6.30.08: Babies giving birth to babies
As the Managing Editor of FitPregnancy.com and a resident of Gloucester, Massachusetts, I can't help but be preoccupied by stories of the alleged "Pregnancy Pact" making headlines recently. The story, originally reported in Time Magazine, is that 17 (now 18) Gloucester High School students—most of them just sophomores— made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. The story has been picked up by The Today Show and by media outlets as far and wide as China and Australia.
The cause of the media firestorm? The fact that these girls made a pact. (A fact that is currently up for debate.) According to some reports, several of the girls visited the high school nurse multiple times for pregnancy tests, expressing disappointment at the negative results, and literally high-fiving each other over positive tests. They wanted to get pregnant.
Gloucester is known as a blue-collar town. Some of these kids don'’t have much in the way of financial resources or support systems. And that'’s allegedly why some of them wanted to get pregnant in the first place: to have someone to love, who would love them back, unconditionally. To create a little family unit of their own that would feel whole and healthy and happy.
As I read these stories, I wish that I could have invited each of these girls to my house to live through the first six weeks with a newborn. (Not to scare those of you who are currently pregnant with your first child, but there'’s a reason why we've put together this new mom's survival guide.) I want these girls to understand the challenges new moms face, even in the best of circumstances...like our blogger Zoe Singer, who's dealing with colic and nursing challenges, and Shelley Abreu, who's been fighting fatigue and baby blues and tantrums, and my own wistful longing for the freedom and independence I had before I had kids, and the times I've felt like the worst mother in the world. We're all women in our thirties, with college and graduate degrees, stable homes, supportive husbands, good child care, large support networks and relative financial security, and we're still often feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work and responsibility that parenthood brings. It's not easy, and it's going to be even harder with the odds already stacked against you.
So, Gloucester Girls, if you're reading this, and if any of you are still considering getting pregnant, please consider this an official invitation to spend a day at my house. Watch me tear my hair out as I chase Hurricane Charlie around all day. Help me cook and clean up three meals, go grocery shopping, do dishes, take out the trash, fold a mountain of laundry, change a squirming, poopy boy, deal with a 4-year-old tantrum, and then go to "work." Listen to my worries about the big issues, like health problems and schools and saving enough money for college. Watch me cursing under my breath as I drag two melting-down kids up the stairs for baths and bed. Wake up with me to change wet bed sheets at 3 a.m., to calm a crying Charlie at 4 a.m., and to start it all over again at 7 a.m.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing. Having a baby is the most amazing, blessed thing that will ever happen to you. But, it's also a lot of hard work. A huge responsibility. And not something that anyone should ever take lightly.
Dana Rousmaniere is FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor. She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts with her husband and two kids.