Gaby Rodriguez, the Toppenish teen who ignited a storm of media interest when she faked a pregnancy for a high school project, has just come out with a book. The Pregnancy Project will still have some people scratching their heads about why she went through with such a wrenching deception. But the book shows that Rodriguez's whole life is, for many people, unimaginable.
Her mother got pregnant for the first time at 14, then went on to have eight children, most of whom followed in their mom's footsteps. One brother has his first baby at 17 with one girlfriend, then two more with another, before marrying someone else. A sister ran off with a boyfriend to Mexico at 16 and returned, without the boyfriend, pregnant.
Rodriguez, the youngest, was born when her mother was already a grandmother. And the now media sensation, also the subject of a Lifetime move, was always different. She intended to learn from her siblings' mistakes. But she also paid for those mistakes. The book, written with a ghost writer, recounts how the sister who ran off to Mexico would use Rodriguez as a babysitter.
She would point out the diapers, wipes, and bottles and then just go. She never asked; it was an order, something that was expected of me. Whenever she wanted to go out late at night, I would have to sleep next to the baby's crib, get up with him whenever he cried, change his diapers, feed him, dress him, rock him back to sleep, whatever he needed. I loved my nephew, but I did not want this job.
No wonder. Rodriguez then was 9 years old.
So Rodriguez's project, intended to show how people treat pregnant teens, was personal. The project itself may not have yielded unexpected results. Rodriguez was the subject of a lot of disapproval. Her poor boyfriend's parents were especially distraught. (She told only her own mom, her incredibly supportive boyfriend and a few others about the fakery.)
But Rodriguez, now a student at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, has nevertheless pulled off something significant. She has breathed life into an issue that many people see only as statistics.
She'll be signing books at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Feb. 3.
Clarification: Sorry to disappoint those hoping to meet this unusual teen, but Rodriguez will not be meeting the public tomorrow at Third Place Books, although the store will carry signed editions of the book.