This week’s episode of 16 and Pregnant was a special ninety minute installment which tackles both teen pregnancy and eating disorders by following Winthrop, Minnesota’s Kayla Jackson and her boyfriend Mike Schwing.
A pregnant junior, Kayla is a student athlete who was hospitalized for anorexia at age thirteen. She moves from the hustle and bustle of her father and step-mother’s home to live with her mom, who (of course) allows Mike to move in with her daughter. Mike is sweet and beyond helpful, but he is barely a supporting cast member in this play, which resolves around Kayla’s body insecurities and broken relationship with her mother.
The couple was not using birth control when they got pregnant (cue more PSAs, please, MTV), and Mike has given up on college to work part-time to raise money for his growing family. Kayla’s mom Deb (who gave birth to Kayla as a teen) promises to help as well, but she spends the majority of her time with her own boyfriend.
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Kayla is “feeling fat” and everyone around her is concerned about her eating habits. Even when the happy couple learns they are having a boy, Kayla is missing the connection with her mother. She leans on Deb who suggests she join a support group for young mothers, while promising she’ll try to make more of an effort. Kayla tries to talk to her mom about her eating issues, but Deb continues to let her down. Being an intelligent girl, she consults her doctor instead, showing concern over her (normal) weight gain.
At seven months, Kayla’s friends decide to make her a belly cast, and Kayla becomes very light-headed. She won’t eat, but accepts a bottled water. A concerned friend calls her doctor, and gets very upset when the doctor instructs the group to take Kayla immediately to labor and delivery. After a bout of pre-term labor, Kayla’s doctor insists she needs to eat more. Her friends are (naturally) very concerned and rally around Kayla, restaurant-style, making sure she eats what she needs. Her pals are very supportive of Kayla’s fears as senior year approaches.
Kayla sees a nutritionist and her mother makes excuses as to why she doesn’t spend more time with her daughter. As Deb continues to be MIA at meal times, Mike tries his best to make sure Kayla is getting the food she needs. Her doctor is still concerned because at thirty-six weeks, Kayla hasn’t been gaining weight since her last appointment.
Kayla’s friends throw her a shower, and Kayla and Mike prepare a nursery. Mike creates a work schedule so that he can stay at home and care for the baby when Kayla returns to school. Soon after, Kayla believes her water has broken and she is having contractions. After waking up her mother for advice (which consists of “lay down and see if you feel better”), Kayla and Mike head to the hospital.
Sixteen hours into labor, Kayla is approached about having a c-section because her cervix is not dilating. At twenty-three hours, a c-section is performed, and the couple welcomes Preston Michael to the world. (Precious new dad) Mike is so nervous about driving home with his fragile new baby in the backseat. At home, Deb had promised to take a week off of work to help out and she prepares a feast for the new family. Over dinner, Kayla’s mom admits she decided not to take the time off–she wants the young couple to learn to “adjust to their new routine.”
Kayla isn’t producing enough milk (which she blames on her non-existent appetite), so she and Mike must resort to paying for expensive formula. The couple is proving to be more than competent parents, but then Deb requests Mike start paying rent if he’d like to stay in the same place as his girlfriend and child. While Mike pays for all of the young family’s expenses (Deb provides a roof over their heads but doesn’t pay for the child of Mike or Kayla…not that she should, but her daughter would be living there anyway, right??), she wants $300+ a month. Deb suggests Mike go to work full-time which would not allow him to watch Preston while Kayla is back at school.
I don’t understand Deb’s logic (although she’s not getting any other mother-of-the-year awards in my book) as Mike just and extra body (and this is from a girl who is so sick of these boys moving in and mooching!)–he doesn’t seem to rely on Deb financially for anything, pays for his child’s needs and saves the couple additional child care expenses. Still, ever the stand-up guy, Mike works full-time so he can pay the newly instated rent.
Kayla is getting farther and farther behind with her home-schooling. Her friends are concerned that she won’t graduate with them and feel guilty that they are going off to college and leaving Kayla alone with her new baby. The girls have a sleepover and Kayla reveals that her relationship with her never-present mother is getting increasingly awkward. Awkward how? Well, for one, DEB ASKS HER DAUGHTER TO GO ON A DIET WITH HER. Yes…the same daughter who is still battling an eating disorder and augmented body image. Deb tells her daughter that because of her background (WITH ANOREXIA, MIND YOU!!), Kayla is probably much more disciplined with her eating habits and could help Deb a lot. SERIOUSLY? I wanted to punch Deb through my television screen.
Kayla tries painstakingly to talk to her mother, who seems ridiculously distant. The new family is forced to spring for a hotel room when Deb’s heat breaks, but all Deb can say in response to any of Kayla’s pleas for a relationship is “I try.” Heartbreaking for a girl doing her best. At the close of the episode, Kayla admits that she still suffers from body issues and the idea of how different her life would be had she not gotten pregnant at such a young age.
On MTV’s Aftershow, Kayla reveals that she still struggles with her relationship with her mother and that she and Mike are no longer together. She blames the break-up on her falling out of love with Mike and feeling that Preston became the only thing the couple had in common. Mike continues to be supportive and the parents have a co-parenting schedule that works for both of them. Below is a recent photo of Kayla and baby Preston –