Monday, April 14, 2014

Pampers & Pinot Grigio: Musings from a new mom


A little over four months ago, I met someone who completely turned my world upside down. This someone came into the world at 9.5 pounds, screaming and hollering, and showering us with his affection (literally peeing everywhere). This “someone” is my son, McSwaine (Mac) Kershner. After years of dreaming and praying, we finally met our darling little boy and my world hasn’t been the same ever since.

You see, everyone told me about the sleepless nights, the golden showers at 3am while changing a diaper and the “fourth trimester” bowl of pudding that was once my bikini-ready stomach (who am I kidding, I was never really bikini ready but I would sure as heck rock one). What no one told me about was the punch-drunk love that you feel for this screaming, hollering, pooping little hot mess. I had some rowdy days in my past but this kind of high – the high that you feel when you look out at the world from your child’s eyes, the kind of high that you feel when you snuggle up with that little butterball for an afternoon nap, the kind of high when you root in those neck-rolls and soak in that sweet baby smell – that high surpasses any street drug my friends, I am talking about the good stuff.

I was naïve to think that having a baby wouldn’t change me. It did. It totally did. I was particularly naïve to think that my husband and I would just bounce back into our social life (even though it was pretty mediocre to begin with anyway). Unfortunately bar stools don’t securely hold a car seat (I have tried) and people seem to frown upon having a baby in bar. I also find myself more cautious than ever before, always looking out for things that could potentially be a danger to Mac. My husband has always been this way, he was deployed overseas twice as a Marine and is now a State Trooper so his nature is to be overly protective...living by the mantra “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” (I basically married the Marlboro Man). I, on the other hand, always assumed people were good and that the world was made of fairy dust and sprinkles. But after having Mac, I won’t even pump gas with him in the car…too many crazies lurking around that might steal my baby (I have obviously watched too many Lifetime movies). I also find myself more selfish of my time; moments with Mac are limited so I have learned to say “no” to things that aren’t making positive contributions in our lives. I have also somehow managed to exponentially increase my tolerance for body excretions and other fluids that spontaneously project from a baby’s body (where does it all come from anyway!?). I have learned to chill out and not take life too seriously; I mean how can I be serious when I am not exactly confident if I remembered to put on deodorant? I have also learned to love myself the way that Mac loves me. The “fourth trimester” is real, it is this cruel joke that the universe plays on you. For nine months, I was a human tape worm eating whatever I wanted because “I was growing a baby” and then one day I have the baby and I am confused when I am holding the 9.5 pound baby but I am still carrying 60 pounds of “pregnancy weight,” I mean shouldn’t the doctors remove the nice padded muffin-top that I made
solely for the baby?!? So here I am, wearing every kind of Spanx invented but I am learning to love my body the way that my child does – without flaws or flubs - just pure love and joy. To be honest, I think Mac just views me as one big udder, so that is not helping my self-image but I am learning to love my body just the way it is (this realization is a tough one). Having a baby also changed the way I viewed other people because I am reminded those those people were once children who just needed love, attention and someone to believe in them. Just think how different our world would be if every child had someone to love them, provide for them and believe in them (cue Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”).

Having a baby is one hell of a roller coaster ride that no advice or baby book could have prepared me to experience. I still have no idea what I am doing and there are days that I have cheese balls and wine for dinner and forget to wash my hair (for four days straight). But then there are moments where I hear my sweet boy giggle or look up at me with a wide-eyed grin that make all the sleepless nights and delirious days worth it.

It is the scariest ride of my life but I keep going back for more with my hands held high in the air and my feet off the ground praying that it never ends.

by Sarah Kershner, It's Your Game Project Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tattoos and Teen Pregnancy?

I love analogies. Complicated ideas make more sense to me when broken down into basic, real-life applications or situations I understand, and I find myself assigning symbolic meaning to little day-to-day things. I often use analogies in my work with young people because, just like me, the analogies help them to connect with difficult concepts. That’s where my new tattoo comes in…

My newest tattoo
I’m not someone who people would really expect to have a tattoo. I’m fairly clean-cut, conservative and traditional. But I actually have 3 tattoos – each one gotten about 8 years apart. I’ll never forget the reaction my parents had when they saw my first one during my freshman year in college. Shock is the kindest word to describe it. My mom eventually said to me, “I guess I never thought to tell you not to get a tattoo.” My mom understood that while a tattoo may seem like a good idea at the moment, it’s something permanent – an image that sticks with you for life. Even with the modern miracles of laser treatment, some remainder of the tattoo always exists. Getting a tattoo is not something that should be taken lightly or decided on in the heat of the moment when it’s something you’ll live with forever.

And here’s the analogy. Sex is like that. Having sex is something that will stay with you forever. When it comes to teen pregnancy prevention, we often focus on what happens from the waist down, but there are tremendous emotional and spiritual consequences to sex as well. Connecting so intimately with another human being affects you permanently regardless of potential for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases or use of contraception. We should be talking more about this with our young people to help them understand that having sex is not something to be taken lightly or decided on in the heat of the moment. No matter what the world around us may portray, sex is a big deal and should be treated as such.

Fortunately, I’ve never regretted any of my tattoos. Each one represents a specific period in my life and holds special meaning for me, but maybe we could use the tattoo analogy to help young people understand sex on a different level. Sex is not meant to be bad or dirty. But sex IS a big deal. It’s a permanent, forever thing that can’t be taken back. And, just like with tattoos, making the decision to have sex with someone is not a decision you want to grow up to regret.

by Dana Becker, Spartanburg Community Mobilization Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wear Jeans, Raise Awareness about Teen Pregnancy

Raise awareness about National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month with us this May! Every year during Blue Jeans for Teens, we at the SC Campaign wear jeans in the office for $5/day or $20/week to help raise awareness and support for teen pregnancy prevention efforts in South Carolina. We’d love for you and your organization/business/community group to join us this year for 1 day, 1 week, or the entire month of May. We will provide stickers for participants to wear on the days they wear blue jeans for teens. Participating in Blue Jeans for Teens 2014 is easy! Here’s how:

  1. Register your team online on our website.
  2. Receive Blue Jeans for Teens stickers in the mail
  3. Wear jeans to work and raise awareness for teen pregnancy prevention
  4. Collect donations and mail to the SC Campaign

Click here for more information and to view past participants.

Thank you to everyone who has dedicated their time and effort to teen pregnancy prevention throughout the years.  We truly appreciate you and look forward to raising awareness about teen pregnancy together in May.

by Kemi Ogunji, Executive/Development Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Letter to My 16-Year-Old Self

Dear 16-Year-Old Me,

Hello there! I’m you, 10 years in the future. Yep, you sold out and went to college and got a real job instead of becoming a rock star like you thought you would. It’s okay. At this point in your life you’ve already mourned that dream and decided you don’t have the tolerance to live in a van for months at a time. You like stability and going to bed early now. In fact, you even voluntarily attended--get ready for this--GRAD SCHOOL.

I know, I know, you don’t believe me. You’re sitting in algebra right now, wearing those skater shoes from PacSun that Mom tried to throw away because they were so old but you went and fished them out of the garbage without her knowing. You’re probably going to your shift at Dairy Queen after school where you’ll mumble under your breath about how much you can’t stand the ho-hum of suburbia. When you get home Mom will ask how your day was and you’ll answer her in as few words as possible, then retreat into your room and turn on the stereo. You’ll probably fall asleep thinking about Joe, your first boyfriend.

16-year-old me working at Dairy Queen
I have so much to tell you, young me, and I’m not quite sure I can convey how desperately I want you to listen. You don’t do that very well, do you? You’re right about everything, because you think growing up in suburban New Jersey has bestowed upon you all the worldliness one could hope for. But stay with me here.

You’re going to move to South Carolina after college and realize you had a very privileged childhood. You’re going to start listening to country and you will like it. You will adopt an overweight orange cat. You’ll love him. And you’ll also start working at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, where you’ll help communities encourage their teenagers to make smart choices. And when you’re sitting where I am right now (and you will be, because you’re me!) you’re going to think about those kids you’re trying to reach. You’re going to wince when you remember just how invincible you thought you were, when in reality, you were just one bad decision from having it all turn out so differently. You’re going to want those kids to listen.

You’ll see the efforts the SC Campaign is trying to make and you’ll pray those kids realize there is so much more to life than high school. You hope they won’t be like you and take their education for granted. That they’ll have enough wisdom and foresight to know that the decisions they make now will follow them into the future.

How do I know all of this? Because I was you once, and let me fill you in on a few things. First, Joe is going to dump you. In the hallway. On your way to algebra. You’ll be devastated, you’ll write some bad poetry, but trust me, you’ll get over it, and by the time you’re here you won’t even remember why it hurt so much.

School is important. Stop asking when you’re ever going to use equations in the real world and just study, for crying out loud. You’re not bad at math; you just need to work harder than everyone else. Keep on truckin’ --you’re going to get an A in graduate level statistics.

Your friends aren’t the most important people on the planet. There are things you’re doing now that you’ll regret later. Mom and Dad were right about mostly everything. Oh, and Mom? You’re only going to have another eight years with her. Try not to take her for granted.

You won’t get this letter in time. But hey, that’s why I got to write it.

Love,
You

by Amanda Pollak, Graduate Assistant, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Introducing NotRightNowSC.org!

Our new website is almost here and we're getting pretty darn excited! Here are the top five things we're looking forward to about launching the new notrightnowsc.org in April.
1. It's mobile friendly!
Anyone who knows a teen will agree they're constantly connected, and the research backs it up. According to the PEW Research Center, 74 percent of teens access the Internet on a mobile device. Not only that, 25 percent of teens access the Internet primarily on a mobile device. Which means if we aren't mobile, one in four teens might never see our site at all!

2. We'll have information for pregnant and parenting teens.
For the first time, we've expanded our audience to include pregnant and parenting teens. Sure, we want to keep our young people from getting pregnant. But if they do, we want to help prevent a second pregnancy, encourage the parents to stay in school, and give them resources to keep their baby healthy and safe. 

3. We're including teen voices. 
We're giving teens a place to contribute their writing, art, and other creative ideas. Because who knows better what it's like to be a teen than a teen?

4. Teens will be able to use our site to find resources across the state. 
We've had some great success with the "Not Right Now, Put Pregnancy on Pause" campaign in Spartanburg and Horry counties. Thanks to all their hard work, we're able to take this brand state-wide and provide some really great resources for our young people. 

5. We're encouraging parents to learn and start the conversation. 
Parents should be their child's primary health educator. That's why we're pulling parents into this easy-to-use, jargon-free website that will help give them the tools to talk to their children about love, sex, and relationships and hopefully guide their child to informed, responsible decisions. 

by Kylee Perez, Communications Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, March 10, 2014

So, Do You Have a Boyfriend or Girlfriend?

Some people often wonder who other people are dating and sometimes may offend others when they ask the big questions, “So, do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” These questions are always asked assuming everyone in the world is heterosexual. When people do not have the stereotypical looks and mannerisms of someone that is not homosexual they are oftentimes put into the heterosexual category. Alternately, people may have the looks and mannerisms of someone that is not heterosexual is often put into the homosexual category.

Instead of making each other feel bad there is a new term that everyone should develop in their vocabulary for the times they have to ask the burning question, “Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?”  Al Vernacchio, a TED Talker, has come up with the perfect term that already exists, "sweetheart."  It’s a very relaxed term that does not offend because a sweetheart can be a girl or a guy.  The next time you ask, just remember, “Do you have a sweetheart?” sounds much better, and sweeter.

Here’s Al Vernacchio’s video giving this new term to kids at a TED Talk.

by Edwina Mack, USC Master of Social Work Field Placement Student, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Support Our Mustachioed Men!

Mustache Grower
Chris Adams
March…spring is the air, basketball playoffs are right around the corner, and mustaches are going to be in full bloom!

That’s right, it’s time once again for the SC Campaigns’s annual Mustache Madness competition.

This year, we have 15 men who have signed up to grow a 'stache, and nothing but a 'stache, for a good cause.

Why 15? Well, 15 teens give birth in South Carolina every day so we have found 15 men who are willing to do something about it!

Be sure to check out all of their photos, which will be updated weekly, and support your favorite mustachioed man.


He who raises the most money will be crowned the winner. It's easy: choose your favorite, support his 'stache, and share his page on your social media
platforms!

by Cayci Banks, Director of Communications, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy