Babble's Five-Minute Time Out: 16 and Pregnant

Bristol Palin. Juno. Jamie Lynn Spears. Teen pregnancy is an American obsession, and MTV’s new series 16 and Pregnant is satisfying our voyeuristic tendencies with a documentary-style approach to the lives of teen girls, their pregnancies and the aftermath (you know, the baby).

Babble sat down with one of the show’s teen moms, Ebony Jackson, who had daughter Jocelyn at seventeen. The Colorado teen, who has since turned eighteen, chatted frankly about the new ABCs: abstinence, birth control and finding a way to go to college. – Jeanne Sager

Can you tell our readers a little bit about your situation?

Well, I’m a senior in high school and I have a two-month-old little girl now. I first found out I was pregnant at the very beginning of my senior year, so it kind of caught me by surprise. Adoption and abortion were never an option for me, just because I couldn’t go through something for nine, ten months and then have to hand the baby over to somebody else.

When you got pregnant, was this with a steady boyfriend?

We were dating for about ten months when we found out that I was pregnant. He was really steady, and we were already talking about marriage even before she came along.

So what’s happened since?

We got married on June 25th.


Thank you. Josh is now going into the Air Force sometime in August. He’ll be leaving us for basic and tech school; he’ll be gone for close to a year.

What are you going to be doing in that time?

I’ll be going to college here in the fall. I’ll be getting my associate’s degree.

Did you get to finish your senior year?

I didn’t finish it. My doctor didn’t let me go back after she was born, because it was so close to the end of the school year and they didn’t want me stressing out. I was down four credits, and you’re only allowed to be down two in order to graduate. What they’re doing for me is I don’t have to go back next year. Instead I’m going to be going to college and taking my high school credits along with my college credits.

It sounds like you’ve got a lot figured out; did you ever expect to be in this position?

No, I really didn’t. I wasn’t expecting to have a kid this early. I was the farthest one that you could see being a mommy. I used to babysit and I had to deal with a four-year-old all the time, and I really didn’t like kids! I could deal with them, but I couldn’t see myself having one . . . until I started thinking about adoption and reading all the adoption stories and wanting to become a nurse. It kind of changed my views about it. When I was younger I couldn’t see myself being a mother, but now I am a really good mother – so my mom tells me.

Was it tough talking to your mom when you first found out you were pregnant?

No, she actually thought that she was pregnant first! We’re the only two in the house, so our cycles kind of bounce off of each other. It kind of threw off the hormones of the entire household when I got pregnant.

So what was her reaction when you actually broke down and said “Hey, mom . . .”?

She asked what I was going to do, and I said “I’m going to keep it,” and she said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do, that’s your choice, and I’ll help you any way that you can.” She wasn’t really as harsh as I thought she was going to be.

Were you scared to tell her?

I was a little afraid to tell her, but I knew I could talk to her about anything. She’s like my best friend.

Teen pregnancy has really come to the forefront, especially with Bristol Palin. Did you realize that this subject was going to get as much as attention as it has?

No, I really didn’t. Teen pregnancy has always been an issue, but I didn’t expect it to get to the extent it is now.

How do you feel about the fight between Bristol and her ex-boyfriend over whether abstinence-only education actually works?

I don’t think that abstinence-only education is the right answer. Down in Texas, all they teach is abstinence, and I think they’re like the third highest state in the country for teen pregnancy. I think they should be teaching them both abstinence and safe sex.

In Colorado, what kind of sex ed did you get?

It’s required for every student to have health class and they always have portions focused on sex ed.

Did they talk about condoms and birth control?

Yes, they talked about condoms, birth control and said, of course, the best birth control is abstinence. That’s pretty much what I’ve been hearing since fifth grade.

Did it affect the way you did things?

We always used protection. I just wasn’t on birth control at the time – I actually had an appointment to go get on birth control a week after I got pregnant.

How do you feel now looking back?

I don’t have any regrets. I know that things happen for a reason. I think I’ve handled it really well, and I think I took more [childcare and birth] classes than anybody should! I took so many classes, and I was so ready for whatever happened. I go to Planned Parenthood, I take life skills classes, they prepare you. They actually gave us our crib.

When you went on 16 and Pregnant, were you expecting to be a role model?

I’m not really a role model. My view was, I wanted to teach teens that they can do it if they do find out that they’re pregnant. It’s not the end of the world if you become pregnant . . . but it’s really hard. I want them to see that it’s really hard. It’s not something you need to go through right now.

What is your advice to other teens who haven’t gotten pregnant?

I would tell them to wait and to use protection every time they have sex, use extra protection – don’t just put it off on the guy, and don’t just leave it on the girl to take care of birth control. You have to both be responsible.

What about parents, is there anything you’d say to them?

It would really be good if parents gave their kids support. It’s the best thing – to have the support of your parents. I know it’s a mistake when a teen gets pregnant, but you can’t keep putting it off like it never happened. I know that it’s not a good thing, but they are still your child.

If you could tell people one thing about what your life has been like since you became pregnant, what would you say?

I had to give up a lot. Josh and I both had to give up a lot. But if one door closes, another door opens. I had plans to go into the Air Force. I can no longer do that because we have a dependent. Josh would have rather been a music manager, and now he just has to go into the Air Force so we can have a little safety net. I am now going to college instead of going into the Air Force – but I’m still going to become a nurse.

Article Posted 6 years Ago
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