Teen Pregnancy in the Heartland



Teen Pregnancy in the Heartland|
By: Wendy Ray

(Cape Girardeau, MO)--Despite a nationwide decrease in the number of teen pregnancies across the country, we found some surprising numbers here in the Heartland.  Right now, twenty girls are pregnant at Cape Central High School, and there are more than twenty expectant mothers at Sikeston's high school and junior high combined. 19-year-old Janie Cowson, a senior at Cape Central, is expecting her first child, a girl, in June.  It's a big adjustment, one that Janie says she's ready for.

"I've been taking care of kids since I was five," Janie says.  But in a few months, Janie will be taking care of her own child. "I wanted a baby after I got out of school.  I'm having my baby June 18th.  It's pretty much after I get out so it's okay," she says. 

Janie is just one of 20 pregnant girls at Cape Central High School.  Cape Central nurse Jeanne Heise says the number of teen pregnancies has been up and down over the years.  Heise says most of the girls don't plan to become pregnant, they think it just won't happen to them. "They're going for hugs in all the wrong places," Heise says. "Hugs should be coming from mom and dad in the homes and they're not.  They're looking for them elsewhere." 

Janie says her mom is supporting her pregnancy, but she's on her own. Janie has had her own apartment for a while.  She pays her bills with money she earns from a part time job as a cashier. That, on top of school, makes for some long days.  "I'm always tired," Janie says.  "I get up in the morning, come to school half a day. "I go home, do my homework, usually I don't go to bed until 11 because of homework and work and other things." Heise says," They go through morning sickness and have to be at school 40 hours a week." Janie says she's always broke after spending money on baby things.  She admits she's facing more grown-up issues than other kids her age, but says she's ready.  "I wouldn't change nothing, it's fine," Janie says.

Getting pregnant as a teen increases your risk of having a low birth weight baby or complications during your pregnancy.  Janie says her doctors say everything looks okay with her baby.  For now, Janie's postponing her plans to go to continue her education.  She hopes to start when the baby's a few months old.