MEHS teen moms cope with challenges

MEHS teen moms cope with challenges

Morton East teen moms find it hard to leave their children during school day.

According  to a DoSomething.com’s “11 Facts about Teen Pregnancy,”  3 in 10 teen American girls will get pregnant at least once before they turn 20.  That’s 750,000 teen pregnancies each year.  Unfortunatley, parenthood keeps 50 percent of teen moms from graduating from high school.  And, less than 2% of teen moms will go onto college.  In a random survey of 100 Morton East students, seven said they have a child of their own to take care of.

Everyone knows parenthood isn’t easy, but for teen moms, it can be especially overwhelming.

’It’s very hard. My whole pregnancy has been unexpected. From finding out I was pregnant to finding out I was having twins. It’s very stressful and people judge you a lot. I have days where I have no idea what i’m going to do. And days where I feel I have everything figured out and feel ready for what’s to come,’’ Graciela Paramo said.

“Some days are a little hard. For example, I feel very tired and my muscles hurt, but I don’t think that compares to having to take care of them during the night, then in the morning come to school and learn,” Graciela added.

One thing is sure:  babies bring change, and one can’t be sure what each day will bring.

’Being a teen parent turned my whole life around because everything I do now is just for my baby.  It is a beautiful experience, and I love it, but it can be very hard sometimes,’’ one senior, Liz, said.

And, being a parent doesn’t mean you’re not a teen anymore — with relationship issues.

‘’The father is still involved, but since we’re so young, we have our issues.  I noticed this in other teen moms as well, which makes the stress even worse sometimes. But, I feel regardless if they are involved or not, you still have issues either way — like drama with the father most of the time,’’ senior Graciela Paramo said.

Personal plans often have to be put on hold because of time and money.

‘’After high school I don’t plan to go to school because I simply won’t have the money and energy. I’ll have to work and then come home and take care of my kids and my baby daddy and myself. I do plan to go in future though when they start to become older and more independent,’’ senior Graciela Paramo said.

Fortunatley, Morton East has built in supports to help teen parents, including teen mom and dad parent groups and inexpensive (almost FREE) daycare for students with children.

“When I do think about leaving (the twins) at school it kinda gives me anxiety because I’m worried they’re not getting treated right or they might feel lonely and I just want to be there to help, but I can’t. So, essentially, I overthink,’’ Graciela Paramo said.

And, while Morton provides daycare to some, many student moms and dads rely on their families.

“It is hard to leave Mateo (my son) while I go to school; I manage school and my baby well because my boyfriend supports me; my family supports me.  They all help me.  They love my baby, ” senior Ximena Cerritos said.  “I am able to go to school because my sister takes care of the baby for me,” she added.

And, some students’ mothers care for their grandchildren so their children can finish school.

“Both sides of the family support me and the father of our baby.  When I go to school, my mom takes care of our baby,’’ senior Liz said.

Another East mom agrees.

’’Though I haven’t had my babies yet, my parents, friends, and family are very supportive; they have given me lots of baby essentials and plan on getting me more. They’ve told me numerous times if I ever need anything, I can count on them. Overall, (everyone is) just super supportive and I’m very grateful for that,’’ senior Graciela Paramo said.

After having a baby, many moms find it difficult to “return to their normal lives” because they feel like they are abandoning their babies.  They are already attached, and they worry.

“It is hard because all day I just want to be with my baby, and I’m trying to work after school hours,” senior Liz said.

With all the extra responsibilities, work and challenges, Ximena makes a point of saying it’s all worth it.  Her son Mateo adds to her life.

‘’I feel proud of myself and happy because my baby brought so much happiness in my life.  Mateo changes my point of view of seeing the world, ” Ximena Cerritos said.