Don't take chances,
Karli Cornette said she doesn't tell other teens not to have sex because she didn't listen to that advice.
But don't count on luck to avoid getting pregnant, said the 18-year-old Kalani High School senior, who is expecting in August.
She said she and her boyfriend had practiced safe sex except for one time, and she didn't think anything would happen. "Next thing you know, I'm starting to get food cravings."
Cornette plans to go to Texas with an aunt, open a business together and take some online classes. She eventually wants to study criminology at the University of Texas, but will concentrate on her child for a couple of years, she said.
She was living in California with her mother and stepfather when she became pregnant and they kicked her out, she said. Her boyfriend also left her. "He pretty much fed me old lines: 'You can trust me.'"
She weighed the options of an abortion or adoption, but said, "I wanted to make a difference in someone's life. Even though this came early ... I can still do it."
Since returning to Hawaii, her aunt and grandmother on her father's side have been taking care of her, she said.
Her pregnancy was a big shock because she had college dreams, she said. Even finishing high school requires "self will," she said.
She tells classmates: "Pregnancy doesn't just change your life. It changes lives around you.
"They're pretty much looking at my belly more than me, but they really listen. ... They're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking before I was pregnant: 'I wonder how hard it is for her' or 'She should have made better choices.'"
Lack of knowledge
Melia Keliikoa said she was clueless when she became pregnant two years ago at age 17.
leads to pregnancy
"I didn't know nothing at all," she said.
She said she "didn't really have any safe-sex talk" with her parents or anyone, and though she had some sex education in elementary school, "I kind of forgot by intermediate and high school."
"I thought all my friends are doing it, so I had to do it to fit in," she said.
Keliikoa said her boyfriend helps with their 9-month-old daughter, Tracy, but they live apart.
Keliikoa, now 19, dropped out of Roosevelt High School in her senior year but is going to night classes at McKinley High School to get a diploma. She also wants to go on to college.
She works with the Kapiolani Teen Intervention Program's Parent and Child Education Program, performing puppet shows for fifth- and sixth-graders about sexuality.
She gives her 14-year-old sister the same speech: "We tell them: Don't be afraid to go to parents; don't listen to friends' advice; you don't have to have sex to fit in; education is more important, and the consequences of what we went through."
Keliikoa was scared to talk to her parents about sex and was most afraid of her mother because "she was the one always telling us not to have sex, to graduate, not to look for boyfriends, but I didn't listen," she said. "I thought having it once, I wouldn't get pregnant, that it would happen to others but not me."
Her mother was disappointed and angry at first but has supported her, Keliikoa said. "She told me I should have come to her; she would have helped me get protection."