nation, but a local teenager says popular tv reality shows designed to
spotlight the harsh realities of early parenthood miss the mark. In a
special report, she shares her story and struggle as a teen mom. Their
faces and families are familiar, appearing on the covers of numerous
magazines, just like any model or actress or singer. These reality stars
of tv shows like "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" have become popular
symbols of pregnant teenagers and teen mothers across the country, but
in Nashville, Heaven Mitchell says her reality is very different.
"Let me tell you, when you get pregnant, it's like your eyes get opened
to everything and you see everything that you're fixing to miss out on,"
Pregnant with her daughter Sky at age 16, Mitchell says her life as a teen mom doesn't include photo shoots or movie premieres.
"You're up in the morning," says Mitchell. "You make the bottle. You change the diaper, make sure she's not wet."
Still, Mitchell says she's luckier than most. She married Sky's father
shortly after giving birth and they live with his parents.
"A lot of the kids getting pregnant right now come from troubled homes just like me," says Mitchell.
Mitchell says her own mom was very strict. After school it was straight
home for homework and chores. Mitchell met Connor, her daughter's
father, online. Soon after, too soon she says, she was pregnant.
"What I was thinking was basically that my life is gone, you know?" says
Mitchell. "That I'm not going to get to do anything. Basically, that's
it. There's no life for me."
Mitchell says she wasn't naive. She and her peers know where babies come from.
"I didn't think," says Mitchell. "I didn't think it would happen."
It does happen. Frayser High School in Memphis recently made headlines
after officials confirmed 90 teens are pregnant or recently gave birth.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports fewer teenagers are
having babies in Tennessee than in years past, but the state still ranks
among the top 10 in teen birth rates.
"I think sometimes the parents don't really put it out there or make sure that sex is ok but not at a young age," says Mitchell.
Mitchell says her mom didn't stress the importance of safe sex to her,
just told her not to do it, and she says that's not enough. Mitchell
says she was totally unprepared for how much time and energy it takes to
care for a newborn, and has come to rely on those house calls made by
nurse Tina Dunn with Nashville's Nurses for Newborns Foundation.
"Weigh the baby and examine the baby and then sometimes I have a social
worker hat on and sometimes I'm a mom for a few minutes," says Dunn. "A
little bit of everything."
Dunn believes teens would make better choices if adults would educate
them at an early age on how their bodies work. As much as Heaven
Mitchell loves and cherishes her daughter, she knows these little hands
have changed her young life forever. She encourages her peers to ignore
the Hollywood hype, be smart and reach for something better.
"Get yourself a hobby," says Mitchell. "Be good at something. Do something with your life."
Heaven Mitchell will return to Glen Cliff High School this summer. She
wants to graduate and have a career so she can be an example for her
daughter. Nurses for Newborns is having a fundraiser May 19 to support
its work with young moms. For more information you can click on FOX
Wednesday, May 11 2011, 01:41 AM CDT
Special Report Videos
US durable goods orders rise 3.3 percent in April
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rebounded in April, buoyed by more demand for military and civilian aircraft and an increase in business investment.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
Eds: With BC-US--Dow Record. Adds photos.
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: RESTAURANT FLAP LEADS TO INTERNET MELTDOWN
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- It isn't exactly to curry favor with your restaurant customers -- even if your specialty isn't curry.