How I Survived Being A Single Student Mom

Pregnant at nineteen wasn’t Kaeleigh’s plan; here’s how she made it work

I discovered I was going to have my daughter when I was 19 years old. I was pretty similar to my peers prior to that; I had moved out of mother’s house into dorms, I partied during the week and ate various disgusting concoctions out of my rice cooker because I had no idea how to prepare food properly.

I then moved into a house with five of my closest friends and we embarked on our second year of college. Life was good. It was easy and fun. There were cute boys abound and parties a plenty.

And then I discovered I was pregnant.

I knew right away I wanted to be a mother. I felt deeply connected to my daughter and felt I had the courage to be a good parent. I knew there would be trials. I still had to graduate with my degree, pursue a career and, well, learn how to cook. It wouldn’t be easy but I wanted my baby, I wanted to be a mom.

I am pro-choice—I believe a woman has the right to choose what is best for her. And that is exactly what I did.

It’s been assumed in the past that I felt I had no choice in having my child but that was never the case. I simply knew she was meant to be in my life and decided to pursue the adventure of a being a young mom and being in school with my little lady by my side.

Being pregnant in college was an interesting experience to say the least. I received a lot of looks and years later, I would still be referred to as “that chick who was pregnant”. Later into my pregnancy, there was even a casual bet that went around debating how many cheeseburgers I would be able to eat because I had to snack often in class (I’m a vegetarian, so they were all wrong I guess).

That being said, there were perks as well. I was treated like a princess by my friends and most other students. Doors were opened, chairs were offered in the library and my tummy received ample rest. My friends were my champions in those days. I had a good community of people around me when I was pregnant and I felt cared for and loved. It seemed that my close knit network of people grew more protective of me as I progressed in my pregnancy, not even letting me carry groceries.

After my daughter was born, I continued my education without pause. I had a newborn and school to juggle as a single mother.

It was difficult. I was so happy to have my little girl, but the stress of a newborn and continuing my education was a struggle.

My mother was my greatest ally during this time. She ultimately taught me about the sacrifices a mother is willing to make in times of great joy and strife. She came and stayed with me for three weeks, taking a leave from work and ended up feeding myself, my five roommates and our friends.

I continued most of my classes online during this semester and I am very glad that I did. It made school easier to have the flexibility of being away from the classroom and it would’ve been very difficult otherwise. I remember rocking my daughter’s bassinet and reading to her out loud about the anthropological tools of analysis for indigenous cultures.

She was a very educated infant, not by her own volition.

I had a professor during this time at my college who was supportive and helpful and ultimately helped me to continue my education despite any obstacles. Jake Kennedy was my creative writing professor and he empowered me to use my writing to discuss and explore the strife of young motherhood while obtaining school credit.

I recall doing a creative writing assignment prior to my daughter’s birth where I wore a shirt called “Abstinence is Awesome”. I wanted to discuss the irony of this statement as a young pregnant woman. My professor was immensely supportive of my strange ways of exploring my new station in life, although some of these projects were admittedly eccentric. I had to miss a few classes during that semester and his support and non-judgement of my circumstances will always be remembered.

My daughter was born during the course of the second semester and I remember bringing her into class when she was so little. She slept while we discussed our creative writing pieces.

Though it sounds stressful, I truly believe the reason I went on to obtain my Bachelor’s degree and beyond is because I didn’t pause in my education. I continued throughout my pregnancy, the birth of my child and well into her toddler years. I didn’t leave school but instead lowered my course load, found professors that were open to flexibility, completed online courses, found a community of beautiful friends and also leaned on my family for support. These tools helped lead me to success because I didn’t have time to consider whether I could do it or not, I just powered through.

Those were the college years, the very beginning of my adventure as a student parent. Afterwards, I moved to one of the most competitive universities in the country with my toddler in tow. For me, college with a newborn was just the beginning. 

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