Pregnancy Deutch?

Since I don’t own a car and I live in San Jose, it’s not surprising that I walk a fair amount. Coming as I do from the USA, and Northern California in particular, I was initially rather amazed at the number of pregnant women I encountered on my daily strolls. Back where I came from I just didn’t see pregnant women all over the place. Here, you can seldom walk more than a block downtown without running into one, sometimes literally (overcrowded and narrow sidewalks).

In the 6+ years I’ve been living in San Jose I have seen a number of friends and acquaintances become parents, in most cases it wasn’t really intentional, it just happened. Among the unintentional ones, a large majority were to single, poor, uneducated single mothers who were already struggling to take care of their other children. I give them credit for the most part in that they dearly love their little accidents. If one could live on love alone, there would be no problem, but unfortunately that’s just a romantic notion.

For all its faults, North American culture tends to discourage starting or expanding families when there are no economic resources to provide for them adequately. There is no such stigma in Costa Rica, as far as I can tell. I have a gringo friend who married a Tica and they had a daughter, planned. Shortly after the daughter reached the ripe old age of 13, she turned up pregnant. My friend was enraged! He wanted to castrate the boy who knocked up his adolescent daughter. And the rest of the family… the mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles? The were… wait for it… OVERJOYED! Que marvelloso! A NEW BABY!!! Wonderful!!! My friend soon realized he was fighting a losing battle and resigned himself to grandfatherhood.

An ex girlfriend of mine had two children when I met her, a girl 12 and a boy 9. By the time the girl was 14, she was pregnant and the father wasn’t much older and an unemployed grade school dropout. Child support? Yes, when pigs sprout wings. I had been to her house before, and it was the typical multi-generational Tico household. Her mother and father were (amazingly) still together, him in his mid 70s. Also in the house were her two sisters, one with her boyfriend and their three boys and the other single with a boy and a girl. Okay, so we add one more baby to the mix? Not so fast, paleface! My ex unexpectedly (?) became pregnant again, and less than a year after the birth of her first granddaughter (at age 33) she now has a second son. Child support? Shirley… you MUST be joking.

Another unplanned pregnancy ended in a little boy just now 15 months old. He’s a cute little sucker and he’s being well taken care of thanks to his gringo father. The mother loves her little boy, but she also knows she’s overmatched. He’s a little ball of energy and she simply doesn’t have the patience or stamina to deal with him full time. She lucky to have a younger sister who despite being 16 years old is a very attentive, loving and willing babysitter.

The mother is no dummy and realizes she is not cut out for the typical mother role in this country, and she has been fighting with the government for over a year to get her tubes tied. The authorities just can’t accept that she actually wants to stop after one. She told me about a recent visit to a MANDATORY counseling session where hundreds of women passed every day in their efforts to get THEIR tubes tied as well. She told me of her conversations with the mothers, and how some of them had been waiting years, often resulting in another child or two. Good thing there are so many jobs and the schools aren’t overcrowded.

When you ask women why they don’t take the pill or shot or use condoms, the usual answer is simply ‘I didn’t/don’t have the money for it.’ They don’t have the money for the pills but somehow think they can support a child on less? Okay, these aren’t the most educated or forward thinking women in the world, but still it boggles this gringo’s mind.

The official policy of sex education in Costa Rica is abstinence only. That might work in Afghanistan. Here, you can see the success of it by taking a walk around town.

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