Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Why

On Saturday there were three admissions in a row to the NICU. One was the first child of a 17 year old, one the third child of an 18 year old, and one the sixth child of a 23 year old. I've written about single mothers before, but this prompts me to think of them again, and wonder why they become single mothers.

I can understand a young woman having one unplanned baby. I suspect that many teen moms just didn't take birth control seriously or thought it couldn't happen to them, but I doubt that's true for all single moms, and it doesn't explain the young single mothers with two or more children. As smartblkwoman said in a comment on my last post, "I cannot fathom anyone having more than one accidental pregnancy."

I read an article a couple of years ago that reviewed a book about single mothers. (The name of the book escapes me.) The authors of that book thought that the reason for many single woman pregnancies was so the mothers could reconcile with their family. The authors stated that no matter how bad the relationship was, no matter what the young woman had done to tick off her family, when she had a baby all (or almost all) was forgiven; the birth was celebrated and the young mother welcomed back into the family's good graces. Her social standing in the family took on a different status.

Others have said that young single women have babies because they want someone to have as their own and love them. More cynical people claim mothers have kids for the support checks they get from the state for them. And I suppose that there are some women who just don't think about it. They have sex, get pregnant and have babies. It's just the way life goes.

There is probably some truth in all of the above, but I doubt that we can give one reason that fits all single moms. They are a varied bunch, like any other group of people. But I have to believe that a society that no longer sees anything wrong with single parenthood, that indeed even expects single parenthood, without any thought of social stigma, is a big factor in the phenomenon. I don't want to vilify single mothers, or not support them or their children, but somehow we have to do that while also sending the message that two parent homes are the better way to go.

On Saturday I also admitted a premature baby whose single mother was twenty years old. It was her second pregnancy, with the first ending in a stillbirth. The maternal grandmother of the baby told me how important this pregnancy was to the mother, how important it was to successfully deliver, for her self confidence and feeling of well being. I thought I was going to gag.

And we haven't even begun to talk about the fathers of these kids.

P.S. Check out a new Grand Rounds at Parallel Universes.

38 Comments:

Blogger La Lubu said...

And we haven't even begun to talk about the fathers of these kids.

Yes. I've noticed that. Multiple posts on single mothers, yet none on the phenomenon of large numbers of the fathers of these children abandoning their flesh and blood. Why the cricket-chirping silence on this issue? Not enough pundits to pave the way, hm?

There are any number of reasons why women become single mothers. "Societal acceptance" is not one of them. The societal acceptance came later, after the other gains of the feminist movement made single motherhood feasible to begin with---like the right to obtain higher education and decent paying jobs.

Look. What would you do if it was your daughter? Would you encourage her to marry and "work it out"? I sure as hell wouldn't. And if I wouldn't want that for my own daughter, I can't in good conscience recommend it for someone else's.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Amy Tuteur, MD said...

This is an incredibly complicated issue and there are many forces at work here. I do think that there is one aspect to this that is rarely discussed.

These women often allow themselves to be sexually used in ways that are harmful to their health. I wonder if this is the sexual equivalent of anorexia: another way to punish themselves. Many of these women sleep with multiple partners; they feel they have no right to ask a partner to use a condom; they have a very high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases; they have a high incidence of ectopic pregnancies; they have a high incidence of previous abortions; they have a high incidence of cervical dysplasia, and it is only a matter of time before they have a high incidence of cervical cancer.

A number of years ago I ran a message board for teen girls about health. My mantra was: "You deserve to be healthy." This was clearly a revelation. No one seemed to realize that they could say no to a boy or a man. There was no one to tell them that validation does not come from having someone who want to have sex with you. There was no one to point out that a boy who will not use a condom is someone who is using you, not someone who cares for you.

This is a terrible, terrible problem. I don't understand why, in a society that tells girls they can be soccer stars or astronauts, we have a large number of girls who let themselves be sexually used and then thrown away.

8:29 PM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

I don't understand why, in a society that tells girls they can be soccer stars or astronauts, we have a large number of girls who let themselves be sexually used and then thrown away.

Point taken. But not every girl or young woman is getting sent a message that she can be whatever she puts her mind to. Some are getting a very different message---that their ass is their only asset. Some are even getting this message from their parents.

Thing is though, most pregnant, unmarried young women aren't having multiple pregnancies or multiple abusive relationships. Neonatal Doc (any maybe you too, Doc Tuteur) just get the opportunity to see and deal with these statistical outliers because it's the nature of your work.

Don't read me wrong---I'm not in favor of these women continuing a path of broken relationships with partners who don't give a damn about them or their children. It's just that---these particular women, the ones having multiple pregnancies by different partners---are actually trying to follow the "traditional" path. The first relationship didn't work out, so they find another. And another. They have internalized the notion that single motherhood is not an option for them---and it keeps them on that merry-go-round of seeing "a man", any man, as their only ticket out.

I'm not anti-male, either. But let's face it---how many employed, educated men do you know who are willing to even date, let alone marry, a woman with only a high school education---or less? Especially one with children?

These women are trying to find a man to marry them. If put their energies toward education, they would both be on a solid financial footing, and be more likely to find a man who would treat them with respect. That's why I have a problem with "marriage initiatives"; they serve to perpetuate the existing dysfunction.

9:15 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:43 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

Men who impregnate women and then wander off are a large part of the problem but, the majority of the blame does indeed lie with these women. The woman is the one that gets pregnant and has to stay that way for nine months. The woman is the one that is ultimately going to end up doing the majority of the parenting and shouldering most of the financial burden. It is the woman that is going to have to go through the childbirth experience so I would have to say that men need to step up but it is the women that are ultimately holding all the cards and any effort to stop teen pregnancy needs to put most of the resources (and fault) at the door of women.

Another reason that women bear the brunt of attacks on single motherhood is that they are a more visible part of the problem than the men who impregnate them. When a teenager shows up at the hospital to deliver it is normally just her and her family, no impregnator in sight.

9:51 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

la lubu,

I don't believe that the majority of these women are looking for future husbands when they continue to have children with different men.

I can only speak using anecdotal evidence but from what I have seen many of these young women don't have marriage in mind when they get pregnant (often on purpose). I have a cousin that told me she PLANNED to have her two children when she was a teenager with her high school boyfriend. Neither of them ever talked about marriage.

I once read a statistic that 70% of women that are single parents have male partners, sometimes the childrens fathers, living at home with them. This tells me that these women have settled for a sort of pseudo-marriage. They believe that living together and doing the things they see married couples do is equivalent to being a married couple, and the bottom line is that it isn't.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not all women are raised with the expectation that they will have a good education, a good career, a stable long-term marriage, and financial prosperity. Many women grow up believing that these successes are out of their reach.

Most women ARE raised with the expectation that they will have children, that they will love their children, and that their children will bring them joy.

Why wouldn't you have children early if you weren't looking forward to finishing your education, starting your career, and getting married? We are biologically designed to have our first child in our teens.

11:54 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

Why wouldn't you have children early if you weren't looking forward to finishing your education, starting your career, and getting married?

BINGO!! Reminds me of the phrase "the soft bigotry of low expectations".

1:05 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

ND,

I ask every young woman with body piercing why she had it done. The uniformity of their answers to my (admittedly very unscientific) poll is stunning.

They all said "I don't know". After a while I started to believe them.

It could be the kids just don't think about it so they don't know why they get pregnant and have babies.

best,

Flea

5:32 AM  
Blogger La Lubu said...

"the soft bigotry of low expectations". And those low expectations are very powerful forces; hard to escape from. From our vantage point, they aren't---because we have the internal and external resources to combat them. But for someone in the midst, it's hard to find the path out.

smartblkwoman, I think the dynamic here is quite similar to the dynamic of domestic abuse. Now, I wasn't a teen mother, but I am a survivor of domestic abuse. Folks who know me can't believe that was ever the case. "You?! No Way!!" Apparently, I don't "look" the part, or "act" the part....whatever that means. But here's the deal:

See, we're told that "modern values" are destroying the nation, and that what folks really need is to knuckle down and start following the "traditional" values of our grandparents. Except--some of those values are toxic, also.

I married young. I was nineteen. Thank God I didn't have a child then! I was raised to believe that divorce was Wrong. That was clearly articulated any number of ways. But I had also internalized a number of toxic beliefs that were either unarticulated or soft-pedaled. For example, I thought that bad behavior in men was inevitable---that men didn't have the same resistance to withstand the temptation of bad behavior that women did. I believed that a man's behavior was his wife's responsibility as well as his own---so if my husband was getting drunk, I should be doing something about it. And there was shame attached to that too---you know, like if the house is a mess, it's a reflection of the wife's housekeeping skills, not the husbands? (what bullshit!) Well, I believed that my husbands' drunkenness was a reflection of my character, or lack thereof, not so much his.

I was raised to believe (again, the subtle, background messages) that a wife's job was everything. Everything. You get up in the morning, make the coffee, go to work, come home and cook, clean and do all the "second shift" stuff. A wife's income runs the household. A husband's income is supposed to contribute, but he also has the option of spending on himself. He has the option of doing or not doing household work.

Worst of all, I believed his drunken rantings and ravings were also signs of love---distorted, yes---but signs of love. After all, he wouldn't carry on like that if he didn't care, right?

He wasn't a drunk when I married him. He became that way. But divorce is wrong, remember? Divorce is betrayal, a sin, beneath contempt.

It was hard to even think about talking to others about how shitty a turn my life had taken. Another form of betrayal was talking about family business to outsiders. You just didn't put your business in the street. Talk about it to family? Hell, where do you think I learned all these lessons from, anyway? I'm an old broad---just turned 39! We didn't have cable back then! (snicker!)

For a long time, the only way out I could imagine was death. I did everything I could think of to "change" the situation. I followed all my lesson plans. But the lessons I learned weren't helping matters. Ultimately, a couple of things turned the world around for me. One, I overheard him "talking" to one of our cats about me---denigrating me to the cat. He was telling the cat what a good cat she was, and telling the cat what a worthless, stupid bitch (among other things) I was. He had no idea I was home. That was a moment of truth for me; I could no longer lie to myself that it was "just the alcohol talking", or that he was just trying to "get a reaction" out of me. Nope, that was how he really felt.

But also, I was fortunate enough to be around different role models, through my work. It was a window on a world to me, seeing that alcohol and violence wasn't the "norm". In the various neighborhoods I lived in while growing up, it was the norm. There were exceptions, but drunken fathers were the ever-present norm. And the mothers, for the most part, were more educated than the fathers---and held jobs that could actually support a family (modestly, but still) if necessary---hell, realistically, that is what happened during those times hubby spent his paycheck at the bar, or the poker table, or on some big "boy toy".

It dawned on me that there was a different life out there than what I had internalized. I was struggling with the fact that my (then) life was killing me inside, that I was in fact betraying a promise I made to myself as a child---that I would never live like that as an adult---but I was also struggling with the contradictory values I maintained about divorce being wrong, about staying loyal, about not putting family business in the street....

And I ended up choosing life, choosing myself. Maaannn, the first weekend after I left that prick and filed for divorce, I ended up going out with some friends, laughing and joking and smiling all night.

The next morning, my face ached. Ached, like legs after running a marathon. It had been that long since I had smiled.

I think the women we are discussing are just as trapped as I was, it's just manifesting in a slightly different form. A more toxic form, if you ask me, because their children will grow up with toxic messages that will set them along the same path. It was probably a matter of luck that I met people who reached out to me---people who lived some version of a similar story. They understood the mechanics of the stasis. The didn't assume I was just "stupid" for being in that situation. It made all the difference in the world.

Having different images on TV or the Internet isn't enough. Even having pictures in schoolbooks isn't enough. Those "low expectations" are everywhere, and a powerful force to be reckoned with. Here's a thought: mentoring. In real life, in real time. Face time. Something some of our young people aren't getting enough of these days.

Peace.

7:55 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

All I have to say is that teen pregnancy is such a problem that we have abortion clincis in less than 3% of US counties, abstinance-only based education with little or no mention of birth control, birth control both expensive and entirely the woman's burden (as shown by not only society but even the comments here).
So I would say that beyond emotional issues that lead women to feel powerless (1 in 4 women will have raped in her lifetime), we also lay the entire burden at the woman's feet while taking away every opportunity she might have to correct the problem.
It's called slut-punishing, and it's the oldest pasttime in the book.
The fact that the HPV vaccine which will eradicate a high percentage of cervical cancer is CONTROVERSIAL, that abstinance-only education is still being taught despite it's obvious failings, that a Senator feels completely comfortable in claiming that a woman has no right to an abortion after being raped - well, Ill join the head-shaking in wondering where girls get the message that they are not valued as people but only as baby-makers.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Flea said...

La lubu,

Why not resume blogging? Might make for shorter comments!

best,

Flea

9:00 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I have a real hard time believing that up to 70% of single mother's have a man they are living with. Is there a reference?

While we are laying so much blame on single mom's, lets do this. Yes, they are certainly mostly to blame when you talk about multiple births. But, why are we even discussing them? It's because it's the single mom's that take these sick children to the hospitals when they are ill. How many single men show up at your ER with a sick child? It becomes an "out of sight, out of mind" thing. Dad's not there so we will just place all the blame on mom.

I can't belive there are still people who think that men have some right to pull off their pants, make these children and then leave.

Unless we want to place men in an animal category and not consider them part of the human race then they certainly share the blame for unwed pregnancies. I think that's the real point. We critisize the women and we are forgetting that they are the one's who "stuck around". They didn't kill their unborn babies and walk away like it had never happened. They most likely went through a pregnancy, labor and delivery with noone there to hold their hands or rub their backs. They are the ones who get up for every feeding every night. They have to worry about food, clothes, shelter,etc...And, they take their children to the ER.

I'll be first to admit that when it comes to a single woman having 2 or more babies I don't have alot of sympathy for them. But, I sure as heck know it takes two to make a baby.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

Fascinating comments. I'll try to keep this short...

When I worked in inner city Detroit as a nurse, it was EXTREMELY rare for any male to show up either with a woman in labor or postdelivery. The patient's mother, sisters, aunts, grandmother (always maternal)...they all were there but almost never any men. For birth certificates, we would ask for the name of the father of the baby. Sometimes we got a name, more often we got "I don't know his name, his street name is (whatever).

We noticed that the women we saw back in a year were those whose babies were cared for by the family. The women who cared for the babies themselves, rather than leaving baby with grandma, auntie or whomever, rarely returned because THEY KNEW how much work a baby was. I remember asking one young, 14 year old mother, if she had any questions about the baby. She had never even fed or changed the baby...her mother did all the care even while she was in the hospital, and would be doing it once she went home. (BTW--this 32 y/o grandmother had had her own baby the previous week..) The nurses were all taking bets on how soon this girl would be pregnant again, since there were no negatives, in her mind, to having babies. She could go out and "hang" with her friends as soon and as long as she wanted.

Lack of education is an issue, too..sex education that is. I'll never forget how close I was to weeping when one 16 year old mother (and I was only 22) asked me, seriously and as she did her calculus homework, "Can you tell me how I got pregnant when I only did it one time?" She honestly had no clue about how pregnancy occurred. I gave her as thorough a sex education as I could in the few minutes I had before she was discharged, encouraged her to follow up with Planned Parenthood or the hospital clinic, and wished her well.

What can we do to change things? Who knows?

9:32 AM  
Blogger Fat Doctor said...

Before I met Husband, I feared that I was pushing 35 and might never be a mother. I made a decision to give it until 38, then pursue adoption or donor sperm or some other road to motherhood.

Thank GOD Husband came along. Now that we are (married and cohabitating) parents, I'm exhausted and could not imagine doing this on my own.

10:26 AM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

"I ask every young woman with body piercing why she had it done. The uniformity of their answers to my (admittedly very unscientific) poll is stunning.

They all said "I don't know". After a while I started to believe them."


Well, I had 2 in each ear lobe, had the cartilage pierced once in each ear (a year apart - got the second one because the first closed), and had my navel pierced back in October 2004.

My final cartilage piercing and navel piercings closed because when I had my first of three surgeries last year, they made me take the piercings out. I couldn't get the navel one out, and the chief resident removed it once I was under anesthesia and gave it to me in a urine specimen cup. I damn near cried. Still have it on my dresser... LOL

I have a reason for that one. I've always been extreme self-conscious of my stomach and my body. Always hated my stomach. Said I'd never get my belly button pierced because why would I want to show off something so hideous? That body image problem persisted with me for quite some time in a variety of ways.

But I got better from it... As time went on, I saw me for ME when I looked in the mirror. Someone offhandedly suggested I pierce my navel at some point, and I thought about it. Yeah...that was just what I wanted to do. I'm not afraid of my stomach - that's exactly what I should do. Also, it was representative of all the pain I've lived through physically.

Very symbolic for me, but it's gone now...all I have is the scar. LOL Maybe I'll get it done again at some point, but for now - the thought of having a $70 piercing removed under anesthetic and having all the work and some pain I put in to get that thing to heal...it's just not worth it. I did, however, read an article about plasing a sterile plastic catheter tip from an IV in the piercing hole if you have to have piercings removed for surgery and the hole hasn't healed enough not to close. Wish I'd have read that before they pulled it! :-/ At least they told me they were going to do it before I went under...

Carrie

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another question to be pondered is why do single middle class men, even though they're sexually active, not father unwanted children? My experience, being a middle class woman, is that this group of men will use condoms, or make certain that the woman is using some form of birth control, before hopping into bed.

I suspect that one large reason is these men know that they will be held financially responsible to pay child support, even for a child they do not want or want to have any relationship with (though it will probably be difficult for the woman to get the man to pay regularly). Still, the man has a big asset to protect in these situations, and it's his income. And from my experiences, there's nothing that a man will jealously protect more than his money.

On the other hand, what assets does a poor man have to protect? He's not generating any or enough of an income to make it worthwhile for the mother to ask for child support. There's no financial penalty for him if he fathers a child.

For any man reading this blog, who's middle class and educated, what were the reasons that you had for not fathering children when you were single? Surely, most of you didn't remain virgins until marriage.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

anon, I think these men you're asking about are the one's that's mature enough to do what is right. They are protecting themselves and the women they are with.

When my oldest son was 15 years old, I caught so much h*** from my Mother and my sister's because I had a "talk" with my son and had my husband get him condoms. No, I made it clear this was not an OK to go have sex, but, the bottom line, I wanted him protected and to be safe. It was my job to make him responsible. I wasn't just worried about pregnancies, I was worried about AIDS and HIV and all the other STDs.

We can tell our kids not to have sex until the cows come home, but thats not realistic. When those hormones start raging, our kids arent thinking about what "mommy" wants them to do.

6:15 PM  
Blogger SmartBlkWoman said...

That Girl said...
All I have to say is that teen pregnancy is such a problem that we have abortion clincis in less than 3% of US counties....


87% of counties in the US overall are without an abortion provider versus 97% of non-metropolitan counties. Check the statistics offered by Guttmacher.

To my knowledge it has not been intimated in these comments that birth control is entirely the womans burden. (Speaking particularly for myself, I have not suggested this.)

My point is that it does take two to make a baby but ultimately if the relationship does not work out ( or if there was no serious relationship in the first place) the woman is going to bear the brunt of the burden if an unintended pregnancy occurs, whether she likes it or not, thus she has an added incentive to take precautions.

Men should not abandon women they impregnant, but the reality is that they sometimes do. A woman does not have the ability to abandon her pregnancy at 9 months gestation by just walking off and not coming back. I'm a single parent who has lived what she is talking about. It took 11 months to get a court order for child support during which time my childs father just avoided taking the paternity tests required to establish paternity. He continued to party and enjoy himself with is friends while I was sitting home pregnant. He has never even laid eyes on my daughter.

Even for women that choose abortion there is no guarantee that the man will help you pay for it, let alone the fact that he doesn't even have to even go with you go get it done. And to be a bit more graphic, he is not going to be the one up on the doctors table with legs splayed getting his uterus cleared out.

If you are a woman there is alot more at stake than if you are a man.It may not be fair that women bear the brunt of the repercussions of an unintended pregnancy, but it is the reality.

Cathy said...
I have a real hard time believing that up to 70% of single mother's have a man they are living with. Is there a reference?


The book "Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage" by Kathryn Edin. It says that about 70% of single mothers are living with men, either their boyfriend or the father of one or more of their children.

1:57 AM  
Blogger CGI-angel said...

Seems like it's inherent in our human nature--or a universal law with some gravitational pull towards 'messing up.'

One could preach sex-ed. all they want, yet this problem would still prevail. The biggest issue is our society's lack of traditional morals/values. I have to say 95% of my friends or acquaintances think its 'OK' to makeout with a random stranger at the club & take them home. What's most hilarious is, not having sex on the 1st date but rather the 3rd date equates to "waiting." It's often impossible to truly 'know' someone after a year, let alone the 3rd date.....

I personally have 3 gf's who've gotten pregnant before. All 3 are educated, smart women...a financial advisor, Law student and a Med student. You would 'think' they'd know better, especially the med student. I've asked all 3 'WHY' they didnt take better precautions......their replies:

1) Condoms are uncomfortable for my bf and I.
2) I got off the pill cuz it makes me fat.
3) Been with my bf for 2yrs(+)...few times without a condom didnt seem like a big deal.

The abundance of knowledge didnt do shit'all for them.....except cater all 3 towards abortion--since they are such "educated, career-oriented, ambitious" women.

Cathy,

It's absolutely true the majority of single moms live with a man. I kno 2 single moms with toddlers, who's bf's have their own seperate aptms...but since the bf stays over 4-6 nights a week, they're basically 'living together.' Despite that studies have shown it's unhealthy to expose series of new bf/gf's to your kids constantly, they STILL do it. Mind you, they are all educated single moms, who are great moms too.

Research also shows that kids DO infact listen to their parents...maybe not entirely, but they do take some things to heart.

.....I grew up with a mom who worked in obstetrics. All my life she'd be telling us the freakshow stories of young/teen, addicted mom's coming back to deliver their 10th baby. She made it abundantly clear that if I ever had pre-marital sex (let alone get pregnant)....I'd be disowned for life. She refused to let me date through-out High school, even univ. She even went pretty psychotic over reinforcing it. We've fought over the issue of 'guys' for many years....and true, not that I really cared about what she said, but a part of me did and somehow I listened. As a result, I'd have to say my morals are alot stronger then most ppz I know, especially self-control towards men (comparing with all my gf's)......................Ironically, nowadays I work around 98% men....my mom still freaks out and insists that I absolutely shouldnt date until I'm 28-30......her dad (my grandpa) and my dad simply thinks its ridiculously hilarious.........

*cheers*

5:43 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

Smart, I wasnt saying that women dont have to bear the burden of pregnancy more than men - I was saying that as a society, we tend to only BLAME the women for unintended pregnancy, not men.
This is yet another post about "those women" and there are no posts about "those men".
Contrary to what you may believe, plenty of middle class men are the absentee fathers of children. Admitting that they are fathers is one of the last things they would ever do. I know of at least two men who have moved to a different state to avoid paying child support.
Knowing that someone is a "runaway dad" is not something men like to admit to (or HAVE to admit to). Middle class men just have more resources to escape and/or hide that fact.
It's like the divorce phenonmenon - women who tell how much of a bitch their boyfriend's ex-wives are, mostly based on stories told by their boyfriend or colored by that bias. Yet it never occurs to any of them - that's what THEIR ex says about them. What is a man going to say - I cheated so many times she divorced me? No. Nor is he going to admit to paying chils support for a kid he never sees or avoiding child support for a woman he impregnated.
And because there is no direct evidence of either, he doesnt have to.
And women get in on the game of punishing by making sex a moral issue - if you dont have sex you are morally superior than someone who does. This makes using birth control even more problematic and just leads to greater pregnancy rates - if it's immoral to have sex than it's immoral to PLAN to have sex, thus, no birth control.

NeoDoc,
As for the mother who had a stillbirth - I feel for her. I have seen women do crazy things after a late-term miscarriage or stillbirth, things like you are describing - try to become pregnant again even though the first pregnancy was a mistake. I have seen what prenancy and late-term miscarriage do to women and all I call feel for that woman is compassion.
Ask any aquaintance, mother of none or mother of 12, about her miscarriage and she will tell you the date, when the baby would be due, how old the baby would be RIGHT NOW. Women do not talk about this to men, and rarely to other woman.

9:18 AM  
Blogger sailorman said...

I think you are missing that "poor" and "fertility control" are often at odds.

You're not going to want to get your tubes tied if you are a young woman. So maybe you want to use condoms.

Well... condoms are expensive, and of course you have to "convince" your partner to wear them (and to keep them on). So maybe you want to use a diaphragm....

Well... Diaphragms aren't cheap either (remember, you're poor). And you have to pay attention when putting one in, and buy the gel, and, well, they're not exactly available when/if you want to have sex in a hurry. So maybe you want to use a IUD....


Well... an IUD isn't much cheaper either. Don't forget you have to pay for th OB visits, as you're not insured, and this isn't something you get at the ER. You probably don't have a local planned parenthood to help. Perhaps you don't find it comfortable. So maybe you want to use the pill...

Well... the pill is expensive. And if you don't like the side effects, and want to fiddle with dosage, you have to go back to your doctor (more money again, that you don't have). Sometimes you can't afford your monthly prescription, which leaves you with nothing. So maybe you want to use an injectable...

Well... this is really expensive. And you hate to get shots. So....

...you end up using nothing. At least SOMETIMES. And ass we all know, if you mix fertile males, fertile females, and occasional unprotected sex, you're going to get pregnant.

Then what?

If you couldn't afford BC, you sure as hell can't afford an abortion.

If you weren't using BC because you thought it was "wrong", you sure as hell won't want to get an abortion.

If your mental state prevented you from "dealing" with BC, or doctors, and/or shots, you're ulikely to motivate to go get an abortion.

If your friends and/or lovers were telling you you "should" have a baby, they'll advise against abortion.

Surprise!!

Enjoy your new baby.

(rinse and repeat)

It's not about being SINGLE. It's about being POOR.

11:00 AM  
Blogger sailorman said...

I think you are missing that "poor" and "fertility control" are often at odds.

You're not going to want to get your tubes tied if you are a young woman. So maybe you want to use condoms.

Well... condoms are expensive, and of course you have to "convince" your partner to wear them (and to keep them on). So maybe you want to use a diaphragm....

Well... Diaphragms aren't cheap either (remember, you're poor). And you have to pay attention when putting one in, and buy the gel, and, well, they're not exactly available when/if you want to have sex in a hurry. So maybe you want to use a IUD....


Well... an IUD isn't much cheaper either. Don't forget you have to pay for th OB visits, as you're not insured, and this isn't something you get at the ER. You probably don't have a local planned parenthood to help. Perhaps you don't find it comfortable. So maybe you want to use the pill...

Well... the pill is expensive. And if you don't like the side effects, and want to fiddle with dosage, you have to go back to your doctor (more money again, that you don't have). Sometimes you can't afford your monthly prescription, which leaves you with nothing. So maybe you want to use an injectable...

Well... this is really expensive. And you hate to get shots. So....

...you end up using nothing. At least SOMETIMES. And ass we all know, if you mix fertile males, fertile females, and occasional unprotected sex, you're going to get pregnant.

Then what?

If you couldn't afford BC, you sure as hell can't afford an abortion.

If you weren't using BC because you thought it was "wrong", you sure as hell won't want to get an abortion.

If your mental state prevented you from "dealing" with BC, or doctors, and/or shots, you're ulikely to motivate to go get an abortion.

If your friends and/or lovers were telling you you "should" have a baby, they'll advise against abortion.

Surprise!!

Enjoy your new baby.

(rinse and repeat)

It's not about being SINGLE. It's about being POOR.

11:00 AM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments and insights. La luba, it's good to hear from you again!

I write about single mothers more than single fathers because one, they are the ones I interact with, much more than the single dads, and two, being a single parent seems to affect the single mother much more than the single father. Sometime I'll write a post about single fathers who just leave; I doubt I'll be complimentary.

That girl, I don't mean to minimize the pain of stillbirth or miscarriage...but she's twenty and single, can't that subsequent good pregnancy wait a bit?

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Dianne said...

La Luba: I'm sorry for all you went through in your first marriage. Your comment about women being expected to do everything reminded me of a divorce story a friend of mine told me:

My friend married young and she and her husband both worked for several years. The economy tanked and he lost his job. She got a second job to cover expenses. Guess who was expected to do the housework? One day she came home from work, exhausted, to find him sitting in front of the TV, idly flipping channels with the remote. He looked up at her and said "Honey, what's for dinner?" I'm not sure what dinner was, but hers was eaten while calling friends looking for the name of a good divorce lawyer. (Interestingly they're still friends. I guess the moral is that the consequences of calling the BS aren't necessarily as bad as you might think.)

On the topic of why women choose to be single mothers...I'm a single mother. I may be an atypical single mother (I'm 38--had the child at 35-- and have an advanced degree). One could also say that my right to call myself a "single mother" is pretty questionable given that I live with the child's father, he spends about as much time as me taking care of her, and our usual babysitter is her paternal grandmother. So I'm not sure to what extent my reasons for becoming a single mother give any insight into the "typical" reasons (if there is any such thing as a typical reason), but my reason for becoming a single mother was just this: I wanted a child and I didn't want to be married. Marriage is unappealing to me for various historical, legal, and personal reasons. On the other hand I wanted to have a child and so did my partner. So, why not? Would we be better parents if my partner went and got a certificate of ownership for me? I think not. I'd rather have my daughter grow up knowing that she can have a child and still be free.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anon 5:30 said...

I'm Anon 5:30 from yesterday, who brought up the subject of middle class men.

I think there's the perception that poor, urban males are the only ones who are irresponsible and who sleep around with no regard to what happens to the women they're involved with.

From my experiences, they're not the only men with the irresponsibility problem. I've had 3 serious boyfriends in my life, and one husband. While I was with the three boyfriends, all of them were sleeping with other women, unbeknownst to me (I was naive and ignored the warning signs, chief amonst them being that a man is too tired for sex.) All of these men were engineers, went to decent schools and had good jobs.

I think that the (now ex) husband was faithful, though he told me when we split up that it was probably best, because he would have cheated on me sooner or later.

I think what distinguishes these men is that they don't leave a trail of unwanted babies behind them. Most likely because the women they sleep with (including me) have health insurance, so we can afford both birth control and doctor visits. Doctors don't see women like us having one unwanted pregnancy after another, because we can afford to make certain that doesn't happen.

A question for the educated men reading this post - how many of you have collegues who sleep with more than one woman at a time? And how many of those men are married?

4:59 PM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

"You're not going to want to get your tubes tied if you are a young woman. So maybe you want to use condoms.

Well... condoms are expensive, and of course you have to "convince" your partner to wear them (and to keep them on). So maybe you want to use a diaphragm...."


I can't buy this as a complete excuse. I worked in a health district with the poorest of the poor. We gave out paper bags full of condoms to boys and men who admitted they were sexually active. Women could get them too if they asked. Otherwise, we did have women meet with family planning conselors and had other available services for them.

For FREE.

Yes, there are long waits at the health district clinics, but the care is free. People work very long and hard hours at an arduous, thankless, and sometimes even dangerous job to provide this care to the poor.

One problem I find is that some people living in poor communities simply have no idea that there are resources available to them. They are young and their parents have never been able to or perhaps never wanted to guide them in the right direction, and it seems like nobody else has taken an interest, so they simply do not even know what's out there.

The other issue is that SOME (not all) people are just too lazy to take advantage of these services. WIC is great if you'll fill the form out for them. And we do. Time and time again.

What is the point where people are required to take responsibility for their own actions? Poor or not - I don't think any of us gets off that scott free. I've worked at these clinics and worked with the homeless and seen many people come in off the streets with less than most people could even imagine to their name. The resources (at least in the cities) are out there.

You can lead a horse to water....

12:02 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

anon 5:30...A "smart" man will use condoms regardless of his partner using birth control. Using birth control pills or whatever is no protection againts STDs. I'm not talking about married men having sex with their wives, I'm talking about any man that has sex with any woman that he is not married too. And certainly any married man that has sex outside of his marriage is a complete idiot to not use condoms. Well, he's an idiot anyway, but even more so if he doesn't use condoms.

There are also some women who will say they are taking BC pills when in fact they are not. Likewise, some men will say that a woman swore she was on BC when maybe she hadn't said any such thing.I think these two scenerios are the blame for alot of children being born with no father's. Men claim this BS and their families and friends feel sorry for them and then begin encouraging them to just take off and not be trapped.

We all need to be completely responsible for our own behavior and not place the responsibility on anyone else.

If some man comes along and swears he had a vasectomy 20 years ago, unless you marry him or witnessed the surgery, it's best to assume he has been shooting blanks for 2 decades. Anyway, that surgery is no protection against STDs either.

3:42 AM  
Blogger Dream Mom said...

Maybe one of these times you could write a complimentary post on some good single mothers who love and take care of their children well. We aren't bad people because we are not presently married or because we are divorced. I was married for five years before I had Dear Son at the age of 33 and was married for 14 years overall.

Most of the single mothers that I know work, were married for a long time, had a child when they were married, divorced and work hard to take care of their children. In all of these cases, the fathers are involved as well in caretaking and supporting their children, including Dear Son's father.

Ironically, most of the single mothers that I know would love to be married again. The reason most of them aren't is that they don't feel comfortable dating while they are raising their children. Once their children are grown, then they tend to resume the dating.

Certainly I am not about to debate the fact that it's easier economically with two parents. It's also great if a child has parents that are married. And yes, I would not want to see teenage girls giving birth or any young women giving birth without bieng married because I know it's hard and I've read the research. But single mothers are not failures based on their marital status. They are simply, single mothers.

4:46 PM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

Dream Mom,

While I can't speak for neonatal doc, I get the impression that he's not referring to single mothers in the sense of women who were married, had a child, and then were divorced or widowed. It seems to me that he's referring to women who have never been married and have several children...these are often younger mothers (in these stories) who sometimes have babies with several different fathers...

I'm sure he'll correct me if that assumption is incorrect!

Take care,
Carrie :)

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anon 5:30 said...

Related to this whole subject is an article that ran in the Feb. 2 issue of 'The New Yorker'. It profiles a visiting nurse who works with poor teenage mothers in rural Louisiana. And it's an eye-opener. In an ironic twist, the nurse is black, and the teenagers white.

There's an online interview with the author of the article at http://www.newyorker.com/online/content/articles/060206on_onlineonly01 . (The illness referred to in the interview is hepatitis.)

9:56 AM  
Blogger Dream Mom said...

Carrie, I realize that was probably not the docs intended
audience however single mothers seem to be taking a beating lately, not just in blogging but everywhere.

I think anyone who has had children can certainly understand the issues and the difficulty of teenage pregnancies and unwed mothers. Perhaps, we should refer to them as teenage pregnancies/unwed mothers instead of just lumping everything under
the term, "single mother".

5:14 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Dream mom, your point is well taken, and as neonursechic implies, my frustrations are mainly with the single mothers who keep having kids over and over. I don' think we can lump all single mothers together. They are all different sorts of people, with different reasons for being a single parent.

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