DIARY OF A TEEN MOM
Interview with ARIELLE HANEY, 20
I am Arielle and my son is John. I got pregnant during the middle of my senior year; I was 18. Through my entire pregnancy the relationship was painful between the father and I. We hardly talked at all and when we did, we fought. After what I experienced it will be hard for me (emotionally) to ever get pregnant again. People said I'd never amount to anything. Getting motivated to finish school and to start college seemed impossible. Somehow I made it and I'm currently very close to my associate's degree.
Did it ever occur to you that you might become pregnant as a teen?
I thought it wouldn't happen to me. I was smart, your typical all A's student. My parents were supportive and highly valued education. I didn't abuse drugs or alcohol. I just never thought it would be me in that situation.
How did your friends and family react when they found out about your pregnancy?
I thought my parents were going to kill me. I decided to tell my mother the day after I took an at home test. She told me she was there for me no matter what. She is the most amazing mother ever. My father took it very well too. He is just as supportive. I am very fortunate. My friends didn't care much at first but as I became a mother we grew apart because I couldn't be a 'teenager' anymore.
How is teen parenthood different than you thought it would be?
I didn't understand the financial aspect like the insurance issues and how much goes into being a mother. It is a huge deal. Your child needs health care and health insurance. The numerous appointments I go to all the time between my son and I are taxing.
How has your life changed since your pregnancy?
I am a completely different person. I don't hang out with friends anymore. I don't go out on the weekends. Any activities I participate in are John's appointments, my appointments, or for school and volunteering. Any extra time I stay home. My relationship with my son's father has become something I never thought it would. We are together and have been since I had my son (who is now sixteen months old). We are definitely the exception to the rule, though. Often times the teen father leaves.
What do you wish you knew before you got pregnant?
I wish I knew how hard it truly is. I wish someone would have sat me down and told me that having a baby means no more alone time, no more selfishness, no more dates with your boyfriend, no more being able to go out by yourself, even to the grocery store. Being a parent is a full time job. It's a lifetime commitment.
Why do you want to share your story with other teens?
Teens need to know that it can happen to anyone. They need to hear true accounts of teen pregnancy. I have been criticized and told I am a failure. I have dealt with the embarrassment of my high school teachers asking me if I'm pregnant. I am still dealing with the fact that I had a child earlier than most. I am his sole care taker. His father is being deployed soon for 13 months and I will be on my own. Being a parent doesn't end. If you think you're ready to act like an adult you better be ready for the consequences.
Do you think the way teen pregnancy is presented in pop culture is positive or negative (i.e. MTV Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant)?
Television romanticizes teen pregnancy. They make it look like so much fun and make it look like it's okay to be irresponsible. I can't stand the stereotype that no teen mothers are hard working students. On the shows I've seen many of them drop out or just settle for less than what their child deserves.