Teen mother takes it one day at a time
One day at a time is the way Rachel Smith has lived her life for the past year.
Rachel, 17, found out in July that she was pregnant and would soon be a mother. She carried the baby to term while walking through the halls of Douglas High School and studying at night, trying to keep her grades up and working ahead so maternity leave wouldn’t force her to come back next year.
“I did feel a little odd. I thought everyone would point fingers and say things behind my back, but my friends were there for me,” she said.
This year was also her first full year at DHS. For 2-1/2 years she went to Chemawa Indian School, a boarding school in Salem, Ore. Rachel said it is kind of a family tradition because her grandmother went to Stewart Indian School in Carson City and her mother also went to a boarding school in Riverside, Calif. She decided to come home in the middle of her junior year, and that is when she met her boyfriend.
Rachel said she wished she had paid more attention to people who told her to wait to have sex but, “It just didn’t click,” she said. Her advice to girls thinking about having sex would be, “Keep your eyes open.”
Rachel was lucky, though. From the very beginning, she got support from her mom, Karen McDonald, and her boyfriend, Jeremy Taylor, 18, a junior at DHS.
“From that point, I said, ‘ I’ll take each day one day at a time.’ My mom and my boyfriend helped me get through. My mom tried to get me motivated to go to school. My boyfriend told me to try to make it the best year I can,” Rachel said.
The first five months didn’t affect her very much, she said.
“I didn’t feel like I was pregnant. I wasn’t slowing down and I was still motivated to do things. The second semester, I began feeling like I wanted to slack off. My mom and my boyfriend helped me. They knew I had to graduate.”
The hardest part of the pregnancy was missing out on the social part of high school, she said.
“The last month was the hardest to come to school. I would see my friends in sports and passing me by. I was supposed to play varsity basketball and softball,” Rachel said.
Rachel continued school, and her English class in night school, and had to work double-time just before the baby was due.
“I was trying to get work done ahead of time so I would be set for that amount of time I took off,” she said. “You have to pace yourself and let yourself know what you’ve got to do.”
Lori Pasqua, Rachel’s counselor, said she holds Rachel up as an example.
“I want to tell people, if you get pregnant, it’s possible to graduate – don’t give up. When Rachel first got pregnant, she worked really hard working to get her credits up, and she bounced right back. She’s a self-motivator. I just kind of guided her and reminded her of things,” Pasqua said.
Quinten Taylor was born Thursday, April 13. The next week was spring break, so Rachel had all of two weeks at home with him before she had to go back to school.
“I just wanted to stay with him and hold him. So did Jeremy. We both had to motivate each other. My mom did me a big favor. She quit work to watch him. As soon as I’m done, I will stay home and she can go back to work,” Rachel said.
Jeremy also made sacrifices – he cut back on classes and works part of the day doing maintenance for Douglas County to help support the family.
In the fall, Rachel plans to start her college education at Western Nevada Community College. Her ultimate goal is to become a chiropractor.
“I’m glad I’m graduating now. I could have dropped out, but it would have been harder to pick up where I left off. I want to better myself and my family. Now it’s not just me. I have to think of all of us,” she said.