Casondra and her now adult daughter.
Briefly tell us about yourself and your story of being a teenage mother.
My name is Casondra Oliphant and here is my story of being a teenage mother. I was a junior in high school and just started training to become the majorette for my high school band. Then I found out I was pregnant. I shared it with one friend and soon many others began to ask me if I was really pregnant. I was so ashamed and was also in denial. After all, I was going to be the majorette and get to wear the shiny glitter bodysuit and twirl the baton as the band would march in local parades.
I soon had to come to the realization that this was real, and I was going to be a teenage mom. Although I hid it from my own mother for a couple of months, she knew before I could even confess that it was true. As my stomach grew, I began to accept that fact that there was not much I could do anymore other than go through it. I went through my pregnancy and my daughter was born in September, right at the beginning of my senior school year. I was so happy to finally see her. Although I went home without her due to her having jaundice, it was a joy to finally see my new baby. She stayed in the hospital for 1 extra day and then was sent home and my motherhood began.
What was your biggest struggle as a teenage mother, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest struggle was getting my toddler to the babysitters so that I could go to work. I did not have a car so I caught the bus or got rides from my mom. It would make me feel so sad to leave her but I knew I had to work to make a better future for us.
How did you navigate the transition from teen mom into adulthood?
My transition from teen mom into adulthood happened when I married the father of my child and he enlisted in the military. We had to move away, far from family and I had no choice but to step into the role of young adulthood. It was not easy but I began to appreciate things my mother taught me like how to cook, clean and care for myself and my siblings.
What support (services and/or people) do you believe would have been the most beneficial to you as a teen mother?
The father of my child has a huge family and I got so much support from them every weekend. Her paternal grandmother would pick her up every weekend, which gave me time to rest. My mother helped me tremendously, she connected me with a social worker who would come to visit and help with referrals for things I needed such as a baby bed, diapers, formula and so much more.
Did you have a mentor (mom, sister, aunt, friend, grandma, social worker, etc.) that provided you with support of any kind?
I had to attend a school for pregnant girls in my last year of high school and one of my teachers was like a mentor to me. She would check on me when I did not make it to class and she gave great academic advice.
How did that affect your parenting, your education, or your life in general?
This impacted my life in a major way because there were many days and times that I wanted to give up, but she and my mother encouraged me to keep going. Giving up was not an option and I am so very thankful to them for this.
What advice would you give to a young girl who is now or is becoming a teen mother?
As a former teen mom, I want to encourage other teen mothers to not give up. When you feel tired or begin to wonder how you are going to make it, just think of the future you want to provide for you and your baby. You both deserve the very best.
I hope that sharing my story can inspire another teen mom to stay strong.
Casondra’s daugher as a toddler.
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