Little Family: What happens when teens become parents? NHS offers help.


Provided by Mercedes Rich

Seniors Mercedes Rich and Chance Brown celebrated the new year as a family with baby Maddox.

STORY BY: Macie Clark
Senior design editor
What if your life became like a diaper commercial? Night after night, you wake up at 3 a.m. to feed and change your screaming baby. You’ve got a test the next day, but you only got four hours of sleep. Your parents are on your back about paying for diapers and bottles. You thought it would never happen to you, but you’re a teen parent.
Nixa High School students can receive help through the school’s teen parent group. This group has been enhanced by senior counselor Scott Robinson.
Even though Nixa does provide help, it doesn’t mean teen parents will have it easy. Seniors Mercedes Rich and Chance Brown have a baby boy named Maddox. They are still together, but there are ups and downs.
“I pretty much sacrifice everything,” Rich said. “I sacrifice sleep, going out, and my free time. I don’t play on my phone anymore, watch TV or do my nails. I put him before everything.”
Junior Corey Stearns has a baby girl. He and the baby’s mother are no longer a couple, but they both put the baby’s care as top priority. He has some stresses, but not over the teen or financial aspect. He worries about her health.
“I have an autoimmune disease and they say it can be passed down to her, so it is something that I am constantly looking for. It makes my life difficult so I just want to make sure she has the proper treatment before I get mine, that way she can get taken care of before it escalates,” Stearns said.
Having a baby doesn’t only come with only stress and worries, but physical issues too. Nurse Lindsay Ball helps lead the teen parent group and she helps Robinson with the medical side of the program.
“There are three different trimesters. The first trimester you will not really be showing. You might have nausea, headaches, a little bit of weight gain, but not too much. The second trimester is where you start gaining weight. There are a lot of different things that can happen when you are pregnant, you are growing another human,” Ball said.
At the NHS, teen pregnancy happens whether or not students notice.
“Since 2007, we probably had an excess of 30 [pregnancies],” Robinson said.
Ball said the main goal of the group is education for the young parents.
“[It’s] trying to get them through the day so that they can continue to get their education before they have their baby,” Ball said.
Education may be the main goal for some, but for Rich, her son comes first.
“Previously, I always felt like something was missing, but he makes me feel fulfilled and happy, and I don’t need anything else in life,” Rich said.
Both Rich and Brown are dedicated to their son.
“It was really terrifying, but it was super motivating. I feel like some people are like the opposite and lose hope. [It was] definitely a wake up call,” Brown said. Rich added: “Especially for you since most guys get scared and dip out.”
Robinson stresses that the teen parent group isn’t just for females, but for both parents.
“Whoever the father of the child is, is allowed to go through the same training [as the mom,]” Robinson said. “We try to make sure that both parents understand that it is a shared responsibility.”
Stearns’s baby was born while he was a sophomore, and he became dedicated.
“It doesn’t matter if you are ready or not because it is still a responsibility that both sides need to take responsibility in,” Stearns said.
Stearns and the baby’s mother share custody and are focusing on giving her a good life.
“My main goal right now is to make sure that she has a better future than some of us nowadays,” Stearns said.
Sometimes the word “teen” attached to mom or dad can come across as a negative word, but for Stearns and Rich, it is a word that’s hardly used.
“I’ve used it once or twice, but I don’t really use it because it doesn’t really come up in conversations,” Stearns said. “I will say that I am a dad, but I won’t say that I am a teen parent.”
Rich said the transition pushed her toward adulthood.
“I never really did a lot as a teen,” Rich said. “I never went to parties or anything, so it’s not much different for me. My life revolves around him; I feel like an adult, not a teenager.”
Being pregnant at high school may not be easy, but students can have a support group or can go on homebound instruction if needed. The social side of adolescence changes with parenthood.
“The biggest thing is that if any teens are out there, other teens who are pregnant right now or scared of losing friends. Or they do have a baby and they don’t want to tell anyone cause their fearful or struggling right now with this, [is to know that] there is a whole community of teen parents,” Rich said. “It is not as scary as it seems. You will have your baby and your family.”
However, Ball has some advice for sexually active students:
“First and foremost, we have to recommend that you abstain because there are so many different reasons,” Ball said. “For females, it is also stressed that if you are sexually active, you should be seeing an OBGYN yearly.”
Rich has been a mom for eight months now, and she never thought of abortion or adoption.
“At first, I was scared and didn’t
really know what I was going to do, but I knew that I always wanted him,” Rich said.