In addition to the usual struggles associated with being a teen mom, tonight’s episode of 16 and Pregnant features Kayla Jackson – a teenager from Winthrop, Minnesota who gave birth to son Preston while also struggling with anorexia. The show has garnered a huge audience by shedding a lot of light on the subject of teen pregnancy (something which is usually not talked about and kept in the dark) and it will be nice to see them do the same thing for a similarly shunned subject: eating disorders.
Here’s a scary preview clip of Kayla’s episode in which she agrees to let her friends make a papier-mâché belly cast, but midway through she begins to feel light-headed and weak. Her friends think it’s because she’s hungry, but all she will accept is a bottle of water. After a call to her doctor things get really intense:
Although the above preview and some of the commercials give the impression that Kayla might have put her own health, and the health of her unborn son at risk because of her aversion to eating. Her younger sister Ashley Nicole “Nikki” Jackson assures her readers on Formspring that the previews don’t tell the whole story and that Kayla actually ate well while pregnant. More on all that in a minute – first, let’s get a little background on Kayla!
Kayla was born on March 8, 1993 – which if you’re bad at math means she is currently 18. She lives in the really small town of Winthrop, Minnesota with her son Preston, dad, step mom, sister Nikki (16), brother Michael (19), step brother Austin (13) and step brother Jordan (16). (She also has an older half sister named Monica who no longer lives at home.) Her parents divorced when she was ten, which she says was very hard for her. She’s still close with her mom as well, but as I mentioned, currently lives with her dad.
Kayla attends Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop (GFW) High School which she hopes to graduate from in June, 2011.
Kayla met her future baby daddy Michael (Mike) Schwing while both were running track in 2008. The first time the couple hung out together was at Mike’s family’s house in April, which Kayla says was a bit “awkward.” Soon after, the two got to spend some alone time and seemed to really hit it off while they “watched tv all day and made out.”
The couple waited a little over a month before going the distance, and it was almost a year after that when Kayla forgot to take her pill a couple times and their alternative contraception plan based on precise timing didn’t go as planned. Little Preston Michael was the result! Preston was born via C-section on November 4, 2010 weighing in at 8lbs, 2.6oz and measuring 21 1/4 inches long.
It was Kayla’s mom who first suspected she was pregnant and it was also her mom who purchased the pregnancy test that came back positive. The next day Kayla had an appointment with a doctor who confirmed the news to a shocked Kayla. From her Formspring page:
I was 5 or 6 weeks. I remember that day like it was yesterday.I bawled, mike cried, my mom cried, everybody cried. I was completely shocked. Even after two home tests I thought somehow the Dr would tell me I was wrong. I couldn’t believe it..
Prior to the pregnancy Kayla suffered from anorexia, which at its worst had Kayla down to 90 pounds and eating a diet of crackers, water and chewing gum. “I had a 200-300 calorie rule for the day,” she says in a reply to a question about her disorder.
Although you never fully recover from anorexia (much like being an alcoholic) you can be better at dealing with it – which Kayla seems to have accomplished. And as I mentioned previously in this post the perception that she had an unhealthy diet while pregnant simply isn’t true. Her sister Nikki addressed a rather nasty comment on Formspring about Kayla being a bad mother for putting Preston at risk because of her anorexia by stating:
my sister DEFINITELY ate during her pregnancy. even if she wanted to starve herself (she didnt), she wouldnt have been able to! when youre pregnant, youre eating for two, yeah, and she knew that. … if you knew the real her, youd know she had cravings when she was pregnant, she ate a tonnnn, and preston came out PERFECTLY. a little over 8 pounds; doesnt get much healthier than that.
A lot of people had questions about her weight before, during and after being pregnant and Kayla responded by saying:
i weighed like 127 at my first OB appointment. i was 150 at my very last appointment before preston. and i was down to 135 at my two-week appointment after preston. and now im down to 118.
Kayla is well aware of her condition, though, and every day is a struggle. There are also other indications that the self-perception issues that often lead to anorexia are still an issue for the attractive 18-year-old, as evidence by this Q&A:
if you could change the way you look, what would you change?
omg i would change so much if i could afford it. i’d fix my nose (its huge) i would get braces, laser treatment on my stretch marks, a boob job. but only in a perfect world. *sigh* but overall im content with my looks, i suppose.
Kayla and Mike would eventually split up, something Kayla has been reluctant to talk about in a public forum. Although they are no longer together, she and Mike still get along well and Mike has been fantastic in supporting little Preston – both with his time and with financial support. The two alternate weekends with Preston staying with Kayla and her family during the week (daycare when she’s in school.) She sums up the arrangement with Mike this way:
the arrangement me and mike have with Preston is NOT set in stone. I get preston through the whole week because Preston’s daycare is 30 miles OUT of the way from mikes work because he has a long commute to work. Plus, he starts work at 5:30am, and his daycare isnt even close to opening that early. So i get him all week because his daycare is right on my way to school. And on top of that, mike stops by ALL THE TIME to see Preston, and help out. It’s not like I force him to stay away. We are on good terms, and theres nothing keeping him away from his son. And the reason mike has preston every OTHER weekend, is because I want him on weekends too beacuse its my time to relax with Preston, or take him to visit his grandparents on my side, or do fun stuff. If i never had him on the weekends i wouldnt have time to do any of that. I hope that makes sense for anybody who thought that our arrangement doesnt make sense or is unfair. its as fair as it possibly can be with both of our very busy schedules.
The situation isn’t ideal (obviously) but it does sound as though Kayla and Mike are stepping up and doing what’s best for their son. It sounds as though both mom and dad are busting their a$$es to provide Preston what he needs now and even more in the future. (Without having seen the episode, I’m feeling a great deal of admiration for both of them.)
On a side note, apparently part of Kayla’s fall out with Mike stems from something that happened with his sister, Jenna Schwing. Though she won’t reveal any specifics about what exactly happened, Kayla is nothing short of vitriolic towards Jenna, who reciprocates with her own vehemently spiteful remarks. I don’t want to speculate on what the story is here, but Kayla’s humorous and even-keeled temperament on Formspring quickly takes a nasty turn at the mere mention of her name. (Anyone out there want to help me out?)
^ Kayla Jackson attends the 2011 prom with her friend Lucas
I realize that you can’t judge someone based on their Formspring questions and answers, but after having read through thousands of Kayla’s (She has over 8,000 total – which I think is a 16 and Pregnant pre-airing record!) I am damn impressed with the girl! She seems to have a healthy mixture of confidence and humility and she may be the best paragraph writer of all the girls so far, with the exception of Ashley Salazar. For online typing I would say her grammar would garner a Formspring grade of A+, mostly for almost never lapsing into IMglish. (I don’t know if I’ve ever read the response of “True that” before!)
It seems Kayla does have self-image problems, but she appears to be dealing with those issues marvelously! I’m really looking forward to tonight’s episode – and I’m sure it’s one people will be talking at great lengths about tomorrow!
And speaking of talking at great lengths, Kayla Jackson was kind enough to record a few videos in which she answers questions she received on Formspring and also treats us to a cameo appearance by Preston himself! I’ll be putting that post up shortly so stay tuned! UPDATE – CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEOS! Until then here are some more great excerpts from Kayla’s Formspring page including a list of ten random facts about herself and her lengthy essay on Formspring haters just before deleting her account for a brief period.
(To keep up with all thing Kayla the best place to start is Formspring. For photos head on over to her official Facebook page. She’s now on Twitter but I think that was mainly just to have an official Twitter account because (just like Cleondra Carter) she’s got someone pretending to be her that is gathering a bit of a following.)
Ten random facts about you?
Oh geez ten? Ooook.
1. I always leave one piece of food on my plate.
2. I eat honey barbeque wings at least twice a week.
3. I have lots of OCD traits.
4. I’ve killed every fish I’ve ever owned
5. I want a puppy, but I hate dogs.
6. Actually I kinda just hate any domestic animal. I like exoctic ones though.
7. I only cut my hair like once a year.
8. If someone asked me to be a dolphin trainer right nile, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Even though I’m afraid of water.
9. I can’t sleep in silence.
10. I think I believe in reincarnation.
deactivating my account:
yes, its true:p
I am tired of people that don’t know me, telling me how to live my life. What I’m doing wrong, what I should do, what I shouldnt do, and how to raise MY son. I see questions every day that are so outrageous, and ridiculous, that I have to delete them because there aren’t even words to match the harshness of them. I would like to leave with a few notes though:
A. Preston is being taken care of extremely well. He gets everything he needs, and much more. He’s loved so much, its incredible. He has love coming from every angle of his life. He will never go hungry, naked, sad, alone, or dirty. EVER. I make sure of that.
B. Yes, I am in school for a good majority of the day. But it’s all for the cause. I would rather be in school now and miss out on a few hours a day with Preston, then miss his whole childhood because I’m working 3 different jobs because I never graduated or got a degree. I can’t WAIT until this summer when I can spend more time with him. But a part of being an adult is being away from your child. If i wasnt in school, then I would have a job. Either way, preston would be in daycare. Just like a LOT of other children. He’s no different just because his mom is a teen. He will have a great life because of what I am doing for him right now.
C. Mike and I are FINE. We are not together, but we DO NOT hate each other. Or anything even close to that. I am not keeping Preston away from him. NOT ONE BIT. I love Mikes help, and i LOVE that he wants to be so active in Prestons life. He is honestly the best dad i have ever seen. He would do WHATEVER it takes to make Preston happy. He’ll always be there to support Preston and I know he loves it. I am no where NEAR walking all over him. we have an arrangement that makes sense to us. It wouldnt work out any other way and we are both happy with it. I don’t know where our relationship will go. I honestly can’t see further than ten minutes from now. I hope things work out. I want that perfect family for Preston. More than anything in the entire world.
D. Please stop stereotyping teen moms. We can still be good parents, students, employees, wives. Being a teen mom is not ideal, and I know for me at least, It’s not expected. But most of us would do WHATEVER it takes to make our children happy, and do whats best for them. Age doesnt matter if you’re ready to take on the job of being a parent. It’s the hardest job in the world.
E. To all of you people that use formspring just to hate, I’m asking you why? What are you accomplishing by being so mean and terrible to people? I’ve seen comments on not ONLY my page, but lots of other peoples, that literally make me SICK. What are you gaining from saying such awful things to people? I LOVED this website before all of this happened. It was so much fun, and interesting to learn new things about people, and ask questions. But now its just become a place for people to act like someone they’re not. I hope all of you that have sent hate messages realize you are wrong, and i hope you feel very guilty about it.
this was so long, i just wanted to get this all out. sorry if theres typos, i didnt review it before i sent it. P.S. i might be back someday because im addicted, but for now, I’m done with this site.
(Did I mention how much I like this girl?!?)