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16 and Pregnant Season Finale: Part Two

23 Jun

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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.

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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 Recap Double Header: Part Two

15 Jun

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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.
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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

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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! 

 

16 and Pregnant, Season 5, Episode 8: The Recap

8 Jun

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This week! Jazmin! From Missouri! 

Megan: The one-sentence summary of this episode calls Jazmin a “sassy midwestern teen”. I’m pretty sure sassy is another word we should eliminate.

Chanel: Agreed. Unless you’re talking about the superb yet now defunct magazine.

M: There’s no mention of abortion, and I wonder how much their religious household played into the decision to parent.

C: You can, however, tell your daughter you’re “majorly disappointed in her.”

M: Jazmin: “I thought birth control would make me fat”. She was also worried that it would cause hair loss.

C: Where did Jazmin get her information about birth control? I feel like the thing about hair reeks of some kind of scary religious/abstinence only program.

M: There’s so much misinformation out there! I’ve had people tell me things they heard about birth control like it will make them unable to have a baby in the future, etc. It’s so easy to get myths and not facts when you’re not sure what websites and information are reputable.

C:  J’s mom is really working this “you had so much potential” angle. She still has potential. That’s what potential IS. You always have it.

 M: It’s so true. Potential isn’t something you lose when you become pregnant. That just speaks to the way we equate careers with identity and devalue parenting.

 C: Oh man, her mom is so sure Dell’s going to screw up.

M: It’s pretty amazing that they are still enforcing the “house rules” (no staying over after 10 PM, no sex) given the situation. It’s another example of how complicated it is when you are trying to parent a parent.

C: They’re so mad. I feel like this is all about shaming.

M: Yeah, they can’t get over the betrayal they feel about the “rule breaking”.

C: Which I feel like is no longer the point.

M: Definitely no longer the point! The whole situation has changed. They have to shift the way they are defining their relationships and what is going on.

C: OH WHAT? “Her legs are crossed, she’s already a little lady.”

M: Oh thank goodness. That way we can wait a few days before we put the bow on her.

C: I just feel like it’s an extension of the shaming re: female sexuality that is all over this episode. Starting early.

M: It’s so terrible! What they are doing is really shaming their daughter and putting all of the childcare responsibility on her.

C: Yep. It’s that bullshit about making your bed and lying in it.

M: It’s also no wonder that there has been so much gendered talk in this episode given that her parents have no qualms about her having to take care of the child by herself without her boyfriend.

C:OH, “when you do things out of Gd’s order….” Right. I forgot about Gd’s order. Maybe they could remind me again.

M: Jazmin’s friend: “Respecting the rules of the house, and raising a daughter, you realize those two things aren’t compatible, right?”

C: Her parents are just not even giving them a change to make it. I mean, they need help. Resent all you want, but don’t sabotage.

M: It also makes me angry that Jazmin and Dell now think that they shouldn’t have had sex and feel guilty about it. Those aren’t the only two options.

C: Yes! This whole episode is such a classic example of what happens when young women learn that they should be ashamed of sex and their bodies AND are given bad/no information about birth control. I’m so mad right now.

M: I would like to end by sending love to Jazmin and baby, and also encouraging Jazmin to check out Scarleteen.

 

16 and Pregnant, Season 5, Episode 7: The Recap

1 Jun

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This week!  Aleah from St. Louis, MO. Watch the whole episode here

Chanel: Okay, so far we’re only at the opening and we  have diabetes, juvenile detention, and a dude with a kid.  Yikes.

Megan: It’s interesting that his mom is so willing to babysit. She says it’s the “grandmother’s job”.

C: We’ve seen a few different ideas of what it means to be a grandparent this season, right? Folks have been reticent, resentful, and now this.

M: It just goes to show that there’s no “right way” to be a grandparent, just like there’s no right way to be a parent.

C:  I feel like Depo hasn’t been talked about on this show so much before.

M: Depo is a great option for people who want a hormonal method but might not be able to remember to take the pill everyday. But the catch is that you have to be consistent with getting to your provider to get the next shot! I’ve talked to a lot of folks who have missed the appointment for the next shot and gotten pregnant in the interim.

C: This segment reminds me of how much basic maintenance there are with kids. like, you have to remind them to brush their back teeth. Yikes.

M: I hadn’t thought before about how much stress it must cause to have to worry that you are going to pass along diabetes to your infant. On top of the general stress about pregnancy and parenting!

C: Seriously. Also, again, there’s no mention of abortion ever being an option, even though this is a high risk pregnancy. I am getting really sick of MTV editing out, or never asking, about the process of deciding to give birth.

M: So she is having an early delivery and her doctor said they wanted to “avoid a stillbirth”! Most terrifying thing to tell someone! Ever!

C: I like how Aleah’s saying the word “vagina.”

M: I am so relieved that the baby is OK. Can you imagine how much you would beat yourself up if you thought you were responsible for something wrong with your newborn?

C:  Why are we not talking about the fact that Shawn/Sean might be speeding with tiny people in the car? Why has that not come up?

M: At least he doesn’t want to buy a new truck?

C: Or a dog.

M: So what’s interesting about this episode is that Aleah is the one living with the boyfriend’s family and the one who feels trapped and needs to leave. This seems like a reversal from what usually happens – that the boyfriend feels trapped by the baby, parents, and situation and wants to leave.

C:  It’s not clear to me that she feels trapped, just that there’s not space.

M: That’s true. It also means that she must trust him in a caretaking capacity to leave the baby there overnight, even though it is clearly tearing her up. That’s not usually something we see either.

C: “I don’t think you should split with Shawn/Sean because I think the natural parents should try and try again.” That sentence just gave me an enormous headache.

M: “Natural parents” is a phrase I could go without hearing again.

C: SHAWN/SEAN. “Our relationship should go both ways, at least until we get our own place.” It goes both ways no matter where you live, dude. GOD.

M: OK, does he just not understand what he’s saying? I think he means he’s willing to sacrifice and meet her where she is and hopefully they will be more on the same page once they move in together. But maybe that’s me being too optimistic!

C: It’s hard to tell, I think, between editing and the fact that every week on this show is a depiction of a power struggle.

M: This one ended on such a sad note. She is teary and regretful and wishes she “had it together” because her kids “deserve better”. I just want to let her know that it’s fine to be sad but to remember that she is a good mother who is doing her best, and that what kids need to thrive is a safe and loving environment.

C: I think that’s the lesson no matter what, right? Every week.

M: Every week I just want to hug them all and tell them they are doing their best! You are all such good mamas. Don’t let anyone (like, the internet) tell you otherwise.

Positives in miscarriage, abortion, and the continuity of reproductive experiences

27 May

[Trigger warning for abuse/abusive relationships and miscarriage experiences.]

I got out of an abusive relationship just in time to realize I was pregnant. Like over a month pregnant, with a fetus of a man who had slammed me against walls, told me I wouldn’t achieve my dreams, and belittled me until I was a shadow of who I’d been when I moved in with him.

I hated him for so many reasons, but the pregnancy was number 1. We slept together after I moved out; he finished and drove me to the airport. I cried the entire cross country plane ride.

I found out I was pregnant about five weeks later when I returned to our shared city. From the moment the Doctor told me I couldn’t stop throwing up–not from morning sickness, but from hate. I could not believe he would be my first pregnancy after he’d already taken so many firsts from me. I rocked myself in my apartment. I didn’t sleep until I was so exhausted from crying that I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. The world made no sense.

And then, a little more than two weeks later, I miscarried. I miscarried alone, laying on the stupid floor of my stupid studio.

I drank too much that summer to forget the images of my empty uterus, and the ultrasound tech saying my body had done a “very good job” expelling the fetus. I took pills to black out my impregnator’s face. I numbed myself with anything I could find in order to ignore what I knew he would have said if I told him: You are not even good enough to carry a baby.

The abusive relationship and miscarriage ruined me. I spent time with people who actively did not like me. I dropped out of school. I lost 30 pounds. I moved home. Looking in the mirror was impossible. I couldn’t stand myself; I believed so deeply in his degraded image of me.

Fast forward through rehab and therapy, and I was unintentionally pregnant again. I scheduled my abortion the day after I peed on a stick. I did not doubt myself or even think twice. My second pregnancy did not ruin me, but instead was a stark reminder of how far I’d come in loving myself. Choosing abortion meant I believed in my future as a Doctor. Choosing abortion meant I’d uninvested in my abuser’s degraded image of myself, which placed my highest achievements at being a wife and mother.

I do not for one minute “like” that either of the fetuses came into my life, but I am thankful for both the pregnancy experiences none the less. I am thankful for the miscarriage because I believe that out of a place of self hate, I would have chosen to keep the fetus. And I believe being a single mother of an abuser’s child would not have been conducive to my personal or professional success. I am also thankful for the miscarriage–in which I had no choice–because it was in part what allowed me to feel empowered by the ability to choose my abortion.

My experiences illustrates the perils of abusive relationships on reproductive health, and the heart break of a miscarriage. But they also illuminate the positives sometimes found in miscarriages, and the can-be positive impact of the continuity of reproductive events. I am stronger on the other end of these experiences, and though I would not wish abuse, miscarriage, or unwanted pregnancy on any one, I am so proud to be the person I am today, in part, because of them.

I think we sometime separate reproductive experiences into bad or good. But these experiences, for me, were a healthy mix of both. In accepting that reality, I am better able to accept myself, and the extreme complexity of reproductive health.

16 and Pregnant, Season 5, Episode 6: The Recap

25 May

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(Art by Megan)

This week! Karley, a high school senior from Toole, Utah. Watch it here

 

Megan: So the first thing that we learn in this episode is that they got married when they found out she was pregnant!

Chanel: Every time that happens on this show, I worry.

M: Karley’s mom says: “I’m scared. It’s going to be so hard for you.” I wonder if there are any support or resources for parents of teen parents? Karley’s mom seems like she is very sweet and supportive but is just sad and doesn’t know what to say.

C: I don’t know anything about parenting, but I feel like it’s not the most productive thing to tell your kid you’re disappointed in them. The opposite, actually. It seems totally unproductive.

M: Unrelated: Utah is beautiful.

C: It is! Plus, now I know how to pronounce “Toole.” (It’s not “Tooley.”)

It must be crazy frustrating to think that you’re going to bust out of your parents’ house when you turn 18 and then realize you actually have to be there for way longer because little people are depending on you.

M: Mom is so worried! She is doing enough worrying for all three of them.

C: ABSOLUTELY NOT WE ARE NOT HAVING A “CRIPPLE PARTY”. THAT IS NOT A THING. SHUT IT DOWN.

M: Wait what? Is it a real cripple party? I’m confused.

C: No one in this situation has a physical disability.

M: That’s messed up.

C: At the baby shower Kaley’s husband Tony says: “There’s not going to be one thing that says, “I love Dad.” She replies: “Probably not.” #babyshowerpartyfoul

Wow, Karley, way to parent your husband.  “I’m sorry that you feel that way.”

M: Yeah, they are in an impossible situation and no one is happy. But they kind of just both have to deal with it because there aren’t any other options. It sucks that he can’t quite figure that out.

This kid was born 5 minutes ago and they have already put a bow on her.

C:  QUICK! GENDER HER!

M: Thank goodness. Usually when we’re watching this and the baby comes out I am just confused.

C: People who are probably psyched not to be pregnant anymore: Karley

M: Having twins seems like the worst. (No offense to my lovely friends who are twins.)

C:  Can we talk about  the word “help” in this context? Bro is not HELPING. He’s PARENTING.

M: Yeah, it’s another example of how parenting is not considered work. She says, “even though he’s working, he helps with the babies at night.” That’s great, but let’s not forget that you worked all day too!

C: Oh, maybe not. Apparently he’s not parenting, he’s buying a truck. Tony, we are about half way through the episode. Please start sucking less.

M: I almost laughed out loud when he said it seated three people. That’s not even enough for her and both babies! There’s also a weird similarity between him wanting to buy a truck and the guy last week wanting to buy a dog. What is it that makes them want to “do something for themselves”? Is it the focus of attention on the baby(ies) instead of the partner?

C: It’s like a push present for the dude? Which…no.

M: Grrrl is telling it like it is: “Sure you make the money, but it’s both of our money. And I don’t appreciate you throwing it in my face all the time. I’m not in a position where I can go out and work right now. You can go out and do things for yourself and I can’t.” She may have been the only one who got married before she had the babies this season, but she is bringing the feminist discourse here and trying to get him to consider what being in a partnership means and valuing her participation in it.

C: “You disrespected the person who takes care of your children.” Burn.

I’m kind of hoping that Tony knows what a scumbag he’s being and that’s why he’s so mad? Like, it’s all him being angry at himself?

M: That’s optimistic of you.

C: I’m trying. This dude and his best friend The Truck are on my last nerve.

M: I’m also just trying to imagine what having your mom overhear your intimate fights with your partner is like. And having to mediate your partner and your mom.

C: Ugh. It’s crazy how you do this thing, have kids, that is supposed to make you an “adult” (in some absurd, bullshit version of the word), but it actually puts you in a situation where you’re more dependent than ever.

M: Yeah, and it puts mom in a position of having to let her not-yet-fully-grown daughter live as an adult and make adult decisions even though she is still a teenager. She is still holding onto her parental role. It’s hard to figure out what the new roles are.

C:  “I don’t blame anyone else but myself, it really is my own fault.” It’s not TOTALLY your own fault, dude. There was a penis involved. An unsheathed penis. (Sorry, readers. Kind of.)

Can we talk about the magical thinking re: not using birth control? It’s not only teenagers who think this.

M: It’s really not! I’ve had a lot of patients seeking abortion who have also subscribed to this line of thinking.

C: It feels a lot to me like my logic as a pedestrian in  New York- you go enough time making sketchy street crossing decisions w/o getting hit by a car, and then you think, “I’m not ever going to get hit by a car!” Until you do. Except getting hit by a car = getting pregnant.

M: Yeah, it’s definitely the “this can never happen to me!” Except I think with pregnancy a lot of it is also “this can never happen to me because I’m not one of those girls”.

C: Talk about where you think that comes from, the “one of those girls” idea.

M: I think it comes up a lot working with folks obtaining abortions, but it’s probably similar  for some teen parents: that they can’t entertain that outcome because it’s so stigmatized. Because they’re taught that “good” people aren’t the ones who get pregnant and drop out of high school, or the ones who get pregnant and have abortions. And they know that they are a “good” person, so it doesn’t seem as likely.

C: I was thinking that the stigma of being a teen parent is different from the stigma re: abortion. Like, you messed up, but at least you’re not a selfish baby killer.

M: That’s true to some extent, but teen parenting is public. It’s out there all the time. You can hide your abortion, but you can’t hide being a teen mom. And everyone knows.

C: Katie Yeager said something during  Teen Mom 3 that sticks with me: “You’re kind of shy about being a parent to your child in public..If you see an older couple out with their kid and their kid is misbehaving, you just think, ‘Oh, that’s a bad kid. If you see a young parent with their kid out in public, it’s ‘she’s a horrible mom.’ It’s always your fault. It’s ‘Well, this wouldn’t happen if she were older.’”

M: That’s how stigma works. You become reduced to the label that people give you instead of an individual.

C: That was one of the reasons we wanted to do this recapping in the first place- to complicate teen parenting rather than letting these folks be reduced to labels.

M: Absolutely. Let’s end with wishing love to Karley and babies! We can’t wait until you take your first gender studies class – you are going to be a boss.