The funny thing about procreation is that just about anybody can do it. It doesn't require any special qualifications, certificates or training. Humans have been good at reproducing since our inception, way back when. It seems in developed societies, a trend, as of late, has been to use various methods of birth control to postpone procreation until later in life, when the parents are well-established. One problem with waiting until the host is older is infertility.
Apparently, the prime time for fertility in females is 18-24 years of age (Longevity magazine, April 2011). In the States, this is usually the time when young people are attending university, living away from their parents for the first time and enjoying freedom. In South Africa, this is also common for white people. However, whites are a small minority in this country, maybe comprising 10% of the population, and between the blacks there are the class divisions to consider. I can speak for the society with which i am well aware, and that is the impoverished village life.
As soon as girls are able to bear children, they do. A large reason for this is culture: children are much desired in African society, seen as precious gifts from God. Secondly, virginity means little to nothing in most Southern African tribes. It does not affect a woman's prospect to marry, or have a boyfriend, if she has children by another man. Another reason is the systemic lack of education that effects impoverished societies worldwide. Family planning, birth control and the topic of sex are not frankly discussed in village homes. The national curriculum does a pretty good job of incorporating HIV/AIDS education, and the body parts stuff, but i do not know how the issue of pregnancy is addressed. In my time working in the schools, it was never discussed. My schools were primary, grades 1-7, and i guess it is not so common for girls this young to become pregnant.
In some places in the States, teen pregnancy rates are also high. I believe the rates for teen pregnancy, as well as divorce, are higher in the poorest states. In Oklahoma, for example, many marry young or become pregnant while still attending school. My mother and father both left high school at grade 11 to raise me and get married. I was always sure, though, this was not the life for me. Even though i grew up with very little and many siblings, i knew i would go to college and do something professional. It just wasn't a question of why or how, but where would i go and what would i study.
Throughout the years, i have only very briefly entertained the idea of becoming a mother. Once, when i was 25, there were a few weeks where i was seriously thinking babies. Thankfully, that passed, and shortly thereafter, i began i graduate study programme in library sciences. There were some ladies in my classes who had children, and some had children AND jobs! I never figured out how they managed it all. Who knows, maybe they didn't, but their attempts were admirable. I worked two part-time jobs and after my first semester was over, decided one job was all i could manage.
My sister tried college soon after she left high school, and worked a full time job simultaneously. That lasted one year, i think, before she left school to continue working. Now, she has a two year old son and is trying again to earn a bachelors degree. It is very difficult for her to find enough time to complete the work for two classes, even though she is enrolled in a completely online degree program. I can attest that online classes generally take twice as much time as more traditional face-to-face ones. Nevertheless, my nephew is first priority and school comes secondly in her life.
This brings us to the present, in which i am now pregnant. In about five and a half months, i will take part in the long history of procreation. My mom was so shocked when she found out and said, "wow, everybody thought you would never have kids." As more friends discover the news, i have been flooded with nothing but positive comments and congratulations. The general consensus is that i will be a great parent. Good to know! At first, i was a little freaked out, but generally i'm pretty excited. The father is very supportive and happy, which is the only way i would want to procreate, with someone thoughtful and committed. Some surprises have been how fast my belly is growing and how erratically my mood has
fluctuated, but everything else is easy to deal with.
My pregnancy trails on the heels of my broken leg, so instead of trimming down and cross-training, i am beefing up for maximum baby and mom nutrition.
Although i may not be in the ideal position in life to procreate, that is to say, financially stable with employment prospects, with cushy possessions like a house or a car, but i am happy. I am with the right people in the right place and i want for nothing. I feel like i can handle this new change, i am not panicked or worried, and i think that's all that really matters.