Lauren Rabaino

Life as a college student is difficult and stressful enough as it is, balancing school, work, family and a social life. But when a baby is unexpectedly thrown into the mix, life as a college student completely changes.

Being 33 weeks pregnant – about eight months – and a senior at Cal Poly, the most difficult task is juggling the many responsibilities being constantly thrown at me, from going to school full-time and working part-time, to doctor visits every two weeks and childbirth preparation classes – all while trying to stay sane!

I never expected to have children until after I graduated college, got a stable job and got married. But how often do things go as planned? When I took that first home pregnancy test in April, I was shocked, blindsided and confused to say the least. I took another one to make sure and it had the same results. I showed my fiancé the test results and he calmly said, “Oh, that’s cool.”

I got tested a third time at a community health clinic and they confirmed the results. I got in my car and called my fiancé immediately and started crying hysterically. He was very supportive and excited; I was happy, though worried.

A flood of emotions and thoughts rushed through my head. I thought, “How could I support a baby financially and emotionally? What about school, am I going to have to drop out? What will my parents say? How far along am I? I hope that sushi and sake didn’t harm the baby!”

After calming my nerves, I thought about my two older sisters and how they also got pregnant while in college. Although it took them a bit longer to finish college, they did manage to graduate despite the hardships of being a mother. So I knew it could be done.

I didn’t have any health insurance so I applied for Medi-Cal to help cover my maternity expenses. After seeing my prenatal doctor for the first time in April, he determined that I was already about one-and-a-half months pregnant, and my due date is approximately Dec. 10 – the Monday following finals week!

At five months pregnant, my fiancé and I were excited to go see the ultrasound doctor to determine the sex of the baby. The doctor jokingly said, “He has a third leg!” Meaning we’re having a boy, of course.

This summer, I wrote a story for the Mustang Daily about Cerra Himle, a 19-year-old Cal Poly student who just gave birth to a baby girl. I wanted to document the struggles of being pregnant while in college from another perspective while getting an idea of how to cope with it. Plus I just wanted to talk to someone who knew what I’m going through right now.

Himle said that the most difficult task being pregnant while attending college is the “balancing act” and trying to eat healthy. As a college student, it is hard to eat healthy because I am always on the go. Himle also revealed she worried that school would interfere with her pregnancy and vice versa.

It was a relief to know that there is another Cal Poly student who understands what I’m experiencing. I’m a bit older than my fellow classmates so I’ve always felt a little out of place, but now, being pregnant and older, I sometimes feel more alienated.

I know of many student parents here, but I have yet to meet another currently pregnant student; they seem virtually nonexistent. I notice people trying to subtly peek at my belly, or, you know when you glance at something really quick, look away and then rubberneck and take a quick second glance? Those are the kinds of stares I get around campus.

But there are other people, especially my classmates, who seem genuinely interested in my pregnancy and what I’m going through. Even my professors have been very accommodating.

But I wasn’t willing to tell people right away. I waited nearly three months into my pregnancy to tell my family, friends and the world. My parents’ reaction wasn’t a surprise. Since both of my sisters got pregnant during college, I guess my parents relied on me to “do it right,” getting the degree, the job and the husband first. They didn’t know how to react when their baby is having a baby, but after realizing my baby would be their third grandchild, their attitude changed to excitement.

Besides the extreme multi-tasking – not to mention the increased absent-mindedness and clumsiness, mood swings, excessive sweating, hot flashes, shortness of breath, nasal congestion, leg cramps, indigestion, heartburn and bloating, and mild swelling of my hands and feet as being the worst part of my pregnancy – feeling the baby move inside of me makes it all worthwhile; it is the best and most amazing part of being pregnant.

The consistent fetal movements – kicking, pushing, hiccuping, stretching, wiggling – are reassuring, and serve as a constant reminder that life is growing inside of me and that I must do all I can to protect and nurture this baby to the best of my ability.

Jennifer Ingan is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily reporter. She will chronicle her experiences as a pregnant Cal Poly student every Thursday until she gives birth.

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