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'16 & Pregnant' could have kept me 49 and not pregnant

From TODAY producer Stephanie Becker You may have seen the hit MTV show “16 & Pregnant,” about teenagers who are unexpectedly expecting. Watching the sacrifices and hardships and the emotional, financial and physical challenges these girls face is enough to make any teenager wear a full body condom. I say that even though I am the product of a teen mom. She was 19 years old. In her defense

From TODAY producer Stephanie Becker You may have seen the hit MTV show “16 & Pregnant,” about teenagers who are unexpectedly expecting. Watching the sacrifices and hardships and the emotional, financial and physical challenges these girls face is enough to make any teenager wear a full body condom. I say that even though I am the product of a teen mom. She was 19 years old. In her defense, two weeks before she got pregnant she married my dad. Really. I did the math — twice. Why do you think she made him marry her? Then, like millions of other girls, she gave up her college education to raise a family. Personally, I think it was an excellent choice. But, as she approaches 70, I do think she will always regret it. And she tried to make sure I did not follow in her footsteps. Why didn’t I? First, a grateful acknowledgement to my my high school fifth-period Health Science teacher Mr. Eddings and his dexterity at the filmstrip projector; if only he could have played a couple of DVDs of MTV's "16 & Pregnant," everyone would have stayed awake. And a virgin. Despite Mr. Eddings’ circumspect discussion of condoms and fallopian tubes and Vas Deferens (was it a heavy metal rock band?), I think what kept me a "good girl," was my boyfriend’s teeth. Every time he begged, "Please! Please! Pleazzzzzzzz!” I looked at his uncooperative choppers and thought, “If I get pregnant we'll be paying off orthodontia bills for eons.” Not long ago, I friended the old beau on Facebook. He's married now with a kid. In the photo display, his kid never smiles. See, I knew it! Even if I'd planned to have sex on the most common sex night — prom — I couldn't. I was so badly burned from getting a “little color” at the beach that I looked like a human lobster and felt like a cheese grater had scraped my flesh raw. Any small movement in my blue chiffon dress was torture. Don’t even breathe on me! Then off I went to college to the first serious boyfriend — a much older ex-Marine. He was wearing me down to give “it” up. My grown-up teen-mom poured out her heart to me in a graphic and personal handwritten nine-page legal-sized letter. It was somewhat effective and convinced me to at least make sure I always used protection. Then I threw away the letter. And in what I would call a refresher, I retained my commitment to safe sex after accompanying a friend to her birthing class. No woman who is not pregnant should ever be subjected to two hours of "This is labor and delivery." It was terrifying. And those “16 & Pregnant” producers clearly got the same message. After seeing almost a dozen episodes of “16 & Pregnant” I’m convinced that this show is one of the most effective sexual deterrents ever. My kids are going to be watching this series the minute they have their first case of acne. Oh, wait. I don't have any kids. Maybe Mr. Eddings' filmstrips were more effective than I thought.

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