Having never been one, I’m no expert on teenage boys, but from what I understand, they tend to get really weird about being eyed as father material for other people’s babies. In this week’s plus sized episode of 16 and Pregnant (more than one baby = more story), we met the super fertile couple Leah and Corey, the participants in an “I’m sure my Depo shot still has some juice left in it” rebound encounter in Corey’s beloved truck. While we saw a few tender moments from the newly formed but now permanently linked couple when Leah peed her pants, the rest of the hour and a half was a slow-burn of pain*. Though I thought it went on a bit too long at the time, I’m beginning to appreciate the length of the episode for the following lessons learned:
- It is necessary to keep up with the maintenance of one’s birth control**
- Denial is nasty (the lies Leah and company told themselves include, but are not limited to: at school, it’s like I don’t have have babies at all; when she’s at school, I pretend she doesn’t have babies because she seems the same to me; he’ll love me just the same if I want him back; senior year of high school is super important)
- For better or worse, it is impossible to select a different father for your children after the fact
- If you attempt to do #3, the consequences will be painful.
Until I took a step back and realized that Leah was a very young 17, I started to get angry with her as she took a flamethrower to her personal life and threw herself into a social world of friends who seemed to get off on being terrible enablers (Where on earth was that Kayla girl for most of this episode?). Having taught for a few years, I can spot trouble, but Leah doesn’t have my superpowers and was thus completely blind to the fact that Robbie was the bad, selfish kind of trouble that you look back on at 25 and pat yourself on the back for leaving behind and Corey was the redeemable, somewhat disappointing kind of trouble. Leah’s episode was exhausting – from her hard, hard pregnancy to the emotionally draining way she carried on and then was smacked with the consequences – and even though I said it last week, I’m still worried that the kids are not okay.
* And yes, most episodes of 16 and Pregnant are studies in pain and sadness. But this week was a new animal entirely.
** While MTV is good at giving definitions of what’s going on medically on 16 and Pregnant, I feel like the gesture towards getting more information about birth control by running those commercials that sends viewers to a website is a little half-assed. I think there’s room for definitions of birth control and their proper use and potential for misuse when it inevitably gets discussed during the whole “how I ended up a pregnant teenager” part of the story. For example, in Episode 5, I know how and why Lori got pregnant by mixing her birth control with antibiotics. In fact, my exact words were, “Well, shit, that will do it.” But it was such a short moment in the episode that it seems like a casual, less well-versed teenager might not put all the pieces together. This week, I knew how and why Leah could have forgotten to get a shot (outside of probably thinking she didn’t need to keep up with it because she wasn’t with Robbie anymore) because Depo Provera (which I’m assuming is what she was on when she said she got shots) lasts for 12 weeks, and the gap between doses can make it easy to forget when you’re due if you’re not super on top of it.