Bringing up Baby: Teens reflect on first year as parents

Oct. 15, 2015, former student Aubrey Rodriguez leaned upon the enclosed walls of her household bathroom as a single pregnancy test reading positive forced the 16 year old into a shocking reality.

With a pile of unanswered questions and unmade decisions, Rodriguez, along with significant other Matt Truax, had to quickly comprehend the journey that awaited ahead of them.

Rodriguez said, “I was surprised. Abortion had never been an option, so we both knew our lives were going to change pretty fast.” Truax added, “I was excited with the idea of becoming a father, but I felt scared that I would not be a great one.”

During her junior year, Rodriguez struggled for stability as she dealt with issues concerning family members, including the finalization of her parent’s divorce.

“My parents were in the middle of getting a divorce, so it was pretty hectic on the weekends. My brothers were in and out of jail at the time as well. I never knew if any of them were actually going to be there once I had my little boy. Once I got further in, my mother and her boyfriend were the biggest supporters I had,” Rodriquez said.

Though concerns regarding the absence of Rodriguez’s family remained, both parents offered the utmost support when presented news of the pregnancy.

Rodriguez said, “My mom made me take three tests before she believed me. My parents responded with the most excitement I have ever seen them. However, once the news spread, I felt judged by most of my mom’s side of the family, but my dad’s side made me feel welcome and reminded me that everything was going to be OK.”

As for Truax, news of the couple’s pregnancy did not settle without initial dispute from both his mother and father.

“My family was not too happy about the news at first. Once we got closer to the due date, they finally accepted it and got excited for us and their grandson.”

Back at school, Rodriguez began to struggle as she relearned how to carry out her daily routine while experiencing major changes both internally and externally.

“Going to school started to get harder and harder with the pains that came from walking around all day. I managed to get all my work done and keep my grade where it needed to be. I knew somehow it would all work out.”

On top of personal changes Rodriguez endured, combatting peers at school was an everyday battle as dozens of eyes fell upon Rodriguez as she walked through the halls.

“I would walk in the halls with everyone whispering or staring. It was hard for me to not say anything to the people who were constantly judging me. I tried my best to ignore them. Listening to music in the halls helped me push everyone out, and walking away from the negative reactions gave me a boost of pride.”

Despite negative reactions from school acquaintances, close friends along with teachers offered understanding and assistance to Rodriguez in and out of the classroom.

“I was given so many positive responses from my friend and definitely my teachers. Many would tell me how well I was doing with everything.”

Although many of Rodriguez’s friends offered a hand to hold, other’s walked out once Rodriguez got further along in her pregnancy.

“My friends really pushed me out because I couldn’t do the same things I used to be able to, and I didn’t want to be around the stuff they would do. All I really cared about was doing my work and getting proper rest.”

Leaving nine months behind, on Feb. 15, 2016, Rodriguez and Truax headed to the hospital for the birth of their son, Karson Alexander Truax.

“My birth experience went by pretty fast.  For the most part my nurses were awesome. However, I did have one nurse who was strongly against teen parenting and acting very judgemental. I wanted to have her removed permanently from my room. After 12 in afternoon, I had Karson and was truly amazed looking for every one of my features in him.”

Though the birthing process finished with success, both parents and child were about to face new struggles ahead.

Rodriguez said, “Soon after Karson was born, my father moved to Texas and my mother to Davenport. I was a scared teen learning to take care of a child on my own while my boyfriend worked all the time. We struggled for months jumping from place to place. We went days without eating just to save the little money we had for Karson. I wasn’t able to finish my junior year, but I wouldn’t change that.”

Truax added, “I was worried about having a job. I had no idea we would eventually be fighting for a place of our own. I wanted to be able to provide for my family.”

Despite hardships both before and after Rodriguez’s and Truax’s birth, along with the ultimate source of happiness, the couple has learned valuable lessons throughout their journey.

“Learning to be a mother has made me feel like I’m 30. I would say being a mother has bettered my life. At the rate and places I was going beforehand, I have no idea where I would be right now. My life has gone from not caring about anything to worrying about bills, never having a break, cleaning and going through a daily routine with my son.”

Truax added, “I wake up at 4:45 in the morning to go to work, drive to Cedar Falls from Parkersburg, get off work at 4:30 in the evening and run errands. Sometimes I don’t get home until after 6. I have learned so much about responsibility.”

As for the future, optimism radiates from both parents as they strive to better themselves and their lives for their child.

Truax said, “I am hoping to move forward with the job by taking college classes. I want to find a better place to live and eventually leave Parkersburg.”

Rodriguez added, “I see a really happy family in the future. Snowball fights in the morning, movie nights and dinner on the table.”

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