Student Embraces Motherhood

Sara Rodriguez went through an ordeal unfamiliar to most students. After becoming a teenage mother, the Diamond Bar High School senior is back at school, doing her English and Economics homework between changing diapers and feeding her son, who will be eight months old in October.

About two months into her junior year, Rodriguez discovered that she was pregnant. She decided to keep her son, who she later named Mason, and eventually gave birth to him on June 4. Although during her pregnancy she said she was withdrawn and became extremely reclusive, after having the baby she has been very open about her experience.

“I think it’s a chance to educate teens about their options, preventative measures, and let them know that having a child is a serious life change,” she said.

For Rodriquez, support from family, friends, and the school were essential for her strenuous situation. From DBHS, she received much aid from the staff, and after realizing her pregnancy, she was allowed to switch to independent study at home.

“I was offered a tremendous amount of support from the entire staff in working with my schedule and plan. Specifically Mrs. Burns, Mr. Galeener, and Mr. Terry were such a big help and Mrs. Burns is so amazing,” said Rodriguez.

She stated that her family, especially her mother, helped her through the challenges and difficulties of caring for a child, even though the baby’s father has not had a real presence in the child’s life. When she came back to school, Rodriguez said her friends welcomed her back and gave her support and respect throughout her ordeal.

“I’m a single mom so I have no assistance whatsoever from his father. It makes it very challenging but I have a lot of people rooting for me and helping me,” she said.

The pregnancy came with many hardships as well, such as sleep-deprivation, stress, and judgment from strangers when she was out in public. Rodriguez also feels that it set her back mentally a little because she “let it crush [her] spirit a bit.” Rumors also spread in school that were hurtful and bullying occurred due to stigmas about teen motherhood. However, she came away with new knowledge and life lessons as well.

“I have learned patience. Also that not everything will go how you want in life, you have to take the cards you’re dealt [with] and try to play the best hand possible. I’ve learned a lot about myself, who I can actually rely on, and what it takes to be a mom,” Rodriguez stated.

She has also had to undergo the difficulty of acquiring many more responsibilities as both a mother and a high school student, having to juggle parenthood with her classwork and academics.

“I often have to hold, feed or entertain Mason while doing schoolwork so as a student mother you have to learn to multitask really well,” said Rodriguez.

Moreover, her pregnancy and its complications have not limited her goals and aspirations for the future. Rodriguez currently wants to get a degree in nursing, attend medical school, and become a pediatric surgeon. She is now taking three classes at DBHS, as well as civics, life skills, and child development through independent study. She expects to graduate in May.

“Getting an education is extremely important and having a baby is no excuse for not getting an education,” she emphasized.

Rodriguez also critiqued health class and its impact on sexual education and teen pregnancies at DBHS. She felt that while she was educated on preventative measures and STD’s, everything seemed purely educational and very objective. She stated that students would learn more if the class was designed to reach out to students on a more personal level. In her opinion, health class needs to be revised and extended on the subject of sex because many people are afraid to talk about and ask questions, which results in wrong and misguided information.

“I think we need to make talking about [sex] more socially acceptable. Teens are engaging in sexual activity, whether they admit it…or keep it to themselves. A lot of parents don’t want to believe it to be true, but they should be aware as well. It’s awkward to speak about but necessary,” Rodriguez said.

Currently, Rodriguez does not want any more children after experiencing the amount of work she must go through with her baby. She joked that before her son she had even wanted four children. However, if she were to have another child at some point she would adopt.

Rodriguez also offered advice to other DBHS students experiencing similar situations.

“Don’t give up! Talk to your friends, [and] stay connected. It’s easy to forget about caring for yourself when you become a dedicated mother. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; there are so many resources available if you need them.”