In March 2012, the fourth season of 16 and Pregnant launched and on the second episode we met Katie Yeager, a teen from Rock Springs, Wyoming. Katie was pregnant by her live-in boyfriend Joey Maes, and their daughter Molli was born on August 18th 2011. We got to see what it was like for the couple as they tried to maintain their relationship while caring for a newborn, and got more of an insight into their lives when they appeared on Teen Mom 3. Over three years on from the launch of her episode, Katie’s life has changed drastically, and here she talks to me about life as a TV star, baby daddy drama and being a mom.
Katie initially applied for 16 and pregnant after a prompt from staff at the hospital who thought she’d be a good fit for the show, and eventually she gave in and applied. She never thought that anything would come from it, and figured the producers would never be interested in a girl like her. Even when she got the call to say that MTV were interested in her, she still wasn’t fully convinced:
“I thought it was my friends screwing with me so I was like, ‘Shut up, you’re stupid!’ and the lady was like ‘What?’. I said ‘Oh okay, this is real?’ and she said ‘Yeah, we want to come out to do a trial shoot, is that okay?’ and I said ‘Sure, but you’re going to be really bored.’ They came out and I force fed them pickles and peanut butter, and yeah, they didn’t like it. It was fun and they were asked if it was okay if they kept coming back, and I said ‘Sure, if you want to’.”
Through interviews done with other cast members throughout the years of 16 and Pregnant, there’s been a lot of negativity. Many of the girls felt that MTV cut out a lot of the important scenes, and manipulated things to look a certain way to the viewers, sometimes even causing arguments on camera. But Katie assures that this was never the case with her, and that she was treated extremely well during her time filming with the crew:
“I think when you’re in an experience like that, it gets overwhelming. You’re super vulnerable and you have people that you don’t really know around you through the worst parts of your life, but when I look back at it now, I’m really grateful for it. They treated me with the utmost respect, they were so caring, and I always had somebody calling to make sure I was okay. When we had a really tough day of shooting, my producer would sit down and have one-on-one conversations with me, just to make sure I was doing okay. They were very genuine. I consider a lot of them like family. I mean, they were there when my child was born, they were there when I graduated from high school. They were complete strangers when I first met them, but towards the end you learn about their family while they learn about yours.”
With over 150,000 followers on Twitter, Katie has had more than the standard five minutes of fame that come from most MTV shows. She has genuine fans who care about her and continue to watch her and her daughter grow through social media, hoping that they succeed in life. But Katie never lets the fame get to her, “You have to stay humble and remember that you’re still a normal person. I’m no different than anybody, it’s just circumstance I guess that brought me to that point.”
Becoming a mother at a young age was of course very difficult for Katie, but while other mothers can sometimes prioritise going out and doing the things that teenagers do above their child, Katie was the opposite. She was devoted to being the best mom that she could be, and while that was good for a while things quickly took a downward spiral when motherhood took over her whole life, and the most challenging thing for her was making balance in everything:
“I was so overly committed in the beginning to being a Mom, and being the best mom that I could be, that everything else in my life fell down. Everything was lacking, which is to be expected when you have a new baby, but I would push my friends, my family, my school work, and other personal relationships to the side just to be constantly around Molli. It got to the point where my mom was like ‘You’re stretching yourself too thin. You need to allow yourself some time for you or else you won’t be a person anymore, you’re just going to be a mom.’ I was so worried about becoming a bad mom like the stereotype of girls my age who have babies, that I overly committed to being a mom and didn’t allow for anybody else to be in our lives.”
After graduating two years ago, Katie has put her education on hold at the minute and is currently working in the financial industry, and loving every bit of it. During her episode of 16 and Pregnant we saw her yearning for the Psychology degree she so badly wanted, and although she still has a soft spot for social work she’s now really interested in Business. She plans on going back to school for her Bachelors when Molli goes to kindergarten, and says she’d not quite sure what she wants to study yet “I don’t know, I might have a change of heart.”
Of course when it comes to an interview with a young mother, you have to ask the question that’s usually answered with spite and anger, “How’s your relationship with the baby’s dad?” But Katie answered in a mature and honest fashion, something that I have to respect her for: “We’re as good as we can be with everything that has happened. He’ll come around sometimes, and then for months he’s just gone. It’s more time for me, in my mind, but it’s sad because I’m the one who has to explain to her where her Dad is. The other day we went to go and see ‘Home’, and it’s about a girl who’s looking for her mom and she started crying. And she just said, ‘I miss my Dad’.” Katie says that the hardest thing is to avoid bad-mouthing Joey when she wants to be truthful and honest with Molli, and admits that she hasn’t quite mastered that yet.
Now back on the dating scene, Katie has been with her boyfriend Sean since late October. They met a couple of years ago when she lived in Utah and kept in contact, then reconnected when she came back to Wyoming. But she says that there’s no more plans for any babies just yet, “I still have my IUD, that will be up when Molli turns five. I’ll probably get it replaced, because I don’t have time for babies!”
Katie learned the hard way that becoming a young mom isn’t ideal, and can make the world a much more difficult place when you’re growing up. Dealing with adult problems when you’re just a teenager yourself would be hard enough, but throw in some pregnancy hormones and it’s a real deal breaker. Katie wants to try her best to prevent watching Molli go through the same thing, “I’ll have an open and honest conversation with her. When I was growing up, I didn’t have that open communication between my parents. I’ll make sure that I’m understanding and non-judgemental. I mean if she wants to be put on birth control, I’m not going to stop her. I was raised a devout Catholic and my parents were super against birth control, I’m not going to allow that to happen to her. She’s going to do it eventually anyways, and when you’re a parent you have to be realistic. There’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
After speaking to Katie, it’s obvious that despite her initial fears, she has become a great mother. I have no doubt that with an attitude like hers, she’ll raise Molli to be the best person that she can be. As a final question, I asked Katie what was the best thing about being a mom, and she replied: “Everything. I mean you give birth to this baby and it doesn’t know how to do anything, it just lies there and sits and poops and cries. But now she’s three, almost four, and she’s just… Amazing.”