Jessica hess with her baby girl, Hayden. Photo by Itxaso Garay of Casa Grande High School

 

By KELSEY MATZEN and SIMONE VAN OMMEREN-AKELMAN
CASA GRANDE HIGH SCHOOL

Teenage girls daydream about the day when they will have a baby, choose a name and dress it in adorable outfits. Little thought is given to the mess that babies create, the finances that they require and the amount of time necessary to care for one. They don’t trouble themselves with those issues, as the time for them to have a baby is expected to be far in the future.
For some teens, though, a baby arrives earlier than expected. Junior Jessica Hess discovered she was pregnant at age 15 after antibiotics for her kidney had interfered with her birth control medication. Upon finding out, Hess immediately knew she would keep it.
“I knew I couldn’t have an abortion because I have always had a soft spot in my heart for babies,” said Hess, now 17. “Adoption also wasn’t an option because if I was going to carry a baby in me for nine months, I wasn’t going to be able to give it up.”
Hayden Leanne Hess was born at 3:04 p.m. July 19, 2011, at 6 pounds, 10 ounces.
Although many see teenage moms as sorrowful figures whose lives have been ruined, Hess expresses a different opinion.
“I don’t regret having her at all. She changed my life for the better,” said Hess.
Although Hess is happy with her current situation, many others have different views and tend to make snide remarks about her choices.
“Last year, a lot of people would make rude comments and looks,” she said. “I never cared what they thought. Only the things that the people who love me say matter; they will tell me constructive criticism. It doesn’t matter what other people think.”
Public service announcements often indicate teen pregnancy will destroy lives and a teen mom will live in poverty for the rest of her life. However, Hess doesn’t plan on letting this happen.
“I am going to make sure I get my G.E.D. I am going to get an internship with MAC Makeup and then go to Paul Mitchell beauty school. I want to do theatrical make-up and hair for theater and movies,” said Hess. “Hayden will come with me wherever I go. I have it planned so that I’ll be going to school at the same time that she will be able to go to day care and kindergarten, so she will be able to be away from me for eight hours and be OK.”
Because of Hayden’s father’s absence, Hess is forced to develop an independent mind. Although he recently offered to provide financial support, he does not want any contact with his daughter.
“Hayden met her father for the first time two weeks ago. That was the first time I had a civilized conversation with him since I told him I was pregnant,” Hess said recently. “He was a sweet guy before I was pregnant.”
Despite the fact that Hess has a bad relationship with Hayden’s father, she is willing to let her daughter form her own connection with her father.
“If one day, when she is old enough, she wants to meet him, I’ll tell her everything she needs to contact her dad,” said Hess. “If she asked me to go with her to meet him, I would. I would be supportive with whatever she wanted to do.”
Hess loves her daughter, but there are sacrifices she must make to properly raise her child.
“The most inconvenient part of being a teen mom is that I can’t just get up and do something. I can’t go out late or just disappear to go snowboarding or dirt-bike riding,” said Hess. “I have to think for the both of us.”
Hess doesn’t miss it or regret having her baby.
“Not a day goes by that is boring when I am with Hayden. She is such an entertaining, happy and energetic baby. She is the brightness to my day and because of her I always have an abundance of life,” said Hess. “She symbolizes my strength in the world. She is a unique baby that brings good spirits in my life.”
Hess has found that, through the ordeal, those who truly love her have stuck around. Her biggest supporter is her mother.
“My mom has always been supportive of me. We get in some arguments about child care because she says she knows better,” said Hess. “I tell her I am going to raise Hayden until she is 18 and can make her own decisions. I made the decision to bring her into this world, so I can make the decisions about her life.”
Hess’ mom, Sondra Koslov, was upset when her daughter announced she was pregnant at 15. However, although Hess is predominantly responsible for her baby, Koslov provides assistance.
“She has 100 percent of my support. I try to support her financially and emotionally,” said Koslov. “I am here for her, probably more than she wants me to be.”
There are several prejudices about people who become parents in high school, but Hess believes many people judge too harshly.