How three KSU moms balance changing diapers and going to class

Angela Urchak, a senior advertising major, holds her 2-week-old baby, Rocco. Photo by Coty Giannellli.

Angela Urchak, a senior advertising major, holds her 2-week-old baby, Rocco. Photo by Coty Giannellli.

Maura Zurick

Television shows like “Teen Mom” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” usually portray the hardships young mothers face, but there’s more to having and raising a baby than the cameras show.

Three Kent State students share their stories about the decisions they had to make and how getting pregnant changed their lives.

Going it alone

A sophomore Spanish translation major, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, said she had her first baby when she was in high school. She is 24 years old, and her son is 6 years old. He just started kindergarten.

She said she never considered abortion, and her fiancé supported her decision to keep and raise their son.

Although she lost all support from her family after getting pregnant in high school, she still had a happy life and didn’t regret any decisions. She moved out of her house and into an apartment with her boyfriend, dropped out of high school and began working. She received her GED at age 20.

Her boyfriend proposed in 2008, but he died suddenly in a motorcycle accident about a year ago. She said her life changed drastically after that.

“I lost my everything, literally; he wasn’t just my best friend; he was my partner,” she said. “We were in this together, and he was a great guy. My baby also lost his daddy, and that’s the hardest part for me.”

Three weeks after her fiancé’s funeral, she found out she was pregnant with her second child, but she didn’t tell her son.

“My first thought was obviously, I’m keeping this baby, but then the doctor told me that I have insanely high blood pressure, and I could die,” she said. “My chances of surviving the pregnancy were slim and my chances of surviving the birth were even lower. I had to make the hardest decision of my life.”

She said she kept thinking, “What if I die? Who is going to take care of my baby? He just lost his daddy.”

So she chose to have an abortion because of the health risks.

“Pregnancy is a personal thing,” she said. “It’s not for other people to judge or condemn. Being pregnant is hard enough without society’s scrutiny. I’m a good mom and I love my son more than anything in the world. I wish people would understand that.”

A balancing act

In today’s society it’s not often that 21-year-old college students get married and raise a family, but Megan Closser is doing just that.

As if college wasn’t hard enough, Closser, a senior broadcast journalism major, is also taking care of her baby with the help of her husband, family and friends. She said she never planned on having children, and intended to live with her friends for her last year of school, but her son, Jayden, changed everything.

“I thought there was no freaking way that I would ever have kids, but God had different plans for me, I guess,” Closser said. Before Jayden, she was afraid of the birth process.

Closser and her husband, Nate, got married on Sept. 3, 2010, when she was almost four months pregnant. She had Jayden on March 18, 2011.

“My husband and I, we started dating in high school,” she said. “We always planned on getting married and stuff. The summer that we conceived Jayden, it wasn’t planned at all. There was a lot of drama behind that just because of my faith. I’m a Christian and had always planned on saving myself for marriage, but when you’re with someone for that long, it’s very hard to do. We slipped up, and that’s how Jayden was conceived.”

Closser said finding out she was pregnant and telling her friends and family was very emotional. She said an abortion was not an option for her because of her faith. She believes it is important to take responsibility for one’s actions.

“We were scared to death to tell our parents,” she said. “Their reactions were actually a lot better than we expected. So many people supported us and helped us and got things for the baby. So we had material support as well as emotional support. As terrifying as it was, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Closser said she really lives two lives — one as a mom and one as a college student. She can’t go out and party like most college students because she has to be home at night for Jayden. She’s still young, but she had to grow up really fast. She also had to limit her involvement with extracurriculars like working for the on-campus TV station, TV2.

“I’m just trying to get school done so I can focus on my family,” Closser said. “For other kids, they’re looking for jobs and planning the future. My future is already figured out.”

Closser said she doesn’t think there’s much of a negative perception of girls who enter pregnancy in college, but people still stared at her in the Hub when she was pregnant. Some even questioned her choices.

“People stared, blatantly,” she said. “They didn’t just stare at me; they stared at my pregnant belly. People were kind of questioning my judgment even though they really didn’t know me or my situation. It is different than being pregnant in high school though because we’re older and said to be more responsible.”

Finishing what she started

Angela Urchak, a senior advertising major, said she had the support of her boyfriend, friends and family throughout her pregnancy.

Urchak just had a baby boy, Rocco Bugno, on Feb. 11. She said Rocco wasn’t planned. She’s been with the baby’s father for about five years.

Urchak took the semester off to work and have her baby, but she is very determined to graduate. She plans to start taking classes again in the summer so she can finish her advertising degree in about a year and a half.

She said being pregnant has changed her in many ways. She feels more maternal, caring and outgoing. She’s had to become more responsible.

“You just look at the whole world differently,” Urchak said. “You realize more it’s about the little things that should make you happy, and even more now that he is here.”

She said it’s not surprising to see relationships change after people find out about the pregnancy. The experience has made her closer to the people who were supportive, and she now has better relationships because of it.

“The ones you think will be more supportive might not be and the ones you would never expect come out and surprise you with how much they care,” Urchak said.

She said having a baby isn’t the end of the world for her, and it certainly isn’t going to stop her from completing her goals.

“Having a baby makes me want to conquer the world,” Urchak said. “I can’t wait to finish school and get a job and buy a house and everything. It has made me so happy; I just can’t wait to show him the world and teach him everything.”

Urchak said there are people out there who say negative things or have doubts that she will finish school, but she is determined.

“Know that being pregnant isn’t the end of the world,” she said. “You can still do what you want to do. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Professors and advisers are willing to help you and work with you. You are not alone. You aren’t the first one to be pregnant in college and you won’t be the last.”

Contact Maura Zurick at [email protected].