By Mariah Sarelis, guest writer.
Life is an obstacle course and one 19- year old teenager’s hoop to jump through came early in life.
In late August of 2014, Kimberly Russell of Kalamazoo learned the most exciting, yet daunting news that would change her life. She discovered that she was pregnant. Throughout Kimberly’s term she struggled with keeping up through school and a job at Pet Vet. Never the less, on April 27, 2015, Brooklyn Smith was born at Bronson Hospital. Kimberly is currently returning to high school for the 2015 through 2016 school year with the goal of achieving a diploma and continuing on to college.
After learning she was expecting a baby, Kimberly feared telling her parents. She first told her mother and received a different reaction than she expected. At first, Kimberly’s mother burst with excitement followed by the emotions she had anticipated, frustration and disappointment. Putting the anger aside, Kimberly’s mother is very supportive. Being apprehensive about her father’s reaction, she waited to tell him last. Four months after knowing she was pregnant, her father picked her up from school one day in December, and she finally brought herself to tell him. He already known about her pregnancy from previous Facebook posts and seemed disappointed in her.
Throughout her term, attending school was challenging for Kimberly. Morning sickness would last all day. Several days, the sickness was unbearable, keeping Kimberly at home. Getting to class on time was tough as well. The amount of people in the hallways and not being able to walk fast restricted her from being on time to class.
According to the online source, Baby Centre, during an average pregnancy, the mother carries thirty pounds of baby weight. Managing to arrive to class in five minutes in high school seemed impossible to this young mother.
Kimberly dreaded coming to school because of the judgement from peers as well as her body image. She did not want classmates to know she was expecting a child. She called classmates “judgmental” and even had a substitute teacher ask her if the father was around.
“Just because I was young, she assumed he wasn’t in the picture,” said Kimberly.
After the long, treacherous nine months of awaiting the baby’s arrival and managing school, she had one final step. Kimberly was in labor for 21 extensive hours of contractions and anticipation. Brooklyn was delivered on the 27th of April, 2014. She described seeing her baby girl for the first time as “overwhelming” and immediately fell in love.
Following Brooklyn’s birth, Kimberly quickly adjusted to her new role as a mother. Her priorities changed, and she developed a new mindset.
“My favorite part of being a mom is seeing her smile,” said Kimberly.
Kimberly didn’t return to school for the remaining few weeks of her senior year after giving birth. She decided to finish in the following school year.
Returning the following school year was rough for Kimberly, as she struggled with finding people to watch Brooklyn during the day while she was at school. Before, her mother used to watch the baby frequently. These days her mother is unable to find the time due to conflicting schedules. In the near future, Kimberly plans on using the Loy Norrix High School Day Care for Brooklyn.
Taking care of a baby is time consuming and even more difficult while attending school. Managing a baby and schoolwork does not come easily. Many things get left unfinished because the baby is demanding of her time.
On top of being a young mother and attending school, Kimberly also works at a local pet clinic, Pet Vet. She serves as a receptionist and kennel attendant. On an average day, she works from 2 to 3 hour shifts, which does not allow her to see her child as much as she wants.
“Sometimes she doesn’t let me get to work, but also work interferes with spending time with her,” said Kimberly.
A sustainable income is essential while being a parent, as providing for a baby is expensive. According to authors of the online article, The Bump, a baby costs $30 thousand dollars on average. Being a young parent, these expenses are overwhelming.
After graduating high school, Kimberly plans to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College then transfer to a university to major in social work. Although she is concerned that a career in social work may not be sustainable for her, she knows she enjoys helping people.
Brooklyn, now six months, is a very happy baby. Kimberly and her daughter currently live with Kimberley’s mother. Although taking on the role of being a young parent, Kimberly does not allow it interfere with her goals of graduating and giving her best to Brooklyn.