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Reactions, rumors, consequences: Senior experiences life as a pregnant teenager

So many times I have wondered to myself what would it be like to be pregnant and in high school. How would people react, especially since I’m a good student who doesn’t get in trouble? What would I do if I had a baby on the way? So I undertook this social experiment. My project consisted of my wearing a fake baby bump acquired from the local Motherhood Maternity store that I then Ace-bandaged to myself all day. The result of this was a pretty accurate stomach. I wore this every day for a week at all school related activities, and then had a select few people who knew the truth listen to what was said. I expected some of stuff that happened, but there was a great deal of things that I did not anticipate. But that is so true. When we make choices we don’t always see all the outcomes. Reactions, rumors, and consequences; the things we don’t expect.

In that week, not only did I answer my questions about being a pregnant teenager, I also noticed a few distinct things about the reactions, rumors and consequences.

The responses of the school were instantaneous. Before I knew it I had 20 fresh followers on Twitter and it seemed everyone knew my name. I hadn’t expected the rapid popularity or the infamy. I also didn’t expect the people who knew me and had seen me all summer to go with the flow and believe it too.  I was planning on the experiment to be mainly based on people I didn’t know who saw me in the hallways, but that wasn’t how it turned out. As result I was unprepared for what it was really like to walk around with a six month pregnant belly. As unprepared, I’m sure, as a real pregnant teenager would be.

My boyfriend’s football career was top priority. In all the gossip and slander, the biggest worry for the student body was the rumor that he was not going to play Friday night and his life was over.  Very few thoughts went to what I was going to do or if my life was over. My boyfriend, had it been real, could have walked away, said it wasn’t his or broken up with me. The point being, he could have escaped. There is no way I could have convinced anybody it wasn’t mine, and in their eyes, it was completely my fault. To them, my boyfriend played no part in the issue; he was just an innocent bystander whose life I had ruined.

People were critical. I expected to be stared at and talked about. It seemed reasonable to me that people would be scandalized. What I didn’t expect was to be made fun of, imitated and called awful, horrible names. I had people completely stop in the doorway of the East building and block the entry, so I could not get through. They stood there and stared, and there was no shame for the unabashed gawking. Likewise, in one of my classes, a girl turned completely in her seat to stare at me. Not just for a little while, but for the most of the movie we were watching. As I walked out of the East building the girls behind me started to make fun of how I walked and imitate my huge belly. By the end of the day I hid my belly behind a binder just to stop the staring for a while. I felt so alone, even though I was surrounded by thousands of people. I hadn’t expected to be alone.

 

Imagine This:

Stares, whispered comments and furious glances. The lonely track down the hallway is cold and silent. Conversations stop and mouths hang open as you trek your way to your classes. Even those who don’t notice right away have wide eyes when they glance down. They all gaze at your obviously six month pregnant stomach. You can feel the rumors and gossip spreading like a wave behind you. They say, “Oh my gosh, did you see her? It was bound to happen.”  In the loneliness, the only thing you can think is how to hold back the tears.

 

This is what it is like to be pregnant walking the halls of Randall. The things you expect are bad, but the things you don’t expect are worse, and consequently, the most often to happen. My social experiment was based more on reactions, but sadly, those aren’t the things that matter as much, nor are they the things we normally think about. The ones that matter are the things that truly affect your life. The rumor went around that band parents had told my band director I was unfit to be drum major because I was irresponsible and a poor representation of my school and band. They then said that they didn’t want to represent their children. I didn’t expect that. All of my hard work last year could have been thrown away because of one decision. I could have lost the opportunity to have drum major on college and scholarship applications. Had I actually been pregnant, instead of worrying about PNE, prom and being a teenager, I would have to worry about childcare, being a mom, finding a job and missing school for appointments and actually having the baby. In comparison to that, what worth do hateful things have? The judgments and the stares are just the beginning of a whole slew of responsibilities. The problem is that too many times we are too busy worrying about the reactions and rumors, but now that I’ve experienced this, I worry about the consequences.

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6 Comments

6 Responses to “Reactions, rumors, consequences: Senior experiences life as a pregnant teenager”

  1. Sarah Gray on October 3rd, 2013 9:59 am

    I got married and was a senior. In 1965 being married didn’t make a difference. Before Christmas break my principal was going to expel me from school and take my credits for my first semester of my senior year away. My older sister went to bat for me it went all the way to the board of education. I was decided that I only needed one credit to graduate. But they wouldn’t let me graduate with my class. Instead I had to wait to finish school and graduate in 1966. I went from January till May for 45 minutes to complete my education. Many changes have happened over the years and to this day, I have never got over how it effected me. Today teens are even more likely to judge. I was so impressed with Kelli courage to do this article.

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  2. jean abercrombie on October 3rd, 2013 12:15 pm

    Once again, The Silver Streak has tackled a sensitive, controversial issue with honesty and compassion. Great job, Mrs. Neese and staff! Miss you guys.

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  3. A Emery on October 3rd, 2013 1:32 pm

    Brilliant. I graduated high school not too long ago and was much like yourself. Captain of Varsity Cheerleading and Head Drum Major, doing it all and livin’ it up. I came from a very small town where gossip spreads faster than wild fire. Having lead positions where the town is so involved with the student body of the school really puts your life under a microscope. So I can’t even imagine doing what you did! You are so brave to try something like this. You’ve also been given a very unique opportunity. When situations like that ACTUALLY happen, you can see the best and worst in people. It may be harsh or brutal, but at least now you know what kinda of people surround you and who the good ones are. Pray for the rest. You’re a rockstar. I agree with every word.

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  4. Crystal Williams Davis on October 3rd, 2013 8:42 pm

    I graduated from Randall in 2005, and I also wrote for the Silver Streak. If I had thought of this I would have done the same thing! This isn’t actually an original idea, it has been done before and Lifetime actually made a movie about it. However, it was still a very brave thing to do. I commend you Kelli. The only thing that disappoints me is the lack of discussion about contraception in your article. I understand that abstinence is ALWAYS the best choice for a teen, but if we want to get serious about the truly epidemic rates of teen pregnancy in Texas than we need to inform teenagers about all preventative measures they can take. Simply trying to scare them with pictures of STDS and articles like this one isn’t enough. Regardless, good work girl!
    P.S. I graduated with your sister Amy, she was awesome just like you :)

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  5. 1reader1 on October 4th, 2013 12:31 pm

    “…..abstinence is ALWAYS the best choice for a teen…..”

    Dear Crystal,
    We should ALWAYS stick with the “best choice” for our children, shouldn’t we!

    Parents hold high the bar for our kids, if we don’t who will?

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  6. Geri Monaghan on October 7th, 2013 8:35 am

    Congratulations, Kelli, for conducting such an experiment. If you have the time, please read my book “Black Coal and White Lies” about a young girl who becomes pregnant and has no choice but to suffer the consequences. This occurs in the 1950′s. Thought the stigma of pregnant unmarried young girls had subsided but I guess it still exists. Good luck in future ventures.

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