Teens endure pregnancy, balance motherhood and schooling

By Rebecca Ball, Editor-in-chief

Being in high school is an extremely difficult period in any persons’ life. Now, take all of that emotional, mental and social struggle that high school offers and add on being pregnant or being a mother.

For some teens girls at Fairmont High School this is actually a reality. Although the amount of teen pregnancies are decreasing each year, the statistics are still sobering.

According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in the year 2016 teen moms gave birth to over 209,000 babies.

Shows like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom are used to highlight and advertise the once unspoken and shamed topic.

As for teen moms at Fairmont, how do they feel about what they are experiencing? What do they want other teenagers to know? And lastly, what does Fairmont do to help these young women start the road to motherhood?

To answer the last question, Shelley Montelius a Consumer Science teacher at Fairmont, aids in helping pregnant teenagers handle both their school work and being pregnant.

“If I find out that a student is expecting, I first try to get to know them a little bit,” Montelius said. “Then I ask them to let me know what it is that they need help with so that I can try to research and get any sort of information for them.”

Not only does Fairmont have programs and resources to help these young expecting mothers, but organizations around Kettering have been known to help expecting Fairmont students as well.

“There are a ton of resources like South Community, individual counseling and even medical care,” Montelius said. “The women’s shelter on Stroop Road will even supply a free pregnancy test for teenagers.”

Despite there being many resources for teenage mothers, there is not a lot of support on the attendance side of things in regards to balancing being pregnant while still being a student.

Expecting teens are treated like any other student. Missed hours for doctors appointments and classes are tallied up against the student leaving repercussions such as no exam exemptions and detentions and sometimes even truancy.

Meaning that if morning sickness, swollen feet or cramps prevent them from attending school, they are marked unexcused just like anyone else.

In addition to this, once a teacher, staff member or administrator is notified that a student is pregnant, they are obligated to tell the parents or guardians of the student. This is not only for the safety of the student, but is also for liability reasons.

Senior Phoenix Cairo, a Kettering Alternative Program student, has recently experienced what being pregnant and having a child while in high school is like.

“The most difficult part about being pregnant at 17 and having a baby at 18 is that people don’t take you seriously,” Cairo said. “They think because I am so young that I am not as good at being a mother.”

Like most moms, Cairo was scared as she prepared for motherhood and being a teenager added even more stress and anxiety.

“Throughout the course of my pregnancy, I was definitely scared. I was scared that I wasn’t prepared enough,” she said. “I was scared that I was going to be left all alone without any help from anybody.”

When thinking about a teenage girl being pregnant in high school, a common question brought up is what did their parents think? As for Cairo, she faced these some questions and curiosities herself.

In TV shows and movies, the parents of pregnant teens are almost always portrayed as harsh and misinformed to their child’s situation. However, for some of the mom’s at Fairmont that is not the case.

Even though Cairo’s parents were hard on her, she was still supported and felt that they helped her to grow up much faster than others.

“I don’t think any parent wants this for their daughter. It’s definitely a difficult thing for a parent to hear that their 17- year-old daughter is going to have a baby,” she said.

When current senior Taylor Rhodes revealed she was pregnant to her family, she experienced both support and disapproval.

“My mom was of course angry, but she was my age when she had me so she gets it. She was so excited to be a grandma,” Rhodes said. “My grandma isn’t the most supportive, but she still provides things for me and the baby which is nice.”

Despite the fact that revealing their pregnancy to their families is an extremely hard thing to do, there are more adversities to handle each and everyday. For Rhodes a tough struggle in her everyday life at school was dealing with the looks and comments from classmates and teachers.

“The toughest part of having a baby in high school is definitely the people that look down on you, and think of you differently,” she said.

Although Rhodes has experienced a lot of negativity, she hasn’t let any of it stop her from being excited for the arrival of her child.

“People think I’m throwing my life away by getting pregnant, but just because I have a child doesn’t mean it’s going to stop me from reaching my goals,” she said.

A recent graduate of Fairmont and mother of a 17-month-old, Brooklyn Coffman, may be raising a child at 20 years old, but is still managing to achieve all of her goals.

“I’m in my second year of college at Sinclair with a 17-month-old and let me be the first to say that it is not easy,” Coffman said. “Studying while she was a newborn was easy because they don’t do much, but studying with a toddler seems impossible on some days.”

Some may wonder how these teen moms juggle school, work and raising a child. For Coffman, she has found a way to put her child first, while completing college and working to help take care of herself and her daughter.

“I’ve been restricted to a lot of online classes due to my lack of availability,” she said. “I’m blessed that I still have the opportunity to be in school, so I try not to complain and try to just do my best.”

Being a mom, let alone a teen mom, is a challenging path to bare. Although the idea of pregnant teens may not be ‘socially acceptable’ to everyone, being supportive and encouraging to the expecting moms can help aid them in such a new time in their life.

One thing to observe is that despite these girls being so young, they still try to do whatever it takes to make sure their child has a full and happy life.

“It makes you motivated to do what’s best for your baby because they deserve the world,” Coffman said.