Loyola student finds lack of available resources during pregnancy
Twenty-one year-old Loyola student Mirelle Riveria found out she was pregnant with her first child while taking summer classes last June.
She gave birth to her daughter, Aria Modestita Carrizalez, on Feb. 16. Going through her pregnancy while going to college is difficult, and Loyola didn’t seem to provide much help, she said.
She is following the trend of most young women in the United States, who are getting married later, but continuing to have children and live with their partners.
According to a Center for Disease Control Prevention report between 1990 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate has dropped 42 percent, while the rate of unmarried mothers among twenty-something’s has risen by 27 percent.
When she was pregnant one of her biggest challenges was the lack of resources that Loyola provided. The psychologist from the Wellness Center recommended she speak to the non-profit Aid for Women or go to the Wellness Center for a six sessions. She was already getting her prenatal care through Aid for Women from Erie Family Health Center, and Loyola just referred her to the same place.
Mirelle had previously gone to Aid for Women for her prenatal care, but when she was six months pregnant she almost lost her baby and turned to Loyola. When she went to the Wellness Center she didn’t feel like Loyola would help her in the long term. They were there to listen, but just referred her to someone else. Mirelle thought they would at least get in contact with Erie Family Health Center for counseling, but just gave her a piece of paper and sent her on her way.
“For someone that was working, going to seven different classes, doing clinicals, and commuting, Loyola was not very supportive,” Mirelle said. “I was extremely tired and there really wasn’t a place I felt comfortable enough to hang out at, especially when other students just stared at my belly.”
According to the Wellness Center’s website they offer help with questions about pregnancy, counseling and referrals to local resources that could help support women during pregnancy. They also offer links to the University Ministry for spiritual help, the email to the student organization Students for Life for peer assistance and links to non-profits such as Aid for Women and Catholic Charities. This seems to be the norm for Jesuit universities in Chicago.
Stephanie Atella, the Health Educator at the Wellness Center, said they provided pregnancy-testing, referrals for prenatal care, and the initial help with pregnancy, such as answering initial questions and directing them to a provider that can help them throughout the pregnancy. However, the Wellness Center does not provide prenatal care.
When Mirelle first found out she was pregnant she had a flood of emotions.
“At first I had no idea what to do. I was sad, nervous, excited all at once. It was like an emotional overload hit me, and there was just no stopping it”, Mirelle said.
Deciding whether or not to keep her baby was a difficult decision. She was worried about what she was going to do and what her options were. She never thought about adoption because she said she wouldn’t have been able to live with herself knowing part of her was out there somewhere. Also her family and boyfriend would not have approved of the idea. However she did contemplate getting an abortion.
“People told me to think about abortion and for a moment I thought about it, but I knew deep down inside that I wasn’t that person,” Mirelle said. “I knew I wanted to keep my baby because she was already part of me. I thought of how my father told my mother to get an abortion when she found out she was pregnant with me. I didn’t want to be like him and I knew I could take care of her,
She had some problems during the beginning of her pregnancy because medical complications made it high-risk. Mirelle was able to get through it with the support of her family and boyfriend.
She currently lives with her boyfriend at his father’s house because of their financial situation, but they do plan on getting married someday.
“We don’t want to get married because of our daughter; we are also in love with one another. My boyfriend is my rock”, Mirelle said.
Having a baby has changed their relationship, but she says it has only made them stronger. There are times they are both stressed out and tried, but they look at their daughter and remember why they love each other.
“We have our problems, but then again who doesn’t?” Mirelle said. “We get mad at one another for a minute and forgive on another the next minute. Overall we are doing great, especially now that we have our daughter completing our little family.”
Despite all she has gone through she is still on track to graduate on time in May 2014.
“If anything, having my daughter has inspired me to keep doing what I am doing”, said Mirelle, who is currently a teacher candidate in the School of Education. She hopes by this time next year she will be doing her student teaching and becoming a certified teacher.
She will be speaking at the Students for Life forum on April 17 in Damen Center North MPR, to discuss her experience being a pregnant student. It will also include information about resources on or around campus for pregnant and/or parenting students.
- Taken from Mirelle’s facebook page
- written by Enas Aboelghar on May 11th, 2013
- posted in Writing for the Web