New year delivers new life for three teen couples

By: Billie Ann Albert

Not only was junior Megan Locke scared out of her mind, but she was so disappointed in herself. She was nervous to find out how everyone would react. This was going to change the rest of her life forever.

When she looked at the pregnancy test that she had just taken in the doctor’s office, she realized that in just nine months she was going to be a mother.

“I had a million different feelings. I was scared, nervous and disappointed in myself, but now I am happy. I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Locke said after the birth of her son in September.

But motherhood wasn’t and still isn’t easy. She credits the support from others and faith in herself as two of the most important things in overcoming challenges like the negative comments or people.

She also credits the father, 2015 graduate Noah Terrell, who picked her up from the appointment on that first day, and they went to a park to talk about the news they had just gotten. They were scared but said never will they regret this.

They both decided that they did not want everyone in their business, so they only told one person, but all of a sudden everyone in the school was talking about it because when Locke told this one person, someone else had overheard. Once everyone found out, they were both mad at first, but eventually they came to terms with the fact that they could not change it now, so they accepted the stares and gossip.

Locke especially remembers being judged by people she did not even know, but she let it go because it was her decision, and she decided to embrace it.

She started to try better in school and get all of her homework done so she could succeed. She barely went out with friends and started to stay at home more with her boyfriend or her mom. She even stopped hanging out with people who were bad influences on her.

Months went by with the same routine almost every day, until one day, just a couple days before she left to go into labor, the stares stopped. The gossip stopped. Everything. Done.

Finally, the best-worst nine months of Locke’s life were mainly just the best. Of course, she said she still expected some bad days, but after the birth, there was still a little while until she had to come back to school, so she made them count for as much sunshine as she could.

She fell behind in school, but her friends tried to slowly catch her up by bringing her homework while her mom watched Oliver. “That was kind of a change right there,” Locke said.

Finding time to do homework while taking care of Olivier at the same time was different for her. Her plate was always heavy with responsibility, but she still found time for Oliver and so did Terrell. Even now, she doesn’t really have a social life, but she is OK with it because she said she has all that she needs with her.

Locke’s main support would be from her mother, Jennifer Locke. “Being a grandmother is a blessing! I get to do all the things moms do except I get to sleep all night, but seriously, it does come with it’s challenges,” Locke’s mother said.

Since she is encouraging Megan to stay in school, she does have to take on some of the caregiver role. Locke’s mother watches Oliver on her days off and cleans the house. She explains that the mother in her wants to step in and take control of everything, but instead she keeps her distance. However, she is willing to give advice when they need it. She said Megan does a great job and it makes her so proud to see her take care of Oliver and her responsibilities.

Time passed, and it was time for her to go back to school. Locke said that being in school as a mom is both weird and scary. It is weird because she is getting stares in the hallways again; she chooses to ignore them, though. It is scary for her because she does not know what is happening with Oliver while she is in school. She is not right there with him as she longs to be.

Locke also said that it is hard for her to find a babysitter during the day because most people have jobs during these hours or are just busy. Soon she said she will be able to take him to her aunt’s in-home daycare, and this way she will know he is always in good hands, and she can stay there and do homework for as long as she needs. For Locke, the support is key.

And it is as well for a few other young ladies at the high school, like junior Aubrey Rodriguez. Locke and Rodriguez’s initial reactions to motherhood were much alike, yet very different. “When I first found out, I was in total shock. Thought my whole life was going to be over because I had so much planned out for myself, and I was nowhere near ready to hold someone up considering I couldn’t hold myself up,” Rodriguez said.

While Rodriquez thought about being able to care for the both of them, her boyfriend, 2015 Parkersburg graduate Matt Truax, thought relatively the same. He realized he needed to get a better, stable job and go back to school so that he could provide for his new family.

Money is tight for her, and her brothers are gone, so she is struggling quite a bit. Truax is an enormous help to not only Rodriguez, but to her family as well. He has helped her through many bad times and has been there through the good. She said she feels as though her parenthood happened for a reason; she needed to pick herself up and look at things that are better in life, and maybe that is the reason that she is having a baby boy. This is helping her to see the brighter things lying ahead of her and maybe not look at the negatives.

Truax is not her only support, though. “My support would be my family. Even though my parents are struggling, they find every way possible to help me with everything I need,” Rodriguez said. Truax’s family is a huge help as well; they are always there when they need someone to talk to, and they are doing everything they can after the birth of this baby.

Rodriguez’s family also means everything to her, and they have been there for her and her coming son Karson 100 percent of the way, even though money is tight.

Rodriguez also has friends to help her through everything, but she still feels as though she can’t trust enough because she is growing up, and her friends are still the teenagers who go out and party all the time and have fun. She said she can still hang out with her friends, but not in the same ways as she used to.

At one time, that was Rodriguez. She admits that she has done some things she is not proud of, but now she has pushed everyone away who was a bad influence on her and is starting to focus so much more on school. She said she is committed to change who she is as a person for the better.

Truax also now has a stable job that he enjoys, and he is going to start college in January for police science. Not only is he bettering all of their lives by being able to provide for them, but he enjoys what he does, and that is a huge advantage. He said doing something he hates while trying to raise a baby would be so stressful.

Rodriguez’s biggest help would be her mother, Jennifer. Although the pregnancy was unexpected, she knows Rodriguez will still make just as much of a future as she thought before because her support system is so strong. “Mrs. Walsworth is a great teacher at Cedar Falls High School.  She has helped every one of my children.  She never turns her back in any situation. I know she goes out of her way for students, including those who face bigger challenges in life,” Jennifer Rodriguez said.

Teachers and staff are also doing a lot to help her high school year stay strong. There are a few teachers who have always been there for her since day one. They offer a lot of help throughout the day with power hour, small study halls and after school help.

She said being the one who is young and pregnant is really hard, but at school it is like a battle of picking herself up and focusing on just her instead of all of her friends.“The only thing that gets me through school is knowing that through all this stress with grades and paying attention, it’ll be worth it,” Rodriguez said, and like Locke, she said having this baby might just be one of the greatest things to happen to her, maybe even a blessing in disguise at such a young age.

Locke and Rodriguez were still able to go to the high school full time while being pregnant, but some girls need another path. For senior Mary Ingalls, she cannot get all her credits done here at the high school, so she goes to the alternative school so that she can knock out all of her credits faster and still graduate at semester in January.

Because of her previous years of skipping school and not caring about her grades, she now needs 10 credits in order to graduate, so she decided to go to the alternative school. Her baby Ellie is due at the end of January, so graduating in the middle of January will give her the perfect amount time to get situated and ready to head to the hospital.

Throughout all of her school years, Ingalls said she didn’t feel a purpose in finishing high school because she struggled a lot and didn’t see how it would benefit her. Ingalls said she has a lot more support from friends, family and the Cedar Falls alternative school staff than she thought she would, but it still is not easy.

“Being able to speak my voice through this article gives me a chance to say thank you to my teachers and counselors,” she said.

At the beginning of the school year it was tough to find the best classes to take and what the best option was to be able to graduate early. Counselors Chris Wood and Dan Wiechers made it possible to go to both the high school and the alternative school.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.50.11 AMIngalls had times where she’s missed test days or struggled with an assignment, but her teachers have given her a fair enough time to complete work, and if she needs any help, they help her with any questions she has. She said she is very thankful to everyone who has helped her come this far and could not thank anyone enough.

Weichers is the principal at the alternative school and has made a very big impact on Ingalls throughout the years that they have known each other. Weichers has known Ingalls from the time she was a student at Dunkerton Elementary School. “She has always been a kind, thoughtful and hard working student. My sense is that all of the people she has made a positive impact on — friends, family, school personnel will support her as she deals with her pregnancy. Personally, I plan to encourage, listen, provide honesty, empathize and believe in Mary as she closes out her high school career and prepares for the next stage in her life.”

Wood has a similar perspective. He wants to provide a safe space for her where she feels comfortable and open and can relieve all of her stress. “I think the hardest thing for any teen mom is to find someone they trust and won’t be judgemental.”

He wants her to know that he is always there for her, and he would never judge her, not anyone. When Wood found out that Ingalls was pregnant, he had a number of emotions. He was scared, concerned and fearful, but he was also a little excited in the aspect that she was going to have a child, and that is beautiful for anyone of any age. He knew right away that she needed to graduate as soon as possible, so he presented her with some options, one being the alternative school. He did not want to force any options onto her, so he let her decide what she thought was the best idea.

She chose to go to the alternative school for half of the day, and Wood said he believes that this is a good stress reliever for her because she is still able to socialize and be with friends during the first half of the day but also get her credits out of the way and come closer to graduation during the second half.

“She’s a strong kid. She’ll be a great mother,”  Wood said. “Everyone is faced with obstacles and barriers. Hers just so happens to be preparing for a child. She is facing this barrier by graduating high school and taking it step by step. I‘m proud of her. That’s for sure.”

The father, 2015 graduate Seaver Sink, worries for Ingalls and the baby while she is away at school, and it is somewhat of a bother to him. Ingalls often has troubles keeping her blood pressure up even though she drinks as much water as she has been told, and she just does not get enough salt.

Along with help from staff at the schools, she and Sink also do many things to better their family’s lives. “Every choice I make is for her,” she said.

Having a healthy relationship with her boyfriend is very important to Ingalls. They both attend activities regularly to better their baby Ellie’s life once she comes. They attend the Alternative Pregnancy Center, which is a non-profit Christian organization because they believe it is important to have a relationship with God. They also attend Young Parents Together every week, which provides information and prepares young parents for the future.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 9.49.56 AMNot only are they attending these appointments, but Sink also has his own way of becoming a better father by asking other men that have children about advice.

Ingalls would like to get the message across that she is not, by any means, encouraging teen pregnancy, but she also says that there can be worse things.

In fact, after all the assistance she and these other teens parents have received, they all said they remain hopeful of the possibilities that the new year delivers along with their new families.

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