‘How was I going to be a parent when I still had a lot of growing to do? How can I afford a child?’: Young mom discusses challenges and unforeseen positives of having a child at a young age

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“My name is Kasey and I’m a full-time mama, part-time worker, and student in Chicago! Although getting to where I’m at now wasn’t easy and required a lot of help from SO many people, I can truly say for anyone going through a similar situation as me, if you continue to push and work hard, you WILL come out on the other side on top. The most important thing to remember is to keep on fighting the good fight as my Grandma would say!

What exactly is the situation I found myself in you might ask? Well, at 19, I found out I was pregnant just a few weeks before my boyfriend, Tyler, and I were supposed to return back to college for the Fall 2017 semester. As you can assume, I was terrified to hear this news. Instantly, my mind filled with worst-case scenarios and a lot of doubt. How was I going to be a parent when I felt I still had a lot of growing to do myself? How can I afford a child? How can I continue going to school? Luckily, I knew I wasn’t going to face answering these questions alone. With the help of my boyfriend and our amazing families, we stuck together through the tough times and laughed through the good ones to get to exactly where we’re at right now. I’m going to take some time to address the journey along the way, but just know we are nowhere near where we’re headed. The journey in front of us is a long, tough, grueling one that is going to take a lot out of us, but it will give so much more back. I can’t tell you for certain what that journey is, but trust me when I say, you want to come along!

Courtesy of Kasey Campos
Courtesy of Kasey Campos

I’ll start with the question I had at first: how can I be a parent when I still feel like a kid? Here is a list of things I had NEVER done at 19: paid for my own gas, had a real job, gone to a doctor’s appointment alone, cooked a REAL meal, or EVER considered the fact being pregnant was even a remote possibility. Even though getting pregnant was a major curveball in my baseball game of life, it put me into a position to grow immediately. I am a firm believer life doesn’t always give us what we want, but it will always give us what we need. This is exactly what my pregnancy represented to me. Even though I had a lot of fun at school and met some amazing people who I still consider my close friends today, it was tough. Like most college students, I found myself making choices that didn’t always align with what my true values were. Not to mention that being 7 hours away from my family was tough since we’ve always been pretty close. For just a moment, consider one of the toughest things you went through or a really challenging time in your life, and then take another second to reflect on who you were when you came out on the other side. For me, I became a lot more self-sufficient, learned how to save money, and spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts to truly decide with Tyler how we wanted to raise our daughter, Dakota. This doesn’t mean I never felt lonely seeing all my friends live out their college lives while I was working to provide for my child. This doesn’t mean I didn’t feel like a failure knowing I was going to have to change the timeline of education path. And this surely doesn’t mean I figured my life out 100%. All I can say is, when I look back now, I want to hug that girl who faced a challenging situation and made the most of it because what I was getting, in the end, was of much greater value than the struggle it took to get there.

Courtesy of Kasey Campos

But boy did I struggle. I have never been good with finances, but the fact I had my own money now gave me the ability to hit that instant gratification sweet spot, which seems to be pretty large for me. It’s something I’m still working on. So many people find themselves worrying about money on a daily basis, and when you realize how much a kid actually costs, you will too.

The reality was we couldn’t afford a child. We relied so heavily on each of our families, and were so lucky they were able to support us during a time when it wouldn’t have been possible for us to on our own without sacrificing our educational goals. I know not everyone who finds themselves in a similar situation will have families able to take care of them like ours did, but in any case, always accept the help that the people who genuinely love and care for you are willing to offer. Especially as a woman, we’re often made to feel that, if we can’t do it all on our own, then we aren’t good mothers. But I can assure you that isn’t the case. Ask any woman who you think is a good mother, and I promise she will tell you about all the help she had. My advice to new mommies is to always show yourself some grace and allow yourself to ask for help when needed. I remember being exhausted during the first few weeks because I was breastfeeding, recovering from birth, and I swear Dakota never slept, but our families pitched in allowing me to feed her then go back to bed and they’d stay up with her. Not only did that give me the opportunity to close my eyes, but it also gave my daughter the opportunity to form relationships with family members who love and care for her immensely. I am certain the amazing relationships my daughter has with all of our immediate family are due to the fact Tyler and I gave ourselves a break and let them care for her!

Courtesy of Kasey Campos

The greatest part about parenting for me has been the ability to see life through a different lens. Trust me, if you asked 18-year-old me questions about life, she’d give starkly different answers than I would today. Even though I’ve only gotten 4 years older, I’ve gained so much wisdom and understanding I know would have taken me many more years to gain had I not become a young mother. School was something that always came naturally to me as a child, and some people may have even referred to me as the ‘teacher’s pet,’ which wasn’t a bad thing in my eyes! Even at such a young age, my favorite thing to do was help people. It didn’t matter if it was teaching a classmate something they didn’t understand, helping my dad with handy work, or butting in on my neighbor’s peaceful gardening time, all I wanted to was help people. Naturally, when I found out about the medical field, it tapped right into my helping bone and I can truly say I have never really considered another career or life path other than one in medicine. I’ve had people tell me, since I’m a mother, I can’t do it. Or even if I can, I shouldn’t. I’ve had people try and push their old-fashioned belief on me that my life ends the moment I bring another one into this world. As hurtful as hearing that from some people I really care about was, all they have done is pushed me harder. One thing they weren’t wrong about though is becoming a mother would change the trajectory of this path, but it would not be the end of it. I’m currently going into the second semester of my junior year, and for the first time in all my life, I’m being challenged in the classroom. This doesn’t mean I give up or change my path, it means I readjust. Life is all about readjusting what you’re doing so that it works for whatever season of life you’re currently in. It may be harder now that I’m balancing being a mother, sister, partner, student, daughter, and working all at the same time, but my goals are still worth pushing for day in and day out. I may not be the smartest in the room anymore, but you can bet your ass I will always be the most hardworking and dedicated person in any room I may end up in.  Sadly, I can’t give you all the secret potion that is going to make it all come together for you, but I have faith that as long as you work hard and stay true to yourself, the rest will work itself out.”

Courtesy of Kasey Campos
Photo Credit: Honey Whisp Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kasey Campos of Chicago, IL. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear about your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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