The Global Epidemic

Meet Rosette.
She is 20. She has 1091 friends on Facebook and 486 followers on Instagram. Social networking sites are her way to maintain contact with her family and friends, to see what others are doing and finding old friends. She is single, at least for now. She loves dancing and is a member of a traditional dance troop.

Rosette’s period is late. She Googles pregnancy symptoms and as she reads through, she checks almost every symptom listed.
“This can’t be happening to me”, she freaks out.
Few weeks later she goes for a pregnancy test. She takes it from a clinic, ten miles away from her home. Because she is scared her mother might find out. Her parents especially her mother is really old fashioned. They believe that before a woman gets pregnant she needs to be married. And Rosette is not married yet.

When she saw the nurse come with her results, she tried not to panic. She was about to have a nervous breakdown. Rosette saw the word POSITIVE in capital letters on the paper. The world seemed to be caving in around her.
She felt like screaming. She wanted to tell everyone to stop so she could think.
All she could do to keep herself together was to think of it as a dream.

Many women intend to get pregnant. A good number succeeds but some become pregnant unintentionally. For some women and their partners this may be a pleasant surprise, but for others the pregnancy may be mistimed or simply unwanted.
According to a study by Gilda Sedgh et al., 40 percent of the 213 million pregnancies that occurred in 2012 (that is about 85 million pregnancies) were unintended. Of these, 50 percent ended in abortion, 13 percent ended in miscarriage, and 38 percent resulted in an unplanned birth.

Later that night as she lay in bed awake, she imagined having a baby. It felt like a dream she would wake up from. She then imagined telling her parents and how hard that would be. How was she going to drop the bomb? I’m pregant! Or Mom, Dad you’re going to be grandparents? Or Hey folks, I have something to tell you. And when would it be the best time to tell them? She didn’t want them finding out on their own. She wanted to be the one to tell them before she started showing.

After Rosette found out, she went right away to her cousin, Marie. She told Marie she got a surprise.
“How can you get a surprise when there are shops in every corner selling condoms?” Marie asked her
“Some people just get carried away in the moment”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Get larger and larger, and then have a baby” Rosette said, smiling.

Most of the unintended and mistimed pregnancies are as a result of lack of access to modern contraception or, for various reasons, not using contraception. Though over the years women have become more familiar with different types of contraception, women don’t use contraceptives mainly due to fear of side effects and concerns about health; and problems with access and cost which are all signs of poor quality family planning counselling and services. Nevertheless, if all users were to follow instructions perfectly, there would still be nearly 6 million accidental pregnancies per year.

Rosette was terrified to tell her parents. There was no easy way to say it. But she had to find a way to tell them.
She decided that putting her feelings in a letter to her parents was a good way to let them know. Then she went to her friend’s place and stayed there, to give them space to process what she had told them.
By the time she got back they were not alright with it. They were angry, upset, and disappointed. Of course she didn’t expect them to welcome the pregnancy.
Rosette got pregnant before she got married and her parents wanted to make it right. They talked her into marrying Jeff before the baby was born. But Rosette didn’t want to get married just because she was pregnant, even though she knew that’s what her parents wanted. She wanted to make sure it would be the right decision rather than rushing into it.
She was serious about having the baby and was ready to take on the responsibilities no matter what. However, she had no intentions of getting married.
Her parents were devastated to say the least.

Once she got that load off her chest, Rosette told Jeff. But she didn’t expect the reaction she got. Jeff lost his temper.
“You have to terminate the pregnancy”
“My baby is not a train.”
He accused Rosette of lying and planning to become pregnant and that she had tricked him.
“I’ll not be pressurized into helping you or the baby in any way, if you want to keep it.”
Rosette couldn’t believe Jeff would say such cruel things.
“For all I know this could be any man’s child”, he added. He even had the nerve to say he was not sure it was his. And that was the last time she saw Jeff. Rosette knew she was on her own.
“There are a ton of single mothers out there struggling to raise their kids. If they can do it and so can I” she reminded herself.

Rosette thought of her body as a miracle. She wanted to have the baby. Even at the beginning, when the baby was little more than a collection of cells, she loved it. That’s why she would never have an abortion. And she knew an abortion was not going to make things better.

Women who did not intend to become pregnant often resort to an abortion.
Abortions carry little or no risk, when performed by trained health care providers with proper equipment, correct technique and sanitary standards. Each year induced abortions are performed by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards, or both, and are therefore unsafe.
Thousands of women die each year as a result of unsafe abortions and millions more suffer long-term injuries from often life-threatening complications.
Where abortion is permitted (legal), it is generally safe and is associated with fewer negative health consequences. However where it is highly restricted, it is typically unsafe.
The fact that some women seek to terminate their pregnancies by any means available in circumstances where abortion is unsafe, illegal or both, proves how vital it is for women to be able to regulate their fertility. Women pay heavily for unsafe abortions, not only financially but with their health and their lives as well.
It’s clear that improving the knowledge of, increasing access to and use of contraception are essential to prevent the unintended pregnancies that lead women to risk an unsafely performed abortion, thereby putting the lives of women at less risk of lifelong injury or death.

With time, her parents learned to accept it. But it took until after the baby was born. As her mother held the baby in her arms, everything changed.
She looked at him. His eyes were closed, asleep. His eyebrows barely formed and impossibly perfect. Faultless.


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