After I graduated from high school, I was in college and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in or even pursue as a career. Naturally, I ended up focusing more on having fun and dating than school. After a bad break up, I reset my priorities and decided that I needed to just finish something. Since I was already working in the field of healthcare, I began actively trying to finish and obtain my Associates Degree in that area. I graduated with my Associates Degree with every intent to later continue my education and work towards obtaining my bachelor's degree, but first I was going to take a short break. By this time, I was in a relationship that wasn't going anywhere, but for the sake of stability I was clinging to it for dear life. In hindsight it did nothing but cause more uncertainty and made life unsteady.
It was not long after this time that I found out I was pregnant. I knew immediately it was time to step up, be responsible, and take care of my baby. I was scared of telling people, especially my parents, because it was uncomfortable and challenging. I knew that by bringing a baby into the world, life was about to be even more challenging, so I was willing to take that first step of conquering the first of many new challenges to come. I enrolled at a local university and would continue my education that January. I listed my major as Information Technology with the intent of finishing my degree primarily online. I learned quickly that without any real experience in programming or coding, this field would be particularly difficult to complete. It was at the point that I changed my major and tried to finish my degree as best as I could within three years.
In May I had my son, and by July his dad and I had broken up. I was living alone, attempting to finish homework after my little one went to sleep every night. Luckily, I had the support of my mom. She selflessly retired early so she could keep him while I attended classes and worked part time at the local hospital. This job was one that I could mold around my schedule, which was another key factor in my upcoming success. I can't say I had the most supportive coworkers, but they were all generally pleasant about my irregular schedule.
I had classes both on campus and online, an infant, a part-time job, and questionable involvement from my son's father. I had parents who helped me during the day and constantly powered through long nights of studying. I was always upfront at the beginning of the semesters by saying to my professors, "I have an infant, and I'm a single parent. I have help, but I may need you to give me a little slack if at all possible." I never had to cash in on it, but giving them the heads-up really helped keep the lines of communication open so that they were willing to work with me. To say I was stressed would be an understatement. Nonetheless, I was and still felt lucky regardless of how the day to day stressors tested my emotions.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but from my experience, not all of your village will be there with the sole intent of helping you raise your baby; many will just be on the road to help YOU. Motherhood takes so much from us that we often aren't able to give back to ourselves. I was lucky I had people around me that recognized this and were able to put me first as I put my son first.
Having a baby in college was difficult because college is a time for people to learn more about themselves, grow, and figure out what they want to do. It is crucial to be able to establish a relationship with professors so that they are able to assist you when you might need it. Don't be afraid to take time or ask for help. I was so upset that I would miss any and everything in my classes, but I was giving my baby so much more than I could have given him had I not finished school: a chance at a good life! He has a mom who’s home every night to make him dinner, a mom who’s up every morning to fix breakfast, a mom to take him to daycare, and a mom that can do fun things with him on the weekends.
Having a baby while trying to finish college is a hard situation to wrap your head around. I can tell you this: it may change what you decide to do in life, but you'll imagine a life that could have been any better once you have your baby. If I didn’t have my little guy, I may have still been trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. He instilled a focus that I never had before and one that I haven’t lost since. I graduated in 2017 with a degree, and I am planning on going back for my masters in the next year or two. I now have two little boys and a wonderful husband. My oldest son who started this crazy journey with me is so smart and happy that it makes every struggle I went through before having him so worth it! No matter where your life takes you, you can do anything you put your mind to. The resources are there to help you through it all, so don't give up. :)
By giving a voice to those whose stories include unplanned pregnancies, we hope to empower those who may be in the midst of their own. These are The Stories We Tell.