Teen pregnancy is reality, not TV

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Several months ago, I wrote a Top of the Morning introducing a teen pregnancy support group offered by my hospital.

Little did I know that this article would wind up in the hands of a casting associate with MTV Networks in New York! Last Thursday began as a usual day of work. I step away from my desk, and when I returned I had a message on my machine which began, “Hi, this is Alicia Arnold. I am calling from MTV networking in New York City. We are currently casting for our upcoming season of “16 and Pregnant.”

She went on in her message to tell me she had read my article back in January regarding our teen pregnancy support group, and she wanted to know if we could work together to help get the word out or if I had any ideas or suggestions for the show.

You can imagine my excitement at being contacted by MTV. Here I am, 40 years old, and on the phone calling everyone I know. I’m telling all my friends, coworkers and family that MTV called me and wants to work with me and wants my ideas and suggestions for their show. I go home and I tell my children “Guess who called me?” My son says, “Who?” as he is playing his PSP. I said, “MTV;” he responds, “OK, yeah, right” and never looks up. I’ll prove it, I tell him because I saved the message as my ring tone. They finally believed me!

Over the next few days, as the initial shock wore off and the excitement faded; reality set in as I contemplated what to do about this offer. I record the series, and I watch part of an episode.

At this point, my parenting, nursing, and education skills kick back in. The reality is: teen pregnancy is a reality. It’s not glamorous and it’s not an easy life. Statistics show that Mississippi does have the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate.

As parents, educators and health care providers, we have a responsibility to address abstinence and prevention of teen pregnancy. But we also have to face the fact that regardless of the education and support offered our teens, teenagers having babies happens. Teen pregnancy is a reality and it’s not a show.

Teens and parents need to know that there is support here for them and that they will make it through this life changing event.

They also must know to never give up on their hopes and dreams. They are still there, and they are still reachable. They have just taken the harder road to reach those dreams.

I encourage all pregnant teenagers ages 19 and under to attend our teen pregnancy support group from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday in the Magnolia room at Natchez Regional Medical Center. To register for the class or for more information, please call me at 601-443-2360.

As exciting as MTV sounds, I graciously declined the offer. My feet are planted firmly on the ground, and my focus is on offering help and support locally, not helping be a part of glamorizing teen pregnancy nationally.

Theresa Cole, RN, is the nurse educator of The Women’s Center at Natchez Regional Medical Center.