Growing Pains

I was just your average teenager. Then I got pregnant.

By Jennifer Merrill
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 67 | Posted Feb. 18, 2009

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"I don't know what to do; I'm so scared, Spencer. I'm so sorry. What do we do?"

"I ... uh ... " There was still nothing for him to say. He was petrified.

"Let me come get you," I said. "I'll take you to work. I need to see you."

"I ... uh ... okay," he muttered.

"Okay, I'll see you soon. I love you, Spencer."

"I ... uh ... yeah, I love you too."

When I got to Spencer's house, he was already waiting outside. He stared at me, scared as hell, as he ambled across the street and got into the passenger side of the car. As soon as he shut the door, I grabbed him and hugged him tight. He squeezed me back, and we sat like that for a little while as I cried on his shoulder. As I raised my head, we gazed at each other, and he kissed me gently. I think I noticed a few tears taking form in the corner of his sad blue eyes, but he quickly shifted his gaze to the world outside his passenger window.

As I drove him to Neato Burrito for his shift, I told him about my conversation with the nurse. He listened intently. When the car finally stopped, I took a deep breath and we made eye contact again. He looked frightened, overwhelmed, confused and helpless. After a short silence, he inquired, "Are you pranking me?" Leave it to Spencer to resort to an inside joke.

I smiled for the first time that day. "No, Spencer," I laughed. "I'm certainly not pranking you."

But then it got much more serious. I could tell there were a million thoughts running through his mind, but only one came out. "You need to get an abortion," he insisted.

Whoa. That hit me hard. I'm pro-choice, yet it's a choice that I don't think I'd ever be able to make. I remember having discussions with my two best friends about what we'd do if we ever got pregnant in high school or college, and even before I was "sexually active" I always felt that every child deserves a chance. I felt I was already past that choice, but considering how high the tension was in my car, I felt it best to keep that to myself.

"Spencer, just ... just stop. I don't know, I ... " I trailed off.

"No, Jen, seriously. I can't do this. I can't be a dad. I'm not ready. You're not ready," he stammered. The emotions were overflowing like water through a broken dam. "You have to do it. I--I--we can't. We're 18."

"Spencer, I just found out. We'll figure it out; just don't do this right now," I begged.

"Jen, I'll give you the money," he tried to explain. "It's still just a cell, Jen. If we do that, everything can just go back to how it was and ... "

"No, Spencer. No!" I exclaimed. "It will never just go back to how it was. I'm never going to forget this and neither are you. This is my child. This is our child."

"We are not ready to be parents, Jen! We can't do this! You're crazy!"

"I'm not crazy. Just calm down. We'll figure this all out; I promise. I just found out."

"Fine. I have to go. I guess I'll talk to you later," he muttered.

"Spencer, stop. I love you."

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Comments 1 - 67 of 67
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1. Mercedes Lewis said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 09:00AM

“Jen and I became friends at Temple, and her story is so beautiful. I love her to death and her friends here are supportive of her one hundred percent. I'm so proud of her for telling her story, as well as for making some of the hardest decisions she might ever have to make. I feel confident that she will make the choice that is right for her, and either way, she has infinite love coming her way.”

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2. Angie said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 09:46AM

“This is an amazing story! What a talented young writer. It brought tears to my eyes. I would love to hear more articles from Jen Merrill ”

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3. Faithie said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 11:11AM

“This article, while moving, is somewhat baffling because there was no introduction or editors note to explain its origin. Did this girl win an essay contest? Was this an unsolicited submission? Did the editors see a pregnant girl strolling around Temple and ask her to contribute? Is she part of a formal education/awareness campaign? I guess there's no real context. Even more baffling is the fact that she is such an outlier. A middle-class, nuclear-family reared , college-educated Caucasian teenager carries a baby to term? I suppose there's an element of man-bites-dog to this story. But again, an introduction or editors note would help us understand why she was chosen to contribute. Whatever choice she decides to make, wish her and the baby the best.”

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4. Elaine Price said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:08PM

“Thank you for printing this amazing and heart felt article. This article will help people who have been in this situation, children who were adopted, and anyone that thinks they can make judgement on the decisions made by woman in this situation. No doubt Jennifer Merrill will be a successful journalist and will make a decision that will be the right choice for her and her baby.”

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5. Brad Moore said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:08PM

“I talked to you on the first day of orientation, and i remember you said that you wanted to be a journalist. Awesome article, and I wish you and your baby the best”

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6. ugh! said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:08PM

“Why were you not on the pill dummy? Its only 99.8% effective. How come you make no mention of using of a contceptive. You start your little story trying to convince your readers you are smart, and smart people don't just get pregnant.”

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7. Kathleen Jackson said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:17PM

“This is a beautiful, heart-touching story ”

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8. Kathleen Jackson said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:19PM

“wow, sometimes some things JUST HAPPEN. you dont hafta be smart or dumb. She is talking about her life when she found out she got pregnant, not beforehand >.<”

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9. Andrea said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 12:21PM

“This story is amazing. Jen, you surely are mature for your age and this is a hard decision. But I wish you the very best in whatever choice you make, raising the child or giving it up for adoption. You are a strong girl. You will succeed in anything you want to do.”

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10. Molly said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 01:01PM

“Okay, listen, "ugh!"... you can't say anything about Jen. You don't know her. I went to middle school with her and even back then, she was one of the most intelligent and nicest girls in the class. Maybe she didn't mention the use of contraceptive because at this point, why should it matter? If she didn't want to have a child, she would have been smart enough to use some type of birth control... But mentioning it now? What's the point in that? Jen, I know you're going to be an incredible mom, and at this point, you are my personal hero. Good luck. <3”

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11. BrittaB said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 01:59PM

“Jen Merrill is one brave young lady. As a young woman myself the thoughts of pregnancy are more than a little overwhelming at this stage in my life and she has seemingly handled this situation so gracefully and optimistically. I'm sure it was hard for her to get to that positive perspective but she has proven that unexpectancy's in life can be shockingly happy discoveries in the end. Jen may be young but her mental strength is inspiring. To think that she is making such a weighty decision during this time of her life may be unfortunate in many ways considering the finance, time and attention needed for a child in addition to our already hectic and stressful lives as students, but from this story I have faith she will be able to make the right decisions for herself and baby. ”

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12. joeldermole said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 02:10PM

“Hi folks: Apparently some early comments on this story came down. This was inadvertent -- due a technical mixup -- and we apologize. Long story short: We re-uploaded the story this morning to correct an *earlier* technical error, and in the process the old comments disappeared into the Internet ether. Joel Mathis Online Editor Here they are, as best as we're able to reconstruct: • James Jen, I was introduced to you through a mutual friend at Temple. And in that short time of knowing you I truly believe that you changed my whole opinion of Philadelphia, even if you may not have done so intentionally. Those few times we had dinner together at J&H made me realize just how lucky we all are in this world. You showed me that in the City of Brotherly Love there are people who aren't perfect, but you never let it show in front of others and never let it get you down. As I look back I can honestly say that not once had I ever seen you without a smile on your face and that is something I admire most about you. You embraced your choices, took responsibility, and didn't make excuses. You always looked ahead and looked to help others in any way you could. As you continue on I want you to know we'll be thinking about you at Temple. We miss you and wish you the best of luck and no matter what your decision know that we support your decision full heartedly. • burnsjl You are an excellent writer, Jennifer, and a strong person. Thanks for sharing this very personal issue. It sounds like you have a supportive family and friends, and I think you have a wonderful life ahead of you. If I ran a newspaper, I would hire you as a writer this instant, that's how good you are! I'm not trying to tell you what to do with your life, because I don't know you personally and only you can decide what's right for you. However, I just want to share that thirty-five years ago, I made what was the wrong decision for me and have always regretted it. To this day I wish I had kept my baby. Good luck with whatever you decide. • Keiran McCann JEN I am so proud of you! • Sarah This article is amazing and so important. Jennifer is a thoughtful and articulate writer and so very brave for sharing her story with the city of Philadelphia. Her maturity and strength shine through and it is truly impressive. As a labor and delivery nurse, I know that the stereotype that teenage moms are irresponsible and immature is false. Unfortunately, this knowledge is not shared by the general population. These women need the love and support of their entire communities in order to reach their full potentials and to create the lives they want for their children (whether adoption is chosen or not). This article gives a face to teenage pregnancy and shows us that smart, responsible people really do get pregnant as teenagers and that no mother takes her pregnancy lightly. Thank you Jennifer for sharing your story so that we all may begin to understand the difficulty and the beauty of what you and many other young women in this country are going through. Good luck, Jennifer, with your momentous decision and with the process of childbirth. We are behind you and you CAN do this! • Trav all that i am saying is, that photo by elena jasic is awesome... I want her to do pics for my wedding! • s Woah, another fatherless child. • Outlaw7189 Jen, I have known you since pre-school. You have always been great at making decisions, and eventhough this one will seem much more difficult than any that came before it, I know that you will make the right decision. I wish you the best of luck with either decision you make and hope everything turns out for the best. If you choose to keep your daughter instead of putting her up for adoption, I know that you will make an excellent mother. Jesse Smith • C You are astonishing. A baby could never ask for more then you. I happen to know the girl who wrote this so maybe i shouldn't say my opinion but this girl is literally one of the best people i have ever met. If anyone can do this, she can. It is your choice and not an easy one. The baby will have a great life either way, but will you have a good life wondering? I wish you the best of luck. You deserve the best Jen and I am sure you will achieve your goals • Heather Wow. I am speechless. Your writing is meticulous and shows how mature you really are. Remember to make the best decision for yourself too. You never want to have any regrets either way. You are a brave, strong person for sharing your story. Please let us know what you decide. Good luck to you and your family. They sound very supportive. What else could a girl ask for? • OMG get it together!!! seriously...who is this article supposed to relate to?? arts and entertainment...are you guys nuts??? This is the best you could do with an entire city full of things to cover! An 18 year old pregnant girl isnt news, or entertainment, so what the heck was the point of this article? She doesnt even go to temple anymore!.....Are you out of staff writers, so your pawning your job off on a teenager? • Janet Best of luck to you. ”

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13. jan said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 05:39PM

“Is PW the new Seventeen Mag?”

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14. Samantha said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 06:11PM

“Not to sound heartless, but this is nothing compared to what some people go through. How about the teenagers who get pregnant and their parents abandon them? I'm not seeing why this is newsworthy and I am offended that this story is being glorified while so many are out there with zero support and no one cares to tell their story.”

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15. Amanda said... on Feb 18, 2009 at 09:31PM

“First of all, this article is absolutely amazing. Jen, you’re a very talented writer and your story is moving. I'm sure I'll see more pieces by you in the future for this magazine and many more. Your such a strong person for going through this and writing about it. Good luck in everything you and the baby do! Some of these other comments are astonishing to me. Just because she wasn't on the pill or use protection doesn't make her any less intelligent. For those calling her a dummy I don’t see your articles published and it’s remarkable that someone can write about a confusing time in their life. Smart people to just get pregnant, it happens. Also, this article relates to thousands of 18 year old girls who got pregnant, or have another obstacle that their faced with so yes, it is news. Let’s face it, the writing is really good and should be seen by more than professors at Temple. Finally, other people do have it a lot harder than Jen but it doesn’t make the story any less compelling. If the writing is good (which it is) then stop being so negative. ”

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16. Michael said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 07:34AM

“Samantha, you make a fantastic point. This piece is problematic in so many ways. ”

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17. Jana said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 09:14AM

“And how do you know that she wasn't using contraception? The pill can be affected by other medication or sometimes it fails. There are women who have gotten pregnant while on the pill. Condoms do fail sometimes. Smart people *do* get pregnant and just because someone is pregnant doesn't mean that contraception wasn't used. Judgmental much?”

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18. ugh! said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 09:20AM

“Must agree with Jan and Samantha! This is not news! And could everyone stop complementing and congratulating the poor little girl who got knocked up. I am angry with myself for even caring! Comming soon to PW a conversation with the Jonas brothers.”

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19. Dan said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:19AM

“Levels on which this article offends me: 1. Remember when Natalee Holloway went missing a few years ago and Nancy Grace was shrieking in our faces about it 24/7 until a hurricane wiped out a major American city and finally gave us something important to talk about? Plenty of kids who weren't pretty blond white girls also went missing around that same time but drew the short straw because they weren't photogenic enough for their tragedies to warrant constant media coverage (they also likely didn't get one last night of binge drinking in Aruba before they went missing, which is unfortunate; every condemned person should be entitled to a last meal). This is just more of the same. Plenty of teenagers in this city and across this country get pregnant every day. Some of them will forced to abort the baby for lack of money or a support net. Why are we treating this one case as news? Because she's white? Because she's pretty enough to put on the cover? Because she was narcissistic enough to think that her story is compelling and decided to write about it? A pregnant teenager is not news. A pregnant teen who's story has no resolution so far is certainly not news. This is a sanitized version of an everyday event and a pity party thrown by a member of a demographic that PW desperately wants reading their paper masquerading as something newsworthy. (By the way, I come from a functional, middle-class suburban nuclear family. When my brother came out of the closet, we were all very supportive and loving and we all lived happily ever after. Can this be a story, too? He'd look fabulous on the cover!) 2. Are you so hard up for a story you turned to Livejournal for ideas? Did nothing else happen in Philadelphia this week? If you're really scrounging for content you could just do a bullshit list like Philly mag has been running every issue for the last few months. Those, at least, make for quick easy reading on the toilet. 3. If this is really what we have to accept as content these days, you could at least do us the favor of having an editor look at the story or make it an "as told to" deal and let someone who can actually string words together to make a sentence relate the melodrama to us. Despite what the author's cheerleading squad is yammering on about, this article is not amazing or articulate or heart-felt. It's cliche-ridden, overwrought and trying far too hard to be "writerly." This girl has probably taken one or two journalism classes so far, and it shows. Writers have to start somewhere and hone their craft, but the cover of a product that's going to be consumed by an audience is not the place to hold amateur hour. We readers deserve much better than this. ”

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20. Patrick said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 02:30PM

“WOW....I think you are a very bright 19 year old girl. The questions and situations you are thinking about are not things I believe a 19 year old would think. I am impressed with your openess and candor in a situation where a majority of girls would not deal with the issue. I will go out on a limb and say that I think you will keep this child and you will be a wonderful mother. In addition, I believe you will reach your career goals. You may not reach them as quickly as you would like but you will. As for your father saying he was disappointed in you well I think he is more dissapointed in himself. As a 19 year old girl who was sexually active he may find it difficult to have "allowed" that to happen. If your relationship with him is a good one then I believe his statement of dissapointment was meant for you both equally. I hope he his supporting you now because you could use his support. I wish you good luck .”

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21. NF said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 02:44PM

“I am thrilled to see this piece in PW. I am a young-ish 30-something - married, stable & unable to get pregnant. My husband & I want a family and are trying to adopt domestically. As we are going through all the hoops to adopt, we are discovering that there are many couples in the city like us taking the adoption route to creating a family. It was wonderful to hear that there are women like Jennifer out there that are considering the beautiful choice of adoption and willing to talk about it. She bucks the stereotype of "what kind of woman would give up her baby". She is smart, articulate, thoughtful and seriously weighing her options in hopes of doing the right thing for her and her baby. Whatever she chooses, I know the decision will be informed, educated and well thought out. Best of luck, Jennifer and please do a follow up piece so we all know what happened!”

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22. waltzing_tilly said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 04:57PM

“I agree with many of your comments. Not to disparage the young author and mother (I wish her the best of luck in the choices she decides are best for her and her child), but this is a smiley, happy article about a teen parent. It's not a realistic view of the lives of most teen parents. Because she's white, pretty and middle class, it's newsworthy? I was just presenting to a class of teen parents about dating violence. Every one of them was in an abusive relationship or had been with their baby's father. Most of them are poor and do not have a great support network (one girl's mom won't even return her phone calls). Perhaps that is what makes this young woman's story an anomaly, but it's not raising awareness about the real challenges and realities of teen parents. I was also a little turned off by the seemingly anti-choice vibe this article gave me. Certainly it wouldn't make for a newsworthy story if she had chosen to terminate her pregnancy. Society puts so much shame and secrecy around abortion; it's really unfair. I respect the choice she made, but the fact is she had a choice. And I think that's a valid point to make as well. We never focus or write articles about the similarly brave women who choose *not* to carry to term for their own reasons. Really the section about abortion seemed to demonize the act, not discuss it as a viable choice for many people. ”

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23. poochabella said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 05:20PM

“Smart people get pregnant all the time. Unwanted pregnancy prevention has nothing to do with intelligence. It is, however, linked to exposure to the comprehensive sexual health education (as opposed to the completely unsuccessful abstinence only education currently available) that has been essential outlawed in our country. As proven by most other "developed" countries, The United States would see a tremendous decrease in unintended pregnancies (as well as STI rates) if we present comprehensive sex education in schools as well as ACCESS to contraception. Aside from all of that. The fact of the matter is that birth control is NOT 100% effective (especially when we're not taught to use it properly). It is insulting and erroneous to claim that people who unintentionally become pregnant are "dummies". ”

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24. poochabella said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 05:23PM

“I can't even count the number of ways it is problematic. I wish Jen all the best. I fully support the choices she's made- she seems mature with a "good head on her shoulders", and I'm happy she has such an incredible support system. I find incredible fault with the information she was provided at the "Life Choices" clinic....”

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25. JustSayin said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 06:59PM

“I can think of a couple reasons why this is being published: 1. Juno? Hello? She even looks like her. 2. Bristol Palin interview. That kid totally got messed up by bi-partisan politics and her psychotic mother. Now she gets to be on TV. And the article is lacking: 1. What the hell happened to the boyfriend? I'm pretty sure that the first image that popped into his head was faking his death, changing his identity, and making it for the border. Did he stick around or what? 2. Where is the perspective of all not-so-happy-go-lucky super-supported pregnant teens? Let's look at this circus here: Although the world would be all puppies and rainbows with pregnant teens who were all like Jen, let's be realistic here; there's definitely two sides to this situation no matter how you demonize or sugarcoat it. To show otherwise is just bad journalism. By the way, that phone nurse was totally not being a good health care provider. ”

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26. anonymous said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 07:19PM

“If all the comments from this girl's friends were removed, there would be about five relevant ones here. Reason #1 Not To Let a Teenager Write Your Cover: Rallying tweens discourage adult conversation.”

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27. Quinn said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 07:52PM

“Jen. Although I know thisi isn't the ideal situation, I think it's completely amazing what you're doing. You show more maturity then most of the adults that were commenting on your story. And to all those people who are old and outdated commenting on this story. THIS IS OUR GENERATION. FUCK OFF. She didn't abort this child she's bring an amazing baby girl into the world. How can you condem her for this? If you don't want to read the story, skip the page. There's no need to bring someone down, who is doing something amazing. Good luck girl!”

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28. bethanylee said... on Feb 19, 2009 at 08:00PM

“I agree so much with both you and Dan. This article was pretty upsetting to me because it was so one-sided, even though she claims to be pro-choice.”

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29. HMR said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 08:30AM

“I just have to say, I do not think this article was written in an attempt to explain what every young pregnant woman goes through. This story is simply an attempt to make people understand what tough decisions a young mother has to make. I do not see how this story is not worthy of the front cover. It is beautifully written and one that touches the heart whether you have ever been in a similar situation or not. I think it is GREAT that they are looking to the next generation to contribute to their magazine. I mean do we REALLY need another story about the economy or housing crisis. I think your comments are a bit extreem. She may not have the writing ability that somone who has been in the business for 20 years does, nor should she, I think to say that her article is not amazing or heart-felt is just wrong. Jen, I am proud of you for asking yourself the tough questions and making your difficult story front page news. This article is evidence to the fact that you are an extremely strong woman. Good luck with your decision and I am so glad to hear you have such a wonderful support system. You are one of the lucky ones in that sense. ”

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30. virginiaoverholser said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 08:42AM


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31. ginny said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 08:45AM


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32. Susan said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 09:43AM

“ Sometimes even the most responsible, intelligent young people, who have had equally responsible, intelligent parents, make decisions that result in life-altering consequences. This is Life 101. I feel that Jen Merrill has written an important and engaging article. She and her family are dealing with her unplanned pregnancy with courage and thoughtful pursuit of facts, in order to make the best decision possible for the child involved. To complicate this decision, as she has so eloquently expressed in her article, her choice cannot be made by rational thinking alone; this is a decision that will be influenced by the heart. I feel privileged to have read Jen's story, and am glad that Philadelphia Weekly published it. This story raised awareness about the important issues of unplanned pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and responsible decision-making. The writer's story is enhanced by the authenticity of her young age, voice, and demographic. The part in which Jen describes her emotions upon viewing her 6-week old fetus was a glimpse into an issue that has occupied not only pregnant women, but lawmakers, judicial bodies, and entire societies! This is my first exposure to Philadelphia Weekly. I noted that some have commented that Jen's story does not belong in a news magazine. I disagree.. Life is news! Making responsible life choices is news. This is a teenager's true story about her experience, thoughts, and feelings, as she is about to bring a child into a world that she, herself, has just begun to understand as a young adult. If a writer is a good storyteller, does it matter if she has completed formal journalism classes, or writes with a thesaurus close at hand? That's what editors are for. Jen Merrill's craft may need fine-tuning, but she tells us in her story that she took an unintentional detour on her way to getting her journalism degree. I feel that she is off to an impressive start! Whatever Jen chooses to do, once her choice is made, I hope that she will have peace of mind and spirit in the knowledge that she made the right choice, and go forward with self-confidence into the rest of her life. ”

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33. andrew said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 07:13PM

“ standards seriously decline by the week. I'm curious why you waited for a healthy suburban white girl to do this instead of using one of the hundreds of Philadelphia teens who experience this daily? I'm confident that given a few years, Jennifer will grow into a cover-story-worthy writer who can report about things other than herself. Until then, rethink your strategy to have college freshman turn their lives' milestones into your cover pieces. This is utterly shameful.”

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34. Mike said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:15PM

“This is a story of someone who not only is going through a very tough time but she has the courage to write about it, and write about it extremely well. We have a talented writer here who is going through something that is very common yet not spoken about a great deal. This is a first hand account of everything that is going through a pregnant 18 year olds head. Young adults writing about young adults, who better to write such a column. This is an article that more people can relate to than anything in the newspaper. There are parents out there who have NO idea, but their child has had an abortion. This article shows that every teenager makes mikstakes, every adult makes mistakes too, the differece is how you take care of the mistakes that you make. Anyone can have a kid, anyone can have an abortion. It takes a special 18 year-old to make a good decision to either take care and mother the baby or give the baby to someone who can love and mother the baby. Sure there are plenty of other cases out there where there is no support from friends and family, and people feel for them too. This is a column that speaks to so many people, for you to say you are offended, baffles me. ”

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35. Marisa said... on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:53PM

“I'm a 23-year-old female and really respect Jen and her thoughtful decision. I am pro-choice and probably would have done the same thing. Thanks for publishing this wonderful story. I almost cried. Also, even though she may not be the typical pregnant teen, it's still a well-written and provocative story. ”

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36. philly77 said... on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:25PM

“I think this article was very well written for a girl who is 18. So many are critical on here saying that she is from a middle class family etc. So what? That is what makes this a different story. Everyone writes about the young no job, welfare seeking girl who doesn't have a job, nor is looking for one. Why aren't those girls in school or why haven't they graduated? It's not because of money, it's all about how they were raised, Their mom's probably didn't care, and they probably had them out of wedlock, and weren't encouraged or helped by "their" moms., and thus the vicous cycle of welfare,baby daddies, and unwanted children, left to roam the streets, not encouraged to go to school, or stay in school, WIC for food, and foodstamps., designer sneakers, clothing, and cell phones, but no computers at home no smoke detectors, same story, cop killers, etc., then the vicious cycle continues, they have babies, no guidance, no daddy,no jobs, ....This is what makes this story different, not because as someone said, "caucasion middle class". What's that got to do with it. If you are another color/race, and not middle class, you could be "guided by your mom/parents/ whatever, Jen's mom did answer the phone,,she did hug her and tell her they would get through it. Jen's mom probably had a good teacher/mentor,,,her mom,,,, and so on. And so Jen,,,she will have it hard, but she will have support from her mom, and this too will pass to her unborn child. LOVE, SUPPORT,GUIDANCE, . AND I would bet you that if her mom wasn't available, she would reach out and seek help, maybe she would have to turn to WIC and help etc., but she would do it all with love for her child. Not stay home, not work, and SUCK up on the system. This should set an example to other girls that do make a mistake and get pregnant. If they want to give a baby up for adoption, then they can. If they want to have an abortion., they can, and if they decide to have the baby., you can, but JEN,,she will eventually finish her schooling,,,get a job,,and be successfull. Maybe instead of being hard on her., cut out the article and show it to those who sit home waiting for a baby daddy to show up, and he doesn't so they go on welfare and suck up on the system. Looks like Spencer isn't stepping up to the plate, not sure, but if he doesn't,,,she will do it. Stay tuned, I'll bet she writes more, and if she doesn't,,,go ahead and GOOGLE her name in a few months. I'll bet there will be some great stories and BLOGS! You go girl!”

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37. Claire said... on Feb 22, 2009 at 08:59AM

“ Her doctors who told her she had the flu should be ashamed of themselves, since any doctor talking to a teenager girl with nausea should ask her if she's pregnant before telling her anything, as if the prescribe something to her that could harm the baby they'd get sued. So... I don't know who her doctors are, but I'd say don't go back.”

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38. auntjoyce_114 said... on Feb 22, 2009 at 09:27AM

“Dear Jenny, "You go, girl!!! :-) Whatever choice you make I am sure it will be the right one for you and your precious little baby. I know it is not easy, but what worthwhile in life ever is? Life is good at "throwing curve balls". However, with your "batting average" I know when the time comes your choice, along with the support of the people who really love you, will be the right one. ”

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39. auntjoyce_114 said... on Feb 22, 2009 at 10:32AM

“Everyone is a critic! What right have people to judge when they are not perfect themselves? I believe that only God has that right.”

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40. andrew said... on Feb 22, 2009 at 04:22PM

“Whoops, in my comment I forgot to point a finger at George Miller, who is in all likelihood responsible for this piece. He has once again proven that his educational modus operandi is to simply publish his students' work in PW.”

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41. Mrs. Schell said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 08:21AM

“This is a very well written article by a insightful young lady. I am sure writing was very theraputic and helpful for her. It gives a look into the mind of a pregnant teens life. The article was printed because it was well written and compelling. For those that don't think it is news worthy, you are missing the point. Girls do get pregnant and people wonder about it. Gladly submit a story about another pregancy experience and we will gladly read it. Jen is studying to be a journalist, dah! Best of luck to Jen and her family. She is luck to have a supportive group around her. Stay positive and you will do great! ”

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42. joshua said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 11:28AM

“shame on all of you who judge someone for sharing their story. we ought to be saying "thank you for sharing. now, how can WE help those who need support in these kind of scary situations?" my only other question is: what happened to spencer? i hope that he is still very much in the picture and ready to try his best at being a responsible father.”

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43. Don said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 02:02PM

“Everyone who criticizes this story, I have this to say: Whether you think she's unique with a good support system. If you think shes an "outlier" being white and carrying the baby to term. Perhaps you think that PW has an agenda or something running this story. I ask you: What do you know? She's relating her honest opinions and reactions, this is a real tale, not something that some writer edited and souped up to make newsworthy. This is as real as it gets, straight from the horses mouth so to speak. I challenge any of you who criticize to relate your own story of teen pregnancy where you were the father or mother of the unborn fetus. If you can't then you don't know what your talking about. If you want to hold this is bias, or unrealistic, or anything, and your standard of comparison is second-hand stories or other news stories, then who's to say those are anymore accurate? Be ashamed of yourselves for trying to prove your knowledge when in fact you distinctly lack any at all. To Jen, I hope everything works out, and I look forward to your continued career in writing.”

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44. jes said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 02:25PM

“I really liked the story and I respect her so much for the decision she's made. I hope she posts an update once the baby is born!”

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45. Oliveoil said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 08:25PM

“Your story brought tears to my eyes. Yes as someone commented below that people have been through worse, but everyone experience things differently. I was 28 yrs old when I got pregnant just finish graduate school and started working and my experience was similar. So would say your story is worthy and deserve recognition because they are young girls out there that is pregnant and will be reading this story and gain hope and realize that life goes is a new chapter. Thank you ”

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46. Kaitlin said... on Feb 23, 2009 at 10:28PM

“Jen, I remember when we were in elementary school and your creative writing stories were awesome, but WOW this was one of the most touching things I've read in a very long time! I cried of course. It was so nice going out for dinner tonight. You are such a strong woman and your writing shows that loud and clear. Whatever you decide, you'll succeed. Disregard all of the negative comments that ignorant people have made. Your story is different. It deserves to be shared. ”

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47. lauri becker said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 05:39AM

“Jen, You were always the happiest little girl and you have become a beautiful young woman. I cried when I read your poignant article. Your mom has done such a wonderful job raising you. I know you have a difficult decision, but you will make the right one for you and your baby. I look forward to reading many, many more published articles by Jen Merrill. Ignore the negative comments, being critical is easy for people who don't know you.”

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48. sieya said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 07:48AM

“There are girl much younger than she is that life it no that big of a deal if you want a shory write about girls 11 and 12 having baby”

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49. Nadia G said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:03AM

“How convenient it is for a "careless" girls (as her dad described) to think about adoption so that she can continue with her life and give her unborn daughter "better opportunities". Very easy way to run away from a life commitment. I guess this is what kids learn with movies like Juno. I am not in her shoes and would not like to judge her, but it sounds like she is putting her own career and her own "life" before her child's. A lot of us have learned to make sacrifices since early in our lives and there is nothing better than to look back and to see that EVERY single sacrifice has paid off in your life. And giving up a child in adoption does not sound like a "sacrifice". What excuse is she going to use next time she gets pregnant and it's "not ready" for it??? Hope the boyfriend is being "supportive"”

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50. E. Michelle Berry said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:25AM

“Please, listen to yourself. You're treating this child like a punishment the author has to endure. I'm pro-choice, and I happen to believe that the key word is *choice*- if this young woman's future, and the future of her child, would be better through adoption, why would you judge her ? Why is it better that a 19-year-old woman give up her dreams and future, and possibly limit her child's opportunities ? When you put this young woman's "life" in parenthesis, it shows what you really mean- you don't think her future is important. I do. P.S. My cousin was adopted into our family; her bio-mother made the right choice for both of them, she's a happy child with a loving family who would do anything for her. I trust women to make the right choices for their own lives. ”

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51. E. Michelle Berry said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:30AM

“Poochabella, great comment ! The abstinence-only movement in this country has damaged the ability of young people to make informed choices about their lives. Just as you say, comprehensive sex education, access to contraceptives, and a change in attitudes (no more "used tissue" example in sex ed class, please) would dramatically lower our unintended pregnancy rates.”

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52. b.g. said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:30AM


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53. b.g. said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:30AM

“Ugh. Nice of you to put "life" in quotation marks. I guess a clump of cells, once again, is more important than the existing woman with dreams and plans and a brain. Disgusting how the pro-liars and their fetus-worshipping language has pervaded all corners of American life.”

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54. Allie said... on Feb 24, 2009 at 05:57PM

“Jen this is an incredibly moving story that most do not have the courage to write about. You are an extraordinary young woman and I am so proud of you. This piece was beautifully written brought me to tears multiple times as well as bursts of laughter. You are so talented and this baby is only going to add to the light that you bring. I wish you all the luck in the world! ”

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55. Sara said... on Feb 25, 2009 at 07:55AM

“samantha, that was a really heartless comment. So what if there's people out there who have worse stories to tell? they should've written into the magazine... it's amazing how jen dealt with her situation. Most teenagers wouldn't handle this situation that maturely. You should have a bit more appreciation for her story and shut your mouth. ”

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56. Sara said... on Feb 25, 2009 at 07:58AM

“samantha, that was a really heartless comment. So what if there's people out there who have worse stories to tell? they should've written into the magazine... it's amazing how jen dealt with her situation. Most teenagers wouldn't handle this situation that maturely. You should have a bit more appreciation for her story and shut your mouth. reply ”

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57. LAdeDa said... on Feb 25, 2009 at 09:13PM

“This was such a beautiful story. I cryied a little. Best of Luck! ”

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58. said... on Feb 26, 2009 at 05:04PM

“I think that this article is amazing. The skill she has is incredible. She is trying to share her story, it gives you hope. I'm in no way offended that it was printed. It's a great story.”

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59. said... on Feb 26, 2009 at 05:06PM

“I agree samantha that was heartless. She shared her story because she is a journalism major. She has incredible writing skills. Sure there are a lot of pregnant girls at least this gives them hope. You should probably not comment if you have something rude to say.”

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60. Joel said... on Feb 26, 2009 at 05:27PM

“It's more than a little mystifying how a person can post a comment stating, basically, "She is pretty and white, therefore her experience means nothing. She has people who support her and her decision, therefore her story is crap." Does that person really think teen pregnancy is a walk in the park? Absurd.”

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61. Kelsie said... on Mar 2, 2009 at 08:23PM

“All you people that think this is bull. Screw you. It can happen to anyone. I am in the same boat at Jen. Im having a little boy due in July. I'm also 19 years old. Wake up and smell the coffee the new generation is different. Teens are getting pregnant left and right. Jen has a lot of guts to share her life story with everyone and be heard. She had to of known there was going to be people out there like you that put her down. Just think if it didnt happen to you it could to your children or grandchildren and would you support them or just walk away. THink of it that way if your brains will allow it. Jen you hang in there you are going to have a beautiful baby girl. :) ”

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62. Staci said... on Mar 18, 2009 at 06:38PM

“No words can describe how much this touched my heart.
It seems there are some people who can always find words to criticize and judge. But only the strongest and bravest have the guts to retell their story in hopes to encourage and uplift those in similar situations like Kelsie here. We all have stories to tell of rough spots in our life and how we plan to conquer and pull through. Instead of wasting our energy on complaints and judgments, let’s all find something beautiful to share with the world. Jen, thank you for shining so bright and sharing a little light in this world.

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63. Msss.Karri said... on Apr 20, 2009 at 03:03PM

“woooahhh. (:
no doubt about it you could be an auother.
this story makes me realize ALOT.

and you know what. never worry about your baby hating you.
she will love you forever and beyond.
your the one whos giving her life..

i realli do hope thatt you and your boyfriend worked things out?
you seem like a awsome person..


have a greatt life..
iv learned alot just from thiss..

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64. TC said... on May 9, 2011 at 05:35PM

“To all of you who looked down on her for writing this article, and for those of you who decided to express your negative feelings, well shame on you. She is no way, shape, or form approving teen pregnancy. She is simply telling her story. And to those who think she's had it easy, well she had to deal with your comments, which alone is tough enough. I,myself, don't agree with teen pregnancy, but everything happens for a reason. God have her this girl, and I KNOW she will do her best in loving her and caring for her, GO JENNIFER”

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65. Val Dal said... on May 13, 2011 at 06:58PM

“When one can express their emotions with total honesty, well, that is what makes for a good writer. I could feel what she went through finding out she was pregnant and her boyfriend stating that the solution was to have an abortion. I, too, went through the very same thing, although I was older. I prayed for this baby to come into my world but was totally unprepared when it happened. I had just left a job after 9 1/2 years, had no idea who would watch my child once I found another job, and my 18 year old car would not last much longer. On top of that, I was alone in the world (no family). And to you naysayers, he knew I wasn't on birth control and choose not to use a condom, even knew when I was ovulating. The outcome is that I overcame all obstacles, choose to have my baby who is now 21 years old and an unbelievable student at Temple U. Jen, the decision is yours alone and I wish both of you well.”

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66. Women and Pregnancy said... on May 31, 2013 at 12:31AM

“Its nice just proud of her n love her to express herself very honestly ..”

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67. ainol said... on Jul 11, 2013 at 10:28PM

“ainol professional brand website !


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