Momlogic: At what age did you get pregnant? And what were the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy? Was it someone you were dating?
Vicka Llamas: I got pregnant at 16. I had been dating someone who was 3 years older than I was. We dated for a year. I grew up in a low-social-economic neighborhood. Being a Latina, you see the statistics. I remember in school, I had a counselor who basically told me I was never going to college. I had low self-esteem and felt I should just drop out, give up, and find someone to love me because I was never going to amount to anything. At 15, I met a guy who was 18. He loved me and it was perfect. I thought, it's not like I am ever going to be anyone, so I ran away with him. We lived together in a neighboring city. My parents knew I had a boyfriend, but never thought I would do something like that. In my mind, I wanted to be a mom, a housewife, and I wanted someone to love me. I got pregnant right away at 16, and stopped going to school for 6 months. At the time, there was no program for pregnant teens. I gave birth to my son 4 days after my 17th birthday. It was hard because I realized, regardless of who my friends were and what they were doing, I was now a mom.
ML: What was your reaction when you learned you were pregnant?
Vicka: It was a mixture. I was really happy because now I had a baby of my own to love me. I was going to have my boyfriend's baby, so he was never going to leave me (so I thought), but at the same time, I was living what a married life would be and it was stressful being so young. We were living on our own, he was struggling, he worked, but we didn't have any money. It was a reality check because I saw my friends doing fun stuff that I wasn't doing because I was either pregnant or being a mother. Someone who's pregnant doesn't go to the movies, attend dances, or do any of that teen stuff. I didn't realize what it meant to be pregnant at 16.
ML: As a pregnant teen and teen mom, did you face any obstacles or challenges? If so, what were they?
Vicka: To this day, my baby's father and I are still together ... we're actually married now. But, it wasn't an easy road for us. Though he's 3 years older, he had also dropped out of school. He had to go out and work. The money he was making wasn't enough to buy what we needed, pay rent, and buy what we wanted. The fairy-tale dream I had of the perfect relationship, family, and life wasn't a reality. As time went on, he still wanted to go out and party with his friends and he resented me because I got pregnant and it held him back from having fun. Family members told me that he was still young and he'd eventually realize the importance of a family, so all the responsibility was thrown on me. He could leave at any time, but I was the one who was pregnant and had the baby. It was all on me. I eventually learned it wasn't about me, it was about my son, so I ended up returning to school and got my teacher's degree and my master's degree. After teaching for 6 years, I am now a teen pregnancy prevention coordinator through the county I work in. We work with mostly middle school students to do early intervention and prevention.
ML: Do you fear history will repeat itself and your teen son will become a teen dad?
Vicka: It's a fear because the pressures are out there. I don't want my son to become a teen parent or go through the issues I went through, like wanting to feel loved. I constantly talk to him about it. He goes to his dad about this stuff, but I also tell him that while I don't want him to be sexually active, he needs to know where to get condoms, and the relationship he has with whoever he's sexually involved with needs to be a healthy relationship. I try to give him the tools and knowledge, should he find himself in a situation. I tell him it's about choices and every choice has a reward or consequence.
ML: What do you think of MTV's "16 and Pregnant" show?
Vicka: I think it has positives and negatives. The fear for me would be if our kids are going to be watching and not having any guidance. In other words, we as parents need to watch this show with our kids and talk to them right then and there. It could also glorify the attention these 6 girls are going to get.
I am sure the girls who are being followed are getting paid for their participation, so they are going to be at an advantage more so than other teen girls who have no source of income and who are not on a reality show. These girls may have more opportunities than normal girls who are 16 and pregnant.
Hopefully, it will portray the struggles and challenges pregnant teens are facing and allow the youth who are watching to say, OMG! There could be teaching points for parents and teens.
It's scary, but I guess I will have to watch it if my son wants to watch it. I hope we can talk about it together because what they're showing may not be what I went through, or the struggles may not be as challenging. It's scary because the show could have a negative impact on teens if there is no parent interaction with the teen, or even a caring person helping them digest what they're watching.
What did you think of MTV's "16 and Pregnant"? Comment below.