A student mom’s life
Everybody has at one point looked at someone and thought, â€śI know exactly what kind of person you areâ€ť. A few moments of observation and you have already created a story about that person, deciding in that moment the quality of their character. Every person has been a victim and perpetrator of this silent crime. When senior Enjoli Cisneros tells people she is a teenage mom, she looks into their eyes and can see the stories about her irresponsibility being drafted.
Cisneros learned that she was pregnant Feb. 8 of last year. She had missed her period for two months and began feeling uneasy. After taking a pregnancy test that she secretly bought from Dollar Tree, she was shocked to see two red lines staring back at her. Cisneros immediately told her boyfriend, who was excited to welcome their baby into the world.
â€śWe were both freaking out from the excitement, but it was scary because of our age. We have not settled down or figured out our finances, so those fears went through my mind. But at the same time, I knew from that moment that I wanted to keep her,â€ť Cisneros said. â€śI also felt terrified of telling my family about it. Especially my mom. I did not want to disappoint her. I mean, who wants to disappoint their parents? You love them and they raised you, so you never want to let them down. If I was in my motherâ€™s position, I would probably be disappointed too. At that moment, that was all I could think about.â€ť
Cisneros describes the night she told her mother about her pregnancy as the hardest day of her life. Tears were streaming down both their faces amid the screaming and yelling. Her mother reprimanded her for having sex at a young age and told her that she should terminate the pregnancy. However, her mother became more supportive once she understood that her daughter wanted to take responsibility for her actions by having the child.
â€śIt took time. Little by little, we started talking about it more until suddenly she was taking me to every single doctorâ€™s appointment, sitting right next to me, listening. She would buy me maternity clothes and make me food whenever I was craving anything. I believe she had that change of heart because the child was her grandchild. A maternal love took over,â€ť Cisneros said.
With support from her family and boyfriend, she successfully navigated through the remaining five months of school. She concealed her growing baby bump with oversized sweatshirts and refrained from any activities that could expose her stomach. The teachers and classmates who saw her laughing with friends or falling asleep in class saw no change in her behavior, but behind the scenes, she was struggling with morning sickness and mood fluctuations. Two weeks before school ended, Cisneros told her grade level coordinator, that she wanted to enroll in the Independent Studies program at Ron Hockwalt, which allowed her to take online school of the first semester of her senior year.
â€śI knew that this was not going to stop me from going to college because I still want to get the education I need. College is the only way to get a higher paying job. I think wanting the best for for my baby will motivate me through college,â€ť Cisneros said.
Cisneros fondly remembers hearing her babyâ€™s heartbeat for the first time when she was nine weeks pregnant at her first ultrasound. It was the rhythmic pattern of that beating heart and the first kick, the flutters of movement, that made expecting a child feel real to her. As the due date grew closer, Cisnerosâ€™s doctor warned her that her high blood pressure might force them to induce her labor. The expecting parents spent the summer at the pool or at the park, trying to exercise outdoors as much as possible. On Sept. 18, Cisneros attended her last doctor’s appointment and was sent straight to the hospital after her doctor saw that she was dilated and already experiencing contractions. With her boyfriend by her side, Cisneros fought the painful pressure of childbirth without having to be induced and gave birth to Delilah Isabella Cisneros at 7:14 a.m.
â€śWhen I held her in my arms for the first time, I was speechless. Part of me could not believe that she had just [come] out of me. My family gathered around me and cried together; the happiness and excitement affected us all. The love I felt in the room reassured me that I would have all the support I needed to raise Delilah,â€ť Cisneros said.
During first semester Cisneros took English, Economics and Algebra 2 online while she was taking care of her newborn baby. In between Delilah’s sportatic sleep schedule, Cisneros studied hard in order to stay on track for a four year college. Then when she returned to school at the start of second semester, she began to follow a new schedule in order to balance her life as a full-time student and mother. After school, she retrieves Delilah from her aunt, who looks after the baby while Cisneros is at school, making sure to ask how many times Delilah has pooped and how long she has slept for. The baby lies down for a nap later in the afternoon once she has been breastfed. During that time, Cisneros washes her daughterâ€™s clothes and cleans her milk bottles. Around 6:30 p.m., her boyfriend returns from his job and the two give their baby a bath. He feeds Delilah while Cisneros showers, and they rotate so that he can shower while Cisneros puts Deliliah to sleep. Only after completing this schedule can Cisneros begin her homework for which she needs peace of mind and a quiet environment.
â€śI donâ€™t have regrets, but I do have times [when] I wish I wasnâ€™t a mom. I wish I was a normal teenager. My friends can go out and do anything. Even when I was pregnant, it was easier to go out alone. Letâ€™s say I want to go to the movies, but I canâ€™t go because she is going to cry and bother other people,â€ť Cisneros said.
School has also made her well aware of how people might perceive her. Cisneros worked to keep her pregnancy a secret and refused to publicize it in fear of judgment and ridicule from others. She held onto that mindset up until the day she gave birth to Delilah.
â€śI decided that what other people say does not matter to me because they donâ€™t know what I am going through or who I am. Theyâ€™re not me. They have not experienced what I have experienced. To the people who are judging me for being a teen mom, I am a teen mom but your judgment will do nothing to change that. People should not pass judgment on others, especially when they have no idea who that person is. I really donâ€™t care what people say because it does not bother me the way it once did,â€ť Cisneros said. Â
She has documented her experience through an explanatory YouTube video and various Instagram posts that celebrate milestones in Delilah’s life. Her decision to be public is testament to her newfound freedom from the opinions of others. Cisneros also wants to be a source of comfort and support for girls who are in the same situation, encouraging them to reach out if they have questions or need someone to talk to. While she does share the happy moments of motherhood on social media, Cisneros has no desire to glamorize teenage pregnancy.
â€śI am not telling everyone to go get pregnant. Iâ€™m telling you to wait and enjoy being in your teens. Undoubtedly, there are times when I feel stressed out, since having a baby is very different from any other life event I have experienced. Sometimes, I do miss my old self, the Enjoli who was alone. I have only been out with friends twice without Delilah since giving birth. There are moments [when] there are struggles, and itâ€™s not easy at all. I might make it seem like itâ€™s easy, but itâ€™s really not. Itâ€™s hard. Of course, I am happy that I had her â€” my greatest blessing â€” but being a mom makes life difficult,â€ť Cisneros said.
After graduation, Cisneros will focus on receiving a college education and raising Delilah. She hopes to enroll immediately at Mount San Antonio College and finish her coursework as fast as possible. It is the guarantee of a higher paying job that motivates her to persevere against all odds. Cisneros is confident that she will earn her college education because she knows her daughter is depending on her. Financial stability will give her daughter life opportunities.
â€śI want to become a nurse because Iâ€™ve always loved to help people, and I know itâ€™s a job where thereâ€™s always going to be work and a need for it.â€ť Cisneros said. â€śThe pay is also really good and itâ€™s usually only four days a week working 10-12 hour shifts. I am going to earn a college degree and become a nurse because I want the best for Delilah. I want Deliliah to succeed in life.â€ť
By Julie Lee, Staff writer
Photo by Tristan Gonzalez