 and Pregnant Season Finale: Part Two

23 Jun

chanel and megan-01

 

In part two of the 16 and Pregnant season finale, is Savannah,from Missouri. (You can read part one of our recap here.)

Chanel: Okay, has every pregnant teen in the state of Missouri been on this show?

Megan: Is this the first time we’ve heard someone use the phrase “co-parent”? It’s a different way of thinking than “helping”.

C: I think so? “We didn’t ever use protection,I didn’t think it was possible for me to conceive.” Can we discuss this? I feel like we’ve heard this like 800 times this season.

M: Yeah, again it’s the “it could never happen to me”, “I’m not like that” phenomenon.

C: I think I’ve said this before, but it’s important to note that it’s not just a thing that teenagers think.

M: I’m with everyone on the “don’t name your baby after a car” thing. What it is about these boys and cars? I don’t get it. We should have a man help with these summaries next year.

C:  I am serious proponent of not naming your kid whatever the hell you want. Names matter. Trust me on this.

M: I think it’s worth noting that a large percentage of the tension and frustration between Savannah and Stone is due to Savannah’s mother’s history of alcohol dependency. It must be tough for both of them to feel like they are trapped in a possible hostile environment and powerless to protect their kid.

C: Did he just say, ‘that girl gave me the ‘do me’ eye”? This whole thing is disgusting.

M: Yeah I can’t even figure out how to respond to how Stone and his friend are “talking” to these girls.

6a00d8341c652b53ef0120a56f272f970b-800wi

C: ‘I don’t have to be with you to coparent.” THANK YOU.

M: This scene with Savannah confronting her mom about her drinking is really sad.

C: I feel like her mom is the thing she’s trying to fix, instead of Stone. Like she’s the substitute? (Hello, arm chair psychology.)

M: I wonder if the debate about deciding the name of the baby is again, the boyfriend’s way to try and take control over something when he feels like all of the control is being stripped away from him. The same way that we’ve seen the boyfriends wanting to purchase something, etc. That the name of the baby would be something that’s “his”.

C: “I want you to enjoy this with me.” I LOVE that she’s talking about enjoying pregnancy and parenting. Way to bust the myth that teen parents can’t enjoy those things. Teens can be happy to be parents. Just FYI.

M: Everyone seems really amazed that this baby is peeing.

C: WHY MTV, WHY? I find the fact that MTV wants to show us baby excrement constantly kind of amazing/disturbing.

M: Yeah, but they don’t talk about pooping while giving birth NEARLY enough. Another TMI/amazing statement from this episode: “You don’t know hard until you have five stitches in your vagina.”

C: Stone, man. Wise words.  “You can support your mom, but you can’t support her addiction.”

M: Her little brother at the door while Savannah confronts her mom about being drunk is breaking my heart. Not only is she parenting her baby, but also her brother.

C: Does the lack of imagery in this recap reflect…ennui? It is the last recap of the season, after all.

M: I’d like to end by sending love to Savannah and baby, and also to her brother Ben.

16 and Pregnant Season Finale: Part One

22 Jun

chanel and megan-01

For our first summary we have Courtney from Woodland Park, Colorado! The video isn’t yet available on the MTV website.

Chanel: Okay, the part that did not go so well is where there was no birth control or failed birth control, not sex. Unless the sex wasn’t good, in which case, I am sorry.

Megan: Yeah, there seems to be a lot of black and white thinking about sex v. no sex in this episode. Courtney thinks that she wants to stick with her religious beliefs and morals, and says, “I’m worried that if I move in with you I will be tempted to have sex.” There is no room for having sex and enjoying it before marriage.

C: What “level” are you on, Courtney? Is it a level that we can actually get on? Ughhhh. I don’t want to shame her or her beliefs, but it’s hard to deal with the association between sex and morality, because I don’t actually think sex is not moral.

M: I think what’s sad to me is that it’s clear that she loves Scott, enjoys sex, and knows it would make sense to move in with him so that they could both help parent, but feels like it is something immoral to be sleeping with him before they are married. She says: “I got my morals back” after she started not having sex after she became pregnant.

Horribly phrased question: Dad: “Where are you at now with being pure?”

C: It’s confusing to me that there’s not shaming from her dad. He says it’s normal to want sex. It doesn’t seem like he’s punishing her? (Yet?)

M: I mean, he kind of is, though? It’s great to say that it’s normal for her to want to have sex, but at the same time, he’s saying she’s “not pure” and that she messed up. So in some ways I think she is getting mixed messages.

C: That’s true. I think I’m looking at this episode alongside Jazmin, and compared to that one, Courtney’s  dad is a feminist.

M: Ha! So true.

On the other hand, Courtney is good at holding multiple emotions at once and understanding complex realities, both about her decision not to have sex and her baby’s cleft lip. She says, “We’re blessed, but I’m keeping an open mind.”

C: Okay, it’s possible that I’m confused bc so far Scott is not an asshole? BUT I’m also automatically pissed off when dudes say, ‘I’m trying to think positive. You’re being negative.’ ‘Negative’ is code for seeing things as complicated, instead of as black and white.

M: Truth.

Hey! This is one of the first times that we are actually seeing the couple apply for benefits.

C: Yes! Good work, you two. Also, we’re talking about self image in whole new way this episode, for once. It’s not about weight.

M: Courtney: “I’m scared for the epidural.” Dad: “You don’t have to have it.” I’m so confused about whether I like her dad or not.

C: I think she means she’s scared of the needle?

M: Oh, I know. But he continuously speaks to her in a way that is supportive of her choices and gives her multiple options? Except for the sex before marriage thing – kind of.

C: True. I don’t know what to make of him either. My ability to evaluate anything on this show has gotten so warped…by this show.

M: I am kind of appalled that they have to pay out of pocket for this cleft lip surgery. Is it not covered by health insurance or do they not have health insurance?

C: I’m seriously still reeling from the fact that Scott asked about money.

M: Scott: I work an 8 to 5. Courtney: I work a 24/7. #Truth

C: Okay, it’s time to bring this up, I think. The language, “helping” v. “parenting” piece. Especially in this situation, with the purity issue and feeling like she “gave in” and failed, I think it’s not an accident that she says “help.” Does she think she has to shoulder all the burdens of childcare – yes, i’m using the word burden- because pregnancy was her fault, plus also all the shit we internalize about women being the primary care giver?

M: You’re right. It seems like she does think that he should “help” but that the rest of it is her responsibility.

I would like to propose that in each of these episodes we have the boyfriend and girlfriend change responsibilities for one day. Get on that, MTV.

C: Ugh, I do not know what to think re: Sexy Times being halted here. I get where Scott’s coming from, they were having The Sex and now they’re not and that’s difficult, but also, Courtney’s entitled to say she wants to wait and to follow through with that. It feels like an impossible situation to me. Maybe they shouldn’t be living together?

M: Yeah, it seems like they are just on two separate pages and both are resentful of each other.

C: I just realized that the crying baby is coming from inside my headphones and not from the coffee shop.

M: OK I was rooting for Scott until now. “He doesn’t need to be a little girl and be held.” “You take care of him all the time… that’s a stay at home mother’s job”. “Everything [we have] is because of me.” OH, OK, RAISING YOUR CHILD IS DEFINITELY NOT PART OF EVERYTHING. And you would definitely have “everything” without having a girlfriend carry, give birth to, and support your baby.

It’s so sad to me that our capitalistic society equates money with identity. Because Courtney isn’t the one making money, she is subordinated and her identity as a mother and her work is not valued.

C: OH SHIT. “It’s been how long now without sex?” Cool, so sex is a commodity that she owes you? It’s a weapon? Are there some MRA’s camped out in your stupid hair whispering in your ear?

I like how this episode crashed and burned in the last five minutes.

M: I can’t even. We were doing so well in the beginning and it ended on maybe the worst note of all of them.

C: What is the take away here? Dudes need sex. ORIGINAL.

M: I would like to end as usual by sending love to Courtney and baby, but also by letting her know that she does not have to settle for defining her self worth based on outdated patriarchal constructs.

C: My ending thoughts consist of inarticulate sputters of rage.

M: I like that you can tell the severity of our feelings about each episode based on the number of images we choose to include.

 

 

16 and Pregnant Recap Double Header: Part Two

15 Jun

chanel and megan-01

 

 

Part two (here’s part one) of our recap double header is Savon, from Marietta, Georgia. The link to the episode isn’t up on MTV, but you can watch it here.

Megan: Oh my gosh. Savonl did not have an abortion because of “the money.” That is devastating.

Chanel: According to the National Network of Abortion Funds, there are some resources: Georgia Reproductive Justice Access Network (GRJAN), Women in Need Fund, and the Atlanta Pro-Choice Action Committee.

Oh, there’s some nuance around abortion in this episode. Savon had thought of abortion herself, but when Eli told her to get one, she thought, ‘You can’t tell me what to do.”

Also, this is a sweeping generalization, but online high school doesn’t seem like it works on this show.

M: I think no school post baby seems to work, no matter if it’s in person or online? I would guess it’s not the method, but rather the time commitment and energy it takes to parent taking priority.

C: Um, did Savon just say she’s looking for a job that’s relaxing?

M: That stopped me too! I just think about how she is trying to get a job but no one is helping her to interview, etc.

C: I totally get where she’s coming from, re: being scared of sex because of pregnancy. I’ve never been pregnant, that I know of, but I totally get the idea of being pregnant  terrifying you to the point where you would not want to do the thing that leads you back to the thing you don’t want.

M: Me too. But I also hear people all the time who are getting abortions say, “I am never having sex again.” And while they mean it, I also worry that that means they won’t have a plan for how to protect themselves in the future.

C: Talk to me about why yellow is not the right color for a boy, Savon’s aunt.

M: The pooping talk in this episode combined with the poop shot in the last episode is really effective birth control for me.

C: I’m totally not a fan of Mauwi telling Savon to take care of her son. It’s okay for her to want to have a relationship and be a mother.

M: I agree with you that she could want more. I think she is just overwhelmed.

C: I also feel like you can’t underestimate the loneliness one might feel having a baby in high school. I like that Savon’s aunt is urging her to talk about her feelings, and she’s telling her that things happen in life that aren’t what you planned. She’s not shaming her. (How low has my bar gotten that not shaming is worth a gold star?)

M: Mauwi is so good with her too. He says, “If you really want to [go to college] you can make it happen. You’re not even 20 yet. You still got more than enough time to make things happen.” It’s clear that he is supportive of her and cares about her.

I wonder if she is depressed? Shutting people out and breaking off relationships could also be a symptom of this. She says, “I don’t feel anything.” She even seems so matter-of-fact in her closing statement.

C: Oh gd, they’re getting swarmed by geese. RUN.

M: I seriously hate geese.
goose

C: Are we ending this recap with a side eye towards geese?

M: I do what I want. I guess you’re right though that we should end by sending love to Savon and Jordan and babies! I also want to hear Savon sing.

 

 

 

16 and Pregnant Recap Double Header! Part One

15 Jun

chanel and megan-01

 

 

For some reason, last week, MTV decided to air two episodes of 16 and Pregnant in a row? So we recapped them. This is the first, Jordan, who’s 17 and from Baltimore, Maryland.

Megan: Derek, “It’s your fault. I hate condoms.”

Chanel:  OH THIS KID. It took eleven seconds for me to hate him.

M: I really appreciate the conversation between Jordan and her friend, Sugar, who got pregnant at around the same time and had an abortion. They both appreciate each other’s decision and are able to talk about what both of their decisions mean for each of them. “Your life still gets to move forward, and mine is moving forward in another direction.”

C: Sugar is such a boss.

M: I think this episode really emphasizes how critical parental support of teen parents is. Jordan and Derek have no money and no place to stay with a baby on the way.

C:  “You need another woman figure in your corner.” So good.

M: I don’t know what makes me suspicious of people who want to help other people for no reason. What does that say about me?

C: I’m also suspicious of that. Especially when it’s something like, letting a pregnant teenager and her boyfriend who won’t get a job live in your house? I’m not that giving.

M: Sugar: “Can you get pregnant when you’re pregnant.” This girl needs some sex ed.

C: Sugar, if you can explain to me how that would work, using actual science, I will be really impressed.

Also, all this talk about strength annoys me. I’m thinking about specifically why.

M: I agree. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think it’s because a. she is already incredibly strong and keeping everything together and b. she shouldn’t have to always feel like she has to keep everything together.

Derek is annoying me more than the other boyfriends, I think because she is totally dependent on him and he is refusing to look for a job.

C: Jordan: “I have a lot to be stressed out about.” Derek: “Like what”? Dude, are you even on this planet?

M: I think at the point where you are making a pregnant girl walk a mile in the snow because her car broke down is the point in which you step in as documentary filmmakers.

C: Gooooodd  point. I always forget that there are people taping this for some reason.

M: Derek: “You’re stuck here. I’m not.” I literally gasped out loud. I am so upset that he would say that to her. She does not deserve that. I usually try to understand the boyfriends’ points of view but that was just so mean. He is all she has.

C: I can’t believe he just told her she’s breathing wrong. YOU’RE BREATHING WRONG DEREK. I’m so mad at this dude that I’m losing my respect for punctuation.

M: Jordan: “I’m sick of relying on handouts.” I understand that it’s not a comfortable feeling to have to accept help from others, but given their situation, it’s what makes sense. I wonder if this same feeling is stopping her from trying to apply for other government benefits? It would make a big difference to have support when the baby comes.

C: I’m starting to think about the impact of having people filming your life on these kids. It’s hard to know what exactly that is.

M: Yeah, especially the more popular the show gets? I imagine you also have to think about your peers watching it later.

I really needed to see that poop/diaper shot. Thank you.

C: Is it supposed to be a scare tactic? Because it’s working.

M: I’m convinced. Tracy: “I don’t have a family to fall back on.” I wonder if she was also a young parent without familial support? Maybe that’s why she feels like she should take care of these young parents.

C: Derek says Sugar is always thinking about the negative stuff that could happen. I feel like he’s probably not into the fact that she had an abortion.

M: We’ve also seen this pattern of thinking from a lot of the fathers on the show. The wanting to not think too many steps ahead or plan for anything negative to happen, whereas the moms usually are thinking farther into the future and stressed out about not having things in place to care for their children. I wonder how much of this is related, even subconsciously, to the fact that the fathers can leave the situation but the moms can’t.

C:I’m totally scared for Jordan and Evie. I also wonder about the policing around the idea that you can’t say you regretyour kid. You can say, “I regret having her now,” but not that you regret having had her? You’re allowed to say that. It’s a real feeling.

M: I mean, she did say that, kind of? That she regretted having her “at such a young age”? I see what you mean but I also kind of get where she’s coming from. Would you ever want your daughter growing up and watching this and then hearing your mom say that she regretted having you? I think she’s trying to protect her and emphasize that she loves her.

C: I agree that it’s important to protect your kid, and I also think there’s a super taboo about women ever expressing ambivalence or regret around parenting that also ties in with the stigma of both teen parenting and abortion. In general, though, I just want people to be able to say their real feelings and not feel trapped by expectations.

M: Yeah, you’re right about that.

Second recap (Savon) on the way!